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.

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