Reusable bag contest #1

Our first entry in the reusable bag contest from Abigail Vargas (Poppylarity) is a real winner. I love it. Considering the criteria and goals of the project, I’m looking forward to seeing how somebody will top this (the deadline is June 1st, get your entries in, I’ll publish entries as I get them).. This hits all of my buttons. What she’s done is taken old tee shirts and made bags out of them. She’s even got a sample WOATSGOATS shirt which is an application I can support. When I wrote her back, she said she was glad I didn’t think they were too corny but I corrected her saying I never said that. I think these are plenty corny but they’re just my style being plenty corny myself. First an image of Abigail’s favorite shirt bag to give you an idea of what she’d done, then Abigail’s recital, closing with some more samples. Thanks Abigail!

I am entering my t-shirt bag into the reusable bag contest. I hope you find this idea very utilitarian; this not a ‘beautiful’ bag entry. My inspiration came from three places:

  • Cleaning out my children’s closets and being completely irritated that they have stained their perfectly good white school uniform shirts on the playground at school.
  • My son is stressing out about life and death issues lately. At school, the fourth grade has been studying the effects of global warming and he came home yesterday completely beside himself over the potential effects. So I told him he needed to come up with an idea or plan of action against global warming instead of sitting around feeling sad about it.
  • As I am catching up on your blog, I come across the reusable bag contest and realize that this is the perfect project to get my son involved with. He now feels he is making a difference with global warming.

The final result of the three inspirations is the recycled t-shirt bag. I think this bag hits almost all the points people are contemplating in the comments.

  1. It’s using a recycled material that is washable and reusable. (My family donates or throws away at least 10 t-shirts a person per year)
  2. Compact, can fit several into each other for storage.
  3. Fabric is soft shouldn’t bruise the food.
  4. Easy, easy to sew and probably could be made with no sewing and some fabric glue.
  5. Edges could be serged, zigzag stitched and maybe left raw.
  6. Could be screen printed with company logo
  7. With a long sleeve shirt, the sleeve could cover a piece of cardboard/plastic canvas to make the bottom more structured.
  8. Cool graphics from the original tee as decoration.
  9. Decoration ideas are endless.
  10. Once the bag is worn out, it will go in the rag box.
  11. My son thought the unused collar pieces would work great to make baby bibs.

So far I found that my son’s boy large shirts are the best size. My husband’s XXL shirts looks huge but I will give it a try next time we are at the store. Both t-shirt and polo shirt fabrics work good. I used one of the short sleeves as a pocket and one long sleeve as an umbrella pocket. Another idea for my husband’s shirt was to insert the bottom of a box into it. This would work great for milk and bulky items. The downside is you are caring a box.

Below is Abigail’s solution for the plethora of GOATS-WOATS tees on the market

Below she’s even recycled a shirt sleeve to make an outside pocket.

Below is the example of the bag made from her husband’s XXL tee. This one looks like it could be a solution for bulky kinds of shopping rather than just groceries.

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  1. Karen C says:

    Very cool. Funny, how the most simplest ideas are the best. Now, I must “noodle” some more on my design.

  2. J C Sprowls says:

    I hate making tiny comments. But, I will dispense with my personal rule for this.

    ^5! Great ingenuity, Abigail!

  3. Josh says:

    At school, the fourth grade has been studying the effects of global warming and he came home yesterday completely beside himself over the potential effects.

    Awww, sounds like me when I was his age. I actually use to look up at the sun (not good for the eyes I know lol) and pine over the day it would eventually die. I’m still morbid as ever.

    I think the shirt bag is brilliant because it gives a second life to a shirt.

  4. ephelba says:

    I do a similar thing, but I use a regular plastic bag for the pattern, including those little hole things in the handles. When I go to the store I can slide the bags onto the metal bag holders just like plastic bags, if I want to.

  5. Janie says:

    Let’s called this a “t-shirt reincarnation” and WOW! I never even considered this idea. My mind set is always to make “pretty” or “sturdy” or “finished looking” which is pretty dumb when you consider that these have a finite life span and will be recycled into rags when this reincarnation is completed.

    Great idea and a winner as far as I am concerned!

  6. xtina says:

    I love Poppylarity even more than I did before (her kids clothes are my absolute faves!) We have so many Tshirts piled up it’s crazy, and how many rags do we really need, right? Plus, my fishnet-ty bags aren’t always perfect – the solid, soft fabric of these bags will be. Kudos and thanks!

  7. monyca says:

    I think this is a great idea. Also, maybe it can be used for t-shirts you love and can’t bear to part with (your favorite band or whatever) but aren’t wearable anymore.

  8. Abigail says:

    I want to thank everyone for their positive feedback on this project. It’s amazing how this project has been picked up by other blog sites.

    One comment I saw on another site, was that someone felt there is too much fanfare over trivial projects (like mine). I registered to leave a comment, but could not seem to get it posted. So here is my answer.

    My hope is that this project is used as inspiration for my kids and other people. At the fourth grade level, projects need to be simple. These simple projects are to inspire my kids to possibly create something GREAT when they are adults. I also hope this project gives inspiration to adults of today to create something GREAT or solve a larger issue.

  9. Jenkay says:

    I saw a lady with these at the grocer I work at-I went nuts. I put the idea on my frugal living forum, and I have a stack of shirts waiting for me to make my own. I have many bags for differnat things. I was useing cloth bags back in high school-I graduated in 81-because they where better than paper and I like reuseing things, never saw myself as living green. I see that now.
    Super great idea, I am going to look for the other results just to see if I can do any more, and then we will take them on the road!
    Thank You Thank You!!!

  10. Phoebe says:

    I absolutely love the shirt/bag idea. I am a lousy seamstress (emphasis on the “stress), but was quite successful with my first attempt. I now have a lovely pastel mint-green ribbed GAP tank/bag. Plenty of compliments have been received, and I plan to make more by raiding my college daughter’s collection of “not quite still in fashion” tanks.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Colin Campbell says:

    What kind of food grade bags are reuseable (ie)
    Milk bags,zip lock freezer or sandwich bags to reuse for food storeage in fridge or freezer?

    Are water bottles reuseable to be refilled?

  12. angi says:

    this is such a great idea! my husband goes through so many t-shirts from work and they have little holes and stains so they cant’ be re-sold even at thrift stores and all i use are re-useable bags for shopping. hey, these might be great christmas presents!

  13. Cecile Chi says:

    I crochet my grocery shopping bags, lunch or shoe bags, and water bottle carriers out of old plastic grocery bags. I call them the ultimate in recycling/reusing. I can send pictures.

  14. Shelly says:

    I do something similar – although I don’t believe in “global-warming”, I believe in taking care of our planet; I have sewn the bottoms shut on my daughter’s old denim jumpers and short-alls from when she was little! They are cute and tough as nails!

  15. Crystal says:

    Love this idea! I had an idea for long-sleeved shirts. You could use one sleeve of a long-sleeved shirt sewn to the place of the other sleeve for a sling-type bag that goes across the body. The other sleeve that was removed could be shortened to the right length to hold and umbrella, wallet or cell (maybe each) and sewn to the outside or inside of the bag.

  16. Sage Green says:

    Now that everyone is on board with reusable bags, perhaps your design can be produced in large quanitities. If you think that you would like to have your design produced in bulk, contact us at and we can work with you to make your dream come true. we are all in this together and we are only at the beginning of a new wave of commitment. At Sage Green CO LLC, we are committed to ridding our oceans of plastic floating waste and reducing the use of plastic one use bags.

  17. Kathleen says:

    After breakfast this morning, we happened by the new Bernina dealership this morning just to look around. I found something really interesting. This “enterprising” woman “borrowed” Abigail Vargas’ idea that was posted in this entry! In her disclaimer she says that no part may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission. Heh. Does that mean I am supposed to remove this entry now that she’s generating a profit from it? Some people have a lot of nerve.

    People always worry larger enterprises will steal their ideas when it’s usually the opposite. It’s usually littler guys copying the larger ones as this clearly illustrates.

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