Shopping Green Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,965 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,526 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Cleaning Up/Shopping Green Expert Level Merit Badge, I graduated (with honors) from the whole I-own-lots-of-cute-reusable-shopping-bags-but-I-always-leave-them-at-home thing, to the not-only-do-I-own-lots-of-cute-reusuable-shopping-bags-but-I-nearly-always-remember-to-take-them-shopping thing. This graduation deserved three cheers, a toss of my figurative hat in the air, and several slices of cake. You know. To celebrate.


But this was not enough for me. Nay. Never let it be so. My love for reusable shopping totes was not going to stop there. I was off to convert someone. Share the love. Spark some interest.

And also:


A bag party! A swap meet of sorts. An evening with my fellow farmgirls, chatting, sewing, trading, admiring, and re-gifting our collection of shopping bags. What could be more fun than never having to hear the condemning words from our friendly local cashiers again,

Would you like paper or plastic?

Shudder, gasp, PSHAW! As if!

Since I was hosting, I figured I should have the most bags to begin with. I mean … okay, it’s not a contest, and it’s not like I’m greedy or anything, it’s just that I wanted everyone to go home with plenty. So I stocked up. I learned how to make the cutest totes from old T-shirts, and since I kinda got on a roll and made approximately eleventy-seven of them in one afternoon, I thought I’d share a little tutorial with you all.

1.) Raid your husband/father/friend/Aunt Sally’s closet for vintage Ts, or better yet, tank tops. Do they have to be vintage? Nope. But they turn out awfully cute. P.S. Make sure the fabric is somewhat heavyweight. We don’t want your container of organic mango sherbet crashing to its tragic death on the way out of the garage. Been there. Done that. Have the T-shirt. Hah!


2.) Flip inside out. Sew the bottom shut (using a sewing machine or serger, this will take like two nano-seconds). Using a large bowl, or just eyeballing it, draw a semi-circle along where the original neck hole is. (You’re just enlarging it is all. You know, so you can fit in the family-size cheddar-and-sour-cream potato chips without squishing them.) Cut. Hem (or skip the hemming and just use pinking shears if the fabric isn’t the fraying kind; I won’t tell).

3.)  Remove the sleeves. Hem. (Step #3 not necessary if using tanks).

4.) Voila!

Other ideas to get your creativity juices flowing:

  • Use sheets instead of Ts. You’ll get plenty of bags out of an old flat sheet!
  • Add a pocket in the front. Good for tiny items, and also for rolling up your bag when it’s not in use.
  • Use thicker fabric for your cold items.
  • Make several sizes! Sometimes all you’re picking up is a carton of tea, a pack of gum, and a jar of honey.
  • Take apart a paper bag to use as a pattern if you like the bags that have flat bottoms for standing up straight while you’re bagging.
  • Add a zipper or button for closing. This privacy is nice if you’re like me and you like to stock up on panties and brassieres once a year and don’t want them going the way of the mango sherbet … embarrassing to leave a trail of satin hi-cut briefs in the driveway. Not that I’ve ever done that:)

Once you have a nice collection going and you’re basking in the warm glow of all the compliments you receive when out shopping, share the love. Have a bag swap. (And invite me).

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Great idea using old T-shirts! I am wishing I had that PINK Certified Farmgirl shirt to wear!! A friend of my daughter’s made me a bunch of great totes from big colorful feed sacks. Talk about sturdy. You can fill them up and sling it on your shoulder like a pack horse. Plus, they are waterproof and help keep things dry when shopping in the sudden rainstorm, which is all too frequent where I live. Plus, this is the best part: they have a sort of square bottom and you can pack groceries in them very efficiently making the most of your space. Then, you have this packed rectangle of groceries that don’t moosh together and crush each other. You absolutely cannot beat the cute graphics for Farmgirl Romance, either! I wish I had that Pink T-shirt to match my chicken feed sacks. Even the grocery baggers comment on how cool they are!

  2. Connie says:

    I have a stack of vintage t-shirts from my daughter and son-on-law, many from their travels and concerts. I am going to make them a quilt from them, but I think I will have to make a few totes too!

  3. Karlyne says:

    Smart use of old Ts! I agree, Connie, that a few totes are in order!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *