How to customise & recycle your old t-shirts

by Andy on September 29, 2009


T-shirts have a lifespan, they don’t last forever, they stretch, they fade, they get stained, and sometimes the tees stay the same but the owner changes size, or just changes their taste. This got me thinking, “what do you do with a tee when you don’t want to wear it anymore? (and you don’t want to give them to charity for whatever reason)” I’ve got more than 200 t-shirts in my wardrobe (and out of it, and draped on chairs, and stacked in cupboards, and hanging on racks), and they don’t all fit me now, so I thought I’d hunt around and find out what they devil I could do with all those superflous tees. As it turns out, other people have this problem too, and there are loads of tutorials out there with interesting ideas for how to recycle your t-shirts into something ‘new’.

My server has been crushed under the weight of traffic from my list posts in the past, and one way to try and alleviate the strain is to split an article into pages. This first page of 50 tutorials, projects, and videos doesn’t have any unifying theme to it, it’s just a random collection, some of which are pretty unusual ideas. The rest of the pages have been sorted into groups as they are often different takes on the same idea. Page two has 6 tutorials for turning your old tees into a rug or quilt, and 7 ideas for turning t-shirts into bags, often with the idea of using them as shoping bags, which I’m sure would get you a lot of approving looks at Trader Joe’s. The third page is for those of you that want to refresh and recondition your tees so that they’re still a t-shirt(ish), but with a bit of a customized twist to make you stand out from the crowd. Page four sees your tees becoming skirts and dresses, and I was pretty impressed with a lot of the finished articles on that page. The last page has links to books about reconditioning and recycling your t-shirts, so kind of like this list, except in book form. If I’ve missed something from the list, or you’ve had an idea but can’t find it anywhere online, feel free to share that in your comments. If you have enjoyed this list I would very much appreciate it if you could promote this article in some way, be it via tweet, stumble, delicious bookmark, digg, blog post, or envelopes stuffed with cash being posted to me.


1. How to turn your t-shirts into tees for you dog!


2. [W/M] T-Shirt with a built-in belt.


3. [W/M] Recycled T-Shirt Bracelet.


4. [W] Turning a t-shirt into yoga pants.


5. How to weave t-shirts.


6. [W/M] How to turn yourself into a ninja using a t-shirt.

7. [M] A Threadbanger quickie about making a button down shirt more interesting by sewing a t-shirt design onto the back of it.


8. How to turn a t-shirt into a diaper/nappy.


9. Scarf made of huge blue t-shirt.


10. [W] T-shirt refashioned into a summer top, which is a little bit late for the season, but there’s always next year.

11. How to make yarn out of t-shirts.


12. How to make arm warmers from a t-shirt.


13. [W] How to turn your t-shirt into a pair of underwear. [via Pop Culture Tees]


14. Use a t-shirt as a pillow case. Here’s how it goes: get a pillow, get a t-shirt, put t-shirt over pillow. Done.

15. Recycle a t-shirt into a sexy bikini… yes, she does model it at the end of the vid.


16. You might not need to throw out that old tee after all, this tutorial shows you how to remove cigarette odor from your tees.


17. How to frame a t-shirt (on the cheap).


18. How to turn a t-shirt in to a dress for a toddler.


19. If you’ve got loads of t-shirts going spare, then making a rug might be a good project for you.


20. [W] How to turn a baseball tee into a halter top.


21. [W] How to make a t-shirt cami.

How to make a throw pillow out of a t-shirt.


23. [W] How to make a t-shirt twist. This looks like a good way to freshen up a boring plain tee, cool skirt too!


24. [W] No sew tank top from a tee. This one is worth reading for the adorable hand drawn instructional pictures.


25. How to make a laptop t-shirt case.


26. How to silkscreen your own posters and t-shirts, perfect for spicing up a plain tee.


27. [W] How to reshape a t-shirt that doesn’t fit you anymore.


28. [W] Stylish ways to cut your t-shirt.

29. [W] The Threadbanger crew explains how to make a wedding dress out of t-shirts.


30. Here’s another tutorial about turning your old t-shirts into a scarf.


31. This instructable isn’t about cutting your tees, but storing them, and whilst I don’t think it would be a good solution for my 200+ tee collection, it might be good for keeping a few of your favourites good-as-new.


32. Another tutorial on how to turn you tees into undies with ease!


33. Mod a cute halter top from a t-shirt (I think there might be enough tee>halter top tutes out there for them to have their own page!)

34. DIY Quirky Corset Tee Shirt for Free People Blog


35. Just in case all those other t-shirt to scarf tutorials weren’t to your liking.


36. blog : T-shirt Tunic Swimsuit Cover-up

37. How To Turn an Old T-Shirt Into a Sexy Top. This video contains a surprisingly large amount of cleavage, I guess that’s one way to get guys sewing!


38. Old T-Shirt Headband/Rags. This one probably has my favourite accompanying picture.

39. Hot Topic – Deconstruct a Tee with Elle


40. Big t-shirt to little angel

41. From Plain Tee To Stylish, One Shoulder Tank another vid from Gianny L.

42. How to Customize your t-shirts to look vintage by soaking them in a saline solution. (no pics for that one, sorry)


43. T-shirt to sexy top I could almost include this in the dress category, but it might be a little short for th modest ladies of HYA.


44. How to make an empire cut blouse from a t-shirt.

45. How to cut a t-shirt to be a halter top (yes, another halter top).


46. The T-Shirt Hack (Or: How to revamp an old t-shirt with nothing but scissors)

47. Hot Topic – Deconstruct a Tee with Elle


48. Guess what, it’s another t-shirt to halter top tutorial.

49. Here’s a a summery t-shirt recon from the Threadbanger team.


50. How To » Low Cut, Empire Waist, Halter Top from an old t-shirt.

On the second page of this article you will find 6 ways to turn your excess tees into a rug or quilt, and 7 tutorials explaining how to turn your tees into bags.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

  • Kenabnena

    No offense to her, but with Gianny L.’s tutes, it always ended up wrong. Like, epic fail wrong. All the others, I like.

  • SpoiledTom

    You have more than 200 T-shirts and don’t want to give them to charity? Instead of helping poor people you prefer use them for women’s bodies exploitation? Sigh…

  • Andy (Hide Your Arms)

    Excuse me, firstly, it says ““what do you do with a tee when you don’t want to wear it anymore? (and you don’t want to give them to charity for whatever reason)” that doesn’t mean I don’t want to give my t-shirts away to charity. Surprising as it may seem, I wear all of the shirts that I am sent (I receive them as gifts or samples), I have samples sent to all the other t-shirt bloggers that write for this site, and I give them to friends and family. When I’m finished with a tee, it likely won’t be in a state that a charity would want to receive it in.

    Secondly, I don’t care for the suggestion that I use t-shirts to exploit women’s bodies, whatever that means. I don’t know any of the people whose tutorials I’ve linked to, and I didn’t get them to take any of the photos featuring themselves (which is the only way I can possibly see any kind of ‘exploitation’ if I got people to work for me for free, which I haven’t done), these tutorials were all freely available to be found, I merely collected them together in this blog post.

  • C Reed Cate99

    I love what you are doing, the designs are so cute and you are recycling so keep up the good work :)

  • Mona

    I completely agree! She makes it look so easy yet when I try any of her tutorials exactly the way she does them, it turns out horrible! Maybe it’s because she’s so tiny and even failed garments look good on her.

  • Just us 4

    LOVE THIS! Thanks for putting all these together. Being a single mother of three, two of the three being 9 and 11, this is a god sent. Of course no kid wants to look like their clothes are from a thrift store so being able to refashion what we can find is a must.

  • carrie

    I have 5 girl’s so needless to say ton’s of old T’s! Thanks for inspiring us. They just hit their older brother’s dis-guarded T’s he was getting rid of and asked me to look for some new ideas to recycle them. We will be using these sites. Thanks again, you saved me so much time hunting for ideas.

    Mom of 8

  • Davesutton143

    That ‘s cool and green , here a site for more green ideas

  • Vroywarren

    t-shirts are personal keep sakes. i have tons of t-shirts that i have collected. i even have some from when i was a toddler. they are like a scrap book of memories for me. i don’t want to give up my memories. i hang them, cut them, pass down to my children, use as hankies. i keep them just to remember. the older they get the better they get. i really think your statement is out of line. i am not trying to start anything, but especially when you have “helping poor people” and “charity” in a comment we should use kind words. why did you come to this website? were you looking for a charity or looking for creative t-shirt designs?

  • Nacerabouh
  • Lee2cats

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much! Fantastic and very cool ideas, that I would’t have thought of. I have a bunch of Hard Rock Cafe tshirts from my travels that i would like to restyle. So i will have fun now with all these ideas!! thank you thank you :-) from Nova Scotia, Canada.

  • NotaPrettyGirl

    Well, let’s see. She could give them to charity. OR she could use them to make herself new cloths that she will wear instead of giving them away and buy new cloths which were made through the exploitation of children and underpaid workers in other countries and then shipped to her local store using less-than-earth-friendly transportation…pick your poison, my friend.
    Also, unless all the women in your family wear nothing but plain t-shirts, over-sized sweatshirts, and baggy sweatpants I think you need to back off on your “body exploitation” comments and steer your outrage toward people who are ACTUALLY exploiting women’s bodies instead of providing tutorials for DIY crafts.

  • luna

    There’s also a super cool ebook about T-shirt revamping: Creativi-Tee ( It has only 30 projects but they’re really amazing and sophisticated. And the ebook is super cheap!

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    Nice post. Check out bandarwalla.cojm

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  • Anu Patil

    Superb post. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed reading this post.

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