Episode #4: Reusable Bags from T-Shirts

Hello everyone, welcome to Sustainable Existing! This is going to be an interesting episode because it is the first repurpose, craft episode. I haven’t completely decided if this is how I want to keep the episode schedule layout since it may be hard to follow along to just listening to the podcast episode, but I figured it was worth the try. I would love to hear your feedback on this style of the episode as well as any general feedback, comments, or question. If you want to just say hello that is cool too. On my website is, you can find my social media accounts, my email address as well as the blog post and pictures that go along with today’s episode.

Do you have a few old t-shirts laying around your house? Well, this is the perfect opportunity to put them to good use. As I mentioned last week, an easy swap is from plastic to reusable bags. This includes shopping bags and produce bags. While you can buy reusable bags at various grocery stores and from online sellers, it is also easy to make them in the comfort of your own home. For all of these crafts, you will need a few t-shirts and fabric scissors. If you know how to sew, you might want to use a needle and thread or a sewing machine if you have one. I am fortunate to have a sewing machine in my house so I will be using that, but I will briefly show a different method for those that don’t know how to sew.

For those of you that don’t know how to sew, there is the tie method. You can do this on either the outside (in which the ties will show after you are done) or on the inside (then you will flip the connected fabric inside out and the ties will be hidden.) On the sides, you are connecting, measure, and mark every half inch across the material. Then cut on those lines creating small strips of fabric attached to your creation, also remembering to cut along the edge of your fabric where you began and ended measuring. Double knot the strips you created, keeping careful that you properly match up each strip to the corresponding strip of each piece of fabric that you are connecting. Once connected, flip inside out (if you want the ties hidden) or leave be (if you want them to show.) I hope that you don’t get discouraged by my words, but I have to. give my honest review. I will admit this is a very tedious and time-consuming method. My hands are on the smaller side and this process wasn’t too difficult. This method doesn’t create a perfect seam and will leave slight holes in between knots that aren’t tied tight enough; this is something to keep in mind when using it with smaller items, that they can potentially poke out or even fall out if small enough. Overall, I would recommend sewing by hand or using a sewing machine if you can.

The first product we are going to make together is a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt. Depending on the size of the t-shirt, this item can be used for clothing shopping or grocery shopping. Grocery shopping may not be the best for those using the tie method if you tend to get heavy, bulky items. Just as you may think, smaller t-shirts make smaller bags and bigger t-shirts make bigger bags.

First, cut off the sleeves of the t-shirt and the neckline to create handles from the shoulders of the t-shirt. Allow yourself to create a handle size and shape that will best suit you and your intentions for this bag. Making bigger handles would be beneficial for those that want it to hold heavier things, but smaller handles allow for easier access into the bag. If you are using a tank top, you are more than welcome to use the handles already created by the lack of sleeves.

Then, decide how deep you want the bag. From the opening at the top of the bag to the line you will draw towards the bottom of your t-shirt will determine how deep your bag will be. Mark across from one side of the t-shirt to another, a straight line using a ruler. Cut off the bottom of the t-shirt and save the scraps for another project.

Either by sewing or by using the tie method, close the bottom of the t-shirt. Like I mentioned before, flip the shirt inside out for a hidden seam if you’re sewing, or hidden knots if you are using the tie method. Then your bag is finished and ready to use. If you used the tie method, I would recommend regularly checking to make sure the ties keep intact.

Next, I made a produce bag. These are typically smaller than regular-sized shopping bags and are made for when you buy fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Although regular plastic shopping bags sometimes get one or two more uses out of them, plastic produce bags are typically just tossed after their initial use. I had used the fabric from the bottom of a t-shirt I had turned into a bag. From being part of a t-shirt, the fabric was in shape of a ring and I cut it so that there was one long strip of fabric. I trimmed the length so that when I was to fold it in half, it would be the depth I wanted the bag to be. I used the sewing machine to attach both sides (the fold created the bottom.) I trimmed holes into the top of the bag to create a small handle. In the end, the bag I created would probably hold around six to eight big apples, but you can create your bag to be any size you want.

I also want to take time each craft episode to update you on where I am in my sustainable journey since these episodes will probably not be as long as the informational ones. I have made more of an effort not to drink anything but water from the tap. My family has a filtered water container that we use tap water for. This reduces the need to have drinks poured from plastic containers. I will occasionally have juice with breakfast once or twice a week but have been mostly sticking with water. At the beginning of every school day, I fill up two of my metal water bottles for when I have to sit through google hangout calls for my classes. This eliminates the chances of me being lazy and having to grab a plastic water bottle quickly between classes if I finish the first bottle. Two big reusable water bottles last me throughout the day. I have also been reheating leftovers in the fridge for lunches which eliminates the chances for food waste and making a new meal when there is already food avaliable.

I will admit there are some times where I slip up. I want to own up to my mistakes because no one is perfect and I want to be an example that it’s okay to mess up sometimes as long as you try to learn from your mistakes. Publicly admitting mine will help me correct myself and think of solutions ahead of time. Yesterday I had to clean out my locker at school because it was recently announced that school was closed for the rest of my junior year due to the Corona Virus. I wasn’t thinking and had a small breakfast early in the morning and when it came time to clean out my locker I became very hungry to the point that my stomach had begun to hurt. I decided that it would be best to get food through a drive-through since I live forty-five minutes away from my school and knew driving home would be a pain if my stomach was upset. To cut to the chase, I used single-use plastic silverware. I know just last week I said you can carry around a set of metal utensils to avoid this, but I didn’t think I would be in the situation I was. I know better now and will leave a set in my car.

Thank you all for listening. I would love to see if you make any of the crafts from this video or hear what you have done on your sustainable journey. Have a great week and remember to make sustainable choices.

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