Tank Top Tote Bag

Once a year, my friends get together to bring new life to old duds. We scour our closets for the clothes and accessories that haven't been worn in ages, and then bring the items to our annual clothes swap.

While munching on banana bread and other goodies, we spend the evening trying on each others' threads--and then everyone takes home a brand-spanking-new(ish) wardrobe. (Any remaining items are donated to a local charity.)

Every now and then, someone brings along something that will probably never see the light of day again. (Think: a freebie T-shirt from the company someone worked at five years ago or a wool sweater that has met an untimely end in the wash cycle.) During these swaps, I keep an eye out for the ugly ducklings--the pieces that just need a little TLC.

There are endless ways to reuse and repurpose old clothes. And catching the upcycling bug can start at any age! This weekend, my friend's daughter, Caitlin, transformed a simple tank top into a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind tote bag.

  1. Ages: 3 - 11

  2. 30 minutes - 1 hour

  3. A little messy

Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    First, we got together all our supplies.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Decorate your tank top or T-shirt however you'd like. (If you don't like whatever is on the outside of the shirt, you can turn out the shirt to give yourself a fresh canvas.) Caitlin loves drawing, so she said her favorite part of this project was designing anything she wanted.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Once you're done creating your design, flip the shirt inside out and tie off the end of the shirt with a ribbon. (Younger kids may need some grownup assistance tying a very tight knot.)

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Done!

    Flip the shirt inside out again--and now your new tote is ready to go! Caitlin says her brand new bag will be used to carry around art supplies to pass the time when there's a lot of waiting around (like when she's at the doctor's office, in the car, and waiting for her mom to finish up meetings). And she's excited to share this fun idea with her friends!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

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