Make a Shopping Bag out of a T-Shirt.
Then Take it Once Step FURTHER.

My name is Karen. I have 4 reusable shopping bags in my trunk.  No wait.  That’s not right.  Let me count again.

O.K.  done.

My name is Karen.  I have 7,542,376 reusable shopping bags in my trunk.  And 4 hanging off my kitchen doorknob.

Dear stores.  Enough with the shopping bags. I do *NOT* under any circumstances need another reusable shopping bag that has the name of your store on it.  For one thing, I don’t even like your store half the time so why would I walk around advertising for it?  I can’t even find the cheesecloth  in your store.

And once when I was in your store looking reallllyyyy bad, like “OMG. I wonder when Karen became homeless, do you think we should give  her a dollar?” bad, I ran into half the people I went to highschool with.  Who all looked like they just came back from sailing with Ralph Lauren.  So.  Clearly, this is your fault and I do not have a fondness for your store because of it.

So, what’s a logical girl to do when she is overrun with shopping bags?

Make some more.

Of course the very distinct difference between my shopping bags and the ugly, advertising ones from the stores is the fact that MY shopping bags are cute.



I’m sure a lot of you have seen the posts around the Internet on how to make a reusable shopping bag out of a tee shirt.  The first time I saw it was way back in 2007 when Martha Stewart featured it.

Last week I decided I was going to get  rid of the majority of my old, ugly reusable bags and replace them with half decent looking bags that I could throw over my shoulder depending on my mood, outfit or how I thought it would look with whatever produce I was buying sticking jauntily out of the top.  Just kidding on the last one.  Just kidding about just kidding on the last one.

So I made a few different styles of bags, one of which was the tee shirt bag.  It turned out fine.  Just a plain gray tee shirt turned into a reuseable bag.  It’s the one on the right in the picture above.

Step By Step 2


THEN I took it one step further.

I scoured my drawers and the local thrift store for sweaters.   Sweaters.  Yup.  And a chicer bag your toilet paper and tomatoes never will see.

Incidentally … depending on what type of tee shirt or sweater material you’re using this project will take 5 minutes at the least and 10 minutes at the most.

The steps are the same as for the tee shirt bag with one difference.  If your sweater is the type that unravels you need to stitch around the areas you cut.

Sweater 2


1.  Grab yourself an old sweater that you don’t wear anymore.

Maybe it’s itchy. Or ugly.  Or too hot.

Cutting Sleeves


2. Cut the sleeves off.  That’s right.  Cut em off.

When you cut your sleeves make sure you DON’T cut through the seam

where the sleeve is attached to the body of the sweater.  Just just along the outside of that seam on the sleeve side.

This will help your soon to be shopping bag from unravelling like Dina Lohan on the Dr. Phil show.

Sleeves Cut Off


3.  Zig zag or serge around the sleeve opening.  This is not necessary with tee shirts, or with sweaters that don’t unravel.

Then, turn the sweater/tee shirt inside out and sew the bottom together.

Done.  Yes.  You are already done.




And this is what you end up with.

The sweater on the left needed the sleeves zig zagged.

The sweater in the middle did not.

The tee shirt on the end … that’s the fella’s tee shirt, so it’s huge.



If I’m in the grocery store getting crap loads of canned goods and kitty litter and such, I don’t use these bags.  I use the ugly ones.  Sigh.  But if I’m just running in to pick up a few things, I go for the good ones.  And I prance around hoping, P R A Y I N G … I’ll run into those people from highschool again.



Wanna see what that pretty picture above looked like BEFORE I Photoshopped it?  

Have a look here.  The difference is pretty shocking.


  1. Jamie B. says:

    Just discovered your blog, and I got many laughs out of this post. You are too funny! Thanks for the great grocery bag idea and the chuckles.

  2. Jamie B. says:

    Just discovered your blog, and I got many laughs out of this post. You are too funny! Thanks for the great grocery bag idea and the chuckles.

  3. everythingguru says:

    You are So funny! Love it — Love your writing — Keep doing what you do! :)

  4. My Texas Table says:

    Hi Karen! You may not care, as you may be growing chickens and veggies for the DIY fun rather than any personal concerns about the environment or health…however if you are doing these things out of a personal conviction, you may want to know that the Corn Refiner’s Association is advertising on your top bar in the United States. The link leads to a website that compares the sugars in high fructose corn syrup to that in cane sugar. It’s a very misleading site for those who are not educated on the topic. While the sugar impact may be similar, 85% of corn grown in the US is genetically modified to withstand spraying with Roundup. Scientific studies are showing this has a very adverse effect on female reproductive health. GMO sugar cane is not yet developed. I’m not telling you this with any accusation, nor am I upset. I love your blog and will continue to be a loyal reader and subscriber. I just know that you’ve mentioned that you cannot see what is on the ads in the US and that you might like to know that this particular advertising is sending a very different message than that of your blog content. Have a happy weekend!

    • Karen says:

      Hi My Texas Table! Thanks. I always appreciate people telling me what ads my blog is running. At this point I don’t really have any control over the ads. I hope to one day become a big, bad blogger who gets to select every ad I get, but at this point I’m not that gal. I trust (hope) a lot of people who read my site are aware of the modified corn issues around North America right now. I have a friend whose entire hive of honeybees became sick and died because of this corn. (long story) Hopefully it isn’t a long lived campaign and will be gone soon. If not … hopefully people will read your comment. :) ~ karen!

      • My Texas Table says:

        Yep! I get it regarding advertisers. My condolences to your friend’s bees.

      • Amanda says:

        Also High Fructose Corn Syrup causes the plaque on your teeth to go nuts and eat more, causing more decay. They don’t react that way to cane sugar, or anything else. But they do love Xylitol almost as much (it is a sugar from trees) but they can’t metabolize it, so they starve and the plaque die. It also causes them to lose their sticking ability to your tissue, and they can’t hold on. It decreases decay hugely, but also helps with ear and sinus infections, since it gets those bacteria too. A teaspoon 3x/day is all it takes to get ’em!

  5. Julie Pruett says:

    My sister Jodie, sent me your website and the neat idea about the T-shirt shopping bag… I just got back from the Denver-Boulder area and saw how they liked “green” items…

    Have you ever seen a pattern for ladies open fingered winter mittens/gloves made from used wool sweaters? Cute, yet practical way of using sweaters that you were going to donate or toss…

  6. Gayla T says:

    If you don’t have plastic grocery store bags what do you scoop the cat box into? I use 3 cat litter boxes so use several bags a week. I’m always running out and getting them from my daughter and my neighbor. I only use the recycle bags when I shop at Aldi’s as they charge for bags. The other stores do too but they work it into the price of the groceries and I don’t think about it. I can’t imagine cleaning after my 3 cats w/o those bags. They say not to flush the clumps down the toilet so you have to have some way of cleaning them up. My store asks if I want paper or plastic and some times I say paper because those bags are handy too. It would save a fortune if they sent the groceries home on paper towels or toilet paper, wouldn’t it?

  7. Brook says:

    Cute bags, Karen! But as soon as you described ‘whatever produce I was buying sticking jauntily out of the top,’ my mind took an abrupt turn to the world of’The Problematic Underwear Collection.” Trust me, there is a connection. A darkly funny, quite disturbing one, but a connection nonetheless:

    While I once managed to lose a wrap skirt in the middle of a crowded market, and have witnessed a skate punk’s jeans falling to his ankles, leaving him gliding across a busy street in his boxers, I’ve never had the particular problem that Art Frahm so abundantly illustrated. Particularly not with celery peeking out from the top of my grocery bag.

  8. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    They look much nicer than the store bags that are so cheap that they start to fall apart in the wash..Never saw any made from sweaters before..I like!!!

  9. Lorna says:

    I also have 7,542,376 in my trunk and not one of them, ever, makes it into the store. Yup, I spend 5 cents a bag that I later scoop cat litter into.

  10. amy says:

    This is brilliant! You are BRILLIANT! You have inspired me to try new things. First, graphic tees. Why not make a beautiful bag which is also clever and/or controversial!?!? Thank you inspiration gurl!

  11. Pat says:

    We have a local artisan/fruit/veggies/baking farmers market here every Saturday and EVERYONE brings their own cloth/reusable bags. I have a little cart myself ’cause heads of cabbage, 10 pounds o’potatoes, a dozen corn and pumpkins get heavy! A case of peaches is not light either. Anyway, the farmers market crowd could teach a lesson to “the mall” crowd because there’s never anyone with reusable bags there. Wish our municipality would just ban plastic bags outright.

  12. Chris says:

    I love your idea. If I make them big enough can I hide those ugly bags inside for more support or will the opening be too small?

    • Karen says:

      Chris – You’ll probably have a hard time finding the right size bag to fit into the bags you made. You’re right about support though. One way to fix that with the sweater / tee shirt bags would be to just sew a length of stabilizing material down the side seams and hem of the shirt. A silk ribbon or piece of canvas … anything that doesn’t stretch. It’ll keep the bag from stretching to Kingdom Come and give it more support. ~ karen!

      • Chris says:

        Thanks Karen. You just gave me a great idea. I am cleaning out my closets right now and I have a few pair of jeans that are going out so I could just use them inside to stabalize the fabric. I hate washing the store bags because they only last a couple of washes. At least your bags can be washed.

  13. Susan says:

    YESSSS I HATE doing their free advertising! I’m a fellow Bag Lady (in looks); thank you for this great idea. Only now I’ll have a bazillion bags cuz all my shirts are crappy. Love ya, S

  14. Kathy Hartzell says:

    What’s with forgetting the bags at home? We have to PAY for disposable bags now, so taking them with is even more important. So, I thought that was what the round thing on the back of the front door (door to garage) was for!! You decorate the door with the bags hanging from the round, knobby thing!

  15. Jeannie B. says:

    I have some dormant tank tops that probably would just need one seam sewn across the bottom. Great idea Karen! My sewing machine has been gathering dust for four years from when I put a great deal of effort into making 24 fleece and flanelette washable diapers with velcro fasteners and elastic leg openings , for my new grandaughter. My daughter wanted to be ” green” with the diapering. I thought I did a splendid job in making them, to the dimensions I was given. and then mailing them across the country to her.Baby grew out of them within the first couple of weeks. This is a much easier ” green” project.Thankyou.

  16. Barbie says:

    Nice! Do you have to have your own bags at grocery stores in Canada? Or are you simply being green? If so Good for you. :) I’m sorta lazy and just use the grocery stores bags….but I always think “I really should buy my own bags”….then never do it! Shame on me!

    • Karen says:

      Barbie – It’s actually kind of law here. Everyone uses reusable, fabric shopping bags. If you don’t the store charges you 5 cents per plastic bag you take. People only use the plastic when they forget their reusable bags in the trunk, or the kitchen counter. The City of Toronto actually outlawed the plastic bags entirely. There was a revolt from store owners and it’s under review. ~ karen!

      • SK Farm Girl says:

        Kudos to The City of Toronto for outlawing plastic bags!!! Wait a minute! Is this the same City of Toronto that does not allow backyard chickens?!?! Hmmm . . . now I am unsure of my opinion of the City of Toronto. FYI: Our Town does allow plastic bags, but has outlawed backyard chickens – go figure! However, I am currently working on getting this changed. I am sleeping with one of our Town Councilors. K – I’m not a total tart; he’s my fella! But, I am trying to influence the law against chickens ;) All hail the chickens!

  17. Karol says:

    You also lost me at “sewing machine”. Even one seam. Plus, I would leave the bags in the same place I leave my coupons I cut out… on my kitchen table. The cashier will say, “do you have any coupons?” and I say, “yes I do, they are all at home, can I tell you about the ones I have?”

  18. Jake says:

    Never mind another grocery bag, I would like to borrow the ladies husband who cooks and cleans etc., for one day a week. Name your own terms :)

  19. charissa says:

    Ha! I always keep the ugly store-branded reuseable bags to pack for stuff I’m giving to Goodwill. I feel better about not giving them plastic bags they have to throw away, *and* I get to get rid of some of those crappy store bags! Win!!

  20. marilyn says:

    i was ok til i saw the sewing machine…shudder…

  21. Darlene says:


    I want you to be my best new best girlfriend!
    When can I move in next door so I can borrow a cup of everything from you???

    Every morning I have my coffee with your blog first! I really miss you on the weekends :-(

  22. Jeff Walker says:

    “This will help your soon to be shopping bag from unravelling like Dina Lohan on the Dr. Phil show.”


  23. Laura Bee says:

    This is perfect! I want to make leg warmers for my daughter, but was wondering what to do with the rest of the sweater – besides make a pillow that won’t match my couch. Problem solved, thanks Karen!

  24. Janie Farmer says:

    Great idea….if you could talk my hubby into remembering to grab them before he goes to the store. He does all the grocery shopping since I am unable to (cooks & does the laundry, too)but, can’t remember to grab the reusable bags when he goes. I have plastic grocery bags coming out the wazoo. Yes, the store recycles them. But, again someone has to remember to take them with him when he goes. sigh…. ran into this link today coincidentally using the plastic bags to make a wreath.

  25. Lisa says:

    Here is what I do to take my t-shirt bags one step further: I square off one of the sleeves, and when I sew the bottom seam, I match the cut edge of the sleeve to the inside center of the the bag seam.

    Then when I’m not using the bag, I turn it inside out and stuff it into its own sleeve – a handy dandy package! Next time I plan to put a slit in the sleeve hem, run a shoelace through, and create a drawstring for the package.

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