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The Three Easiest Ways to Make a Simple Market Tote Bag

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

I'm a sucker for a farmer's market or swap meet, and I've become very aware of bringing my own bags since California passed a law requiring you to pay for plastic bags at grocery stores. To use the materials I already had, I found three super simple ways to make an upcycled market bag: use stuff I already have! This transforms standard items into something practical using minimal cuts and sewing.  

I'll share how to turn a regular t-shirt, bedroom pillowcase and bath towel into useful bags for farmer's markets, groceries or just about anything else. None of them require you to sew more than a simple straight line, so they're ready in minutes!

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

1. Upcycled T-Shirt Market Bag

Keep in mind that a larger t-shirt yields a much larger bag, so something medium-sized is ideal. You should also avoid stretchy fabrics.

Materials:

  • Medium cotton t-shirt (solid is best but not required)
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread

Step

Lay on a safe cutting surface. Use the rotary cutter or a pair of scissors to cut off the sleeves and cut out the neckline.

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Turn the cut t-shirt inside out now.

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Using your sewing machine, sew a straight seam across the bottom of the t-shirt, back stitching at each end.  

Step

Turn the t-shirt right side out and you have a completed bag! 

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

2. Upcycled Pillowcase Bag

This one is my favorite. I have so many old pillowcases from bedding that I never use, and this requires ZERO sewing unless you want to decorate it, which you absolutely can!

Materials:

  • Standard queen-sized pillowcase
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Chalk (optional)

Step

Iron the pillowcase flat and lay on a cutting mat or safe cutting surface.

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Consider the size of the pillowcase. Length will be the total length of the bag. Cut about 6 inches off the top, open end of the pillow case. 

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Measure about 2 inches down and mark with chalk. Then use the chalk or a pencil to mark a 6-inch line that is in the middle of the pillowcase. Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut on the line, which should leave at least 5 inches on either side of the opening.

That slit becomes that handle and you suddenly have a bag with no sewing at all. However, keep in mind this bag may not hold as much weight due to the possibility that the handle could rip over time.  

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

 

3. Upcycled Towel Tote

This DIY is also great for a beach bag! No matter what you use it for, this towel tote is very useful and will probably be the largest and sturdiest of these three options. 

Materials:

  • Medium-weight bath towel
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Measuring tape or ruler

Step

Fold the towel lengthwise inside-out (if applicable).

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Consider the size of the towel. The folded version will be the length and width of the bag, with the fold being the bottom. Use the scissors to trim top and side as needed (about 15 inches wide, 18 inches tall).

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Sew straight seams on each side of the bag (keep in mind thickness of the fabric for machine settings). Back stitch at each end to secure. Turn right side out now. 

Three Ways to Make an Upcycled Market Bag

Step

Lay the towel flat on a cutting mat or safe cutting surface. Measure about 2 inches from the open top and mark with chalk or a pencil. Then use a ruler to mark and cut a 6-inch line across the bag. This will make the handles.

Now the bag is ready to use!

And there you have it! No matter what materials you have in the house, you can probably turn it into a bag with just a few quick cuts and seams. Certain fabrics will provide more stability for holding certain items, so always keep in mind what you'll use the bags for. 

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