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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, 09.36 PMby musicseeds

    I wrap all presents with newspaper and I also make gift bags and when I give the present tell the person to use the bag again.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.36 PMby preec1kj

    I just upcycled some old t-shirts into scarves for Christmas gifts. This is an easy craft, that’s great to gift! I’m going to try making one of these bags this weekend!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.35 PMby Brooke Rowley

    <3s it! I use plastic bags in the baby taggies I make. Babies love the noise the plastic makes when playing with them :)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.35 PMby carder-shari

    I upcycle by turning plastic drink pouches into purses, totes, and wallets.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.35 PMby connielk

    I love any upcycled crafts. This one is a double, re-use t-shirts and save plastic bags! Connie

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.34 PMby notrembrant

    love to upcycle! I have been making my own swiffer pads from micro fiber towels and I also upcycle sweaters. I take the ones with a turtleneck and cut them off at the neckline, serger around the neckline, and then turn it down and run a double stitch around it. I then take what I cut off, and make a fabric flower to decorate the sweater with. Makes a completely different sweater.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.33 PMby katemade

    I love to make underwear out of my old t-shirts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.32 PMby miaow

    I love to turn my old clothes into puppy attire.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.31 PMby topchamp

    This sounds like a great idea, and possibly something I could make with my Brownie pack. If only I had a sewing machine………….

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.30 PMby mlnvndrp

    That looks so easy! I can’t wait to try it! I upcycle my old sweaters into little pouches and bags. I use a ribbon like a draw string and sew flowers on them (like a rose bud) out of fabric scraps. They make perfect gift bags or purses for little girls.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.28 PMby debjoecarrie

    Wow! We love to upcycle clothing. I make children’s jeans from adult jeans, tunics and dresses from tees and sweaters, and fancy dresses for my daughter out of old formals. I tell others the best place to get quality fabric is the thrift store or your own closet.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.27 PMby foliusdesign

    I like to make clutch handbags out of upcycled urban banners. When cities are done with their festival banners and flags they often throw out the dated materials, some of them have really great patterns, textures, and fabrics that make really funky and fun handbags.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.26 PMby Torya Richardson

    Me and my mom thought it was a really cute idea, easy to wash too!!!!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.25 PMby amystep72

    My poor husband…I will be raiding his closet today for t shirts :) Thanks so much, love this idea!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.23 PMby Jlewser

    I have more than 50 tshirts that I don’t wear. I bought those Generation T books to give me ideas of what to do with all of the shirts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.22 PMby hstorm799

    I’m currently upcycling old adult clothing and bedding into clothes for my 3 yr. old. I had a lot of old clothing from my mother and grandmother in nice fabrics, some even silks, that were not in a donatable condition. It is fun figuring out which pieces you can use for what purpose, and coming up with ways to get around little holes or tears, designing the garment based on what is available. The adult sizes usually have just enough usable fabric for a child’s piece. See an example here: http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/it-s-a-sham-no-really Thanks!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.19 PMby geojessi

    Such a simple project!! I love it. I think with a little more work, a boxed out bottom that is reinforce would really make this a nice item. Thanks burda!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.17 PMby lvanderb

    There’s so much you can do with old t-shirts – bags, new style of shirt… my daughter loves to do that and my niece desperately needs a sewing machine :)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.16 PMby v3g4n

    I like to make tote bags out of old jeans – very sturdy! And I’ve made it a habit to keep all metal hardware from old purses, belts, keychains etc. to be used in new purses.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.15 PMby jamjar6566

    What a great video! I love to take pull-over sweaters and turn them into cardigan sweaters. I also use old skirts and make place mats and hot pads. Old jars make great candle holders, and hold craft room notions.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.15 PMby mrelia

    I cut T-shirts into large squares (as large as possible) and quilt a “sandwich” of 8-10 together to make blanket/pads for my pet carriers and beds. They’re very absorbent and totally washable. They’re also great for cleaning up spills. I use pinking shears so I don’t even have to tuck the edges under. With washing the edges get soft and fluffy, but don’t unravel.

    1 Reply
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      Jan 25, 2011, 08.34 PMby honestnicewoman

      Wonderful idea! I’m an animal advocate so this will come in very handy for me! Thank you!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.15 PMby Renee Adams

    Love Love Love this idea! I love to recycle jeans, jackets, sweaters, and t-shirts into doll clothes and doggy coats (also old blankets for the coats), Just go to your closet or scrap pile instead of buying new.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.14 PMby sydnie7

    I’ve done some reusable Christmas fabric gift bags, too. We were raised to re-use things before it was the “in” thing to do LOL Many years of cutting up last year’s Christmas cards (received) to use as gift tags and package decorations! More recently I have outfitted my kilt-wearing guy with a formal jacket refashioned from a thrift-store tuxedo and silk bow ties cut from old blouses (great way to re-use something silk that’s gotten stained or otherwise can’t be worn). I have a lot of old T-shirts with sentimental value and this is a great idea!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.13 PMby susan294

    I love the idea of making quilts out of old flannel pjs., t-shirts are a bit think for my taste for quilts, so the flannel makes a nice warm alternative.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.10 PMby belcherd6

    Best idea of the New Year! Better than making t-shirt quilts and lots easier! My 5 year old granddaughter loves making them for carrying around her Barbies.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.10 PMby freshdaily18

    What a simple, fun idea! Thanks, Martha.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.09 PMby sengler

    I love all the comments – even more good ideas1

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.09 PMby marilynjd5

    I use old t-shirts and make necklace scarves from them.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.09 PMby nglalala

    I like to cut up t-shirts to make quilts, pillows, or other tops.

    1 Reply
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      Jan 10, 2011, 11.43 PMby rotundo

      Hi,
      Do you have any pictures of your work? I would like to do the same but do not where to start.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.09 PMby kzandstra

    Fantastic idea! I have some kid-favorite Tees to use!

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