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How to Cut Sleeves & Neck of a T-Shirt for No-Sew Tote Bag

Learn how to make an old t-shirt into a no-sew tote bag with designer Jennifer Wiese in this Howcast video, part 2 of a 4-part series.


Once you have your T-shirt selected, the first thing to making our tote bag is to remove the neckline and the sleeves of your t-shirt. This is going to create the handles of our tote bag. So go ahead and lay your shirt out flat just like this. Take some scissors, and you're just going to cut off each sleeve, cutting off the seam of the sleeve. So if you'll notice, our seam is right here. We want to cut to the inside of the seam so that the seam is not in our bag.

Lay your t-shirt flat. Kind of smooth out any wrinkles to help make a straight cut. And we're just going to follow the seam as our guide. Notice how I'm cutting off that seam. And this is. . .it's almost like you're making a tank top, just removing the sleeves. We're going to go to the other side. Remember, smooth out your fabric. If you have a wrinkle in your fabric when you're cutting, you're going to get a little bit of a zig-zag in your cut. Start at the top, and just follow that seam line as your guide.

Okay. So you can already see how we're making the handles of our bag. The next step is to remove the neckline. Now depending on how large the neckline of your shirt is, you'll want to cut deeper into the neckline or shallower into the neckline. Since we have a pretty deep neckline here, I'm going to stay really close to the front neckline and just cut this off. If I had a really shallow neckline that was really close to my neck, I might want to extend and cut a little farther away from it, like this.

So we'll lay our fabric out flat again. And cutting two layers at once, just like we did on the sleeves, I'm going to follow the neckline just as it is. Now for added variation, you can cut out shapes in the neckline, if you would like a square neckline like the orange tote bag that we have here, if you want a V neckline. You could even make a scalloped edge if you like. All right. So here's the neckline we cut away. And now here are the handles of our bag. You can see where we would sling it on our shoulder right there. And that's how you remove the neckline and the sleeves to make the handles of your bag. The next step is to close the bottom.

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