Turn a Flannel Shirt into a Reuseable Grocery Bag.

Recycle an old favourite flannel shirt into a reusable, washable cloth shopping bag. Why yes! This CAN be done with the shirt your partner still wears from high school that they really really shouldn’t.

A grocery bag made with a flannel shirt hangs off the back of an old chair.

Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza are all barrelling down towards us like they do year in and year out. Yet still – the realization that the holidays are only a few weeks away is always as surprising as a bird pooping on your head.

Lord help you if you’re an African America Christian Jew because you have an obscene amount of celebrating ahead of you.

This DIY grocery bag is for you if you’re looking for a homemade present idea for someone on your list.  Or maybe something for yourself to celebrate the fact that you just saw your first snowflake in the shape of Bea Arthur. 

I have for you today what might be the most elegant, redneck bag you’ve ever seen.  It’s certainly the most elegant, redneck bag I’ve ever made.   Lace up your Kodiaks or Cougar Boots people … we’re making a Lumberjack Sack.

You can make it out of any shirt (I got this heavy plaid shirt at a second hand store for $4) but it makes a more personal gift if you make it out of a shirt that’s significant but maybe shouldn’t actually be worn anymore. 

I NEED TO WARN YOU THAT SEWING IS INVOLVED. I know. A lot of people hate sewing or don’t own a sewing machine or own one but think of it more as a sculpture. If that’s you, I’d go the Beeswax wraps route for a homemade present. 


How to make a reusable shopping bag.

An old favourite jean shirt, or flannel shirt from your husband or wife’s Nirvana days would be perfect, so go find one of those. 

If you don’t have a flannel shirt hanging around and no thrift stores this shop on Amazon has plaid flannel shirts for $20 that are in every colour imaginable. 

VERSION 1

  1. Cut off the sleeves. Just grab some scissors and chop ’em off.

Flannel shirt with the right sleeve cut off.

 

2. Sew the front closed. Just button it up and stitch a line right up where the buttons go until you reach the 3rd button. You don’t want to stitch it right to the top button because the opening at the neck is going to be the opening in your bag. Don’t stitch through the front and the back of the shirt, just the front where the buttons are

Flannel shirt with the front placket where the buttons are, sewn together.

 

3. Turn the shirt so it’s inside out and sew up the bottom.

Flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off turned inside out.

The first (and easiest) version of the bag is done! It has no strap or handles. To use it you slip your arm through the sleeve holes so it’s hanging off your arm like a delicate, plaid and flannel purse that you can stuff a ham into.

It’s a bit unfinished this way but if you don’t care, I don’t care.

A thick flannel shirt midway through being turned into a reusable shopping bag.

Are you willing to take on the more advanced version with a handle?!  Here we go.

VERSION 2

(cont’d from Version 1, step 3)

4. Cut one of the sleeves down the centre until you get to the cuff.

A woman's hand holding scissors cuts a shirt sleeve in half.

The one sleeve will now have 2 separate parts.

A plaid flannel shirt sleeve cut in half but still attached at the cuff.

 

5. Fold the 2 sleeve sections in half (right sides together) and pin them. Cut 1″ off of the bottom of one of the sleeve sides.  It doesn’t matter which side.

Scissors cutting off 1" of the bottom of a sleeve to make shoulder strap of DIY bag.

 6. Sew a seam down each pinned sleeve edge from the bottom of the sleeve to the bottom of the cuff.

Plaid flannel shirt sleeve cut in half to the cuff.

 

7. Turn the sleeves so they’re right side out again. It’ll be a bit of a tight squeeze.

Flannel shirt sleeve with cuff being held by woman's hand.

 

8. Pull the longer sleeve through the cuff.  

Pulling sleeve through cuff while making reusable shopping bag out of shirt.

 

Pull it allll the way through.

Sleeve pulled through cuff for handle of diy shopping bag.

 

It will now look like this. 

Completed sleeve handle for homemade grocery bag made out of an old shirt.

 

9. Pin and sew each sleeve edge to the inside of an armhole.

Sleeve handles pinned to top of shirt sleeve.

I left them open, but if you want you can sew the armholes up at this point.

You’re done!

DIY Reusable Shopping Bag

DIY Reusable Shopping Bag

Yield: 1 shopping bag

Turn an old shirt into a reusable, washable shopping bag.

Materials

  • Any shirt with sleeves and a button up front.

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine

Instructions

  1. Cut off the sleeves. Just grab some scissors and chop ’em off.
  2. Sew the front closed. Just button it up and stitch a line right up where the buttons go until you reach the 3rd button. You don’t want to stitch it right to the top button because the opening at the neck is going to be the opening in your bag. Don’t stitch through the front and the back of the shirt, just the front where the buttons are
  3. Turn the shirt so it’s inside out and sew up the bottom.
  4. Cut one of the sleeves down the centre until you get to the cuff.
  5. Fold the 2 sleeve sections in half (right sides together) and pin them. Cut 1″ off of the bottom of one of the sleeve sides.  It doesn’t matter which side.
  6. Sew a seam down each pinned sleeve edge from the bottom of the sleeve to the bottom of the cuff.
  7. Turn the sleeves so they’re right side out again. It’ll be a bit of a tight squeeze.
  8. Pull the longer sleeve through the cuff.  
  9. Pin and sew each sleeve edge to the inside of an armhole.

A grocery bag made with a flannel shirt hangs off the back of an old chair.

 

Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, rejoice. The lumberjack sack. Just a quick note, if you buy your flannel shirt at a second hand store like I did, make sure you wash it first; in case it smells like teen spirit.

 

 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

Turn a Flannel Shirt into a Reuseable Grocery Bag.

22 Comments

  1. Shirley says:

    I absolutely love the flannel bag! My style for sure! I would like to ask you about the chair though…did you paint it? If so do you have a tutorial on it?

  2. Kristin Sweeney says:

    Anyone who “skips to how to” is missing out. You never fail to put a smile on my rarely smiling face.

    • Karen says:

      That’s no good. A gal has to smile. I’m sorry to be so forward, but are you incarcerated? Just sad? Either way I hope you have enough posts here to read to keep you smiling for a while. ~ karen!

  3. Ann Larkin says:

    Is there a way to see previous posts? I was thinking of the one on cleaning headlights.

    • Karen says:

      You can either go to my menu and browse the DIY Category for DIY Tutorials or use the search bar up top. Just click on the magnifying glass and it’ll bring you to the search page. :) ~ karen!

  4. Emie says:

    I love this idea! Maybe next you could do a tutorial on making a reusable bag from an old pair of jeans that have seen better days? Thanks!

  5. Petra says:

    Yeah, really cute and thrifty but please be aware that the 90’s are back with the young teen set out here on the west coast, so very soon those plaid shirts especially the better thicker ones are going to get scarce. I kid you not. My granddaughter is rockin’ shred knee jeans, Doc Martins and purple pixie hair. It has been a sudden transition from mermaid princess. Sigh.
    I don’t think the really thick Buffalo plaid shirts (once known as Surrey dinner jackets) are still being manufactured or if they are they are crazy expensive.
    Gosh, that shirt looks like Vintage LL Bean…..

  6. Mary W says:

    Handy to know for winter time down time or AKA Rona Time. Roomy, cheap, nice looking!

  7. LOIS M BARON says:

    This is my favorite line: Don’t stitch through the front and the back of the shirt.

    Love the handle.

    I read your posts even when the subject line shows I will never make/do the thing you are writing about because you are hilarious.

  8. Vikki says:

    This is very clever and makes a cute and useful gift. Thanks for the good idea (and instructions).

  9. Karin says:

    I wonder if you couldn’t skip cutting the sleeves off and just sew them together at the cuffs? Because lazy.

  10. Jane says:

    Absolutely ingenious! And an awesome name as well!

    BTW, Karen, how are your fig plants doing? Mine has half a dozen green figs the size of a small marble, then the cold snap. The figs are still hanging in there (I covered the plant with clear plastic, as well as a tarp on frosty nights), but the leaves are all gone.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane. My figs ended up in an area of my backyard where they grew quite well but didn’t produce fruit. Possibly not enough sun. So they’re currently dormant! If you keep yours inside and dormant you’ll lose the figs on the plant right now but will get a good breba crop start in the spring. ~ karen!

  11. Kathy says:

    Brilliant idea!!

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thank you for another great post, and also bringing a smile to my morning! Oh dear, now the dilemma of which ancient plaid to part with.

  13. Linda J Howes-Smyth says:

    Speechless.

  14. JennyW says:

    Very cute!!

  15. TucsonPatty says:

    That is very cute, and a welcome change from the reusable bags we’ve been coerced into buying, because they are better for the planet, only to realize much too late – THEY ARE ALL MADE OUT OF PLASTIC, TOO!! Sorry, didn’t mean to shout, but I feel tricked!
    I only have a few actual fabric ones, and the other reusable ones are quickly disintegrating before my very eyes! They get some kind of rot – could be the heat here in Arizona, but they just shred or lose their handles and generally are soon useless.
    Thank you for a cute pattern, Karen. I have many a redneck relative who might even use one of these!!

    • Karen says:

      I don’t like all the stupid bags either. Most of them are garbage and I’ve said from day 1 that yeah, you can use them again but they fall apart relatively quickly and then end up in the garbage, unlike a plastic bag which can in fact be easily recycled. :/ ~ karen!

  16. Cathy Reeves says:

    How do I attach it to the bag part?

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