I love T-shirts. I have piles of them in my dressers and closets. I receive T-shirts from charity events, work, friends, family, freebies found online, and buy them at the dollar store.
Instead of overloading the local dump truck or charity box with T-shirts so ugly a dog wouldn’t sleep on it, I looked around the house and found a few things to do with them.
Here are 10 ways to re-purpose old T-shirts:
1. Utility Rags
Oil rags, polishing cloths, cleaning rags and so on are a perfect use for stained or just plain hideous T-shirts.
2. Shoe Storage
Cut off the sleeves, sew the holes and the neck shut. Place your shoes in them to keep them dust and scuff free. Sew two shirts together for an instant boot bag.
Pillows are a perfect use for T-shirts. Especially those with pretty pictures on them. Cut off the sleeves straight across under the arms, sew closed. Insert a pillow form and sew the bottom closed.
Cut up contrasting T-shirts to make ruffles for T-shirt pillows or for existing pillows.
4. Make a quilt
I love getting shirts from concerts and special events. The pictures are works of art. Measure the T-shirt pictures, and cut out with a half- inch seam allowance. Cut the back as well for interfacing, as T-shirt fabric tends to be thin.
One trick I use is fusible interfacing between the layers. I place two sheets of interfacing inside the T-shirt before cutting, making one glue side faces up towards the back of the picture, and the other faces down. That way, both sides receive a light interfacing so they will be more stable for the quilting process and last longer.
5. Wall art
Interface the back of a beautiful T-shirt picture, cut out, and mount it in a frame for instant wall art. Concert T-shirts, college shirts and more make wonderful collections.
6. Shopping bags
Plastic is on its way out. Fabric bags are here to stay. Cut the sleeves and neck off, sew the bottom closed. Hem the top closed or face with purchased binding. Use T-shirt strips for handles.
I like to line these bags with an equal sized lining because T-shirt fabric stretches. One great set of handles is to re-purpose old fabric belts. Sew them to the bag all the way down the front, under the bottom and back up the other side. Attach belts together with their buckles. Be sure to inspect them occasionally so they don’t snap. Make fabric straps and attach for permanent handles.
7. Rag rug
Cut a continuous two- inch wide strip beginning from the bottom of the T-shirt. Twist the strips so they are easier to handle. Braid three or more strips together, sew the braids together in your favorite rug pattern.
8. Knitting or Crochet yarn
Cut a continuous one- inch wide strip beginning from the bottom of the T-shirt. Twist slightly to make the yarn easier to crochet or knit with. Roll up in a ball. Sew end pieces together as you cut, twist and roll.
Knit or crochet with large needles and hooks into comforters, oversize sweaters, rugs and more.
9. Dog Toys
Gather all the ugliest T-shirts together. Cut three- inch wide strips and twist them tightly. Braid several strands together tightly, then braid those strands together again for a rope for Fido to play with. Tie the ends in a knot.
I don’t like taking expensive napkins outside for a barbeque. It’s a guarantee the sauce will stain the daylights out of everything. Here’s a novel idea- Take the backs of T-shirts, cut them into 12-inch squares, hem the edges and use them as barbeque, picnic or camping napkins. Wrap your glass dishes in them as well. If they get stained, so what. You can bleach them, or re-purpose them elsewhere without stress. And you can make more.
And yes, for those T-shirts that still have some life left in them, the charity box is always open. With repurposing, you save money on paper and other products.
Source: Mary Ann Romans, “New used for old t-shirts,” Frugal Families Website, no date given
Source: Staff Article, “5 New uses for old tshirts,” Re Nest Website, no date given
Source: Allecia Vermillion, “10 new uses for old and well-loved t-shirts,” Wicked Local Website, 19 August, 2010