Reusable, T-Shirt Produce Bag

Reduce plastic waste and keep your produce fresh with these simple, reusable produce bags.

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by Diane Pedersen and Nissa Brehmer

Take the first steps to help change the world armed with a pair of scissors and a pile of old, unused t-shirts. The Upcycled T-Shirt (Stash Books, 2015) by Jenelle Montilone is full of inspiration for repurposing your t-shirts into reusable household items, repurposed wearables and more. The following tutorial for a simple produce bag will eliminate your use of plastic bags and keep produce fresh.

red and gray produce bag with fruit in it sitting on a table with corn and bowls of seeds

Why fill your reusable grocery bag with a dozen single-use plastic bags for your fresh fruits and vegetables? These lightweight, recycled T-shirt produce bags offer a sustainable and smart way to cut down on another major source of plastic bag waste and are fun to make! When asked, “Paper or plastic?” I respond, “Neither! I brought my own.”

• T-shirt
• 40 inches of T-shirt yarn
• Safety pin
• Serger (optional)

TIP: Gardeners! Reusable Produce Bags are perfect for storing bulbs through the winter.


1. Lay your T-shirt on a flat surface. Measure and cut 10 inches from the bottom of the T-shirt.

illustration of a shirt cut in half with a ruler and scissors next to it

2. Fold in half, matching up both side seams. Measure 8 inches from side seams to center. Cut vertically, so now you have 2 pieces, for 2 bags, 10-inch × 8-inch. (If your bags end up a little bigger or smaller, that’s okay!

Cut the Vents

1. Unfold and refold the bag so that right sides are facing. Lay the bag onto the table with hem on bottom. Now fold the hem up 2 inches.

illustration of a square of fabric with the bottom folded up and cuts made along the fold

2. Using a pair of sharp scissors, make 3/4-inch cuts on the fold line you just created, spacing every 2 inches. Stop 1 inch from the edge to ensure that you have room for the seam when you sew the bags together.

illustration of a square of fabric folded in half and small cuts made along the fold

3. Fold the bottom up again, 2 inches. Make cuts that alternate with those (between those) in row 1. Continue until you come to the bottom edge of the bag.

illustration of a square of fabric with vent holes cut in alternating lines


1. Pin the edge of the bag together and sew a 1/4-inch seam, starting along the bottom and then up the side. Then using a zigzag or stretch stitch, sew across the bottom and up the side of the bag.

illustration showing fabric with vent holes cut in it having the sides sewn together

2. Cut 20 inches of T-shirt yarn. Attach a large safety pin on an end. Feed the safety pin through the hem casing and all the way around the bag. Tie off with a knot. Turn bags right side out.

illustration showing yarn with a safety pin stuck on the end being threaded through the hem casing of a bag
TIP: I use a serger when making my produce bags. If using a serger, run the stitches along the bottom edge and off the end. Cut the thread tail and then reposition the bag so that you are beginning at the bottom corner. Be sure to serge over the top of the initial stitches, up along the side edge, and veering off the bag just before you come to the hem casing. Use a yarn needle to tuck your serger tails into the seam.

More projects from The Upcycled T-Shirt:

How to Make T-Shirt Yarn
Unpaper Towels
DIY Dusting Mitt

white book cover with gray shirt in the center with dashed lines leading to cloth crafts

Reprinted with permission from The Upcycled T-Shirt by Jenelle Montilone and published by Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing Inc., 2015. Cover courtesy Stash Books. Instructional photos by Diane Pedersen. Style photography by Nissa Brehmer.