Repurposing Old Clothes Into Bags

Saving money is a cause that is near and dear to most hearts just as saving the planet is. By using your old clothing to make reusable bags, you can actually appease both needs. The clothes don’t end up in a landfill and you end up using fewer of those eco-unfriendly plastic bags. You also save money by not having to buy cloth bags because you’ve made your own from unwanted clothing items.

Tank Tops

These are the easiest bags to make. Take an old tank top and sew the opening at the waistband closed. The shoulders become the handles of the bag. Typically, tank tops are made of lightweight material so this tote shouldn’t be expected to carry anything overly heavy but for lightweight purchases, the bag is dream.

T Shirts

To make t-shirt bag, turn the shirt inside out, Sew the bottom opening together. You can sew the bottom together just under the design on the front of the shirt if you want a shallower bag. If you do this, cut away any excess fabric. Cut away the sleeves but leave the original seam intact on the bag to help strengthen the bag. Use a large dinner plate, centered over the neck opening and positioned so half of the plate rests on the shirt ad half does not. Lightly trace a half circle around the plate onto the t-shirt. Cut along the arced line to make the bag opening. You can use the sleeves you removed to make pockets on the bag. Just sew them in place where ever they seem useful.


Jeans make the sturdiest tote bags but they also take a little more work. You use the legs of jeans to make the tote bag. Using more than one pair, you can give your bag a striped look by using different shades of blue jeans.

Lay out the jeans flat and cut out the fabric, leaving the long leg seams intact as these will be used to make the handles. Once you have the lengths of fabric cut out, you will need 9 rectangles of the exact same size. I use 13 inches by 5 inches.

Lay four strips side by side so that the long parts are vertical. Arrange the fabric strips in whatever combination is pleasing to you, if you are using multiple shades of blue. Using any tight stitch setting on your sewing machine, sew the long edges of the first four strips together. Repeat for another four strips. You should now have a front a back panel. Place the two panels, right sides facing each other together and sew up the left and right seams.

Use the left over rectangle to make the bottom of the bag. Center it at the front center of the bag and sew around the edges, including the corners until you have the whole section tightly sewn in.

Take the one of the seam strips you saved from the pant legs and attach one end to one corner and the other end to the other corner of the front of the bag. Repeat with the other strip on the back of the bag. Before securing the second end, adjust the length of the strap to whatever suits you. You can decorate the bag with rhinestones, studs or even an old brooch to give it a 70’s feel.