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Did you know that each year over 500 billion plastic bags are thrown away by consumers worldwide? And that it can take up to 1,000 years for those plastic bags to biodegrade? Kristin St. Clair, one of the crafty minds at The Martha Stewart Show, came up with a great way to replace those troublesome plastic options and get a new life out of some old tee shirts hanging around your closet.

Check out how Kristin and Martha use a couple of heavy-weight cotton shirts and a SINGER® Confidence™ sewing machine to make cute (and reusable!) tote bags perfect for everything from carting groceries to shopping with friends. Check out our own version of the reusable tote with the Charlie Bag free pattern download!

Now that you’ve watched Martha work her magic, let us know what your favorite upcycling project is for a chance to win a SINGER® 7467S Confidence Stylist! You have until 9AM EST on Monday, January 31st to get those comments in and our winners will be announced on February 1st! Stay tuned for next week’s video and more awesome prizes from SINGER®!

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Tune-in to The Martha Stewart Show, airing weekdays at 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT on Hallmark Channel.

SINGER, the Cameo “S” Design, MODEL NAME, SEWING MADE EASY and SINGER IS SEWING MADE EASY are exclusive trademarks of The Singer Company Limited S.à r.l. or its Affiliates. ©2011 The Singer Company Limited S.à r.l. or its Affiliates. All rights reserved.

768 Comments

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.22 PMby homeade

    great post! i like to use clothing that i have outgrown or lost interest in to make new clothing for my children. if i take an old tshirt of mine i can use the arms to make a pair of pants and the torso to make a tank top (in an infant size) i have also made rompers for my daughter like this

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.22 PMby sunburst

    Love this idea! In fact I have the perfect shirt to use for a gift for a friend “I Love Elton John” I like to up-cycle my old clothes that no longer fit for quilts, bags, and other fun creations.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.21 PMby cmci

    Great idea! I like to use my kids old t-shits for making bags. :-)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.21 PMby daspears

    I find it hard to throw away old clothes so now I remove the buttons and cut the fabric up into reusable squares. All of it comes in handy for crafts, doll clothes, and kids’ projects!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.20 PMby rotundo

    It is a GREAT IDEA, that not only helps to reduce the use of plastic bags, but you can give use to old fashion t shirts left in your drawers. It is a WIN WIN situation. Grab your scissors and start bagging!!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.19 PMby jumpingranny

    I think this is a great project. I would love to have such a good machine to use!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.19 PMby firebirdspixie

    What a really fantastic way to recycle. I have lots of friends who would love these, and I would love to make them. I sew as often as possible, and love making things for other people. I frequently use scraps of material to make small gowns for preterm infants and pouches for extremely preterm stillborn infants. I use fleece scraps to make tiny blankets. I like to recycle old clothing into tote bags, quilt blocks, appliques, fabric flowers, etc. I always snip the buttons off of clothing before recycling and add to my button jar. I work full time, and I am raising a grandaughter that is now 3 years old. I don’t get to sew nearly as much as I would like, but never pass up an opportunity. Can’t wait for retirement….still quite a while away…..so I can devote myself to sewing and crafts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.19 PMby sewnmemaw62

    I actually have made these t-shirt bags, a great idea to use up old t-shirts.I also have made leg warmers that cover the feet by sewing a circle around one open end on the wrong side then turn it right side out and you have sock /leg warmers.I wear them all winter because I have cold feet. I’ve also made a pattern and made some out of fleece fabric, super warm. These can be made out of old housecoats, fleece jackets, fleece blankets,etc.I have tons of scraps I use to make all kinds of things, I never throw anything away if I can make something out of it. Great video, can’t wait for the next one. Like Martha say,“It a good thing”

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.19 PMby golden-thimble

    I take our old clothes & turn them into quilts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.18 PMby Sammy8

    This is a really neat idea! I love the idea of upcycling ~ especially in todays economy! I making a skirt out of an old bed sheet.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.16 PMby redredhoodie

    I like to cut up old handbags and use the hardware to make new bags. Not very original but they always look more finished with a little hardware.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.15 PMby Cosima Ybarra

    I love to make Plarn with plastic bags and then crochet it into reusable shopping totes. Ya!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.14 PMby jumpingranny

    This looks so easy! I bet the singer machine makes it that easy that I could do it!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.13 PMby Tekali

    great idea, much better than using old Tshirts as rags to wash/polish the car!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.12 PMby Elizabeth Shaules

    How cute! I always thought that up-cycling t-shirts would be a hassle, but this looks fun and easy!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.11 PMby isabella994

    I love any ideas that involve sewing and recycling!!! Total win win combo. I have recently made a table runner using Elmer’s Tri-fold display board and fabric. You can use old bedspreads and tablecloths and recycle them into this table runner. Please feel free to use my idea…check it out at http://learningtosow.blogspot.com/2010/12/elmers-tri-fold-display-table-runner.html

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.11 PMby julie326

    Very EASY and very cool! Thanks for sharing. There are so many ideas for repurposing old plastic grocery bags …. one of my favorite things is to melt plastic grocery bags together using an iron (layer bags between two sheets of parchment paper first) and then cut the resulting “fabric” into 1/2" strips to make bracelets. You can sew designs onto the strips using different colored thread and cut them down to size, using a recycled button and elastic loop on the end as a fastener. Super cute!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.10 PMby sborgatti

    I love these! I turned one of my husband’s Guy Harvey shirts into a beach bag using this technique. I cut the sleeve openings a little larger to accommodate my beach towel and zig zagged the edges. It carries all of my beach gear and fits securely in my bike basket. A great way to reuse t-shirts that are past their prime.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.09 PMby chips

    cute idea on the t-shirt bag. will have to make up a few this weekend.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.08 PMby monikago

    For Halloween two years ago, I had bought an electric blue corset-like bodice with front lacing that came with dark wings and a mask. Loved it but the bodice was too tight. I had a very stretchy dark top with tiger stripes that I had not worn. I cut off the sleeves and inserted them on the bodice as side panels, sewing by hand at the time. Now I had a perfect fit and the darker side panels gave me a nice silhouette.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.06 PMby oriane0654

    Wonderful! Could it get any easier than that?! I like to upcycle old sweatshirts into new ones.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.05 PMby joanz22

    I love to make blankets out of outgrown sentimental clothing. My son and daughter have their own T-shirt quilt of places we’ve vacationed and youth clubs they’ve been part of. It even got stains from a vacation when we ate snow cones on the side of the street….always brings back memories when we look at each patch….

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.05 PMby 07sevilay

    Great idea…Thanks…

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.01 PMby Elke Barrion-Jackmann

    Right now I’m making mittens out of old wool sweaters from Goodwill! Love this t-shirt bag idea though!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.00 PMby vamdep

    My favorite project is to use old t-shirts and even dress shirts to creat dresses and skirts for my daughter.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 10.00 PMby latulipenoire

    I love turning old hideous vintage dresses into crazy, retro chic looking pillows.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.59 PMby wannajava

    Wow that took all of 5 minutes to make a Tshirt bag. Fantastic idea. I recycle jeans into quilts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.58 PMby gallivant

    I’ve always liked making little rag rugs for areas that get messy, like the mudroom. Since I wear my clothes longer than a lot of people do, by the time I decide something is a rag, it’s REALLY ragged! By turning these things into rugs that take a lot of abuse, I manage to extend their useful life while I avoid having to put something nice and new down on that awful floor.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.58 PMby emzy

    What a fantastic way to use up old t-shirts, I have a pile of them I should get started on! Great giveaway!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.58 PMby godonlyknows

    I’ll be doing this to some of the ancient band t-shirts that I couldn’t do away with but can’t wear in public anymore.

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