How to Recycle a T-Shirt into a Tote Bag Using Duct Tape

comments (14) January 10th, 2009     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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Video Length: 13:06
Produced by: Len Hasemann

One morning a few weeks ago, I was working on my computer with the Today Show on in the background. I perked up when they announced that they were going to show us how to make a tote bag out of a tee and some duct tape in the next segment. I decided it was time for a coffee break. As I made my coffee, I was trying to imagine how on earth they were going to make a tote using duct tape. I got settled on the couch just in time to see Jodi Khan, author of the book Simply Sublime Bags  --30 Low-Sew, No-Sew Projects, do her thing. I have to admit I was very impressed. After cutting off the sleeves, she used the duct tape to "line" the wrong side of the shirt. After that it was a matter of shaping the straps and using a stapler to create the box bottom (yes, this is a no-sew project!). I had to try it, as you'll see in my first video how-to. It was a lot of fun to make. One thing I would say is to use a hefty tee-the tee I used in the video was really thin and it was hard to get it to stay put while I was smoothing the duct tape on. I hope you enjoy. If you're into tote bags, be sure to check out Jodi's book-I love that you don't need a sewing machine to make most of the bags in the book!

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posted in: bag, duct tape

Comments (14)

Lilee writes: Thanks for sharing this! I have a little sister in her teens who will love this. I'm so rough on bags I wonder if just staples will last well enough for me (notorious book & tool hauler) but a sturdy bag out of a t-shirt I never wear sounds like a great idea for me too!
Do you know if there is a stronger way to seam the bottom without trying to shove a needle through all that glue?
Posted: 11:38 am on June 19th
kamanda23 writes: i absolutely love your video!!! ive been wanting a new purse, but no need when i have old awesome tshirts that shrunk and are still brand new, plus tons of duct tape!!! i think i might become one of youre biggest fans!!! i just wanted to say i cant wait to try this!!! thank you so much for all the great tips!! :)
Posted: 9:07 pm on April 19th
dawnsanders54 writes: I LOVE this idea! My daughter is having a "Crafty" birthday party and we had began making a simple, no sew t-shirt bag. After seeing these, I think we are going to change it up a bit! Thanks so much for sharing!
Posted: 8:46 am on September 27th
lmwarren writes: do you have any trouble with the edges of the handles? where the duct tape comes to the edge.. seems like it might get sticky.
Posted: 6:36 am on February 9th
Deluxe writes: Wow ! Thanks for this great idea.
Posted: 6:56 pm on September 23rd
tchad56 writes: I am going to yard sales and buying Halloween shirts and making trick-or-treat bags for all of my grandchildren this year. I think that they will love them and there will be no more hunting around for the appropriate bag to hold all of the candy.
Posted: 8:31 pm on June 22nd
mylife4660 writes: This is to cool thank you
Posted: 5:32 pm on January 16th
JenniferStern writes: I think this would be a great kid craft...I think it's really hard to hurt yourself with a stapler (I haven't managed to staple myself yet!!!) The only thing I will say it that the larger the tee the harder it is to work with...The smaller sparkle tee was easier to get the tape onto and keep in position as I was taping along! Using team shirt for this project is an excellent idea!....

...The Greatful Dead would be very cool too!
Posted: 7:08 pm on January 13th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Hey Jen, Great video and an awesome project. I've got my eye on Gregg's old Grateful Dead tees (shhh...)
Posted: 5:42 pm on January 13th
LetMeTryIt writes: I am the academic coordinator at my school and my students have multiple years worth of the same team t-shirt. I'm thinking that this project would be a great way for kids to use those shirts after the competition. Anything special you'd recommend for making this project kid-friendly? It looks like it's measuring, cutting and duct tape so I'm thinking kids (9 & 10 year olds) could do it.
Posted: 3:03 pm on January 13th
JenniferStern writes: Hi Paintchipgirl (I love that)--I used s standard stapler...make sure it's fully loaded though...I used A LOT of staples! It didn't matter when I was closing the bottom, but when I was playing with adding darts for a different shape (on the sparkle "evening" version) it helped to keep the staples very close together (end to end).

Have fun making your tote!
Posted: 7:35 am on January 13th
paintchipgirl writes: Hey, Jen. What a cool idea! Did you use regular paper staples or something more heavy duty? Thanks for the project.
Posted: 9:55 pm on January 12th
JenniferStern writes: Hi Jen, I emailed Jodi Khan, the designer of this project, about your questions. Here is her response:

Regarding duct tape and the heat: I wouldn’t recommend leaving a bag made out of duct tape in a hot car for an extended period of time. The tape will get gooey if it’s left in a really hot place for too long. But you will be able to use the bags in the summer, just don’t store them in a hot trunk or closed up car. Also, regarding washing the bags, I have used a sponge to clean the outside of the bag. I’ve never tried to wash it in the washing machine. You might be able to hand wash it in cold water and woolite — You could experiment with that. Hope that helps!

I hope that helps too!
Posted: 12:48 pm on January 12th
Jen1964 writes: You really have to see this one to believe it. Amazing! More bags for knitting to go and that sort of thing! Just a few questions: does the duct tape get sticky or slip in the HOT summer weather? Or does the fabric it's bonded with solve that? And how do you clean stuff made with duct tape?
My bags get hard use, so they might be a great gift idea, next time my daughter has cast-offs from her amazing wardrobe. LOve those rotary cutters, too. They're so easy to use. As for Salvation Army, their prices (I was told) are virtually fundraisers for their work; and when the truly needy come to them, they give them vouchers for the store. Their local Corps always have a women's group interested in craft projects that are quick and fun like this. All women are welcomed.
Posted: 8:37 am on January 10th
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