Ruffled T-Shirt Tote


Ruffled T-Shirt Tote

If you're looking for recycle craft ideas, look no further than your own closet. A Ruffled T-Shirt Tote can be worn with any outfit, making it ideal for day or night. You'll never have to throw away an old top when you make recycled t-shirt projects. What makes this project stand out from the crowd is the cascading ruffles. This fun, girly touch is easy to execute - don't let the pretty look scare you away. Grab your favorite sentimental tee and get to work - you'll love showing off the results.



  • 4-5 medium or large adult t-shirts
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • 1/2 yard fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Cotton clothesline
  • 1-inch toggle button
  • Needle and thread



  1. Cut the hem from one adult t-shirt. Measure 16 inches up from the bottom edge of the shirt and cut across the width. Cut open one side seam. Finish cutting this bottom section into a 16-inch-tall by 28-inch-wide rectangle. This is the body of the bag. Note: It does not matter if this t-shirt has graphics or letters.

  2. Cut the lining for the bag using fabric and the same measurements as the bag's body.
  3. Cut five 5-inch-wide by 60-inch-long strips from the remaining t-shirts. These are the ruffle strips. You will need to piece strips together to achieve a 60-inch length. Cut one 5-inch-wide by 36-inch-long strip for the bag handle.
  4. Machine baste each ruffle strip. Set the tension on your sewing machine to "0" and the straight stitch length to the longest length available. Sew along one long edge of each strip, 1/4 inch from the edge. Leave the thread tails on each end. Do not forget to return your tension and stitch settings back to normal after this step.
  5. Tie the threads together in a knot on one end of a strip. This will prevent the fabric from slipping off the end while gathering. Slowly and gently pull one thread tail from the other end to gather the strip. Continue to gather until the ruffle measures 28 inches long. Repeat on the remaining ruffle strips.
  6. Lay the bag's body rectangle on your work surface with the long edges at the top and bottom. If your body rectangle has graphics or letters on it that you do not want visible, place that side facing down.

  7. Lay one ruffle across the body. The pieced raw seams should be facing down. Position the bottom of the ruffle 1/2 inch above the bottom edge of the rectangle. Pin the top edge of the ruffle to the rectangle. Sew along the pinned edge to secure the ruffle.
  8. Lay another body ruffle across the rectangle. Align the top edge of this ruffle with the top edge of the rectangle and pin. Sew to secure. Attach a third ruffle across the middle of the rectangle in the same way.
  9. Evenly space and attach the two remaining ruffles between the top and middle ruffles and the middle and bottom ruffles.

  10. Fold the body in half with the short edges together and the ruffles inside. Pin the short edges of the rectangle catching the ends of the ruffles in the seam. Sew the pinned edge using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Open the body to form a tube. Re-flatten the tube with the seam running down the center of one side. Pin the bottom of the bag together. Do not catch the bottom ruffle in the seam. Sew the pinned bottom using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
  11. Sew the lining rectangle in the same way. Leave a 4-inch opening on the bottom edge.
  12. Cut three 4-inch lengths of clothesline for the handle loops and button closure. Other cords can be substituted for the loops. I used a strip of t-shirt for the button loop, but I wouldn't suggest using t-shirt fabric for the handle loops as it will stretch.

  13. Turn the bag body right side out. Fold the clothesline pieces in half and pin one on the top edge of the back seam for the button closure and the other two on the top edge of each side.
  14. Insert the body inside the wrong-side-out lining. Align the top edges and match the back seams. Pin and sew all the way around the top edge using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
  15. Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining. Hand sewing the lining opening closed.
  16. Stretch the length of the handle strip to form a fat cord. Re-measure and cut to 36 inches long again. Tie the handle ends to the handle loops, leaving tails approximately 5 inches long.
  17. Fold the button loop to the front of the bag to find the correct placement for a button. Attach a 1-inch toggle button.

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