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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

  • Missy_large

    Jan 17, 2011, 06.39 AMby knuckleknuckle

    I really enjoy going to thrift stores and buying huge skirts and dresses that are made out of interesting material so that I can use the fabric to make new clothing.

  • Missing

    Jan 17, 2011, 02.51 AMby mayell

    I like to make bowls and baskets from fabric strips and scraps.

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    Jan 17, 2011, 12.59 AMby leslie

    This isn’t sewing—but I take our throw-away computer paper (that you’ve messed up printing, or are throwing away your first draft of a paper for schoo, or whateverl!)——turn the pages over to the blank side, cut into fourths, and staple together to make small note pads to write on! Sometimes I take them and sew across the top to make the notepads too. You’d be surprised how much paper you throw away. And at our house, we are always using these notepads!

  • Dsc_6465_large

    Jan 16, 2011, 11.47 AMby dobrotalivia

    I love to use the curtains fabrics for pillow cases and seat covers.

  • Missing

    Jan 15, 2011, 11.59 PMby crauckis

    You can make the bag a bit more neat by boxing the bottom, without a single extra stitch. Turn t-shirt inside out per instructions. Before stitching the bottom, fold each side inward by 2 inches (more or less, as you prefer) to form a pleat (the shape of the Greek letter Sigma). Pin the pleats into place with the rest of the seam, and stitch. Finish per instructions. Turn right side out again and the box falls into place. (If you look at one of the plastic bags, this is pretty much the same way its bottom is boxed, too.)

  • Missing

    Jan 15, 2011, 06.19 PMby Nancysue

    Currently for Father’s Day (working ahead this year) I’m making a quilt for my hubby, using panels from my husband’s college uniforms. The backing will contain his college tshirt as part of the label. Shhhhhh! Promise you won’t tell him.

  • Missing

    Jan 15, 2011, 05.52 PMby ypaigeclark

    How cool is this?! I’ve never been to NYC but I have an I love NY tee shirt which will get a lot of looks down here in the South. I’ll “recycle” this afternoon.

  • Missing

    Jan 15, 2011, 01.20 PMby enoch

    I made one of these a few years ago for my son. My daughter who is a photographer recently asked me to make some of these tee shirt bags that she could use to carry her samples in.

    One of my favorite up-cycle projects was a mens dress shirt that I made into a dress for my 3 year old granddaughter.
  • Missing

    Jan 15, 2011, 12.42 PMby Catlyn Lawson

    my favorite upcycling idea is to take old clothes that would be thrown away and to turn them into lap quilts! functional and not wasting a thing! they’re great for gifts or to even donate!

  • Meme_large

    Jan 15, 2011, 05.43 AMby bootycrewqueen

    and God she looks good for her age.

  • Meme_large

    Jan 15, 2011, 05.42 AMby bootycrewqueen

    Brilliant! I have always taken apart big tees and re-cut them to a different style and cut and start sewing, it never occurred to me to make bags out of the ones I never use.

  • Missing

    Jan 14, 2011, 08.00 PMby daisybrain

    What can’t you make a bag out of? The only problem now is that I don’t have anything to put my garbage in.

  • Missing

    Jan 14, 2011, 06.22 PMby outbutnotoutdone

    I make floor pillows out of the trimmings from my serger. it makes great stuffing paired with shredded plastic bags. Using an oversized tshirt as the pillow works great too. The kids love it and my good pillows don’t end up on the floor.

  • Umbrella2_large

    Jan 14, 2011, 04.04 PMby lafemmediy

    Very nice! Personally, I think I’d rather carry a more structured bag, like Burda’s Charlie bag, but I can see how Martha’s bag would be very accessible to people who aren’t used to sewing. Every reusable bag will help!! : )

  • Missing

    Jan 14, 2011, 04.03 PMby simondae

    I am new to sewing and crafts but have decided to upcycle an old turtleneck into a dress. I am totally surprised at how classy the dress is turning out to be. Can’t wait until this weekend when my project will be complete. After this project I know that the upcycling possibilities of my old clothes are endless!

  • Missing

    Jan 14, 2011, 02.56 PMby Ladypippie

    I like to re-purpose jeans by making purses, girls skirts, bags. It is also good for insulation if you have a window or door draft.

  • Dscf6507_large

    Jan 14, 2011, 09.58 AMby urbandon

    Socks into scarves.

  • Humpback_whale_large

    Jan 14, 2011, 03.15 AMby sewheavenly

    I LIKE TO TAKE MY SONS JEANS HE NO LONGER WANTS TO WEAR AND RECYCLE THEM INTO TOTE BAGS BY CUTTING THE LEGS OF OF THEM AND USING THE LEGS TO MAKE THE STRAPS FOR THE BAG. I THEN THREAD A SCARF THROUGH THE BELT LOOPS AND USE VELCRO FOR THE CLOSURE AT THE TOP OF THE BAG. THE REMNANTS OF DENIM FABRIC I RECYCLE THEM TO USE IN DIFFERENT PROJECTS THAT I SEW, FOR EXAMPLE A POCKET ON A GARMENT TO ADD A BIT OF CONTRAST.

  • 448dd87d25d5c5e2183b3bf28647e8ac07032493_large

    Jan 14, 2011, 12.06 AMby sondraleigh

    I love to use the fabric from my husbands discarded dress shirts and t-shirts to make cute tops.

  • Missing

    Jan 13, 2011, 08.39 PMby kdschafer

    My daughter and I make purses out of her old jeans, especially the ones with the embroidery. We’ll go thru our fabric stash for lining fabric and use buttons from my mother-in-laws button box. Occasionally, we’ll pick up some beaded trim on sale to add some sparkle. She’s used old belts as decoration or as straps. They turn out really cute and are quite the conservation starters!

  • Hair_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 04.42 PMby Adaydreamer

    I love upcycling old tshirts! This is a great way to keep those old nostalgic tees without cluttering the closet. :)

  • Missing

    Jan 13, 2011, 03.52 PMby irmgard-medi

    I just LOVED the idea to turn a T-shirt into a Bag. I forwarded it to lots of friends. This should be an International campaign. “Help the Nature by easily recycling your old T-shirt: NO MORE PLASTIC BAGS” Thanks you for sharing this idea.

  • Missing

    Jan 13, 2011, 03.49 PMby suntory

    I like to cut up old clothes to use for making bags. It really gives the bag extra character.

  • 100_4473_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 02.27 PMby sinophie

    I like to upcycle socks into long, thin scarves. As socks wear out mostly only at the heel and tip, I cut these away and keep the body and cuff. When I have enough material, I sow the tubes together, beginning and finishing with a cuff to avoid trouble with seams. This is an easy, pretty way to minimize waste and breathe new life into very underestimated material.

  • Photo_on_2012-01-24_at_14_01_2_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 01.22 PMby pierangeli

    I love using old tshirts and seawtshirts sleeves to make little soft bags for my ipod, cellphone etc.

  • Betty_dress-5_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 12.11 PMby Chloe' Window

    Wonderful idea! My mother used to make bag out of old pants and jeans and I would decorate them. These t-shirt bags can be made more fun with some creative decoration and variations. The bag shown in the photo on the banner (the one with one handle tucked into another) should be perfect for t-shirt remake too. It’s a traditional Japanese style bag, but surprisingly modern looking and fun to use.

  • Etsy_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 11.23 AMby kmaxa

    My favorite upcycling project is to turn those duraweave dogfood bags into reusable shopping bags. I do this simpl cutting off the bottom and squaring it off, folding down the top and stiching on webbing for the handles. Simple project to use up those bags, they are litterally indestructable…they would probably NEVER breakdown in the landfill. So, it makes me feel better knowing they have a new life instead of just waste.

  • 5cb2505a908e4406707d331d922843c3c4c5d000_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 10.42 AMby ipires

    Making skirts out of old trousers… I am planning to make a denim skirt that way!

  • Tablofoto_large

    Jan 13, 2011, 10.19 AMby lolastepp

    It’s a great idea! Although I usually made bags from old jeans, or skirts. I also use old jeans to make skirt, besause it usually hase the hole at a critical poit, so I just cut it and sew some fabric on it and I have new skirt:)

  • Missing

    Jan 13, 2011, 09.09 AMby ziljez

    I like to use old clothes or other fabric to make new clothes and accessorize. I also love the ide of making LP-records in to bowls and watches!

    • This is a question
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