Love it or hate it, we’ll need to be prepared for the new plastic bag rule taking effect on April 1. Within the city of Duluth, we shoppers will need to retrain our brains to walk into stores with our own bags, or suffer the nickel surcharge consequences. The good news is the only thing in your house that outnumbers the plastic bag collection under the sink is the amount of old T-shirts you have. Many of these shirts will almost certainly never see the light of day again (unless the world undergoes a clothing drought and all your good ones get worn out after a couple decades).

For today’s family craft, we’ll discover a way to feed two mouths with one pizza. (I’m trying this new phrase out as a replacement for killing two birds with one stone, because that’s an awful and super bizarre idiom, right?)

Below we’ll find out how simple it is to make your own reusable, stylish bag out of T-shirts or tank tops that don’t fit or that you just don’t use.

So let’s listen to Kermit and go as green as we can! With this project, you’re saving money and most importantly, you are saving the environment.

Ask Siri to play Jack Johnson’s song “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” to inspire you as you whip up these quick and useful bags.

Materials

Tank top(s) or T-shirt(s)

A pair of sharp scissors

Sewing machine (if you’re going for the sewing method)

Lay old T-shirts or tank tops flat before cutting them to make reusable bags. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)
Lay old T-shirts or tank tops flat before cutting them to make reusable bags. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)


T-shirt instructions

Lay the T-shirt flat on the table right side out.

Cut the sleeves off the shirt on the inside of the seam. I didn’t have seems on this shirt, so I had to eyeball it. I folded the shirt in half prior to the cut to get the same curve on each side.

Cut a deeper scoop below the neckline of the T-shirt, leaving enough material on the shoulders to have adequate handles for the bag.

Go to step No. 2 for either the no-sew or sewing instructions, depending on what method you would like to do.

You can toss all the bags you make in one bag for easy storage. There are some beloved T-shirts out there that can’t be parted with. What a perfect way to continue their usefulness!

Tank top instructions

Flip the tank top inside out and lay it flat on your work surface.

Fringe cut along the bottom of the shirt will be tied to secure the bottom for the no-sew method. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)
Fringe cut along the bottom of the shirt will be tied to secure the bottom for the no-sew method. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)

No-sew method

Cut half-inch-wide fringe through both layers along the bottom edge of the tank top.

Start double knotting the fringe farthest to the left and work your way to the right.

Flip the bag right-side-out so the fringe is on the inside.

Tying fringe on your T-shirt bag secures the bottom for the no-sew method. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)
Tying fringe on your T-shirt bag secures the bottom for the no-sew method. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)

Note: Another option is to not flip the shirt inside out and tie the fringes, leaving them on the outside of the bag to dangle as you carry your goods. It’s a cute idea.

Repeat until the amount of desired bags are achieved.

Remember to bring these bags along to your favorite stores!

Sewing method

Sew across the bottom of the shirt just above the seam that was created to finish off the edge.

Flip the shirt right-side-out.

Repeat until the amount of desired bags are achieved.

Remember to bring these bags to your favorite stores!

Mary Rasch is a Duluth artist, mother of two and author of "Fleece Hat Friends and Playful Hoodies."