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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®!


SINGER® is sewing made easy™. To learn more about SINGER sewing machines and SINGER retailers, click here!

Tune-in to The Martha Stewart Show, airing weekdays at 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT on Hallmark Channel.

SINGER, the Cameo “S” Design, MODEL NAME, SEWING MADE EASY and SINGER IS SEWING MADE EASY are exclusive trademarks of The Singer Company Limited S.à r.l. or its Affiliates. ©2011 The Singer Company Limited S.à r.l. or its Affiliates. All rights reserved.


  • Wonder-woman3_large

    Jan 29, 2011, 04.52 PMby simonewarrior

    I like to upcycle my daughters outgrown dresses and we turn them into shirts. My current project is all my plastic grocery bags which I am ironing together to make a currier bag for my sister for her birthday. I would really love to win the sewing machine, not for myself but for my mother. She’s always sewn and refashioned her granddaughter’s school clothes and with the way the economy is she has been trying to make ends meet by sewing for others. Times are hard all around and the machines are expensive to buy but I really wish I could help her out. Can you help me out to make her a happy surprise?

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    Jan 29, 2011, 04.47 PMby rachelnicole

    i love to take old shirts or dresses that have lovely fabric but are all worn out of shape and repurpose the fabric by making flowers or ruffles and sewing them on headbands or vintage cardigans or sweaters. I feel great about using something that I loved so much to wear it out and having it maintain a purpose in my closet.

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    Jan 29, 2011, 01.48 PMby lbmamakat

    what a great idea! You can even make baby/child size t-shirts into lunch bags!

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    Jan 29, 2011, 11.01 AMby ladyshape

    I cut old clothes and textiles into strips and do rag knitting. It is best for things like bath mats although I have made a couple of clutch bags too.

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    Jan 29, 2011, 06.30 AMby rdejam

    I like to take gently worn baby and children’s clothes and make memory quilts with them.

  • Missing

    Jan 29, 2011, 06.00 AMby Nafisah Azmi

    I LOVE turning my used skirts into dresses for my niece, she looks adorable in everything!

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    Jan 29, 2011, 04.23 AMby afrobisou

    i have this habit of collecting old t shirts and wear them as pj tops. the problem is, i have too many now. i actually found this great vid on how to turn ur old oversized shirts into cute jumpers. they’re totally in right now and who’s to say that it wont make its way back around in about another 10 years?

  • Crackerhouse_large

    Jan 29, 2011, 02.29 AMby crackerhouse

    I’ve felted thrift store sweaters to make tote bags with felt applique.

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    Jan 29, 2011, 02.24 AMby astroknot

    My favorite upcycling project that I’ve done so far is one I found on Martha’s website, actually. I took an old kitchen towel, folded it lengthwise and sewed along the edge to create a tube. Added a handle and a drawstring on both openings, and it became a plastic bag dispenser! Although now I’ve learned how to make my own reusable bags, I won’t really have a need for plastic bags anymore. My favorite upcycling projects are all the ones that transform everyday items into practical things you really need around the house (next thing I want to do is turn an old broken umbrella into a magazine rack).

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    Jan 29, 2011, 01.51 AMby sparkledust1287

    Fantastic idea! I hate taking home plastic bags, especially when they double bag! Great way to have more reusable bags w/o purchasing more. =]

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    Jan 29, 2011, 01.28 AMby mollyliz

    i would love to learn more about using the plastic bags to make things i have never done anything like that.

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    Jan 28, 2011, 10.22 PMby anysebray

    I have so many things I can find new uses for. Seeing something new in something old is a blast!

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    Jan 28, 2011, 09.08 PMby SimplyTuTuSweet

    I have so many “upcycling” ideas bouncing around in my brain! My favorite recent “upcycle” was taking an old wool coat, shortening it, taking it in, and using the cut off wool to make a cute ruffle up the front. I wear it all the time and just love it. And who can resist a quick sweater makeover? So easy and quick and not to mention, fun!

  • Missing

    Jan 28, 2011, 08.20 PMby Ranae Markel

    I just found some great old vintage hankies, mostly cotton some silks, great little embroidery of flowers, they will make great sachets and mini pillows which will be fun for spring. I can applique them a little bit add some old buttons, or some ribbon, a little piping,the possibilities are endless! They will look great in a little basket with some spring goodies like seed packets and mini tools, or a few chocolates!

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    Jan 28, 2011, 07.55 PMby kylawithstyla

    This is not a sewing upcycle project,…. or at least not yet…. but I just recently upcycled a pair of old lamp with a little spray paint! Now here is where the sewing part comes in, upcycling the shades.

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    Jan 28, 2011, 07.37 PMby treelessbark

    I want to start a shoe company. The shoes would be used from recycled inter-tubes/rubber, and all the fabric would be thrifted. That way they are reused, and all shoes are limited quantity for styles, making them more unique.

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    Jan 28, 2011, 06.09 PMby msnew007

    I love to turn over-sized T-shirts into dresses, cut tops, or bags…like the one I created here: http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/repurposed-x-large-t-shirt-into-fabulous-cover-up

    It would be grand to win this prize!

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    Jan 27, 2011, 11.39 PMby drewteach

    Current up-cycling involving weaving rag rugs…

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    Jan 27, 2011, 12.59 PMby abbeychrissie

    My favorite up-cyle sewing project is turning old dress shirts into bow ties. I had and old boyfriend who had wild dress shirts that were terribly outdated but had a unique patterns. So I decided to make him a bow ties out of his old shirts and he still wears them.

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    Jan 27, 2011, 06.02 AMby evenhoward

    my current favorite upcycle project is a pair of mukluks i made from recycled and felted fair isle sweaters. the tops are trimmed with faux fur and embroidery on felt. the sweaters are wool so the boots end up super warm!

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    Jan 27, 2011, 04.54 AMby vwbug74

    My favorite upcycle project is using those plastic grocery bags and melting them together. I make reusable grocery totes for friends and families. They’re great to use when going to the farmers market.

  • Missing

    Jan 27, 2011, 03.17 AMby Fabi Vargas

    yes me too I made bags from old sweaters and and pants for me my girls and boy they love them.

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    Jan 26, 2011, 08.04 PMby LinnyWood

    I love to go to yard sales and load up on 100% cotton clothing – usually sold at $1.00 for a shopping bag full. Then I cut up the clothing and use the pieces for my quilting projects. Best of fun at the cheapest of prices!

  • Marycassattyoungmothersewing_large

    Jan 26, 2011, 04.30 PMby msvaughn

    I love taking my Big Bear’s dress shirts (the ones he no longer wears) and using them to make cool quilts, and baby dresses too! I love the softness of the cotton fabric. I enjoy recycling fabric from outgrown clothes for my children too.

    P.S. Big Bear is my hubby by the way. I don’t actually have a bear, although he growls at times.

  • Missing

    Jan 26, 2011, 01.54 PMby rebelpoco

    I have used old blue jeans to make purses and fleece blankets to make hats!! I am excited to find Martha’s sewing tricks!! :)

  • Missing

    Jan 26, 2011, 01.48 PMby caydenlaine

    I like to refashion my clothing into other items for my grand daughter.

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    Jan 26, 2011, 10.30 AMby haome

    Man’s shirts are great to recycle for smaller projects like cat toys, little draw string bags, etc. Applying some embroidery or fabric paint makes the plain fabric special and is stylish contrast.

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    Jan 26, 2011, 10.21 AMby maristella88

    I was taught to make and use plarn (plastic yarn) the other day. You use up colourful old plastic bags that aren’t biodegradable and can knit up a new shopping bag from them!

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    Jan 26, 2011, 10.15 AMby blueshoegal

    I use the leather from my grans old sofa (not a sofa now – it’s a pile of leather in my craft room) to make leather cuffs with studs and grommits.

  • Missing

    Jan 26, 2011, 07.41 AMby luciasmom

    I love upcycling my daughter’s old clothes into new creations like a bridal gown I made out of an frilly tank top and a dress-up princess gown. Great ideas here, thanks!

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