Hands On: No-Sew Tote Bag

Upcycle a favorite tee into a stylish, no-sew tote bag — just in time for farmers’ market season!

A universal truth all parents understand  is that kids grow, and outgrow their clothes, at lightning speed. Sometimes saying goodbye to a favorite t-shirt can be hard. But fear not — in a few simple steps, your kiddos can help you transform those wearable memories into a handy little no-sew tote bag — just in time for farmers’ market season!   



Old t-shirt

Sharp scissors, fabric scissors if you have them


Permanent marker


1.   Lay the shirt flat, smooth out wrinkles.


2.   Cut sleeves and collar off shirt, to form the handles.

3.   Turn shirt inside out. (Or if you want fringe to end up on the outside of the bag for a decorative touch — like the tie-dye example pictured — do not turn the shirt inside out.)

4.   Use the ruler to draw a straight line across the shirt where you would like the bag to end.

5.   Cut off the shirt 3 inches below your line.

6.   Cut vertically from the bottom edge of both layers of fabric up toward the line. Each strip of fringe should be about ¾- to 1-inch wide. Be sure to cut back and front layers together, so they match up for the next step.

7.   Tie the front and back layers of the fringe together. (This is the perfect job for dexterous kid fingers!)

8.   You’ll notice there are small gaps between your knots. To close up those holes, tie the fringe strips on either side of the hole together. Do this all the way across the bag to close up all the holes.

9.   Turn bag right-side-out again, marvel at your collective crafts acumen, and high five your little helper! Take the washable, upcycled tote bag with you on your next trip to the farmers’ market and load it up with tasty veggies.

Amber Gauntlett is the owner of Smartypants kids’ art space in North Portland. Witnessing the joy that kids find in the art-making process brings out the kid in her. For more information visit smartypantspdx.com.

Amber Gauntlett
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