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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.


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By 14 found this helpful
May 29, 2011

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 langdon from England

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By 23 found this helpful
July 28, 2009

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 Brenda from Tupelo, MS

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By 16 found this helpful
February 9, 2012

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

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By 6 found this helpful
June 22, 2010

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 J from Gainesville, GA

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By 9 found this helpful
May 13, 2009

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

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By 4 found this helpful
March 12, 2012

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

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By 6 found this helpful
November 23, 2009

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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By 1 found this helpful
April 11, 2008

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

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!

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By 5 found this helpful
October 11, 2011

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.

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By 1 found this helpful
September 2, 2011

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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November 2, 20111 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.

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By 1 found this helpful
September 1, 2011

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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July 12, 20170 found this helpful

Rework your child's favorite t-shirt into a fun cape. This is a guide about make capes from favorite t-shirts.

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June 12, 20170 found this helpful

Old t-shirts can be used for all sorts of craft projects. This is a guide about using a t-shirt as a pillow cover.

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February 6, 20130 found this helpful

This is a guide about making t-shirt pillows. Favorite t-shirts often hold memories we would like to keep. So rather than throw them away, make pillows.

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November 13, 2012

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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March 15, 20120 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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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 2 found this helpful
August 20, 2009

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 cettina from Malta, Europe


August 20, 20090 found this helpful

Check with some mechanics in your area. They could probably use them for grease rags, wiping their hands etc.

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August 20, 20090 found this helpful

Saw some interesing ideas in this month's Family Fun magazine - for scarves & cutouts - also check with Martha Stewart's site & on the net always has ideas, too.

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August 20, 20090 found this helpful

You can do so many things with t-shirts!

Dolls: they make awesome fabric for making rag dolls!
Lacy women's & girls t's: you can cut the sleeves shorter & make them smaller then crochet around the neck & sleeves.

Sachet's: make tiny pillows from the fabric & stuff with dried lavender for sachets.
Hanging sachets: make hearts that hang from ribbons with dried lavender to hang in closets.

Ribbing: use t-shirts as ribbing on cuffs of other clothes (fold over fabric & iron to make ribbing)
Scarves: dye & cut strips for fringe scarves.

Pillow cases: they make the softest pillow cases!

Summertime couch & throw pillow covers: in the summer, cut off the top part to form a tube with bottom section then take this tube & cover couch cushions to keep sweat off & keep couch clean.

Hot pads & trivets: make hot pads: fill with cloves & cinnamon to make wonderful smelling trivets.
Heating pads: make tubes then fill with rice then microwave to make "hot pads".

Eyepads: make little tube or "sunglasses shape" then fill with buckwheat for eyepads to aid sleeping.
Drawstring bags: kids can keep toys in them or store anything in them.

Glasses case: keep you sunglasses from getting scratched in tiny drawstring bag.
Crochet bag: make a bag to store 1 skein of yarn & a crochet hook or knitting needles to take on-the-go projects.

Sleeping bag storage: make a drawstring bag to store sleeping bags.
Hammock: I've seen indoor hammocks made from crocheted strips of t-shirts.

Beanbag chair: sew wedges together then tie-dye & fill with shredded foam or pellets.
Little girls ruffled t-shirt: cut strips from a t-shirt then fold in half & iron. use this to make a ruffle for adding on to the

Bottom of kids t-shirt. Also sew a ruffle on the sleeves.
Applique: make kids t-shirt from adults t, adding zig-zag appliqué.

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August 21, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you all so much. Loads of ideas here, and since I'm not too good at sewing. If they don't work out, at least I have plenty of fabric piled up, so I can try again!

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August 21, 20090 found this helpful

I have several projects for crocheting with T-yarn (tee-shirt cut into yarn) at this link http://www.myre  irt-yarn-crafts/
I have curled it and it's really cool to crochet with it. You can also just crochet with it cut into strips like you do with rags. I have a few free patterns at my blog using the T-yarn if you'd like to try them.

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August 22, 20090 found this helpful

Oh Cindy! What a gifted lady you are! I haven't been on your site for a while and had no idea you were using t-shirt yarn as well as plarn. I've made tons of stuff for myself from your site: video tape bags, plarn shopping bags, purses, etc. Now I can start on other things, and knowing how talented you are, I'm sure you will invent some more patterns for t-shirt yarn. I'll be visiting your site often to have a look. You are truly amazing! God bless you!

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August 24, 20090 found this helpful

I dont know anything about crochet/knitting(it confuses me). But for reusing tees with sewing(hand or machine) I highly recommend "Generation T, 108 ways to transforn a t-shirt" by Megan Nicolay $10.37 on amazon.

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

Move closer to me and make me some rag rugs, I wont complain, lol. A realistic idea, make some more rag rugs and donate them. Nursing homes, pet shelters, etc.

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

Blankets, curtains, and yard sell your items. I know lots of women looking for ways to supplement an income and you have a perfect one.

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

Do a search on the internet for "uses for old t-shirts".

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

Can't remember where I found this idea a few months ago but I kept the picture as a future project reminder for a fun and goofy pillow :-) It's pretty self explanatory how to make one ;-) I too have a collection of t-shirts to recycle ;-)

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

I have my children's t-shirts from their little league, soccer, vacation spots and favorite TV shows for pillows, sewn together for quilts and curtains with backings. The memories will last a lifetime.

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

Several years ago, when my nephew graduated from high school, I went to a place that screen prints shirts, and bought a t-shirt, then had them put his football number on it, and the name of his school, along with his last name on the back. I couldn't afford to buy the actual jersey type shirt, so a t-shirt had to do. I then made it into a throw pillow for his graduation present.

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

Hey micksgirl! If you're interested in moving to a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean, then I would be happy to make you as many as you want! donating them to fund raising sales for charity would be an excellent idea! I don't have much income(cant go to work as I have an autistic child to care for alone) but I'm always happy to help those worse off than myself. Thanks, I'll start on a few now!

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September 5, 20090 found this helpful

LOL I am there Cett be watching for me.

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September 6, 20090 found this helpful

No I am not there, I wish, lol, that's all that meant. Nope I am in Kentucky, which I bet isn't near as nice as your little island.

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August 4, 20100 found this helpful

If you get tired of them, there are always crafters on looking for free craft items!


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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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Answer this Question...

January 4, 20140 found this helpful

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


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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Read More Answers


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

August 20, 20090 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 susan

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

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, 20080 found this helpful

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


Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

My old roommates grandmother made a quilt out of her old t-shirts. It was really quite nice. Hope this helps (03/11/2005)

By Jill

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

Hello, I'm going to take mine & cut into 4" squares to make into a super comfy blanket! I have saved all t-shirts from when the kids were little of special places we purchased t-shirts from & I plan to cut out the logos. Also the pockets are cool to cut out to, the same with jeans, I save all old jeans & I plan to use the pockets! I just think it would be a super comfy comfort blanket to curl up with on those not feeling so good days! One day I'll be able to get this project done! I hope this gives you some ideas, good luck! (03/11/2005)

By Brenda

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

Old t-shirt (logos) make interesting patches for patch work quilts. Check at "Simply Quilts" at
www. for good directions. (03/11/2005)

By Connie

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

They make adorable pillows for in a family room or a child's bedroom. just sew around the sleeve openings inside out and the bottom. turn and stuff w/ old hose or poly-fill. slip stitch the neck shut, and you have a pillow! (03/12/2005)

By Sonya Yoder

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

My mother has rugs that look like they've been made out of used t-shirts. It looks like the maker just rolled up pieces of the shirts in 1 cm thin lines, tied them in little sections (also about 1 cm sections), then sewed the sections all together. It looks slightly time consuming as well, but it's cheap! Look up rag rugs, you've probably seen them, and they sound like what you're looking for.

Something I like to do is make journals. You can find techniques for binding the pages (I'd tell you but I'm afraid I can't explain it without a demonstration or pictures). Then I cover the journals in old t-shirts that have a neat design or pattern on them.

Also, patchwork skirts can be a fun item to wear, or patchwork pajama pants. You can make pillow cases for your bed with cotton shirts, and I find it's comfy.


By Meghan

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

My friend made a quilt out of anything and everything she could find, some squares were pics from kids t shirts and it was so cute. Even the rubbery type t shirt graphics worked and looked nice! I've wanted to give it a try, but haven't put my mind to it yet :-) (03/22/2005)

By Kristy

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

I made a pillow out of an old t-shirt I had. They are really easy to make, and very comfy! (05/02/2005)

By Sara

Ideas for tank tops

I'm a very young girl who wants to go into fashion and I have a lot of those white beaters and tank tops and what I do is; take the tank top I want to use and sew it over a long sleeve shirt or short sleeve and then i cut holes in the front NOT TO BIG. I laced them up with ribbons or shoelaces and I added safety pins to them. Now everyone wants me to make them! By the way, this is for you Allison. (07/31/2005)

By Lindsay

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

For a cute and fun pillow follow these directions:

1. Make the base (the pillow part) like johnsonya suggested.
2. Blanket stitch (button hole stitch) with contrasting yarn on the arms and bottom.
3. Embellish with buttons, lace, ribbons, yarn, appliques (sorry if miss-spelled), or denim pockets for home phones or remotes.
4. Fill with poly-fill or anything else that is "stuffing-like".
5. Blanket stitch bottom and VOILA! A cute and comfy pillow!

Hope this works!! I haven't tried it but am going to!

~ Mackenzie age 11 (06/11/2007)


Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

Cut to fit swiffer sweeper, attach to sweeper and dip in water and scrub floor totally washable. (09/28/2007)

By winglesangel

Craft Ideas For Used T-shirts

I made a bag out of an old long sleeve tee shirt, I turned it inside out and stitched at where i thought a good length would be. Then I put it back the right way cut the neckline bigger to be the top of the bag, and I tied the sleeves together to make the strap. (12/29/2007)

By ainsley

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