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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, 09.08 PMby simplybags1

    I love to use leftover fabric or old clothes to make crayon roll ups for kids. Love making tote bags out of old clothes too!! Great easy project, may have to whip some of these up with the kids old clothes—love the idea about using it for a Halloween trick or treat bag.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.07 PMby muchacha

    I love turning each pants I dont want to wear anymore into skirts. Somethimes the results is bizarre, but when it work well, it makes a fantastic new piece to add to my wardrobe without buying anything new.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.07 PMby embmimi

    I love these bags, and I’ve started buying Christmas fabrics on sale after Christmas to make reusable gift bags for Christmas presents. I made some this year, and they were a big hit. They can also be personalized. Thanks for the pattern.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.07 PMby libbysews

    Great idea! I detest those plastic bags. I would probably go one step further and turn the raw edges in and topstitch, just to make it a little more sturdy.

    1 Reply
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      Jan 12, 2011, 11.05 PMby boppygreen

      I agree totally. I saw this project and thought the same thing. It seemed to me that the bags they made were unfinished and the holes would stretch. Otherwise, a fun idea.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.06 PMby aisackson

    What a great and very simple bag. A friend of mine was just talking the other day about how she needed to get some bags. I think I will make her one of these and tell her how to make her own! So fun.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.06 PMby lelalu

    i live in germany and we mostly use this kind of bags anyway. i love the idea with the t-shirt, except mine says " i love berlin " :)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.05 PMby sadie412

    Martha. Singer. New York. Upcycling. what’s not to <3

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.04 PMby kaineb

    I like to turn scraps of fabric into thin credit card/cash wallets that fit easily into your back pocket. Love the t-shirt bag idea. I have seen t-shirts turned into more of a purse by leaving the neck hole the same size and binding the outside edges using two layers of cotton webbing and continuing it around the top to form a strap. Works really good on children’s size t-shirts.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.04 PMby mismis777

    I upcycle all the time, my favorite thing to upcycle is a sweater into mittens, hats and scarves.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.03 PMby wassidy

    My current favorite upcycle is refashioning sweaters. For example: take a turtleneck stitch up the center side by side, cut and trim with ribbon.

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.01 PMby magnolia729

    old tote bags are turning into new cluthces here;-)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.01 PMby sugarcookie

    I love making old t-shirts into pillows! :)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.01 PMby jaclyn43552

    I love Martha! Can’t wait to learn all her sewing tricks!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.01 PMby elisam

    This is great! I have seen these, and am excited to get a tutorial. I like to use my favorite t shirt logos and designs as patches on other shirts or tote bags. Keep your favorite part of the shirt!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 09.00 PMby jeanderbyny

    I LOVE IT! thanks :) i have alot i can use for this. kids sizes also, if you change it up

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    Jan 10, 2011, 08.59 PMby shannonvalde

    I like to cut old t-shirts into fabric strips and braid them for rugs or fabric bowls. It is an easy project to do (even with kids) and the results are very nice. Thanks for such a fun prize!

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    Jan 10, 2011, 08.59 PMby Victor Castro

    The re-use of these “I ♥ NY” shirts is brilliant! An amazing post. :)

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    Jan 10, 2011, 08.57 PMby vargasuf

    I love to melt plastic grocery store bags with an iron and make wallets, and clutch purses out of them. You can stitch through them super easily and they are super sturdy. I love mixing and matching different colored bags for tie-dyed effects once they’re melted, too. Thanks for the opportunity to win! :o)

    2 Replies
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      Jan 12, 2011, 12.00 AMby quartney28

      what do you use between the plastic and your iron? some kind of wax paper?

    • C6adbd92802d62343d667e69dc923fcfd959cc55_large

      Jan 12, 2011, 06.52 PMby pollyprogrammer

      Freezer paper works best for protecting the iron and ironing board, I’ve found. :)

    • This is a question
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