Free Design: Stuff Sack from Re Cycled T Shirt

What do you get when you combine a cute car embroidery design, a fat quarter of fabric, and an outgrown children’s t-shirt? A stuff sack for car trips that is perfect for toting soft toys, wrapped snacks, or a change of clothes. This is a quick project that will make your child feel special when it’s time to hit the road. It’s sure to quiet the “are we there yet?” question that commonly occurs during road trips and family vacations. Personalize the free car design offered by Brother this month to make this stuff sack really special!

Materials and Supplies

Note: A fat quarter is quilter’s term for a piece of fabric measuring 18” wide X 22” long.
Original Thread Colors [caption id="attachment_8309" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Original Thread Colors[/caption] Design size: 2.67” X 1.68” (67.90mm X 42.60mm)

General information:

Kids outgrow clothes so quickly! This project is a great way to re-cycle colorful t-shirts and give them new life as a fun and practical bag. Feel free to personalize yours with trims, pockets, or added appliqués. Fabric appliqués are a clever way to cover worn areas or spots. Finished size varies with t-shirt. This sack finishes at approximately 15” high X 12” wide. Basic steps for making this sack are simple:
  • Cut two rectangles from body of shirt for bag front and back.
  • Sew a bottom seam and add a band of fabric at the bottom for extra support and a colorful contrast.
  • Embroider a personalized design on front.
  • Sew buttonhole openings for a casing at the top.
  • Sew side seams, create casing, and insert drawstring to finish.

Let’s get started!

Steps to Create Stuff Sack
  1. Wash and press shirt. You will want to use as much of the t-shirt as you can, retaining the original hem for top edge of bag. Lay shirt flat and use the ruler to draw an even rectangle shape from neck to hem. See Figure #1.
[caption id="attachment_8282" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #1[/caption]
  1. Cut out rectangles and then place the un-hemmed, short edges right sides together. Sew a narrow seam to form bottom of bag.
Tip: Sew and overcast a narrow seam all in one step using foot “G” and an overcast stitch.
  1. Trim away selvedge edge from fat quarter of fabric, fold with wrong sides together and shorter ends matching, and then press lightly to crease. Re-fold, having raw edges aligned with center crease.See Figure #2.
[caption id="attachment_8283" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #2[/caption]
  1. Layer folded piece on right side of shirt with raw edges overlapping the bottom seam. This piece of woven fabric adds strength to the bottom of your bag.See Figure #3.
[caption id="attachment_8284" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #3[/caption]
  1. Edge stitch close to folded edges to attach to bag. Trim excess even with sides. See dashed lines below.
Stuff Sack Step 5
  1. Choose one side of shirt to use for bag front. Create a combination design, using thread colors to coordinate with band. Add your child’s name and the words “Are we there yet?” if desired. Stabilize fabric and embroider design on front, centering design above the added fabric band, about two-thirds down from the top hemmed edge.
I used the Brother Simply Appliqué™
software includes fun font styles for adding a name and message like the one featured here. See Figure #4. You can also consider using built in fonts to create a custom design to fit the 4-inch hoop. [caption id="attachment_8285" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #4[/caption]
Tips for stabilizing: Lightly fuse a generously sized piece of the cut-away stabilizer to the wrong side. You can peel and trim away excess when finished, and then permanently fuse to stabilize shirt. Knits generally benefit from an added a layer of water-soluble on top. Hoop water-soluble along with the fabric or tape edges with low tack tape to temporarily attach. When finished with embroidery, tear away majority of water-soluble. You can remove the rest during laundering. See Figure #5 for completed embroidery above band.
[caption id="attachment_8287" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #5[/caption]
  1. It’s time to make buttonholes for an opening in the casing. To re-enforce buttonholes, cut and fuse 2-inch squares of cut-away at top edge of back piece, placing squares on the wrong side of each side edge, just below the original hem of the shirt. See Figure #6.
[caption id="attachment_8288" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #6[/caption]
  1. Measure and mark dots for the buttonholes on the right side, with dots located 1½-inches from the top and side edge. See Figure #7.
[caption id="attachment_8289" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #7[/caption]
  1. Put button into the buttonhole foot as shown in photo above. Set machine for sewing a buttonhole and stitch one buttonhole at each side, starting stitching at the dot and working towards the raw edge. See Figures #8a and #8b.
[caption id="attachment_8290" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #8a[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8291" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #8b[/caption]
  1. Next, place right sides together with hemmed edges matching. Sew a 1/2-inch seam from top to bottom on each side. See Figure #9.
[caption id="attachment_8292" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #9[/caption]
  1. T-shirt knit doesn’t ravel but it does curl so it’s a good idea to overcast the seam. I used the triple zigzag stitch.
  1. “Boxing” corners at the bottom will help shape the bag. Fold bottom of bag on one side with side seam and bottom seam matching to form a point. Sew a straight line 2-inches from the point. See Figure #10. Repeat for opposite side. Trim and overcast this seam or tack points down using small hand stitches.
[caption id="attachment_8293" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #10[/caption]
  1. Open buttonholes with a seam ripper. Turn top edge under, folding along original hem and then stitch the casing for drawstring.
Editor's Tip: Here's my trick for opening buttonholes with a seam ripper! Start by placing a pin across buttonhole just inside the end of the buttonhole on one end. Now insert seam ripper into the center of the buttonhole and open buttonhole TOWARDS THE PIN. When I do this I hold the buttonhole so that I am pushing the seam ripper straight ahead until it stops at the pin. This pin keeps you from tearing right through the buttonhole you've just painstakingly made. Move the pin to the other end of the same buttonhole, placing just inside the end of the buttonhole and repeat. Do the same with the second buttonhole.
  1. Cut cording into two equal pieces. Insert first piece of cord into one of the buttonhole openings. Continue feeding all the way through the casing and then exit through the same buttonhole. Insert second cord into the opposite buttonhole and loop the cording through the casing in the same manner. You will have two ends of each piece of cording exiting out of each buttonhole. Knot each set of ends together. See Figure #11.
[caption id="attachment_8294" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #11[/caption]
  1. Pull cords from both ends at the same time to cinch bag closed.
You are finished! Have fun combining t-shirts with fabric to create various stuff sacks for boys or girls. See an additional example below: Additional ideas:
  • Create a pocket from one of the discarded sleeves and attach to back of bag.
  • Consider using adult size t-shirts for a similar project in a larger size. These would make great gifts sewn from novelty t-shirts.
  • College students may appreciate laundry stuff sacks made from shirts that carry memories from high school.
  • Skip the band at the bottom and line the entire bag with fabric for an exceptionally sturdy stuff sack.