Clothing Fabric Remnants: The Shirt Sleeve Sack

I’ve had two bright button-up shirts tucked away in my fabric remnant stash for a couple of years now. I bought them at the same time because I just loved their fruity, colorful prints, but rarely ever wore them. Finally, they landed in the don’t-fit-so-well-anymore section of my closet and ultimately they made their way into one of my suitcases of fabric remnants.Today, I got around to cutting them up to make a simple lightweight tote.

I used the two matching shirts, but you can use one shirt and cut regular fabric or other clothing pieces to the same shapes. I won’t be offering a pattern in this tutorial as I pretty much winged this one and shot pictures as I went, but hope that it inspires you to look at clothing a bit differently before tossing into the thrift store bag.

To start, I cut out the sleeves of each shirt and ironed each flat. The curved cut along the tops of the sleeves will make a unique shape for the handle area of the bag.The collar band, which when trimmed away is already pretty much hemmed, would make a good handle for the bag. I removed the button and cut the rounded end off.Determining the bag will be blue/green (A) outside and orange/pink (B) inside, I seamed two A/B sections together inside out. With one A/B section, I sandwiched the handle strap between the sleeves, leaving about one inch showing. On the other, I left an area unstitched, but reinforced, to slide the other end of the strap into later.I trimmed away the extra fabric and original shirt seams.After turning the pieces right side out, I pressed and seamed the sides of the sections to eachother. I inserted a section of the loose handle end into the remaining hole at the top of one side and stitched around the entire top area of the bag, securing the strap. I then went back and reinforced the handle by sewing squares and crisscross seams.The cuffs that were cut from the sleeves will work great as the bottom of the bag. I seamed two together overlapping,then both seamed pieces together around the edges.I pinned the side of the cuff section to the trimmed bottom of the bag.Then seamed each side of the bag to the long sides of cuff section. I pleated the narrow ends of the cuffs to fit and seamed them to the other sides of the bag.I went back and zig-zag stitched along the raw edges to keep them from fraying.I turned the bag right side out and DONE! And there’s still plenty of fabric left from these shirts for more small projects. If you make one and your shirt has a breast pocket, trim it out and sew it to the inside or outside of the bag.I took the bag outside to try to get a good shot in the daylight, but in case you can’t tell, we have curiously funny sheep.
Please visit my latest post at SC Johnson’s Family Economics
for lots more ideas for repurposing clothing.

Disclosure: I am a compensated blogger for SC Johnson.

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