How to Turn an Old T-Shirt into an Earth Day Tote Bag

With a name like Lily, I’ve always been a bit of a hippie at heart. My favorite childhood memories are the feeling of fresh earth beneath my toes, vibrant grass tickling my ankles, and intricate wild flowers waving in the breeze. Taking inspiration from my wild flower memories I created this design for Earth Day. This pretty little bloom uses the reduce, reuse, recycle arrows for petals and instead of a pollen filled center it wishes you a Happy Earth Day! But what’s the best feature of this design? You can use it too!

Click here to download the FREE CUT FILE so you can start heat applying this encouraging Earth Day design! Not sure where you want to apply it first? Try this Earth Day inspired craft.

Supplies to make an upcycled t-shirt tote bag for Earth Day.

Supplies for an Upcycled Earth Day Tote Bag:

How to Turn a T-Shirt Into an Earth Day Tote Bag

Step 1: Make Handles

Take an old T-Shirt that you don’t mind cutting up and and flip it inside out. This is the side you’ll apply the Earth Day flower to! Cut the sleeves and neckline off to form handles.

How to make tote bag handles from a t-shirt

Perfect Handles!

Step 2: Cut Fringe

Next I measured about 15 inches down from  the neckline. Tote bags vary in size, but are typically between 15-20 inches long. Once I had my measurement I cut off the excess material on the bottom.

Don’t put your scissors down quite yet! Just a few more cuts to be done. Cut vertical slits at the bottom of the T-Shirt about 1.5 inches wide and 3 inches tall. Don’t worry about getting them exactly the same. It should like something like this when you’re finished cutting.

How to upcycle a t-shirt into a tote bag


Step 3: Cut and Apply Earth Day Design

Before we close off the bottom for good, apply your Earth Day HTV! When we close the bottom it will bunch up the fabric a bit and we want to apply the heat transfer vinyl on the smoothest surface possible.

Open up your free cut file in whatever software you’ll be using. I used Cricut Design Space and the Cricut Explore Air to cut my HTV. Don’t forget to mirror the image before you cut!

The Happy Earth Day free cut file in Cricut Design Space.

I chose Siser Glitter Grass and EasyWeed® Electric Lime. Perfect colors for Earth Day! Weed out all the unnecessary material. The great thing about Glitter and EasyWeed Electric is they both come on pressure sensitive carriers. This means the clear backing on them is sticky. If the insides of the letters come up while weeding just press them back down. They will still adhere to the garment when heated!Weeding out excess material in Siser Glitter Grass.

Heat application settings for each product can be found at the bottom of every product page of our website or on the Siser App!


Step 4: Close the Bottom of the Earth Day Tote Bag

You have a couple options…Option 1: Simply tie the front and back fringes together for a fun bohemian look. Option 2: Flip the bag inside out, and tie the fringes together there. This will give you a cleaner look. Or you can do my favorite! Option 3: Flip the bag inside out. Line up your front and back fringe. Then cut a small slit directly above the fringe. Pull the front and back fringe through that hole. The fringe essentially ties itself! This is the neatest way to close up the bag without sewing it. If you’re handy with a sewing machine feel free to close it up with needle and thread!

How to close the bottom of a t-shirt tote bag

Step 1: Cut. Step 2: Pull fringe through front of whole. Step 3: Tighten

I added bows on the handles made out of t-shirt scraps and now my double sided tote is good to go!

Upcycled T-shirt tote bag for Earth Day using Siser heat transfer vinyl

Glitter Grass is sparkly and vibrant!

Show us how you used this Earth Day design by adding #SiserNA to your posts. You can also pin the image below to Pinterest and save this idea for next Earth Day!

How to upcycle a t-shirt into a tote bag for Earth Day with a FREE CUT FILE for iron on vinyl.