Recycling old clothing into new items is not only green, but also, great fun. Making rugs and other craft items from recycled t-shirts is a popular activity. This is a guide about crafts using recycled t-shirts.
This video shows a simple innovative idea to re-purpose a t-shirts into a cute halter top.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
Take an old child's shirt, preferably with spaghetti straps. Turn it inside out and sew the bottom of the shirt. Turn it right way and you're done. Great for small games and books. We also use them in the summer for each child's swimsuit and towel.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
A great way to use T-shirts that are no longer wearable is to make a pet blanket or throw. Just cut the center out of the T-shirt and sew each square together. Fold the outside edges under to hem.
You can donate these to a local pet shelter. They can use them for bedding, drying animals, or most anything. This recycling idea keeps those T-shirts out of the landfills, and also helps much deserving animals.
By Bittyfrog from Tupelo, MS
I made my daughter (age 5) a jumpsuit from my dad's old shirt. I didn't have a pattern, but I think it turned out OK. She loves it anyway.
By Ruth from England
I just came across an amazing website called SuperNaturale with instructions on making your own underwear out of t-shirts! It has detailed instructions and a pattern you can print out. I can't wait to make use of some of the cute t-shirts I have *cough* grown out of.
By Kathleen from AB Canada
I know that most stores sell cloth bags to reuse for groceries, etc., but you can make your own with a bit of cutting and sewing. Take an old T shirt and lay it out flat on a table. Cut off the sleeves at the armhole seam and scoop out the neckline. Then, sew a seam or 2 across the bottom hemline. You now have a recycled shopping bag! The scooped out neckline is where you pack the groceries and the armholes become the handles. These are also great to make for kids to take their things to the pool. Smaller ones can be made from kid T shirts.
I saw these for sale on the Martha Stewart website for $20!
Source: Martha Stewart website
By Jan from Gainesville, GA
I somehow got a hole in a decorative t-shirt I only wore once, right in the front. There was no way of fixing it so that I could wear it again so I decided to cut just above the hole and make a pillow out of it.
I bought a fleece pillow at a garage sale and used that for my insert. I laid the t-shirt over a piece of fabric that I had in my stash and made the back envelope style (meaning the fabrics overlap at the back to insert the form).
Sew on all 4 sides and turn at the envelope opening. Then where the opening is, sew on a strip of hook and loop tape on each side for closure. The second picture shows this.
By Elaine from Belle Plaine, IA
Back in the 60's, I saved all my pantyhose for crafts or wearing with pants. I decided I needed some way to keep them and ended up making an old shirt into a storage bag.
I sewed the bottom of the shirt, cut off the sleeves and sewed up the armholes and hung it on a nice hanger. It went on the inside of my closet door and all of the hose that came out of the laundry were tucked into the neck hole.
Over the years I have used this idea several ways:
A pretty one for the kitchen for a bag holder.
And lots more, anything that needs keeping needs a handy place to go. The shirt bags take about 20 minutes to make (even hand sewing them) and can be hung anywhere.
Source: Just something I came up with in the 60's.
By villagecraftsmith from East TN
Here is a video that shows how to turn a T-shirt into a no sew pillow. I found it easier to watch this video with the volume off. This is one of the projects I really enjoy.
My daughter had a stain on one of her shirts that I was unable to get out, and she had another shirt that she had outgrown. I decided to use the outgrown shirt to create something to decorate the shirt that had the stain. This is the result!
Approximate Time: About 1 hour
You can also use this same concept to decorate pillows, towels, and other items.
By Rachel's Mom from Wilkesboro, NC
I wanted a new nightgown, and figured there must be something in my wardrobe that I could fashion into one rather than buying one. A touristy tee shirt that someone had given me was just the thing. Nice and soft, but too short. I like long nightgowns for the cold temps here in NY.
And the cheesy, glittery seashell motif had to go. I found some soft fabric in my stash to add the length I wanted. And another matching piece to cover up the seashells--had to line this bit with a piece of muslin to keep the pesky seashells from showing through.
I'm happy with how my new nightie turned out and saved some money too. I had to scrunch the fabric up in the photos in order to get it all in the pictures.
By Gloria from Western NY
Old t-shirts have a lot of second life uses. Whether you are a crafter or are looking for other ways to reuse them, the possibilities are numerous. This is a guide about uses for old t-shirts.
Use an old favorite tee, by making a pillow out of it. Just buy or use a pillow form and make a cover by just sewing the t-shirt and matching material on 3 sides and inset pillow. Then handstitch the remaining seam.
By Vickie from Lewes, DE
I take old T-shirts and cut off the binding around the neck. There is no need to cut deeper as this will stretch far enough making a scoop neckline. Then comes the fun part. Use a decorative stitch on your sewing machine to sew around the neckline. You can make as many rows as you like. Use different colors. I crochet little flowers with fine thread and hand sew them onto the T-shirt. On me, most Ts are a little tight around the bottom, so I cut aways up the side and hem. You can think of lots of ideas using these ideas as a base.
Source: I got my inspiration on the Internet. Google "refashion T-shirts." Lots of good ideas.
By hopeful from Salem OR
Lay the t-shirt flat, starting at one side of the neckline and ending up at the other side of the neckline, cut a deep 8 inch U SHAPE.
Next, cut off the sleeves.
Lastly, sew a seam across the bottom of t-shirt ( reinforce the seam and corners by sewing it a second time) and Voila! instant tote bag. These are super fun and easy to make. I use them for grocery shopping, etc.
By Frances from Bland, MO
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Here are questions related to Crafts Using Recycled T-Shirts.
I'm looking for some information. I recently learned to crochet and am practicing making rag rugs (all shapes) and tote bags with recycled t-shirts that I cut up into strips.
At first, my family was really excited about my rugs and I made lots. They gave me all their discarded t-shirts and stuff. I now have mountains of old t-shirts which aren't good to give away, but perfect to recycle into other things. The problem is, now my family is begging me not to make them any more rugs, place mats and bags because they have so many. I still have literally a mountain of old stuff which I would love to use, but I have no idea for what else to make with them.
Does anyone have any ideas please? I really hate to throw them away, but they are taking up so much storage space for nothing, at the moment. Any thoughts, please?
By cett from Malta, Europe
By Maggie 01/17/2012
All the items you've made for gifts, could also be sold at craft shows or do a "yard Boutique"; like a rummage sale, but no rummage, just hand made "gifts". I do them about once a month from May through Sept. Make some pocket change with your creativeness :0)
Okay, so I'm an extremely sentimental soul. I have this shirt that's no longer wearable, but the image on the front, which I adore, is still entirely intact. I would love to immortalize this article of clothing (I've been looking into converting it into a pillow, for instance), but there's a slight issue: all of the craft ideas I've stumbled upon are geared toward t-shirt material.
The top is made of extremely flimsy material (which was ultimately its downfall as an article of clothing), and I have my doubts as to whether or not it would work in most of the crafting scenarios I've looked into thus far. Any ideas?
By Sandi 01/06/2014
Do what I have done with aprons... simply hang it up on the wall, with maybe a scarf around the hanger like an outfit. If you can't save it, keep it intact. I googled "using clothes as art" and came up with hundreds of ideas. Good luck!
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
I have access to a lot of inexpensive used t-shirts and I was wondering if anyone has any craft ideas. I can't crochet but I guess I could learn. I was thinking maybe rugs or something that would take advantage of the myriad colors I'll have available.
Anna from Indiana