Amazing the difference it makes when I have almost no pain from my elbow! Suddenly I feel lively and interested in things, and life is sending lots of interesting artists to research – excellent timing ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  So, as promised, another installment of upcycling goodness, inspired by turning out my drawers! I have a brand new washing machine (first time ever!!) and while it was very useful to discover I still had Tshirts on their last legs when I had to manage after the last washer broke, now, now I would rather have some space to see what I look halfway respectable in (ok, clean and tidy ๐Ÿ˜‰ artists are rarely respectable!!)

STA45222ย  Nonie gracing a pile of tired and pilled and washed out trousers and shirts…all will be upcycled in ways I will share with you ๐Ÿ™‚

Bottom Tshirt is a long sleeve crew neck from Cotton Traders that has served its time…but I feel really guilty not wringing the last drops of use out of cotton, because it is such a horrible crop to pick and process. And with a little energy and ingenuity I can make new things:

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1) Cut a snip next to the first respectable bit of the under arm, then tear across to the other side. Check for holes, stains etc., I have a gift for catching on barbed wire at the allotment/in the woods, just by the hip, so I cut that out. Turn it upside down and inside out – the colour will be fresher on the inside and the bottom seam (hem) is almost definitely sound.

2) Find some bright remnants, this is a leftover from Diversity, but a tired scarf or flowery top might come in handy here. Stitch the feature piece where it is most effective, using a zigzag or staggered zigzag if you have one.

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3) Use a strong stitch for the edge seam – I used triple stitch, but you could just go over straight stitch twice, but do use good thread ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Start the seam at the hem edge as this will be the most noticeable join on the finished bag! Trim any raggedness, but leave at least 5mm for turning, and now zigzag the edge down. This is a lazy French seam, and it protects the edge and looks neater ๐Ÿ™‚

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4) See how much neater it looks? But it’s increased the weight-bearing strength of the bag too, as have the rows of stitching holding the decoration, cool, huh?!

5) Take a length of fabric, either the Tshirt sleeves or the decoration if you have enough, that is 2metres long by approx 10cm, that’s a sleeve cut in half on the length, twice, about a finger wide.

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6) Fold it double and zigzag the edge so you have a tube, it’s fine to stitch right side out, but try to stay close to the edge but not over!

7) Now make a loop with one end of the tube and pull another loop through, using the long end of the fabric…and again, and again, until you have a crochet chain. It should be long enough for a handle, but just check! Now fold the ends in and stitch the handles down firmly, using a satin/heavy repeat pattern stitch ( I use lazy daisy) or, go backwards and forwards 3 times on straight stitch. Using the bottom hem of the Tshirt as the top edge of the bag just about guarantees a good straight edge, and stitching the handles to the double/ treble thickness means they shouldn’t tear when you fill the bag with shopping – it will stretch, so you can get a lot in!

8) Repeat for the second handle, trim any ends and admire your new tote! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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9) Keep the rest of the Tshirt, I will be showing how to make a swimming/gym kit/shoe bag out of the next section ๐Ÿ˜‰ or make another tote to give to the first person to admire your work!

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