Reuse to Remember: Vintage T-Shirts into Bags

So I am moving to Malaysia this week, I know how many times have someone said this to you today?   But really I am.  And one of my most favorite geeky things are re-usable grocery bags.  When I was moving out of my apartment in NY and escaping Hurricane Irene I used my cache of bags to place my records (vinyl music playing discs for the young one’s out there) in storage.  So when it came time to do grocery shopping I had to buy a couple of new ones at the store.

But then I noticed something I had not before, save a couple of my reuse bags (one if bamboo denim, another cotton) they are all plastic.  And while they are better than getting a plastic bag for every item or every time you shop it is still plastic.

Then I saw this email from the great site Ecouterre and they had a DIY produce bag made from an old t-shirt.  And so I thought I can do something like that.  And I did.

What I'll use on my market trips in Kuala Lumpur

But instead of making all produce bags (which I love by the way) I made different sized bags based on the design of the t-shirt.

I went to the Salvation Army (half off Wednesday of course) and bought four t-shirts for about $5.  I selected the shirts carefully.  One was a little sci-fi looking kids (I don’t know I just liked it); the other a t-shirt of a cool jazz band, another an Eric Clapton tour shirt (I like him well enough) and another a bootleg Steelers tee with Hines Ward’s number on it (I just couldn’t in good conscious cut up a real Steelers, Penguins or even Pirates shirt).

There is no logic or great skill to this.  I just laid out each shirt one at a time.  And looked at what in my mind would make the most design sense and cut it out.

Cool Jazz band tee shirt, step 1 cutting it based on design of the shirt

I cut it as necessary, leaving the bottom hem of the shirt intact and simply stitched up the three sides, double stitched actually, finishing the hem with a zigzag stitch.  Then using the bottom hem as the straps (since they are already reinforced (why do the extra work).

Cutting bottom of tee hem, using for straps

Double zig-zag stitch to reinforce the strap

Double stitched and reinforced with zig-zag to finish the hem of the bag.

Each bag is a little different.  For example, the Clapton shirt had a design on the front and the back so I made it small and focused on the lettering and the guitar.  Taken a cue from the Ecouterre story I added a few slashes, not a ton to ruin the purpose but enough to add a little Rock n’ Roll to the whole thing.

Using the design of the tee to decided on shape of the bag.

The Steelers shirt was long so I made that a long narrow tote; the MMW shirt was more horizontal so it’s a horizontal tote.  And finally the Sci-fi kid’s face was the focus so I made an oblong design for the bag.

Viola that is it, I am sure you can come up with a million different versions.  I wanted to go grocery shopping half way around the world with something that reminded me of home.  I think these will do the trick.

Enjoy.

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  1. […] sew, weave, the possibilities are endless! Check out some of these options and ideas from FarmHouse: Vintage T-Shirts into Bags, Perforated paper, Creative […]



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