Pro Tips DIY: From Marathon T-Shirt to Tote Bag

Repurpose your marathon race shirt into a functional and fashionable accessory with this quick tutorial.

When it comes to running in races, there are three things you’ll most likely leave the course with: fatigue, a sense of accomplishment and … a T-shirt. If you’re an avid runner, you can guess that your collection of marathon shirts can really start to add up. To hold on to that fond race memory, you could give these tees new life with some Do-it-Yourself creativity. One fun and functional option is to repurpose them into a fashionable tote bag.

To transform that tee to tote, you will need some supplies:

  • Old race tee
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors/fabric cutter
  • Cutting pad (if using a fabric cutter)
  • Ruler
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread


Lay the shirt on a flat surface. This cut will be the bottom of the T-shirt tote bag, so determine how deep you want your tote. A good length for most is with a 6 inch cut from the bottom depending on its size. Mark this length with a pin or marker. Line the sides up with your ruler and cut.


For this step, make sure that your shirt remains flat. With your fabric marker, draw a line for your sleeves by following the original seam. These will be your tote bag straps. If you want larger holes for a roomier feel, make the cuts on the interior of the original seam toward the chest.

BONUS PRO TIP: If you’re following the original seam, leave a ½ inch of extra fabric. This is so you can sew a new seam for a more finished look later.

Once your lines are drawn, use your scissors or fabric cutter to make the cut. Repeat this step for the other sleeve.


For your final tote bag DIY cut, draw a half circle around the neck hole area, roughly 10 inches in diameter. You should have about 2 inches to 3 inches of fabric remaining in the top of the shoulder area for your tote straps’ thickness. You can use a stencil or freehand if you feel confident. Follow your marks and cut along the neck hole line.


Turn your shirt inside out and align the edges. Pin the bottom cut together, leaving roughly a ½ inch of seam. Sew the fabric together, finishing the seam with a zigzag stitch for added durability.

PRO TIP: If you are unsatisfied with your bag’s length and feel it’s too deep, don’t fret. Just trim a few inches from the bottom and sew a new seam.


Turn your shirt right side out. Take the ½ inch of fabric left on the sleeve and turn it back inward. Pin this all the way around the hole and sew. There should be roughly a ¼ inch of seam allowance. Repeat on the other sleeve and you are done!

With your new T-shirt tote bag, you could carry anything from race equipment to groceries from the local farmer’s market. Whatever the task, you can rest assured that your memories of races past will remain with you forever. By using these Pro Tips, you can get a few more miles out of your marathon shirt with these DIY tote plans!

A crafty tote can be fine for normal carry, but what about when actually running? Use these Pro Tips to find out how you can carry your gear on your next run.