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Crafts Using Recycled T-Shirts

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.

Loose ball of cut up t-shirts for crafting.
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May 29, 2011 Flag
14 found this helpful

A child's jumpsuit made out of an old men's shirt.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

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July 28, 2009 Flag
23 found this helpful

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

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June 22, 2010 Flag
6 found this helpful

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

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August 20, 2009 Flag
2 found this helpful

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

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August 31, 20110 found this helpful

You could sew the bottom halves together to make a "quilt gut" - batting for a quilt. Or you could use the bottom halves as cloth diapers. Just cut straight across, under the sleeves, then turn the raw edges under & zigzag stitch all the way around the diaper. You would have to use regular large safety pins instead of diaper pins because the difference in fabric. I've never had a problem with them popping loose & sticking a baby.

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January 17, 20120 found this helpful

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)

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March 12, 2012 Flag
3 found this helpful

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. T-shirt with shells on it. fabric for nightgown muslin backing to cover logo

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. T-shirt Nightgown

By Gloria from Western NY

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May 13, 2009 Flag
9 found this helpful

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.

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February 9, 2012 Flag
15 found this helpful

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.

Convert Tank Tops Into Bags

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April 11, 2008 Flag
1 found this helpful

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.

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September 25, 2011 Flag

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



  1. Cut straight up each side seam of the shirt and cut away the sleeves and neck band. Using the front or back of the t-shirt, cut it into one-inch strips that are the width of the shirt. You will need about 8 strips for this project.
  2. Recycled T-Shirt Step 1

  3. To create the ruffles, set your sewing machine's tension to the highest setting and set the stitch length to the longest length. Stitch down the center of each strip, and you will see the fabric ruffle on its own.
  4. Recycled T-Shirt Step 2

  5. Arrange the ruffles in swirls and designs on the shirt, pinning in place as you go.
  6. Recycled T-Shirt Step 3

  7. Once you have your design like you want it, set your machine back to its original setting and sew ruffles in place, removing the pins as you sew.
  8. Recycled T-Shirt Step 4

  9. When finished, trim any long threads and you're done.

You can also use this same concept to decorate pillows, towels, and other items.

By Rachel's Mom from Wilkesboro, NC Recycled T-Shirt Step 5

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November 23, 2009 Flag
6 found this helpful

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.

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January 4, 2014 Flag
0 found this helpful

Front of thin shirt with Bambi screen print.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 C.A.M

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January 5, 20140 found this helpful

Could you bond the image to some iron on interfacing to give it some stability, then applique it to another tee shirt? This material is available at Joann's and is also called fusible interfacing. Google how to apply fusible interfacing for directions for use.

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January 6, 20140 found this helpful

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!

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November 13, 2012 Flag

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.

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October 11, 2011 Flag
5 found this helpful

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.

Front of completed pillow.

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September 2, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

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.

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March 15, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

This video shows a simple innovative idea to re-purpose a t-shirts into a cute halter top.

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November 2, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

This is a guide about uses for old t-shirts. 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.

Uses for Old T-Shirts, Mass of brightly colored clothing.

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September 1, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

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.

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August 20, 2009 Flag
0 found this helpful

Does anyone know what I can make out of old T-shirts? Something I can wear or what not.

Amanda from SC


Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

You can cut them into rags, or put them over your car seats for covers, and even re-construct them into tank tops or night shirts. Or if they're still wearable, give them to someone who needs them. (03/02/2008)

By laramay

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

Here in Southwest AZ., we spend a lot of time outside so I use worn T-shirts to cover cushions for outdoor furniture. You can just pin the excess to the back of the cushion. (03/03/2008)

By Pat

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

They make great rag rugs. A half double crochet is the best stitch to use. (03/04/2008)

By susanmajp

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

You can make many interesting cuts in the shirt and fringe the bottom and make a hippie shirt. I wear them all the time. You simply cut the bottom and sleeve hems off, not the sleeves if you don't want, make cuts about 3 quarters of an inch apart all the way around, and pull on them. it causes them to curl into a fringe. I put pony beads on mine, they're really cool. :) (03/05/2008)

By Lily 59

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

My son-in-law is an amateur water skier who competes nationwide. He has purchased tee shirts with logos from all of the tournaments, all quite artful, I might add. I took his favorites and made them into a quilt. I cut the logo from the chest or back portion of the tee shirt and ironed it onto Wonder Under before sewing the squares together.

Find the biggest logo and cut all the others into same-sized squares. Leave some white around each logo when cutting. After sewing the squares together, I bought a queen sized sheet made from that "tee-shirt material", filled it with Warm & Natural, turned the edges over from the bottom and sewed a binding. Be sure and wash the sheet and the tee shirts before making the quilt.

The quilt is not real heavy and that thing has been washed a hundred times without it falling apart (only by God's merciful Grace because I didn't actually know what I was doing when I made it). (03/05/2008)

By Carolyn

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

Try making a traditional colonial braided rug from old cotton T-shirts. Cut worn T-shirts horizontally into 2" wide strips then snip the rings so they open up into a long strip. Some people sew the strips together to make a long snaky string, but I just slightly roll the fabric and weave the new ends into the braid approximately 3" from the end of the old one as I braid. I like to use groups of 3 colors together to make my braid (i.e., red/white/blue or dark blue/med blue/white).

As you braid every few feet, go back and wind your braid into an oval and hand-sew each new ring of braid to the ring that went before using a slip or other invisible stitch (I prefer nylon upholstery thread as it is indestructible). Make your braids fairly tight as this adds strength to the rug. You can make a huge braid out of dozens of old T-shirts then go back and sew it into an oval later, but I find it less tedious to sew as you go.

Don't be afraid to change colors every so often to make concentric stripes. The nice thing about doing it this way is that you can use T-shirts that have moderate staining or minor wear that otherwise would go into the trash because the braiding hides a lot of sins (just don't use parts that have worn so thin they compromise the strength of your rug). These make good doorway, bathroom, or kitchen-sink rugs because you can wash them.

Unlike "real" colonial wool rugs, you can just throw these in a big soapy bucket of hot water to soak overnight, throw them over the railing of your deck, hose them down, and let them dry in the sun. (07/24/2008)

By Anna

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

I have seen several things made by local artists in stores and I have been saving old shirts to make into bags. I've also made a couple that have patches on them, this way you don't have to get rid of old shirts you love.
Also saw some ideas for making pants into a bag and such. Get creative! And if at first you don't succeed, try try again! :) Good luck! (12/13/2008)

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March 2, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful
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