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Upcycled: Shirt into Bag tutorial

Happy start to October. I hope September treated you well.

I have been getting back into sewing recently. I have mended two dresses (one had a frayed hem and the other the neckline was fraying). I have a third dress that needs mending but I'll need to buy matching thread. Luckily the first two dresses I had matching thread, which is surprising since I only own five colours (white, black, grey, yellow and green).

My latest achievement was to make Adam a shopping bag that he can fit into his satchel. He previously had a small shopping bag but he must have lent it to someone as it's nowhere to be seen. We have put a few bags of clothes set aside to be re-homed (garage sale, give away - not sure yet) and I thought 'what if I could turn a shirt into a shopping bag?'.

I have a small shopping bag in my handbag that I use all the time. I originally bought it from Kikki K about 5 years ago. It's peachy pink and has a cat illustration on it. I used this bag as my example/template.

You will need:

A shirt or something similar you wish to re-purpose

a sewing machine

matching thread



chalk / fabric pen

measuring tape


iron & ironing board

How to (your shirt size may vary)

1. From the back of the shirt (without buttons on) I cut a rectangle that measured 42cm x 48cm. This makes the front of the bag.

2. With the front of the shirt, cut off the buttons/button holes and then sew good sides together. Iron flat. Cut out a rectangle that also measures 42cm x 48cm. So it can form 2 rectangles sewn together without buttons. This piece makes the back of the bag.

3. Moving on to the sleeves - cut off the cuffs, and cut the sleeves off from the body of the shirt. Cut along the main seam of the shirt, so that the sleeve opens up and lies flat. For bag straps cut two strips 58cm x 7cm. To make pocket for bag cut two rectangles 14cm x 30cm. You may need to use sleeve number 2 to complete this.

You should now have the following pieces cut:

- two rectangles 42cm x 48cm pieces (main body of the bag - one made up of two rectangles)

- two strips 58cm x 7cm (bag straps)

- two rectangles 14 cm x 30 cm (pocket pieces)

4. Take the main body pieces, and straight stitch around 3 sides, leaving top open. If you like, zig zag around the edge to prevent fraying (or overlocker if you have one).

5. Take one strap piece right side facing down, fold each long edge over by about 1cm and iron flat. Fold piece in half (so ironed edges tuck under) and iron flat (right side out). Sew straight stitch up each side of the strap. Repeat with second piece of strap fabric.

6. Take pocket pieces - right sides together sew (green) around all four sides leaving a 5cm gap unsewn along a short end. Clip corner fabric off with scissors (red), turn right side out, and using a pen/knitting needle or crochet hook gentle poke the corners so they become more pointed. Iron flat ensuring unsewn section appears to be sewn. Sew straight stitch along unsewn short edge 'a' - this will become the pocked opening. Fold pocket in two ensuring a 3cm section remains. Sew straight stitch around all four sides to create pocket sides 'b'.

7. Take main bag (right sides together) and fold over the unsewn edge by 1cm, and over again 2 cm to create a hem, iron flat. Place bag strap ends under this hem on each side of the bag. Measure so they are same distance apart on each side. Pin in place. Do the same with pocket, placing the flap under the hem. Pin in place.

8. Straight stitch the hem of the bag to fix the bag straps and pocked into hem.

9. Fold handles up and out of the bag (but keep the pocket laying flat). Hem the outer most hem of the bag.

You should now have a complete shopping bag!

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and find humour in my lame sketches! Happy sewing.

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