Sunday, 15 May 2011

How to Make a Bag from an Old T Shirt

I love T shirts.  Mine never find their way to the recycling or charity shops because I wear them until they fall apart.  Then I cut them up for dusters, as they make good lint-free cloths which can be washed and reused until they fall apart or get used for such mucky jobs that they just have to be thrown away.  I don’t have room for more dusters under the sink, so now I’m making old T shirts into bags.  These are handy for shopping, sewing and knitting projects-in-progress and for belly dance costumes.  I put my veils into one, to keep them from being snagged by the coin belts in the same holdall I take to class.  One of my friends saw it and said ‘Ooh, you should make and sell them!’  Well, where would I get a supply of worn-out T shirts?  Especially since Mary Portas has had such an influence on charity shops that many are slowly and surely removing all their old bric-a-brac that crafters love and rely on, to concentrate on selling quality goods.  If, dear reader, you are local to me and have some old T shirts which you’d like me to turn into bags for you, just let me know.  But if you use a sewing machine, it is really easy to do, so here are some instructions so that you can have a crack at doing it yourself.

Step 1: Take a T shirt which has seen better days.  Mine often go under the arms and start to fray around the neck.  (You could use an old vest or spagetti strap/camisole top, in which case you can skip straight to step 5.)

Step 2: Cut off the sleeves and …    Step 3: Fold the T shirt in half lengthways, and cut a scoop neck.  You can see from the picture that I’ve cut a curve about 7” deep.  Keep the off-cuts.  There'll be another tutorial sometime which uses them!

Step 4: Oversew the raw edges where you cut the sleeves and the neck, to reinforce them.  I use my overlocker, but you could also use a zig zag stitch.  My overlocker was already threaded with purple and I was not about to rethread it to match – nothing fancy here!  Anyway, I think the contrasting thread looks nice.

Step 5: Turn the T shirt inside out and sew across the bottom.  This will be the bottom of the bag.  You might want to cut the hem off the bottom of the T shirt first, to reduce bulk, or use the knife and cut as you sew, with an overlocker.  If you want this bag for shopping, reinforce the seam by sewing it twice.

The next two steps are optional; they give the bottom of the bag a square profile.  If you’re not bothered about that, skip to step 8.

Step 6: Still with the T shirt/bag inside out, spread the fabric either side of the bottom seam, so that the end of the seam forms a point.

Step 7: Sew across at right angles to the bottom seam, two or three inches in from the point.  Cut off the resulting triangle of fabric.
Repeat at the other end of the bottom seam.

Step 8: Tidy up loose threads by knotting them and/or sewing them in and trimming them off.  Tip – if you’ve cut the thread a bit short, push your needle in reverse through a few stitches so that the eye comes up next to the short threads.  Then thread your needle with those threads and pull them through.

Step 9: Turn your bag right side out.  You've finished it!

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