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Make a T-Bag

November 10, 2010

I don’t usually post about crafting because I don’t seem to have the same number of hours in the day as I did when I had one child, one garden, no goats and no ducks. I did have 60 chickens and a handful of beehives, both low maintenance hobbies. Reflecting on those industrious days I realize it wasn’t the dearth of other projects that lead to those crafty evenings; it was the dozen cups of coffee I quaffed throughout the day combined with being in my twenties. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in years, but I do still dig out the sewing machine to hem pants, repair tears and sew buttons on things (the button hole attachment continues to fascinate me.) However, the full length coats, stuffed animal menageries and vests with matching hats are no more.

That’s why I was happy to learn how to make reuseable bags out of old t-shirts. They are as easy as they could possibly be without being a “no sew” project. The added bonus is that I get to re-purpose shirts I love that I never wear for a variety of reasons, such as a poor fit, advanced signs of wear or a logo that I no longer want to sport. (Believe it or not, there is a difference between wearing a big Rolling Stones tongue logo on your chest and toting a jug of juice and bag of oats in a sack emblazoned with it.)

I originally made these bags for carrying groceries out of health food stores without garnering angry glares from shoppers who disagreed with my lack of preparedness. But I soon found ice skates and library books and picnic lunches that wanted in. I do still need a plentiful number of t-shirts, so I had to restrain myself from overdoing the in-house recycling, but I recently went in for another load and came up with some gems. There was the too-big WOMR doo-wop oldies tee the T-Bird sold me at the Food, Music and Wine festival years ago. Another, more recent, more roomy WOMR shirt hit the chopping block – this one hardly worn. I finally turned a Nauset Fishermen’s Association Clambake tee into a bag, after having worn the shirt since 1997. A friend got the Rolling Stones t-bag, from a tour tee I suspect was originally his, anyway.

Now that I’ve warmed up the sewing machine, I may just bust out a pattern and make something more adventurous. Cheesemaking is winding down for the season, after all. Maybe after replacement beekeeping supplies are all assembled and chicken tractors are nailed together and traps are made and the kids are fast asleep – maybe then I’ll put the pedal to the metal and whip up a dashiki shirt or a new terrycloth robe. Somehow I suspect there will be more woodworking projects in my immediate future than pattern transfers, but you never know.

I’d love to fill up this page with detailed instructions for creating a t-bag, but I discovered that Martha Stewart has the bases covered over here (surprise, surprise.) The only alteration I make to the technique is to forget the bowl and simply cut the neck of the tee as wide and as low as you want, depending on where the graphics are printed on a particular shirt and where the sleeves fall in the shirt’s layout. If you have a fairly short “shoulder”, the area between the neckline and the sleeve seam, you may want to make the opening of your bag a little narrower to allow for “handles” that are wide enough to hold the load you intend to carry. Similarly, I cut my sleeves off on the chest side of the sleeve seam, regardless of where it falls, to allow for the widest handles possible. Cotton will stretch and relax into comfortable handles, regardless of the width, unless you are using a very large tee. With larger shirts, you also have the freedom to play around with the bag size. Cut the bottom hem off wherever you like, and sew a double seam for the bottom of the bag. Whatever you do with it, this is a very forgivable medium. Once you dump a bunch of stuff in there, it’s going to look like a bag, bottom line, and, depending on your preference, you can happily or smugly answer “no” when a store clerk asks, “Do you need a bag?”


this one's reserved for yours truly...

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