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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.

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768 Comments

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.57 PMby januacoeli

    How clever and creative. Anyone can make these. I reuse old clothes in remaking clothes, creative dish towels appliques, napkins, parts of quilts and pillows.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.56 PMby marne

    Love this idea, a great gift idea. I like saving old t-shirts to make into t-shirt quilts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.55 PMby creyxtik

    I take old jeans and make zippered pouches out of them

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.54 PMby whitsar

    I use worn out jeans to make lots of recycled items. I made my grandsons cute little wallets out of the legs cut off their jeans that were no longer wearable as jeans, and hemmed the shorts and they had jeans shorts for the summer. I have also made rag quilts out of useable parts of worn out jeans that are great for picnic blankets or just wrapping up to save on heating bills in cooler weather. Tee shirts become pillows, and I like the tote bag idea. I hadn’t thought of that. Now my mind is racing with new ideas. Thanks, Martha and Singer.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.53 PMby nmundy

    Everybody has such great ideas for upcycling. I feel like I am quite stupid because I have never upcycled or had any ideas for upcycling. Love this Tshirt bag idea though. Cant wait to try it out here in Jamaica with my old Tees. Thanks Burda for this video.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.53 PMby molliedowling

    I love to upcycle old sweaters into quilts. They can be 100% merino wool if you thrift. I love this simple idea for reusable bags!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.53 PMby jenross76

    I save old cotton scraps and weave or crochet into cotton throw rugs for the floor. I also save plastic bags and reuse them until they start to almost fall apart. When they get to the point where the bag handles break off, I cut the remaining usable parts into strips and crochet those into useful sturdy bags.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.51 PMby v12m

    What a great idea! and so easy… perfect for gifts! I am a new mom and through all my pregnancy I reconstructed most of my wardrobe to make new clothes that fitted me. I used lots of old t-shirts and pants to make dresses with room for my growing belly.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.49 PMby leore

    one of my first projects ever was a hand sewn hand bag from an old leather skirt, it turned out kind of funny but really cute. Then I got a used sewing machine online and started experimenting. One of my friends had a whole garage full of old fabric pieces and samples from the family’s curtain shop. I took about 5 garbage bags full of fabric samples and started sewing cute totes and hobo bags. After a few weeks I already drew out my own patterns and had sewn some beautiful bags out of these loose pieces of fabric. I gave them as gifts and even sold some and made some extra cash! All costing me nothing but my time sewing which I so very much enjoyed!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.48 PMby smonakey

    What a great idea! I’ve got baggy shirts that I typically take in at the side seams to make them more fitted & give them new life.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.47 PMby lbmet

    Great idea to reuse , but I would add a rectangular piece of cardboard in the bottom for stability. They look nicer than plastic bags, too!!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.46 PMby stitchintime23

    This is a terrific idea. I have participated in the Boston marathon Jimmy Fund Walk for the Dana Farber Cancer Center for many years and never wear the t shirts after the fundraiser. I feel badly discarding them because of the sentiment so I don’t. This way I can re-use and advertise my favorite charity.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.46 PMby nksm

    I make shopping bags but now I want to make t-shirt bags.

    Thanks for this!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.45 PMby Kimberly Pacetti

    I resuse all my kiddos vacation t-shirt for making into keep quilts

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.44 PMby karenelisam

    My favorite upcycling project is to make maternity jeans from regular jeans and a t-shirt. I wrote an instructable on it, and have had pretty good comments from other who have tried it.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.44 PMby dawnmcd

    My daughters and I like to take their old clothing – t-shirts and jeans and turn them into adorable clothes for their dolls.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.44 PMby meinenaehmaschine

    What a wonderful idea. Nothing is better than to reuse and recycle old clothes and do something good for the environment. I make purses out of old wool pullovers. Now, I will go through my families clothes and will make some bags out of old t-shirts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.43 PMby di-di

    I’ve used t-shirts to make drawstring bags to put shoes in for storage, and travel. Love the idea to use them for pet pads! I’ll use that idea and “Martha’s” shopping bag for sure!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.43 PMby modernvintageworkshop

    oh, this is awesome! wonder how much i can fit though… going shopping for lots of fruits and vegetables gets heavy… i like the comment with the sturdy jeans material! BUT… great inspiration!!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.43 PMby anitafour

    I save used colorful chip bags and sew them together to make huge carry-alls! Kettle chips have fabulous colors!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.42 PMby LéonaDy

    I love going into thrift stores and going through everything to find clothing I can modify or cut up to use it’s fabric. Not just clothes but shower drapes, table cloths, purses and even shoes. For example, I made a dress with leftover fabric at the top and a table cloth that matched well for the skirt. Shower curtains go inside bags to make them a little more impervious. Yay upcycling!!!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.41 PMby rebeccapeebles

    I like to buy vibrant vintage upholstered furniture at thrift stores and remove the fabric to make cute clutches and purses. Sometimes I can’t believe anyone would ever have a couch that looks like that! but then… “hmmm, that fabric’s actually pretty awesome in small bites!”

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.40 PMby auntcaine

    This is a fine use of T-shirts, together with doll clothes, rugs … and all the other fine things people mentioned. I wish I had time to do them all.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.40 PMby Laura Bolčina

    I love upcycling my dad’s shirts into dresses for myself. Or making shorts out of an old pair of jeans.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.39 PMby snoodle

    I made the denim quilt that was in Martha’s magazine years ago -2005, I think. It’s one of my favorite upcycled projects. I included strips of my husband’s old jeans with bleach stains and worn spots! I put patches of fabric behind the holes where the denim was fraying. Our favorite strip has a tiny pocket from the back of our young daughter’s jeans.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.39 PMby Amber Perucco-Schiltz

    My ‘current’ favorite upcycling project is fulling (felting) all varieties of wool sweaters and then sewing them into all kinds of great things! Headbands, purses, eyeglass cases, the possibilities are endless! And for roughly $2 each at the thrift store, I can make several projects out of each one. The scraps will ultimately end up being a blanket, so there is virtually no waste!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.38 PMby anabandonedmoped

    I’ve been using the reversible tote pattern ever since this episode first aired! Thanks for the ideas, Martha and Burdastyle!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.38 PMby khogue

    I love using fabric from adult sized clothing to make something for my youngest daughter.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.37 PMby suzydb

    that is brilliant

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.36 PMby gingerkitty

    I had several old t-shirts that were beloved but too holey or stained to wear, so I’ve cut out the graphic or text parts and turned them into quilting squares for throw pillows.

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