DIY Market Bag

With Earth Day just around the corner, we’re turning to artist and environmentalist Chris Jordan for inspiration. In this large-zoom photograph he has captured 1.14 million brown paper supermarket bags, the number used in the US every hour. And did you know that 2.7 billion plastic bags are used every day worldwide? Floored by these staggering numbers we were motivated to do a quick and easy DIY, recycling an old t-shirt into a reusable fringed market bag. We hope that it will also inspire you to use less plastic and paper!

 

You’ll need:
– an old t-shirt (the larger the shirt, the larger the bag)
– a pair of scissors
– a safety pin

Lay the t-shirt on a flat surface. Start by cutting off the sleeves, using the seams as a guide. And using a round plate as a guide, cut out a half circle into the neck of the t-shirt. To create the ties that will cinch the bottom of the bag, cut 2 one inch strips from each of the sleeve scraps. Cut each circular strip open and pull at the ends to stretch them out, creating 4 strings total. (Click images to enlarge)

Snip 8 evenly spaced slits along the bottom hem of the t-shirt. We cut 3 in the front, 3 in the back, and one each side.

Attach a safety pin to the end of one of the strings. Starting at the left side of the shirt, thread the string through two sections so that both ends come out from the left hem of the shirt. Do the same to the right side of the shirt with the 2nd string. Starting at the middle slit, thread the 3rd string through the section closest to the left side, under and over the 1st string and through the opposing section. Repeat on the other side with the 4th string. Pull each section tightly, tying the strings into double knots.

You can trim the strings but we like leaving the fringe as is. And . . . your new recycled market bag is finished!

Aren’t you excited to BYOB (bring your own bag)?

Make one for a friend. It’ll make their day. Happy Earth Day!

(top image from here, rest of images by Honestly…WTF; thanks to Leethal &  Lynn for the inspiration!)

Leave a Comment

158 Comments

  1. This is freakin’ awesome! Love this DIY, will definitely try to make this bag!

    xoxo
    http://fashionagony.blogspot.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  2. Nomadic D wrote:

    Excellent! So simple and so cool! And what a great way to make use of all those beloved t-shirts I can’t bear to part with but never wear anymore!

    http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  3. Jessie wrote:

    Love your DIYS as usual.
    xx, http://wordbyjessie.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  4. Michelle wrote:

    Awesome! Simple yet BRILLIANT DIY : )

    x
    Michelle
    Michelle’s Style File

    4.19.11
    Reply
  5. AlbeeLucky wrote:

    I love this. You just made the t-shirt bag so much cooler with the fringe. I so want to do this today. Thanks for the DIY.
    xo-http://AlbeeLucky.blogspot.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  6. Monique wrote:

    Wow, well done this market bag rocks!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  7. Vanessa wrote:

    THIS IS AWESOME!!!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  8. This looks great! Love it paired with the bell bottom jeans. Definitely have to try this out.

    Collections Shopbop Giveaway

    4.19.11
    Reply
  9. Alice wrote:

    Um, greatest diy ever!
    Love it! Thanks!
    Just a Silhouette

    4.19.11
    Reply
  10. Margot wrote:

    AMAZING!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  11. Kaila wrote:

    LOVE This!!

    I love the use of the rock n’ roll t-shirt!

    xo
    http://cestclassique.blogspot.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  12. Amanda wrote:

    This is so freakin’ cool!! Can’t wait to make my own!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  13. A no-sew DIY is always appreciated for those of us who, um, tend to hurt ourselves. Beautiful and so responsible! Now we WANT to grocery shop this week.

    http://calypsoletters.tumblr.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  14. Taylor wrote:

    love this! I’m going to hunt for a cheap vintage tee and try this out!:)

    4.19.11
    Reply
  15. Jade wrote:

    Just found your blog through Bloglovin’… love it!!!
    -Jade

    4.19.11
    Reply
  16. Chelsea wrote:

    This bag literally just took me 15 minutes to make! Great DIY!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  17. Bree wrote:

    Oh! This looks great. Reminds me of those dresses I used to wear as a kid with the shredded t-shirt ends and beads. Can’t wait to give this a go!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  18. sarah wrote:

    how clever are you? Love the fringe! (and yipe! those numbers are a serious reminder that I need to get to WORK making reusable shopping bags; I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time)

    4.19.11
    Reply
  19. Natt wrote:

    I just finished the bag in no time at all and it turned out awesome. Great project!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  20. Patience wrote:

    Swoon!!! Trying to replicate this weekend for sure!!!

    Patience

    http://honestlywtf.com/

    4.19.11
    Reply
  21. Great idea! Love all these diys you guys have. Xoxo

    4.19.11
    Reply
  22. Linda wrote:

    I love this bag, but am a little confused at the point of the gathering at the bottom. Can someone help me out, I am dying to try this!

    4.19.11
    Reply
    • erica wrote:

      @Linda, you basically run the 4 strings through a few sections at a time in order to cinch it closed. the reason why i’m so specific about the method and order in which to thread the strings is so that the fringe is evenly spaced. you can always just run one string through all the sections, creating one big cinch at the bottom of the bag. hope that helps!

      4.19.11
  23. january wrote:

    this is amazing!! such a good idea, so inspiring.

    january, x
    jessicajanuary.com

    4.19.11
    Reply
  24. Jamillah wrote:

    LOVE THIS!! I have made the t-shirt tote but didn’t think to leave the strings to hang as fringe. BRILLIANT!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  25. Allison wrote:

    I just made this right now, really easy! And i love it! <3 Thanks for the idea!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  26. Holler!

    4.19.11
    Reply
  27. francesca wrote:

    ok this is amazing!!! and I am doing this ASAP

    4.19.11
    Reply
  28. Linda wrote:

    Erica, that helps a great deal, thank you! On my way upstairs to find a t-shirt right now!!!

    4.20.11
    Reply
  29. Shini wrote:

    You’re some kind of genius. xxxx

    4.20.11
    Reply
  30. Elisa wrote:

    I love this! I made one yesterday and it’s adorable x)

    4.20.11
    Reply
  31. Darcy wrote:

    Love this! I just posted a DIY project myself, check it out!

    http://www.thevoide.com

    4.20.11
    Reply
  32. victoria wrote:

    This is too cool. Ok, gotta go – going to raid my husband’s tshirt drawer now – he won’t mind.

    4.20.11
    Reply
  33. Raechel wrote:

    Am I the only one that is bummed you cut up a perfectly worn Zeppelin tour shirt?? I love this DIY, but as a tour shirt enthusiast it breaks my heart. I am praying it is a replica from Target or something… Note to other T-shirt hackers: please please don’t hack up tour shirts. There are weird people like me that collect them and treat them as historical artifacts. One person’s trash…

    PS- I love your blog and read it every day. This doesn’t change that. <3

    4.20.11
    Reply
  34. Michal wrote:

    I have this same shirt, but in gray, and I love that I have it but I NEVER wear it… I’m totally going home to make this back. right now.

    4.21.11
    Reply
  35. Valerie wrote:

    Wow! These are amazing!! Will definitely try it!

    forshoeswefall.blogspot.com

    4.23.11
    Reply
  36. tracy wrote:

    woo, i didnt imagine i can recycle our old t-shirt like that, actually my husband have many old t-shirt. it is a time to clean them up and have meaningful gift to friends !

    4.26.11
    Reply
  37. Caitlin wrote:

    i saw this today and thought it was so great that i ran home and did it right away. so easy! i can’t wait to try it on more t-shirts!

    4.26.11
    Reply
  38. Aja wrote:

    This is great, however the part at the bottom is really confusing! What are we threading the strings through? Do we sew a tunnel first? I re read this a few times and I am a sewer and I still do not understand. Please explain!!

    4.28.11
    Reply
    • erica wrote:

      @Aja, after you cut the sleeves off and the half circle in the neck, pick the shirt up by the shoulders (now the handles of the bag). the bottom of the bag (bottom hem of the shirt) is completely open. you’ll need to thread the strings through the bottom to cinch it closed. no sewing required! unless, you wanted to turn the shirt inside out and sew the bottom closed . . . hope this helps!

      4.28.11
  39. Aja wrote:

    Ok I understand now! You cut the slits about an inch or two above the bottom hem so then the bottom still stays together! I’m going to try it now. Thanks!!

    4.28.11
    Reply
  40. Well, this beats those expensive green market bags on sale on the supermarkets.

    5.13.11
    Reply
  41. Tamara like Camera wrote:

    I made two this weekend! Totally awesome, and i LOVE not having to sew anything.

    5.23.11
    Reply
  42. denn wrote:

    LED-ZEPPLINNNNN !!!!!!!!!!!

    5.24.11
    Reply
  43. Concerned Individual wrote:

    WHERE ARE YOUR FEET?

    5.26.11
    Reply
  44. KonfusedKid wrote:

    please help!!! i have nooo idea how to “thread” the bottom with the pin.. zoo extremely confused.. you attach 1 of the 4 strings to a safety pin and then what?

    5.29.11
    Reply
    • erica wrote:

      @KonfusedKid, the strings are used to cinch the bottom of the shirt closed. So first you will have cut slits into the bottom hem of the shirt, creating passageways for the strings. I suggested 4 pieces of string for a fringed look. The strings are then threaded through the hem of the shirt, passing through each slit that you have cut. Pull them closed and there you go! Feel free to email me if you have more questions!

      5.30.11
  45. Wow, this is amazing, love your diys.

    6.4.11
    Reply
  46. Joya Burda wrote:

    Unbelievable soo cool!! Well Done

    6.16.11
    Reply
  47. Awesome, will try this on my old jeans.

    6.23.11
    Reply
  48. Kim wrote:

    Love love love… however I just can’t seem to follow the threading order, perhaps it’s my dyslexia~ I’ve tried to enlarge the photo’s but still can’t figure out the order & what loops over what…. anyway, bag done & cute, but holes in bottom (so I obviously threaded wrong)… next attempt I think I’ll do more slits for more fringe. If anyone has a diagram for threading let me know. Love all the DIY projects you guys post ♥

    7.6.11
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Kim, tread your strings through each slit without skipping any. the slits are only there to make the threading easier. essentially, you can take one string and thread it all the way around. the only reason we suggested using several strings was for the fringe effect. you’ll have tiny holes on the bottom but if overlaps the strings when threading each section and tie it super tight, the holes shouldn’t be a problem. hope that helps!

      7.6.11
  49. Valerie wrote:

    I just made this bag! It is really cute!

    7.15.11
    Reply
  50. bri wrote:

    This is so easy! I did the bottem a little different because i didn’t understand the instructions, but it is super easy and takes 10 minutes!

    7.15.11
    Reply
  51. Paige wrote:

    Oh, I cannot wait to make this one! I’m about to move to a small island off the coast of Virginia and I have been looking for some easy-to-make bags I can beach comb with. This one fits the bill perfectly!

    7.18.11
    Reply
  52. Nadia wrote:

    I’ve made these before, but just sewed the bottom. I love that you came up with a way to do it without sewing, it’s so cute! When I use them at the grocery store more often than not the bagger will hand them back to me and tell me I accidentally put a t-shirt in with my other bags. When I explain they either think it’s a great idea, or they think I’m totally weird. I also use these as gift bags. One time I even did a freezer paper stencil on the outside and gave it as a gift.

    7.26.11
    Reply
  53. Lila wrote:
    8.2.11
    Reply
  54. stella wrote:

    i just made my bag from one of my sons old skull and crossbones t-shirts and it rocks!! it will make the perfect pool bag!!!

    8.4.11
    Reply
  55. Jane wrote:

    I just made a rockin’ bag for myself, and I am planning to make some as Christmas presents for all of my friends. I know they will love the quirky, yet chic style of the whole shebang!

    8.6.11
    Reply
  56. Maggie wrote:

    I’ve made three of these already and they’re so wonderful! Thank you!

    8.15.11
    Reply
  57. Sonnie wrote:

    I’m still confused on how to do the bottom of the bag 🙁

    9.1.11
    Reply
  58. Tiffany wrote:

    I love this! I just made 2 “bags”. theyre so cute and easy to make!

    9.16.11
    Reply
  59. lmoe wrote:

    i tried it… not as good as in the pic but still freein awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    9.17.11
    Reply
  60. Sarabellum wrote:

    Has anybody come up with a clever way to make the top a little more finished looking? I tied a couple more strips of tshirt on the shoulders to gather it and make it a little better.

    9.27.11
    Reply
  61. Sarah wrote:

    this is awesom — but yeah, i don’t get how to do the bottom, help!

    10.15.11
    Reply
  62. DDekor wrote:

    Cool, i love it

    10.17.11
    Reply
  63. Gretta wrote:

    I’m glad that someone posted about the Zep abomination! It does, however make an adorable bag. I would be just as excited to carry that bag than wear the shirt. This is really a great idea, i think we all could at least head down to our local thrift shop and save some paper and plastic. I am still confused as to how the top photo represents all the plastic and paper but I’ll keep staring at it until it makes sense.

    10.30.11
    Reply
  64. Anna wrote:

    Simple way to help the environment. And those numbers about plastic bags are really just awful.

    10.31.11
    Reply
  65. Sami wrote:

    i am really confused! i need a video!

    11.22.11
    Reply
  66. Suzanne wrote:

    This bag is SO EASY! As with so many others, I’ve got so many t-shirts I just don’t wear anymore. Because many have such sentimental value……this bag ROCKS! I look forward to going out today and using it for the first time! Thank you so very much for sharing such a wonderful idea!!!

    11.30.11
    Reply
  67. Tara Lee wrote:

    Amazing! Took me longer than it probably should have haha. I was a bit confused about the string part and which holes to go through and skip. I ended up doing every other one with one string, and then going back through the skipped ones with another string. I’m sort of new to the whole DIY/crafting scene, still though, it turned out quite lovely. There are some tiny holes in the bottom of the bag, but I’m not too concerned with that. This was a great tutorial for me! Thanks Erica!

    11.30.11
    Reply
  68. Audrey wrote:

    I lve led zeppelin so this bag is the best for me

    1.19.12
    Reply
  69. amy wrote:

    wow!!……thse r so cool man im so gonna try ths out…thnxxx 🙂

    1.23.12
    Reply
  70. Timmie wrote:

    Love this and especially the bell bottoms, where did you get them???

    1.29.12
    Reply
  71. Caroline wrote:

    HELP!!!!!! I can’t ge thte hang of the weaving part. I cut the slits and everything… How is it threading? I mean its slits with the tshirt’s sides sewn up?! ould you maybe dumm it down for me or something? Thanks

    2.7.12
    Reply
  72. CarolineSearight wrote:

    LOL! Never mind…

    2.7.12
    Reply
  73. Ginny wrote:

    What a great tutorial – it combines my loves of shopping, sewing, and being green! I like it so much, I included it on my blog… http://darlingadventures.com/?p=635
    Thanks!

    4.2.12
    Reply
  74. afia wrote:

    i had absolutely no trubel in makin dis bag. it’s soooo cool! xoxo

    4.6.12
    Reply
  75. Bry wrote:

    this is amazingly brilliant.
    i just finished making mine! 😀

    4.14.12
    Reply
  76. Erica wrote:

    Made mine out of a tie-dye.. So adorbs :))

    5.13.12
    Reply
  77. alex wrote:

    why would you cut up such a sweet shirt?!?!?!?! if you’re gonna do this, use a Prince shirt.

    5.24.12
    Reply
  78. pretty cool. need to remember this for the future. 🙂 http://hotchocolate4sunshine.blogspot.de/

    5.26.12
    Reply
  79. woah wrote:

    wow what a joke i suggest anyone that makes one of these “shirt bag” sends ten shirts to some homeless african children so they don’t get skin cancer….way to make a useless “bag” out of something that could be of way more importance…….way to go women i think you’re at an all time low.

    5.29.12
    Reply
  80. Elliott wrote:

    Woah!! Don’t you think recycling a bag from an old t-shirt is better than going to any high street store to buy one considering that most mainstream brands & stores have dubious methods of manufacture.. Not to mention their participation in creating a world where their CEOs & stockholders have insultingly luxurious lifestyles whilst “homeless African children … get skin cancer”. 🙁

    5.31.12
    Reply
  81. Elliott wrote:

    Sorry and also I found it very sweet that this post was made to inspire people to think about their effect on the environment 🙂

    5.31.12
    Reply
  82. Patricia wrote:

    Great post, I love a good DIY project. I am getting a bit old for T-shirts but don’t want to get rid of them. This is a good way to recycle. Thanks 😀

    6.5.12
    Reply
  83. Shopping online for branded shoes has lots of advantages over traditional way of shopping. On internet you can visit a range of stores offering shoes on the internet in a short span of time. This way you will be able to make comparison in terms of brand, looks and prices in order to get the best deal possible.

    http://www.dukanee.com/shop/cl_2-c_1910-p_1897/kids/girls/girls-shoes/sandals.html

    6.6.12
    Reply
  84. Jessica wrote:

    Did you use a man’s T-shirt? In which size?

    Thanks =)

    7.19.12
    Reply
  85. Freeman wrote:

    I loveeeeee making these bags, I kid you not. I’ve made around like, 10. 5 out of my shirts, and a few others for friends. I can’t stop making these xD
    I have a fun little thing to add too: If you want to widen the bag a bit more, get something heavy, like a dumbbell weight ( i use 20lbs), put it inside the bag and lift the bag just so the weight pulls the bag down a bit to stretch it and makes it bigger by a bit 😉

    7.22.12
    Reply
  86. Cassidi Amster wrote:

    Just made mine! Perfect for the beach and pool 🙂

    7.24.12
    Reply
  87. Jenna wrote:

    LOVE this… Kind of confusing in the beginning, but I got through it and it turned out AMAZING 🙂 thanks

    7.26.12
    Reply
  88. ginaLove wrote:

    i just made one from an old Upper Playground t-shirt which took me no more than 10 minutes from start to finish.. however, since the holes at the base are annoying me, i am going to undo that portion and pin the fringe to the bottom (while t-shirt is inside out, of course) and then sew it all closed to assure that nothing falls out.

    another idea is to cut a circle patch/liner to sew onto the base of the interior, so the hole becomes irrelevant…

    that doesnt help the non-sewers though. bummer.

    you have a wonderful blog with tons of awesome ideas. thumbs up on this diy.

    10.13.12
    Reply
  89. Its really something which is meant for everyday life, really a stuff for everyone.

    12.2.12
    Reply
  90. Lori wrote:

    Just made 2 of these! Such a great way to hold on to my favorite shirts 🙂 Here’s a picture of the second one I made. Cut the fringe off of this one.

    1.31.13
    Reply
  91. Dekor wrote:

    Thanks to a very well laid out.

    3.8.13
    Reply
  92. Harley wrote:

    very cute,but a LED ZEPPELIN SHIRT?? WHy! 🙁

    4.25.13
    Reply
  93. Granola wrote:

    Great tutorial! I just made one up using some other t-shirt sleeves I had from when I turned one into a tanktop. The fringe is a nice contrasting color and it looks great!

    11.27.13
    Reply
  94. Dinda wrote:

    I confuse ’bout to slip the strings 🙁

    12.17.13
    Reply
  95. Tara wrote:

    This is awesome, but I was a little confused about the gathering at the bottom. I searched around a little and found another blogger who posted more pictures. When you cut the strings at the bottom DON’T CUT OVER THE STITCH. You will have to put the string through the holes like the strings in sweat pants.

    8.6.14
    Reply
  96. Hello there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading
    through your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go
    over the same topics? Thanks for your time!

    8.29.14
    Reply
  97. dekorasyon wrote:

    way to make a useless “bag” out 🙂

    12.20.14
    Reply
  98. totally making this bag!!!!

    3.14.15
    Reply
  99. Daniella wrote:

    There’s certainly a lot to find out about this subject. I really like all
    of the points you made.

    7.29.15
    Reply
  100. Ivet wrote:

    These subtitled look great, they are very much in my style

    12.9.15
    Reply
  101. Isabell wrote:

    I really like the idea! The best part ist that it’s so usable!

    2.25.16
    Reply
  102. Polly wrote:

    Cool idea, but I’m the 11th person who can’t understand the lacing directions to finish the bottom. “Starting at the left side of the shirt, thread the string through two sections so that both ends come out from the left hem of the shirt.” So, the string loops back on itself? Has anyone done a diagram?

    7.13.16
    Reply
  103. call me st wrote:

    For my fellow visual learners, I have diagrams/modified directions for stringing the bottom hem:

    http://callmest.blogspot.com/p/tutorials_19.html

    It is not meant to offend this wonderful tutorial. I just want to help those who, like me, had cognitive trouble with the bottom the the bag 🙂

    10.19.16
    Reply
  104. Again another great idea!

    1.3.17
    Reply
  105. DDekor wrote:

    I really like the idea!

    6.1.17
    Reply
  106. radyolar wrote:

    These subtitled look great, they are very much in my style

    6.17.17
    Reply
  107. Kendin Yap wrote:

    It must be very useful and relaxing. Thanks for the successful work

    6.30.17
    Reply
  108. İdea wrote:

    Danke, schön Post

    7.26.17
    Reply
  109. Diy wrote:

    Wonderful congratulations

    8.6.17
    Reply
  110. Diy wrote:

    Congratulations,
    Wonderful

    8.6.17
    Reply
  111. Dekorizyon wrote:

    Cool, i love it

    8.15.17
    Reply
  112. Nicole wrote:

    This is just a great idea! I love finding new DIY ideas!

    4.7.18
    Reply
  113. Zara wrote:

    great, i will try this, its amazing and easy DIY.. thanks

    5.3.18
    Reply
  114. Tarzyasam wrote:

    i really like it. Thanks you

    8.24.18
    Reply
  115. Dekorsin wrote:

    Great ideas

    11.30.18
    Reply