Creative Ways to Start Repurposing T-Shirts

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Do you have several old or outgrown t-shirts laying around? Don’t toss them or donate them just yet, find several ideas for repurposing Tshirts to give them new life!

Do you have several old or outgrown t-shirts laying around? Don't toss them or donate them just yet, find several ideas for repurposing T-Shirts to give them new life! #upcycle #repurpose #repursingtshirts #DIY #repurposeoldshirts

Repurposing TShirts

Enjoy today’s guest post from my new friend Lisa! 

Do you have a t-shirt that is too big, too small, too ugly, too short, too long, or too stained…? Don’t toss it out or donate it… make something great with it!

I am not a seamstress. In fact, I will let you in on a little known fact… I flunked sewing in Junior High. But these ideas are easy enough that you can do them with limited skills, few supplies and they are great to do with kids too!

–New to sewing? Here are 7 Simple Tools Every Beginning Seamstress Must Have

Now, I am not really all that good at remembering to take pictures when I make stuff. So, if you are visual, these upcycling clothes crafts can all be found in different variations on the internet or Pinterest.

Ways to Reuse Old T-Shirts

No-Sew T-shirt Scarf

Why pay a lot of money on Etsy when you can make a cool scarf in ten minutes with no out of pocket cash! There are a couple ways you can do this. First, take a couple of t-shirts, lay them out flat on the table/floor. Take sharp scissors and cut strips, starting at the bottom hem, straight across. You can make them as narrow or as wide as you like. You can make them all the same width or all different. And, it’s okay if you are not straight or if the strips have uneven edges.

Cut all the way until you get to the armpits. From there, take each loop of t-shirt fabric, put your foot in one end and pull with your hands on the other end to stretch it out. This will make the cut edges curl and give the strips a finished look. From there you can gather up as many loops as you like and put them on – you can wear them as a single loop scarf or you can double them up to make a pretty cowl-like infinity scarf. So cute, and so easy!

–If you like scarves, check out this easy tutorial on How to Make an Infinity Scarf.

No-Sew T-Shirt Pillow

This is a great idea if you have a t-shirt that you like the logo on but it doesn’t fit anymore. Lay the t-shirt on the table and smooth it out flat. Take a ruler and draw the space that you would want to be the pillow face. Then take a ruler and measure a box around that box that is about 2-3 inches wider. Take sharp scissors and cut through the double layer of t-shirt. Now you can cut 1” wide cuts into the fabric. When you are done, go around and tie the matching ends one for one (top fabric to bottom fabric). When there is about 4” of space left to be tied, use that spot to fill with pillow stuffing, then finish tying it off. Easy-peasy, and a great gift!!

–If you already have pillows, try making these DIY Pillow Covers with shirts instead.

T-Shirt Headband

These are pretty popular right now, and how fun! You can make a darling headband and be a hero to your daughter/niece/granddaughter. Cut a 4” or so wide strip from an old t-shirt. Cut the seams off on the side of it. From there you can sew the seam together where it will be just tight enough (but not too tight) around your head. You can stop there, or you can add little embellishments to the headband (t-shirt flowers, button flowers and more).

–Here’s another headband pattern you might want to try too!

T-shirt Ice/Heat Pack

Got a headache? Sore muscles? Here is an easy remedy. Cut a square out of your t-shirt (include the back of the shirt too), flip it right side in. Then you can hand or machine sew around three of the four sides. Turn the pack right-side-out. Fill the space about halfway with regular long-grain rice from the store, and then finish it off by sewing it shut. Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds for a heating pack, or you can store it in the freezer so that you always have an ice pack handy for injuries.

–You can make these easy Homemade Hand Warmers with T-shirts too!

Tank Top Tote 

Okay, this one takes the cake in easiness and cuteness! You can use a little girl’s tank top that they have outgrown (they have such cute fabrics) with spaghetti straps, or even one of your own for a larger bag. It works best if it is a spaghetti or other thin-strapped top. Turn it inside out and sew the bottom together. You can sew by hand or use a machine but you may want to go over it twice to create a strong seam. When you are done, turn it right side out again, and there you have it, a super cute and easy tote. Great for the beach, books or farmers market shopping!

–No Tanktops? Try making this Reusable Market Tote Bag instead.

T-Shirt Blanket

This one takes a much higher sewing level and quite a few t-shirts but it makes a wonderful keepsake piece that you will use for years to come. First, pick several t-shirts that you like and want to use for this project. You can pick some of your favorites from when your children were little, sports uniforms or even concerts or vacation T-shirts. How big you will want the blanket determines how many you will need. (On average, a queen-sized quilt takes about 25 T-shirts, but it can vary depending on what size shirts you use.)

Cut the front of the T-Shirt to make a large square. To make it easier, you’ll want all of your squares to be the same size so make sure your smallest and largest shirt design fits into the square. (Remember to leave room for your inseam) After they are cut out, line them up in the order you like. Begin by placing two shirts squares together (right sides together) and sewing up the right side. Unfold and lay your next square on top of the square to the furthest right. Again, sew right side seam. Continue doing this to create your first row. Then do your other rows the same way. When finished, lay two rows on top of each other, right sides in and sew the bottom seam. Unfold and add on the next row the same way.

Once all of your rows are sewn together, it’s time to add your backing! Depending on the size of your quilt and the fabric you are using for your backing, you may need to start by sewing two pieces together to be big enough to cover your shirts. Once that’s done, lay your backing on top of your T-shirts and cut. (Make sure to leave room for shrinkage and seam allowance. Lay the front and back right sides together and sew together all the way around. Leaving a 6-10″ section so that you can flip your work inside out. Once flipped, sew that seam shut. When you’re finished, tack the blanket together in multiple places and sew or quilt your seams so that your backing stays in place.

–If this is outside of your sewing level, see if you can barter with someone.

So, as you can see, a t-shirt is not just a t-shirt! What can you make from yours? Don’t donate that old t-shirt…. Repurpose it and make it new to you!

Looking for more sewing projects?

Little Sewing Projects You Can Do in Your Spare Time

Easy Sewing Projects

Sewing on a Budget

Where to Buy Cheap Fabric

Get even more repurposing and project ideas!

Which of these recycling T-shirts are you going to try?

Lisa is a born again Christian, who lives life to serve the Lord. She is blessed to be a a wife, mom of three, grandma of one and homeschool as well. She would have been a great little momma on the prairie! She blogs at A Ransomed Life.

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This post on Repurposing TShirts was originally published on Little House Living in September 2012. It has been updated as of September 2019.

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  1. and one more: cut the bottom off (leave the top part as long as you want); sew a ruffle skirt around the bottom. easy-peasy

  2. Good ideas – however, I only see FIVE ideas – am I missing something??? – also, please add photos – I don’t quite understand the descriptions. Thank you. 🙂

  3. Hi, me again, I wanted to check out Lisa’s blog, but couldn’t find a link that lead to the right place. Could you give more info on her blog? ***Correction from last comment “thinking” not “think”

  4. You can wear your scarf anyway you want it. I prefer it looped twice, but you can wear it long as well. I imagine that if you used a larger shirt that you could probably loop it three or four times.

  5. Another great use for old T-shirts is to cut them into squares to use as handkerchiefs. They don’t have to be hemmed because the fabric hardly ravels, and they are very soft!

  6. You can also cut the shirts into squares and us in place of tiolet paper. Just set up a bucket wit a little detergent to soak them in til you are ready to wash them.I have also thought about cutting the sayings if of them and making a quilt out of them.

  7. I seriously liked the idea of No-Sew T-shirt Scarf. It is a real happiness for thrifty and no-sew guy like me 😉 Thanks for this wonderful idea. Rest of the post is too full of some great ideas that I can’t wait to share with my fellow partners.

  8. It’s amazing what you can do with being creative these days. And you’re right – Tank Top Tote is just cute. Thanks for the tips!

  9. perfect article!

    We have a tshirts printing company and we will definately be using the guide you have provided above and we might need to increase our product line.