Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trick-or-Treat Bag Tutorial

I'm not sure what I love best about Halloween--the decorations, the costumes, or the candy. (Many people strategically buy candy they don't like so they won't be tempted to eat the leftovers. I strategically buy candy I do like so that I can happily eat whatever's left come November 1.)

So it should come as no great surprise that my Halloween tutorial offers a way to tote all that candy around in style! I first made these bags back in April, and they were featured in the August/September issue of magazine. I had given one away, so I made another bag this week (it takes less than an hour!), and now both of my boys are ready for Halloween!

This bag is easy to make--by starting with two t-shirts, half the sewing is already done for you!

You'll need:

  • Two XS child's t-shirts--one orange and one black (Hobby Lobby has the Gildan brand for $4-$5 each.)
  • 1 sheet Washaway Stabilizer
  • Fabric marking pen
  • Ruler, rotary cutter, iron, matching thread--all those basics you already have
To transform the neck and arms of the t-shirt into bag handles, start with the orange shirt and cut the sleeves off about 1" inside the seams. Measure in 2" from those cut lines on either side and make a mark at the top of the shirt. Measure 2" down from the center neckline and draw a horizontal line. Draw lines down from the shoulder marks to meet the horizontal line. Don't worry about the lines and/or shapes being perfect--this bag finishes with raw edges exposed, which then curl in the washing machine, so no one will be judging! 

Cut out the bag opening that you drew around the neck of the shirt. Turn the orange shirt inside out, layer it on top of the black shirt and make the same cuts.

Cut an 8-1/2" square from the stabilizer and fuse to the inside (which is currently facing out) of the orange bag, approximately 1"-2" down from the top edge of the bag.

Turn bag right side out. Use my templates (forgive the pencil drawings--the only way this tutorial was going to get posted before Halloween was to go with the less professional hand drawn shapes, but they still work!) or draw your own--even easier than carving them into an actual pumpkin! Trace the shapes onto the interfacing, centering the face left to right and positioning the tops of the eyes near the top edge of the interfacing. Cut out face shapes. (You can actually do this project without the interfacing, but the stretchy t-shirt makes both the cutting and the stitching a lot harder--I highly recommend using the interfacing!)

Here are my face shapes cut out. I slide a piece of white paper inside the shirt so you could see them. Orange on orange kind of hurts the eyes! Again, don't worry if your cutting isn't perfect--washing makes this project very forgiving.

Trim the hemmed bottom off the orange shirt. With the shirt still right side in, sew the bottom closed using a 1/4" seam allowance. Cut 1-1/2" squares out of both bottom corners. Repeat on the black shirt, with wrong side out (the only way you'll know this is by looking at the shoulder seams in the handles).

Box the corners of the orange bag. I took a photo, but again, the orange on orange makes it hard to see. If you're unfamiliar with the boxing concept, match up the side "fold" of the shirt with the bottom seam. This will bring together the cut edges of the corner square into a straight line. Sew across that line using a 1/4" seam allowance. This will create a 3-D corner. Repeat on the opposite corner. Turn the orange shirt right side out.

Box the corners of the black shirt. Leave it wrong side out. Slide the black bag inside the orange bag, wrong sides matching. Match up the raw edges (again, doesn't have to be perfect) and pin all raw edges. Sew along all raw edges (both the opening of the bag and the two handles) using a 1/4" seam allowance. A note on thread color here--I used black for both my spool and bobbin. Using an orange/black combo to coordinate with each fabric creates unsightly stitches, and since the raw edges of the bag curl out over the orange, I preferred to use the black and have it be slightly covered. For me, I liked that better than using all orange and having the orange stitching show through on the lining. It's a matter of personal preference and/or how smooth and straight your stitching lines on stretchy jersey are.

 Pin the edges of the orange cut-out sections to the black background and stitch around those. Be very careful that you're only stitching through the front two layers of the bag!

Toss the bag in the wash. This will remove the stabilizer and give the raw edges some nice curl.
Fill with candy!

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! 
Happy Halloween!


  1. Wow! Very clever and cute. But not as cute as your boys! Can't wait to hit the thrift shop this week and look for dollar shirts. Would be fun to make with other colors and other faces for non-halloween themes. I have two little boys, too - grandsons - who love to carry all sorts of things around. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  2. Ellie, the bags are just the cutest. Thanks for the tutorial. Happy Haunting!!! Pauline

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  6. Nifty little bag you've fashioned there. You're boys are very cute, all dressed up!