One of the few things I didn’t pack on my RTW adventure that I really, really needed was a travel-friendly foldaway shopper bag. Not because I was regularly going wild in the aisles of Southeast Asia’s supermarkets but because every now and again I needed an extra bag; for the pair of shoes that I’d forgotten to pack and just found under the bed, to carry the “accidental” street market purchases when I wasn’t supposed to buy anything and a bag for my towel and book to take with me to the beach – a multi-strap backpack is definite overkill on a white sandy beach! To have a foldaway bag that I could handily have in the pocket of my backpack or suitcase ready for unexpected scenarios would solved all these problems and more.

Which is why I made one myself for my current travels and best of all I made it out of an old T-shirt.

Here’s how I made it…

Materials: An old T-shirt (I stole this one from my boyfriend – result!) and a pair of scissors (ideally fabric scissors but just a decent sharp pair should be fine.

Lie your T-shirt out on a flat surface and think about how big you want your bag to be. T-shirt material is very stretchy so don’t cut it out any bigger than what you want.

Time to start snipping! To make your handles you need to cut off the sleeves and around the neckline. I wanted nice round straps, but you can make them more square if you like. 

When cutting the sleeves off, make sure you cut inside the sleeves seam (i.e. cut it off) and a useful tip to make sure your handles are even is to cut one sleeve off then turn this over and place it on the other side and cut around it. For the neckline, I did a similar thing where I cut one side first then folded it over and cut around it on the otherside.

Your “bag” should now be looking like an old man’s vest, which means the handles done!

Now to create your fringed bottom! Decide how deep you want to make your bag and subsequently how long your fringe will be though of course you can cut this to as short as you’d like. I used the width of my hand as a ruler to see roughly how long I wanted my fringe.

Cut strips of around 1 – 2 cm wide into the bottom of your T-shirt across the full length and through both the front and the back of the T-shirt.

Then cut up the side seam on each side creating your first two fringe “tassles” on either side. I wanted to ensure the bottom of my bag was curved and that I had longer strips at each side so I cut the first six strips on each side a little more and at a gradient. I also noticed that the bottom seam was going to look a bit strange so I chopped this off.

Your bag should now be looking like a trendy beach top from the Costa del Sol in circa 1986, which is kinda cool, but it’s not very bag like. This means it’s time to tie! Tie a double knot in each pair of strips across the bottom (i.e. joining the front and back together).

As you do pull the ends out so they roll over and become more string like, using the technique similar to that in this necklace DIY. (Don’t pull too tight, especially if your T-shirt isn’t the best quality material as it may break).

That’s it! Your bag is ready for you to hit the beach, the shops or maybe the park on your bike…

Happy DIYing!


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.