Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DIY: Upcycled drawstring backpack from t-shirt

Pile on the Joy to the World!

That was what the t-shirt says. Not forgetting, " Gobble up these Thanksgiving savings", which sounded just like a promotional tagline in a supermarket during the period leading up to Thanksgiving.

My mum bought it for me YEARS ago. Great graphics, cute lines, but AWFUL cutting that wasn't the least bit flattering. Last but not least, it looked like a darn cheap tee. So it wasn't good enough to be worn as a tee. But I thought perhaps it may be good enough to be carried as a bag on my back! :D

This is how you do it!

Materials needed:

Colour cord (from Daiso, for just S$2! Do try to match your tee! I am using black because my tee had black prints)


Cloth for lining


1. Determine the size of the bag that you want to make, with considerations of the size of the graphics on the tee. Remember to leave extra 2 inches to make room for sewing.

2. Cut off the sleeves of the tee.

3. Cut the top and the bottom of the tee according to the markings that you have made when you measured the size. Then cut the lining according to the same size of the tee. For the lining, I made the cut in a way such that I will only need to sew the sides and the top. The bottom is folded over and thus do not require any sewing at all.
(I decided to use a very old teddy fabric instead halfway through the work)

4. Sew zig-zag stitches all around the cut edges of the cloth to prevent the thread from running. Or use an overlock machine if you have one.

5. Sew the bottom of the tee together. Sew a hem at the top of the tee, ensuring that the sides the tee is not sewn together so that the cord for drawstring will be able to pass through the hem. The top of sides of the tee should already be separated when the sleeves were cut in the beginning. You can determine the how much opening you'd like to have at the top of your bag by sewing the top of the sides together.

6. Sew the sides of the lining together. Sew a hem on the top of the lining, adjust the width according so that the lining fits INSIDE the bag (tee).

7. Thread the cord through the top hem of the bag to create a drawstring opening of the bag.

8. Punch 2 holes with the eyelet, 1 at the bottom of each corner of the bag. Secure the cord as shown in the picture. Try to punch through both the tee and the lining so that the bag is sturdier!

And there you've got it!

I like this new bag sooo sooo much! But my mum was saying that I am too old for such bags. And I wanted to take a picture of myself carrying this cute little bag as well, but my brother was such a bad photographer that I had to force him to model for the bag while I take the picture instead.


Anonymous said...

This is great!
It is so great that I would like to ask you if you would let me present this idea in the book I'm writing. I collect good ideas for teaching Arts and Craft in secondary schools in Norway. Your idea is perfect in the chapter about redesign.
Is this interesting for you? How can I contact you about this?
From Trude, Norwegian teacher

gwenstella said...

Hi Trude!
Of course you can present this idea! I am so flattered by your request! I also have a few other tutorials on re-using materials too. :)

You can contact me at

Looking forward to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...

That's great! I will send you an email as soon as possible!
Many thanks,
Trude K