Saturday, July 15, 2017

Making a Tote Out of an Old Shirt

                We all have old t-shirts that are special. I have old concert shirts, shirts from different races I’ve run, and ones that are just cute. They take up space in my closet and some will be a quilt but the ones that are just cute may not make the cut. In that case, they can become other useful things. Here is how I turned this little elephant tee into a cute tote bag.

                First, I cut the sleeves and the neckline off. The elephant image was a bit off so I didn’t square it off like I normally would. The little dips would give the top a little something different. With this shirt, the fabric was very thin. I used the front and back to keep the elephant nice and visible. To make sure the bag is sturdy you can use canvas, upholstery fabric, denim, or other tough fabrics. With mine, I used canvas.

                I used the cut-up shirt to cut 3 pieces of back canvas. The shirt and one canvas piece became the front and the other 2 canvas shapes became the back panel. I also cut a square for an inside pocket and 4” x 33” strips for the handles. The front was made by placing the shirt face down and sewing along the top edge. On the back panel, I attached the pocket to the inside canvas piece and used the same process to put inner and outer pieces together.

The handles were made by folding the edges into the center and pressing them. That was then folded in half and pressed to create an inch-wide strap which was then stitched down the open edge. When attached, the straps would have created bumps in the shirt so I attached them to the inside with the raw edges folded under. I kept the stitching from showing on the outside of the bag by pushing the shirt out of the way when stitching. I then repeated this with the back panel.

                With the panels completely flat, I pined them together with outsides together and sewed around the sides and the bottom of the bag. I did have to snip the sides of the shirt so it would not warp. To make sure the corners turn nicely, I trimmed the excess from the seams and clipped the inside of the corners. I then turned it right side out and it was done.

                Honestly, I’m really happy with how it turned out. I was able to keep the little pocket in the elephant’s ear functional which is great and I don’t have to worry about it warping the image thanks the canvas. I would recommend that you use a heavy-duty needle in your machine, if you want to work with thick canvas. This was a fun project to make and would be a great way to re-purpose old shirts that the kids have out grown. As with everything on my site, there are no wrong answers so get creating!

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