Thursday, October 4, 2012

T Shirt into Bag Tutorial

Hey All-

I recently participated in a fun little challenge from Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.  They had a bunch of t-shirts that were misprinted with a scary looking chimpanzee face.  Rather than waste them, they decided to share them with willing crafters to turn them into something awesome.  Let me show you what I did!

I made a tote bag!  I made my own chimpanzee stamp and used it to decorate the fabric.  Let me show you the step by step.

First, cut the t-shirt straight across underneath the armpits.  This will become the bulk of your bag.

Since there was some printing on the fabric, I decided to keep the inside of the bag as the finished outer bag.  So I turned it inside out before stamping.  In addition, I turned it upside down so the finished hem of the shirt became the top of the bag. (If you are curious how I made the stamp, you can see more on my previous skirt stamping tutorial).

After stamping all my chimpanzee faces, I decided to jazz it up with some troll hair.  Why troll hair?  One of the sanctuary chimpanzees loves troll dolls and her first had bright pink hair.  So I made a bright pink troll chimpanzee :)  I did this free-hand with a small paint brush.

Once the paint is dry, turn your bag inside out and sew along the cut edge.  This will be the bottom seam.  Then turn it back out and you have the bag!

Once your bag is done, time to work on the straps.  This is hard to explain, but try to stick with me.  I cut the leftover shirt part below the arms to lay it out flat.  Then I cut it into six different strips. (I actually cut these strips even further and then realized it was way too long- That's why my bag has two straps and my diagram at the bottom only has one).

Stitch the end of three strips together and braid them.  Once you reach the other end, stitch them again to keep the braid together.

Then stitch the straps into the two top corners of your bag.  I did this on the inside to hide the rough edges.  I then tied another scrap of t-shirt around the straps because it was hanging weird and that helped keep the bag tightly against the straps.  You can use your own discretion on this one.

I tried to make a diagram to show what I did.  It kind of looks like a five year old drew it so I'm not sure whether it will help or not, but give it a try anyway :)

That's it!  I'm really happy with this project.  I sent it back to the sanctuary and it was hard to see it go.  But, I thought the bag might make a great enrichment object for the chimpanzees if it was placed in their enclosure with some food it in.  (Chimpanzees are very intelligent and giving them puzzles to solve, such as food up high, makes their lives in small spaces more interesting).


  1. So cute!! I love the stamp. Them pink mohawk is a great detail :)

  2. Cute! What a neat way to re-purpose the fabric.


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