About this project

So so
Paper or plastic? How about neither

Paper or plastic? How about neither! Both bags produce environmental waste and take months (or in the case of plastic, hundreds of years) to break down in landfills. Instead, choose cotton. Pick one of your most righteous shirts—one that reflects your athletic prowess, musical tastes, or political agenda, then turn it into a tote that’s shaped just like a plastic supermarket bag (to help you with the emotional transition). Make a difference, “in style,” as you load up on berries and broccoli at the local green market.

Extract from

Generation T: Beyond Fashion: 120 New Ways to Transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay

Published by Workman

Megan Nicolay revolutionized the T-shirt. She repurposed it, reinterpreted it, reinvented it—and created the #1 craft book in the nation, Generation T, which continues to dominate. Now she explores new ways to slash a tee, scrunch a tee, and sew a tee with Generation T: Beyond Fashion. A collection of 120 projects for every occasion, it takes the humble yet ever-malleable tee in dozens of new directions—from baby gifts to pet accessories, stuff for the home, the car, the road, the boyfriend.

The rallying cry is: Don't buy; DIY. The result is hip, imaginative, crafty, and very green. There's a basic primer on techniques—knotting, sewing, braiding, lacing—plus a full tutorial on embellishing. And then an amazing range of projects. There’s fashion, of course: all-new halters and tank tops, sexy gaucho pants, a baby-doll dress, twisted shrug, and hooded scarf. But also baby gifts: Jumper for Joy, Baby Back Bib, Wild Thing Blankie. Home décor: plant hanger, wine cozy, toilet seat cover, ruffled apron, and Spastic Plastic (grocery tote). Grill mitts and bolo ties for the guys, doggie tee and stuffed cat toys, a steering wheel cover for the car, the Ants Go Marching (picnic blanket), and Beach Bum (beach caddy). Projects range from the simplest no-sew to intermediate, and all have easy-to-follow illustrated directions—plus, how to throw your own Tee Party.

Time to get your craft on.

© 2017 Megan Nicolay / Workman · Reproduced with permission.


  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 1
    Step 1

    Lay the T-shirt flat. Cut off the sleeves just inside the seams, cut off the hem, and cut out the neckband. Note: You can use an already existing plastic bag as a pattern, but in case you already eliminated all plastic from the premises . . .

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 2
    Step 2

    Mark about 7½" down the front of the shirt from each side of the neck hole. Then mark about 6½" down from the center of the neck hole.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 3
    Step 3

    Draw a wavy line connecting the sides of the neckband with each of the three marks (it should look like a rounded letter “W”). Cut along the line through both layers of fabric.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 4
    Step 4

    Mark 4" along the “shoulder” from each side of the neck hole. Draw a curved line from each mark, connecting it to the sleeve bottom. Cut along each line to remove excess fabric.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 5
    Step 5

    Mark 4" from each corner along the bottom on both sides (front and back).

  • Step 6

    Push the left corner of the T-shirt between the front and back layers of the shirt, toward the center, making a kind of pleat, until the marks on the front and back are aligned as shown. The result is a small accordion fold. Pin in place.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 7
    Step 7

    Repeat on the right side. Pin the front and back sides together along the entire bottom edge.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 8
    Step 8

    Sew two parallel rows of running stitches along the bottom edge, one ¼" from the edge and the second ½" from the edge for reinforced edges. Remove the pins.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 9
    Step 9

    Fold the 4"-wide handles in half lengthwise, wrong sides in, making them just 2" wide. Sew a running stitch along the shoulder seam, securing the fold and reinforcing the handles.

  • How to make a tote bag. Grocery Tote - Step 10
    Step 10

    What are you waiting for? Go shopping already! Optional: Make two small arced cuts at the “peak” in the “W” to mimic the tabs on plastic bags.

    <br clear="both " />
    <a href="http://www.workman.com/products/9780761137856/"><img src="http://images.cutoutandkeep.net/resize/300x300/cutoutandkeep/attachments/gentcover.jpg" /></a>

    <b>Excerpted From Generation T: Beyond Fashion
    Copyright 2009 by Megan Nicolay
    Used by Permission of Workman Publishing Co. Inc., New York</b>

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GryffindorGrl · Fayetteville, North Carolina, US · 24 projects
how durable are these for groceries? I have some cotton transformers fabric and want to sew me up some for grocery shopping, but needed some info on durability and such! thanks!
Aconitum · Wallington, England, GB · 9 projects
lots of mileage in this idea... i am inspired!! thx for posting the tute
Lena Landmine
Lena Landmine · Hell, Michigan, US
Awesome idea. Awesome tutorial. Awesome photos.

Flawless victory.
Jaki-O · New York, New York, US · 1 project
Worked great with a tank top, and I had to do a little less sewing because the "handles" were already strong Happy

Valerie B.
Valerie B. · Okeechobee, Florida, US
What a great way to recycle Tshirts you love but can't wear!! Can't wait to try this Happy
ɐɯlɐ! · 1 project
i'm going to try this.
wish me luck! i'm
going to need it.
Sharon H.
Sharon H. · Berryton, Kansas, US
Great instructions! I've made several of these in a little different version. I sewed cut up sleeve on outside as pocket to fold the bag inside of itself. Great for portability.
..>¡Åñ∂®îåñå "Pü∂∂îñg"!<..
..>¡Åñ∂®îåñå "Pü∂∂îñg"!<.. · Medan, North Sumatra, ID
This is a nice way to transform a t-shirt with a nice print.. to a bag which can show it off! I'm going to try making one soon! =D
Kiki Katastrophe
Kiki Katastrophe
these are such a great idea!!so awesome for the environment:
Tami · Atlanta, Georgia, US · 17 projects
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