When my daughter’s favorite kitty cat t-shirt sprouted a hole, I knew it was time to repurpose it into something new.
And there is nothing my girly-girl loves more than carrying her “essentials” around in a pocketbook, so a recycled t-shirt tote for kids was the perfect idea!
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The first step was to talk her into this craft.
She had no interest in my taking her cool cat shirt away, and her 4-year-old mind wasn’t open to using it for a craft, at all.
But she finally gave in, so here we go!
First, lay the T on a flat surface. I’m using my cutting mat, just so I don’t accidentally scratch my table with my scissors. Even though it’s one of my main hobbies, I can be a bit of a clumsy crafter.
Next, using sharp scissors or rotary cutter, cut sleeves and neck out. Make sure to leave the shoulder seams. These will be the carrying straps to your bag.
Since this t-shirt is so small, the shoulder seams are really tiny.
If you follow these same steps for a larger shirt, you’ll have more of a shoulder, so a wider strap to hold. At her age, these little straps will work just fine for my daughter.
Turn your shirt inside out to sew the bottom closed. Now, if I had any kind of actual sewing skills, I would use a machine to close up the bottom, easy-peasy. But, since that is an ability I do not have at the moment, I had to think of another way.
I chose to go with a quick whip stitch because it’s quick and simple. And I could use some thick gray yarn from my ever-growing yarn stash. I have a lot of yarn for someone who doesn’t knit or crochet.
Line up the bottom of the shirt, and pin it closed to keep everything in place.
Tie a large knot on the end of your yarn, and thread it through a yarn, or tapestry, needle. To do a whip stitch, push your needle through your shirt from the back and pull it tight. Wrap the yarn around the bottom and push the needle through the back again, but about ½” over from the first spot.
It might take some effort to push your blunt needle through the jersey fabric of your t-shirt. I had to sort of punch it through the tight weave.
When you get to the end of your shirt, make a couple of extra stitches, knot, and cut away the extra yarn.
Turn right side out and fill!
You will be able to see the stitches on the underside of the bag, but I don’t mind that. It adds to the handmade quality for me.
I’m happy to say that it took very little convincing for my little girl to start modeling her new bag. She was a smitten kitten (no pun intended) with her new tote. Not only is it the perfect size for her, but it’s also a great lesson in repurposing for her to see. Plus, she gets to keep her favorite kitty for a bit.
She filled her new bag up in no time and has been using it to play “Little Red Riding Hood” for a couple of days now! By the way, my girl did not put this very festive outfit on for our mini photoshoot. This is pretty much everyday wear for her.
This upcycled t-shirt tote for kids craft worked out so well, I made another from a Halloween T that wasn’t going to make it to another October. Now we have an extra bag for Trick or Treating. Win!
The great thing about this recycled t-shirt tote for kids is how surprisingly sturdy it is.
They stretch to hold a bunch, but the jersey fabric doesn’t tear. And, trust me, my girl has put her kitten tote to the test. She’s happy with her new bag; I’m happy to have saved something from the landfill.
Don’t need a kids tote? Follow the same steps for a bigger version. I know I have a few spare shirts hanging around that I can turn into bags, don’t you?
5 thoughts on “Recycled T-Shirt Tote for Kids”
This is so adorable! I love the upcycling concept – something we talk a lot about in our family – and the easy sewing that my little one will love. It’s definitely something she can now make herself. Thanks so much for sharing!
I didn’t even think that it could be an intro to sewing project for kids, since mine are so little still! Great idea, Natalie!
I`ve been using mine for rag rugs but this tote is super cute . I also hate purses but think I just might like one of these for myself!! Love that you are thinking of recycling.
And they’re durable! My girl has been using hers almost daily since the fall and it’s holding up really well.
I really like your tutorial on rag rugs! And i think the kids tote is darling . I am going to make it for my grand kids!
My mom had a great upcycle for a kids laundry bag.
Take a dress or shirt they have out grown. Then sew the bottom hem closed. Hang it on a hanger,
Button thr neckline and they put dirty clothed in the back opening- even better if its a favoritt outgrown