How to Upcycle Old T-Shirts into Tote Bags

Apr 10, 2022 | Cricut Projects, Project Ideas, Screen Printing, Tutorials

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Did you know you can upcycle your old t-shirts instead of throwing them away when they no longer fit?

I have teamed up with Allmade to celebrate Earth Day by showing you an easy and eco-friendly way to upcycle your old t-shirts instead of just tossing them out.

In this article I will show you 5 simple steps to turn any old t-shirt into a reusable tote that is perfect for trips to the pool or beach this summer!

t-shirt recycle project idea tote bag

5 Steps to Turn a T-shirt into a Tote Bag

If you’re like me, your kids outgrow their t-shirts faster than you can keep up with. Go grab that pile of old t-shirts and let's turn them into tote bags.

Supplies Needed for Making a T-shirt Tote Bag

how to make tote bag t-shirt   

T-shirt to Tote Bag Tutorial

Step 1: Choose Old T-Shirts

Any old t-shirt or sweatshirt works great for this project. Choose an old favorite that you no longer wear or find a shirt your kids have outgrown. The shirt is not really that important. The key is by upcycling old shirts, we get to do our part and keep them from ending up in a landfill.

tote bag from t-shirt tutorial steps

Step 2: Cut Off the Sleeves, Collar and Bottom of Shirt

Grab a pair of scissors or fabric rotary cutter and remove the sleeves, collar and bottom few inches of the shirt. You can make the bag taller or shorter depending how much of the bottom you trim off the shirt.

screen printing vinyl eco-friendly at home

Step 3: Add a Screen Printed Design

If you want to add a new design to your tote bag, I suggest you screen print your design now because you can still easily slide the shirt on your screen printing press at this point (before you sew it).

I cut these free SVG files from Allmade on my Cricut machine. I also used my simple method for screen printing with vinyl, I transfer the design to my screen printing frame to print the design.

If you'd like to print an Earth Day design on your tote bag or make a special t-shirt to celebrate the occasion, download these 3 free designs compliments of my partner Allmade:

earth day free svg cut files

Step 4: Flip the Shirt Inside-Out and Sew the Bottom Closed

With the shirt inside out, sew a straight line along the bottom cut of your t-shirt. If you don't have a sewing machine, you could hand stitch this line.

sewing tote bag from t-shirt

Step 5: Flip the Shirt Right-Side-Out, pack it full of goodies and head to the pool or beach!

t-shirt tote bag easy project kids recycle earth day

I am super excited to partner with such an amazing company on this project. The fashion industry is responsible for over 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions and Allmade is on a mission to do their part to change this.

They are committed to producing eco-friendly apparel that reduces environmental impact and provides healthy jobs to workers across the world. Their vision is to disrupt the apparel industry with more sustainable options you can be proud to wear.

Learn more about Allmade at

Join Me Live on Earth Day in Fort Worth, TX

Come do this project with me in person on Earth Day 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas. Bring an old t-shirt and join me on Friday, April 22, 2022 at my Print Makers event. You'll have the chance to upcylce your t-shirt into a tote bag AND you'll receive a free Allmade t-shirt for participating.  This 3 hour event is full of instruction and hands-on learning. Purchase your ticket here: Print Makers with Pigskins & Pigtails.

Choosing Eco-Friendly Blanks Year-Round

You don’t have to wait for Earth Day to make eco-friendly choices for your family and business.

Consumers love a brand with a purpose and you can leverage Allmade's story as part of your brand (read more here) by using their blanks all the time.

I hope you love this project as much as I did. If you have other upcycle projects you love, tell me about them in the comments.


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I’m Jennifer, your go-to for all things vinyl screen printing. I offer both in-person and online classes to help you craft better quality shirts. This blog is full of screen printing inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about screen printing with vinyl!

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