Handmade crafts prove both thrifty and fun

Columnist Meghan White introduces her craft column, and instructs readers how to make a no-sew T-shirt tote bag. Hi, I’m Meghan and I’m a procrastinator. But when I’m procrastinating, I like to at least feel

Columnist Meghan White introduces her craft column, and instructs readers how to make a no-sew T-shirt tote bag.

Hi, I’m Meghan and I’m a procrastinator. But when I’m procrastinating, I like to at least feel a little productive. I use the term “productive” loosely because my mindset is something along the lines of, “Do you have a paper to write? How about you embroider something instead.”

Then at least I have something to show for all my wasted time, unlike the Facebook procrastinator who creeps around profiles for three hours. Now you may be wondering, “Why, out of everything I could be doing, do I craft?” To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I have always made handmade crafts.

Handmade means a lot to me. I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, and seemingly crafting and Girl Scouts go hand-in-hand. I’ve made more things than I can count to earn patches, to help out a community service project and even to decorate events.

But handmade went beyond that for me. I would scour catalogs for craft kits and subtly drop hints to my family for birthday gift ideas. I was much more likely to be found cross stitching on my friend’s back porch swing than playing video games or watching television.

Of course there have been some setbacks, such as lodging a needle under my fingernail while sewing a stuffed cat using one of the aforementioned craft kits in the third grade. Or that time I worked at a summer camp and accidentally poured hot wax all over my hand while helping campers make candles. I briefly struggled not to shout out expletives, but once the wax cooled, I went right back to helping with the candles. No matter what, I still always go back to handmade.

Handmade things are special. They are customizable, enjoyable to make and rewarding to complete. And frankly, there is nothing quite like someone complimenting your handiwork. Also, handmade things tend to be cheaper than store bought, which is perfect for measly college budget. This makes them ideal as something not only to make for yourself, but also something to make and give as a gift.

My goal for this column is to share some college-friendly, handmade-goodness with you. I want you to go home for winter break with handmade gifts for your family and friends. I want you to do something with your hands that doesn’t involve the Internet or video games. And more than anything, I want you going around Main Campus and Philadelphia showing off your latest project saying, “Yeah, I made this.”

At this early point in the semester, if you’re a good college student, you should have sought out all of the free swag you can get your hands on. And if you’ve done this correctly you probably should have acquired at least one free, oversized T-shirt.

So grab that T-shirt with a bottom seam, a pair of scissors and a safety pin and let’s get started.

1. Cut off the sleeves of your shirt, inside the seam. This area will be your handles.

2. Cut off the neck of the T-shirt so you have an opening for whatever goodies you plan to put in your bag. You can make this opening squared or rounded, depending on your preference.

3. From the sleeves you cut off, cut strips of fabric, about one-half inch wide. Make anywhere from one to three strips, depending on the number of cinches you want to put in the bottom of the bag. The more cinches, the tighter the bottom of your bag will be, meaning you can put smaller objects in it.

4. Make slits in the bottom seam of the shirt. One slit equals one cinch. Make the slits as evenly spaced as possible.

5. Now, attach one of the strips of fabric from step three onto a safety pin and run it through one part of the bottom hem. Pull the hem tight around the strip of fabric, and then double knot the strip. Repeat for each part of the hem. If you don’t have a safety pin but have tweezers, you can scrunch part of the hem around the tweezers and then cling onto the strip of fabric to dear life to a similar effect.

And there you have it, a reusable tote out of a shirt that you probably wouldn’t have worn anyway.

Meghan White can be reached at meghan.white@temple.edu.

3 Comments

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