DIY Diva: Ironic T-Shirt Totes

Updated: Aug 05, 2009 00:05
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Ironic Batman T-shirt Tote Bag

Heyo – the DIY Diva here with a project that will turn your crap into craft in a few short steps. Today I’m going to be showing you how to turn a old t-shirt into a new tote bag that you can use to hold everything from your crafting gear to groceries to gym clothes to… Well, the possibilities are endless. And, we know that the question of what to do with all those old, ironic t-shirts from the early 00s has been keeping you up at night – here is your cheap and bad-ass solution to that problem!

This is a great no-sew project – if you have nieces, nephews, or friends on hallucinogens who you get stuck watching from time to time this is a PERFECT project to keep them busy and out of trouble. From start to finish the project takes about a half hour.

What you need:
-An old (but not so old it’s falling apart) men’s t-shirt
*You can also use a girly cut t-shirt or wife beater if you want a different shape to your end product.
-A roll of duct tape
-A stapler
-Sewing scissors (or sharp scissors that can cut through thick fabric.)
-A ruler (you’ll need this for a lot of crafts so you should buy a good one. I prefer a 24″ X 6″ flat flexible plastic ruler.)
-A permanent black marker


Cover the t-shirt in duct tape

Step A – Following the seam, cut the sleeves off of your t-shirt. Turn your t-shirt inside out.

Step B – Starting at the bottom cover the entire t-shirt (both sides) in strips of duct tape.

Step C – Trim the duct tape so that it follows the natural seams and is neat. It should only overlap the seam by about eighth of an inch – which will create a new “seam” or seal for the duct tape.


Looks like a duct tape tank top!

Step D – Using your marker and the ruler, create a V in the place where the neck hole is. Cut the V out – when you’re done the t-shirt should look like a ducttape’ed tank top.

Step E – This is where it gets a little tricky: Take the t-shirt and turn it sideways (still inside out) so that the seam is in the middle of the bag and the arm holes look like they are forming handles. Flatten the t-shirt as much as possible.

Step F – Measure two lines from the bottom of the t-shirt. One at one inch and one at one and one half inches. You’re going to draw a “seam” on each with the black marker.

Step G – Staple along each line – make sure the staples are butting up to each other creating a non-broken line.


Measure two lines across the bottom of the t-shirt.

Step H – Cover the staple lines with a piece of duct tape and trim off the excess t-shirt below the covered staple seam line.

Step I – Measure a six inch line across each corner and mark with the marker. If you’re using a wife beater or girly-t the line will be three inches.

Step J – Staple a double row of staples across each corner.

Step K – Cover those staple seams with duct tape and trim off the excess corner below the tape.


Make the corners by creating a six inch line and double row stapling it

Step L – Turn the bag inside out and push the corners into place with your hand – voila! You have yourself a totally awesome t-shirt tote!

Optional: Buy a bunch of punk rock or ironic pins (buttons,) take the pin part out and using a hot glue gun attach them to the bag for more decoration.

Or, hit that bitch up with your BeDazzler!

Happy crafting!

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Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler is a freelance writer and professional blogger. IRL she is a very nice person, regardless of what you might have read about her on the innerwebs. Kate lives in Berkeley with her dog, Max. You can follow her on Twitter @adorkablegrrl


  1. BAS Writers
    August 7, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    this is awesome! i cant wait to try

  2. August 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Thx Ashley — I am actually using the bag I made as a tote bag for my dog walker/sitter to carry around stuff for my pooch when she is left watching him. I’ve also been asked to make one for an overnight bag for my FWB and a cool baby diaper bag for a hipster dude I know who’s having a kid. It’ s popular project. 🙂

  3. nikki
    August 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    um yeh could u make a vid of this it seems like ral cool and all just i get very lost

  4. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    September 11, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Hey Nikki — I’ll see what I can do about posting a video. You can see a video from the Today show on how to make a very similar tote on YouTube:

    What are you specifically having trouble with? Maybe I can talk you through it via comments. 🙂

  5. Sumaya
    January 2, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    hi, I’ve made 1 of these bags before and had a lot of fun with it. do you think i could make an at-home business out of it? I have gotten compliments on it and some of my friends want some. I’m 17 by the way 🙂