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Shirt & Tie Tote Bag……for BOYS!

 Every now and then, I like to share a loved post from the past.  Some are 3, 4, and even 5 years old (wow, has it been that long?)…..but are such fun projects to make.  I revive my old tutorials all the time for myself and pull up the instructions on how I made something, so I can make it again.  And even though some of you remember this, many of you are new around here…….so today’s post, is an oldie but goodie!!

. . . . .


This Shirt & Tie Tote Bag tutorial was originally posted 6/19/2012.


My husband has a surplus of button-up shirts. He had to wear them for school for years and now has to wear them to work. However, finding them isn’t as easy as just stopping by the mall. My husband is 6’5″, remember?!! So sometimes we get lucky and find them in local stores…..but mostly we find them online. But usually the very longest (sleeves included) are just barely long enough for him. So if they are ever accidentally dried in the dryer, forget it. Their days are through. Also, sometimes cheaper brands shrink just from washing. Uggh. Those ones are goners too. And what does a man do with all of his ‘too-short’ button ups? Well, he puts them into his wife’s refashion pile like a good husband should. ;) But good heavens, those shirts have rapidly multiplied over the past few years and rather than feel like a button-up shirt hoarder, I decided a good button-up shirt re-purpose project was in order.


However, I had something in mind that would need a neck tie. So, I asked my husband Steve if he hated any of the hundreds hanging in his closet. (Okay, not hundreds. But lots and lots.) Luckily, he pulled about 5 of them and said they were either “too short” or “snagged” or “just too skinny at the end” and he wasn’t wearing them. Sorry for your misfortune dear husband……but thanks for the treasure. :)


So, I got to work —–





…and made a new little something out of those 2 cast-off items. The tote is lined with thick duck cloth (sturdy canvas-y fabric), so it holds its shape really well.





Yes, a little Shirt/Tie Church Tote (14.5 x 15 inches in size) for my little Connor to carry his “quiet activities” to and from church.





If you’re not into the whole “tie on the tote” look, then just don’t add it. (I tucked it inside to show you how sizzlin’ cute it still is without.)




And let me tell you what…….my shoulder thanks me. I will no longer carry a church bag filled with “quiet” activities for the kiddos. They can carry their own. (Except for baby Chloe. She still needs a little help. Ha.) Now this little dude can carry his own quiet books, coloring pages, markers, snacks, etc. to church with him. I was getting tired of hauling all of their stuff for them.





Connor kinda loves his new little church tote. Especially because it has a tie on it…….just like him.





Whew, one shirt from the refashion pile down…..many to go!






This Shirt & Tie Tote Bag tutorial was originally posted 6/19/2012.


Would you like to transform an old shirt/tie into a tote??

(Remember, you can skip the tie part and just make a shirt tote.)



First of all, you can make your tote a variety of sizes. But I will share the dimensions I used to make my little tote for my 4 year old, which is 14.5 inches tall (not including the handles) and 15 inches wide. Also, you don’t have to use an old shirt to make this tote…….burn dang it, it’s so much cuter if you do! :)





  • Men’s Button Up Shirt (just be sure it’s big enough for the size tote you want to make)
  • Duck Cloth (This is just thick canvas-like fabric, available at most fabric stores. It gives the tote great shape. The amount needed depends on what size you make, but I needed about 2/3 of a yard.)
  • An old tie (optional)
  • thread, scissors, pins, etc.


Cut 2 main squares out of your shirt that are 16 x 16 inches (use the front and the back of the shirt for this). Be sure that the button section goes right down the center of your square. Then cut two long strips out of your shirt (use the bottom of the shirt or maybe the sleeves) that are 14 x 2 inches. Then cut the same 2 squares and 2 strips out of your duck cloth.


Now, you could do this before cutting your square but I forgot. But sew the opening of the shirt closed so that it doesn’t ever gape open after it becomes a tote.


Then, place your two shirt squares together (with right sides together) and sew along the right and left edges, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Do the same with your 2 duck cloth pieces.


Then, either trim and zig-zag your side edges or serge them right off.


Next, decide how long you want your tie to be (I decided I needed about 11 inches of tie).


Then stitch it in place with 2 seams that are less then 1 inch from the edge.


Next, grab one of your shirt strips and one of your duck cloth strips and sew them together, with right sides together, along the two outer edges. Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Repeat with the other 2 strips. Then turn both right side out and iron flat. (Need help turning a tube right side out? Go here.)

Shirt & tie tote bag……for boys!
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Then pin one of your strips to the front of the tote (the top layer only). I found the center of the tote and then placed the two ends about 6 inches apart. Make sure that you are placing right sides together.


Now, sew each end to the tote, sewing it in place with 2 different seams (less than 1 inch from the edge). Do the same thing with the other handle on the back side of the tote.


Next, slide the shirt fabric (that is right side out) down into the tube of the duck cloth (that’s still inside out). Now the right sides of fabric are facing each other, right?


Slide it down until the top edges are even. Match up the side seams then pin the top edge in place.


Sew in place, using a 1 inch seam allowance, then turn right side out. Iron flat (take your time). Then top-stitch about 1/16 of an inch from the top edge of the tote. This top-stitch will keep the top of the tote from shifting but it will also help keep your tie down and in place.


Next, turn the tote inside out and smooth everything out to the bottom. Sew the bottom shut, from side seam to side seam, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. See the red dotted line below. (If your bottom edges didn’t match up exactly, don’t worry, mine didn’t either. It’s most likely because we sewed and turned the top and then ironed it…..and maybe it wasn’t exact after all that manipulating. No worries.) But just be sure that the shirt fabric isn’t bunching or folding when you sew the bottom shut. You want it nice and smooth. (And then zig-zag or serge the edge.) Then make your little bottom squared off corners. See the arrows below. (A better explanation here.)


The squared off bottom for my tote isn’t huge. After folding the corner the other way (again, more on that here), I measured down 1.25 inches and then sewed a seam straight across. Now, serge or trim and zig-zag the raw edges.

Shirt & tie tote bag……for boys!
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Here’s a look at the bottom from the right side out. Nice and perfect for a few books and supplies.



Iron any extra seams if necessary to give it a nice polished look.


And that’s it.








Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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