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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 19, 2011, 05.44 PMby kbjacks4

    This is a great and easy idea. I have old t-shirts from school activities I don’t wear anymore this would be fun to do with

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    Jan 19, 2011, 04.42 PMby grnapple

    I like to turn clothes I’m not wearing into something I will wear ie. those jeans that don’t fit right in the legs make a great skirt.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 04.35 PMby aprilsewing

    I would love the iron. My iron is so cheap and terrible. I would love to get a better one. I love to refashion t-shirts. I either cut down my husband’s to fit me or add long sleeves to my kid’s t-shirts. Quick and easy.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 01.35 PMby thugsoftheheart

    i like to collect shrunken wool sweaters from thrift stores and make them into potholders/other sweaters/stuffed toys. it’s a cheap source of 100% wool felt!

    but i have a question: i always always always seem to rip my jeans through the crotch so they are un-fixable. does anyone have any ideas on how to use denim from like 6 pairs of jeans?!

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    Jan 19, 2011, 12.36 PMby kkhb

    I’ve been trying to think of a favorite upcycling project but can’t narrow it down to just one. I like to make new things to wear but bags etc are more forgiving of my little mistakes!

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    Jan 19, 2011, 12.20 PMby kelerabeus

    I’m on a apron making kick! I’m making them out of anything I can get a hold of: fabric scraps, old pillow cases, my mom’s clothes..

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    Jan 19, 2011, 09.45 AMby maysoun

    It is a great idea, once I made a short skirt from T shirt using rubber for the waste. It was simple and fast.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 09.29 AMby dmazalster

    I Love to recicle T-shirts too. I made a lot of kids trosers out of a T-shirts. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

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    Jan 19, 2011, 03.30 AMby kkbroc

    I like to use the bag from cereal or crackers to make things. I have used it on the inside of simple zip bags so that wet things or food can be stored there. I have also used them for wax paper, and have recently been thinking about doing a project with shaved crayons for either envelopes or stationary. Because cereal and crackers are dry, these bags are a great resource. LOVED the T-shirt bag. Thanks! I made it the moment after I watched the video. kristiebrock@yahoo.com

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    Jan 19, 2011, 03.16 AMby vintagekara

    My favorite weekend project is making stuffed creatures for my niece and nephew. So much fun to see their smiles at the finished project.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 02.06 AMby darbyscloset

    I’ve seen these bags in use and they are awesome!!! Yet when I first saw a women carring some of them around with her, I thought she had brought her laundry to the grocery store…..this was before she filled them. I upcycle eveything I can! One of my favorite projects was a swimsuit cover up skirt that I made from an old t-shirt. I usually use fabric from articles of clothing I no longer wear and create something new from something old! Thanks for the fun post and opportunity to win!! Darby darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

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    Jan 19, 2011, 12.16 AMby scandium

    Using old sheets as fabric for projects! You can cut around the “worn” part of the sheet and still have heaps left.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 12.06 AMby luckypalm

    I upcycle men’s silk ties (and wool when I can find it) into cool handbags. The ties are also great for enclosing seam allowances or trimming any edge since they are already cut on the bias. It’s nice to see cloth bags are still in the limelight as the plastic ones are made from OIL which is increasingly in short supply. I use reusable bags for all my shopping, not just groceries.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 11.26 PMby pelli78500

    What a ‘slap your forehead’ moment while watching this video segment! Clever idea! Up until I saw this video, making a ‘t-shirt quilt’ was the most I could see for old t-shirts! After culling out the nostalgic shirts for the quilt, this makes perfect sense! Trips to Grandma’s, sleepovers, wow! Thanks for the green idea!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 11.00 PMby mitch1066

    I hate to throw things away,ive cut up leather jackets to patch up my sons guitar bag,ive tea died white shirts to make rag dolls and cut up jeans to make baby jean jackets lol.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 10.51 PMby krdrox

    I love using t-shirts for scarves and ruffly pillows. I also like using pant legs for gift bags and small purses.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 10.34 PMby melweismann

    I think it’s fun to take old pairs of flannel pajama pants that I have outgrown or replaced and turn them into fuzzy flannel pillow cases!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.48 PMby lxlaube

    Love reconstructing old tshirts. Great way to preserve those long lost souvenirs from trips of long ago!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.35 PMby mollyapple

    I upcycle my clothes into clothes for my toddler daughter. The most useful has definitely been taking thermal cotton and flannel nightclothes (some of which had sat in a repair pile for a couple of years or gone grey) and making them into long johns and vests to go under her clothes this winter and help keep her warm all day :)

    I really love upcycling, have done it for a long time especially when I’ve needed to make costumes on a budget and have picked up some great ideas to try from reading the comments, thanks everyone!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.29 PMby msfixit29

    I have a great way to recycle blue jeans and plastic bags! I cut off the legs of the jeans and cut a strip of the legs where the seam is so you have two. I then sew or glue the bottom of the upper portion of the jeans with one end of the strips on each outer edge and then sew or glue the top with the other end of the strips on the outer edge to make straps on each side. this makes it so it’s like a backpack they can carry on their backs and it isn’t so hard to carry. I then open the zipper and stuff the pouch just made with grocery bags and voila! you have a cushion to sit on at sports outings and camping! I have made these with my kids and friends and we decorate them with fabric paints (glow in the dark is their favorite) and they love them. They work good for hiking as the pockets are all still intact so they can use them to put in bug spray, a water bottle, notebook or camera and the girls love that they don’t have to stash stuff in their pockets and I don’t have to carry their stuff either. This is my recycling project!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.03 PMby tanyah

    Thanks for the great useful idea for the re-do recycle. My college son uses t-shirts for a pillow cases. You don’t have to sew them either; light packing for students.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.02 PMby Elena Yee

    I like to upcycle old fabrics by using them to make cute kitchen aprons :) You can come up with some pretty awesome mixed patterns and colors

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.01 PMby eyesofmad

    I love how much everyone is reusing these days! I have a HUGE stack of clothes that are disliked, worn out, etc just sitting in my sewing closet ready to be used on my next up-cycle adventure!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 08.57 PMby Gina Passante

    I like to make cases (laptops, ereaders) out of plastic bags. Iron them together (with wax paper between the iron and the bags) and it acts like fabric. A very fun project!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 08.39 PMby JCL

    I make bags and skirts out of old jeans.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 08.26 PMby irmgard-medi

    I loved the elastic dress. Thank so much for the idea. I will try to make it very soon to my dear goddaughter. I’m sure she will want to have several ones, each one in a different fabric. Living in Brazil, a very hot country, it is a perfect idea. Irmgard

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    Jan 18, 2011, 07.59 PMby punkinhead

    My favorite project is making hip bags out of thrifted items: wool sweaters, nylon or other woven belts, and remnant fabrics. I also use vintage buckles, buttons, doilies, and applique patches when I come across them. Each one is unique, and they’re so easy to make!

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    Jan 18, 2011, 07.47 PMby erin1518

    May favorite is felting an old wool sweater into a sweater for a child or into a purse

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    Jan 18, 2011, 07.45 PMby grammaheh1

    Love the T shirt ideas. I have made some tote bags for my grandchildren to carry their toys or other items in out of various types of fabric. Jean pockets from old jeans are great to add to a variety of projects.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 07.13 PMby jaden

    kid’s ripped out jeans to skirts.

    • This is a question
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