5 New Uses for Old T-Shirts

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Are you reluctant to let go of your Guns N’ Roses tour shirt even though it’s looking more dated than Axl Rose himself? Or maybe you’re more of a traveler and have a trove of souvenir tees that have seen better days.

It’s so easy to reinvent your treasured T-shirts with some creativity and just a little patience. These tricks will renew your old T-shirts by adding embellishments or finagling the tee into a one-of-a-kind creation.

1. Laptop case

Make magazine touts this design as not only a way to reuse an old T-shirt but as a deterrent to would-be thieves. It looks like a folded T-shirt, not like a laptop case. It requires minimal sewing as well.

  1. Lay the shirt face up and fold the bottom half over the chest.
  2. Place your laptop on the shirt.
  3. With a marker, draw a line about an inch to either side of the computer.
  4. Sew along the line.
  5. Cut away the excess material, including the sleeves.
  6. If desired, a sleeve can be sewn on as a pocket to hold accessories.

2. Multipurpose bag

To follow the steps of Martha Stewart, you will need the following: a heavyweight cotton T-shirt, a sewing machine, a medium-sized bowl, a water-erasable marking pen and scissors.

  1. Turn the T-shirt inside out and pin the bottom along the hem. Sew the bottom closed. Flip the tee right side out and lay it on a table, lining up the seams.
  2. Place the bowl about halfway over the neck hole. Use the pen to trace along the edge of the bowl. Cut along the outline to create an opening for the bag that’s larger than the neck hole.
  3. “Line up the hems on the front and back side of the sleeve and cut, making sure to go through both sides of the shirt. Repeat on the other sleeve.”

3. Pillow

After you select the T-shirt you want to reinvent, follow these easy steps from Care2:

  1. Cut a straight line from shoulder to shoulder and from sleeves to the bottom hem.
  2. Trim the desired amount from the bottom of the shirt.
  3. Stitch it with the tee inside out, leaving some room to flip it back right side out.
  4. Stuff your new pillow. Care2 suggests closing the seam with a whip stitch.

4. Quilt

If you have a large collection of cherished T-shirts, why not make a themed quilt? This can also be done with baby clothes or any clothing, really.

This one is a bit more intricate and requires some skill with thread. The Sewing Loft offers this tutorial.

5. Artwork

Craft stores offer specialized T-shirt frames for about $10 a pop. If you want to get more crafty, you can make your own canvas-like wall displays using 12-inch foam squares. Crafts ‘n Coffee offers some instructions.

  1. Insert the foam square into the shirt and center the design.
  2. Cut away the back of the shirt and excess fabric, leaving an excess of several inches around the design.
  3. Wrap the foam square with the T-shirt and fold at the corners on the back of the square. Use glue and pins to secure the shirt to the back.
  4. Glue a sawtooth picture hanger to the back.

Re-purposing your shirt as another article of clothing is another option. Some popular suggestions are skirts, racerback tank tops and scarves.

Have you done anything creative with your old T-shirts? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • John Hrzn

    Author of this must be a tree hugging hipster… I usually just use my old shirts as oil rags.

  • Bob Moore

    This article would have been more informative with a couple of pics.