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Tutorial: Shirt-Sleeve Tote Bag

Tutorial: Shirt-Sleeve Tote Bag

Clothing Fabric Remnants: The Shirt Sleeve Sack. Free Sewing Tutorial.

I’ve had two bright button-up shirts tucked away in my fabric remnant stash for a couple of years now. I bought them at the same time because I just loved their fruity, colorful prints, but rarely ever wore them. Finally, they landed in the don’t-fit-so-well-anymore section of my closet and ultimately they made their way into one of my suitcases of fabric remnants. Today, I got around to cutting them up to make a simple lightweight tote.

I used the two matching shirts, but you can use one shirt and cut regular fabric or other clothing pieces to the same shapes. I won’t be offering a pattern in this tutorial as I pretty much winged this one and shot pictures as I went, but hope that it inspires you to look at clothing a bit differently before tossing into the thrift store bag.

To start, I cut out the sleeves of each shirt and ironed each flat. The curved cut along the tops of the sleeves will make a unique shape for the handle area of the bag.

The collar band, which when trimmed away is already pretty much hemmed, would make a good handle for the bag. I removed the button and cut the rounded end off.

Determining the bag will be blue/green (A) outside and orange/pink (B) inside, I seamed two A/B sections together inside out. With one A/B section, I sandwiched the handle strap between the sleeves, leaving about one inch showing. On the other, I left an area unstitched, but reinforced, to slide the other end of the strap into later.

I trimmed away the extra fabric and original shirt seams.

After turning the pieces right side out, I pressed and seamed the sides of the sections to each other. 

I inserted a section of the loose handle end into the remaining hole at the top of one side and stitched around the entire top area of the bag, securing the strap. I then went back and reinforced the handle by sewing squares and crisscross seams.

Tutorial: Shirt-Sleeve Tote Bag

The cuffs that were cut from the sleeves will work great as the bottom of the bag. I seamed two together overlapping,

they both seemed pieces together around the edges.

I pinned the side of the cuff section to the trimmed bottom of the bag.

Then seamed each side of the bag to the long sides of cuff section. I pleated the narrow ends of the cuffs to fit and seamed them to the other sides of the bag.

I went back and zig-zag stitched along the raw edges to keep them from fraying.

I turned the bag right side out and DONE! And there’s still plenty of fabric left from these shirts for more small projects. If you make one and your shirt has a breast pocket, trim it out and sew it to the inside or outside of the bag.

Tutorial: Shirt-Sleeve Tote Bag

I took the bag outside to try to get a good shot in the daylight, but in case you can’t tell, we have curiously funny sheep.

Tutorial: Shirt-Sleeve Tote Bag

Tutorial: Shirt-Sleeve Tote Bag


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