ReFashion: Repurposing T-Shirts {and More}

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by Nicole

Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a a lifestyle blog about creativity, family life, community, and all sorts of other fun stuff, and also keeps a homeschool journal called The Bennettar Academy. Her most recent (free!) ebook is about why and how to make more time for reading.

Katie here. Today you can find me at Keeper of the Home, talking about the risks of soy foods. The following post was written by contributor Nicole Bennett of Gidget Goes Home.

We all know clothes don’t last forever. But sometimes all an old t-shirt needs is a new chance at life.

While passing clothes on to charity or a friend is a great idea, there are actually many ways to give an article of clothing a new purpose or use– for yourself, someone else in your family, or even as a gift. That, my friends, is repurposing!

Repurposing, or upcycling, is a trending way to not only reuse weary clothing items, but also to breathe new life into an old favorite.

You might have recently read Eren’s post on making a reusable bag out of a t-shirt (I recently made a couple for my daughter out of two of her favorite outgrown shirts!). I loved her idea and wanted to share with you just a few more easy ways to repurpose old clothes, especially t-shirts.

Most of these projects are geared towards the more advanced sewer, but don’t worry if you’re not there yet with your sewing skills. You’ll also find some other inspiring finds in the links down below. Keep in mind that if you don’t have just the right piece lying around at home, you can also find great used or vintage items at thrift stores or garage sales to beautify into something new!

1. Little Pants

Photo by mrs. bennettar

My daughter is in a leggings phase. She loves those things, and they look so cute on her (see above)! My mom had passed on a old sweater to me to repurpose, and amazingly enough, the arms were the perfect size to make 3-year old leggings out of! This would probably work with any long sleeve t-shirt as well, depending on the child’s leg size.

Another great way to make pants from a shirt or sweater can be found in Amanda Soule’s book, The Creative Family. Her basic idea is to take a comfortably-fitting pair of pants from your child’s wardrobe, draft a pattern out of it, and then use the pattern to cut out the fabric of an old shirt to make the new pants.

2. T-Shirt Tote Bag

Photo by mrs. bennettar

A slightly more involved project than Eren’s bag is a reversible tote bag made from an old t-shirt. I’ve made a couple of these, one from a beloved high school t-shirt that I had acquired from a friend. It was wearing thin, and was much too big for me anyway. It’s the perfect beach bag, diaper bag or even grocery bag.

All you need to do is cut out a rectangle around the image on your shirt slightly bigger than the bag size you want. The secret to this project, is lining your t-shirt with a lightweight interfacing to stabilize it. Then you can just use the cut-out piece like a normal piece of fabric in any pattern really. I drafted my own pattern for my bag (tutorial coming very soon on my blog) and lined it with cotton (also used coordinating cotton for the straps), but you could use your cut-out t-shirt pieces with any tote bag tutorial (just google will give you many options!).

3. T-Shirt Quilt

Photo by sonjalovas

My husband and I were both high school athletes, and anyone who’s played sports knows how many t-shirts an athlete acquires over the years. I have two boxes under my bed, one for each of us, filled with keepsake shirts. One of these days I plan to make a double-sided quilt showcasing our memories.

For this project, the t-shirts are treated the same as for the tote bags: cut-out around the design and stabilized with interfacing. One of these quilts would make a great gift for a grad or a Christmas or birthday gift for dad (since dads always seem to have quite the collection of t-shirts!).

4. Change the Fit

Photo by mrs. bennettar

Another fun thing to do with a t-shirt is to give it a new style. With a pair of scissors and maybe some sewing skills, too, you can refashion a tee into a style that fits you better. There’s the classic, cut-neck tee, which you can see a tutorial for over here.

But then, if you want to change an adult tee into something for your kid, there’s always these patterns for an adorable t-shirt dress pattern (for a little girl), or perhaps a hoodie made from a t-shirt for your little boy (the dresses are also for sale).

And finally, my current work in progress (see photo above) is taking a boring-shaped t-shirt and making it into a cute halter, based on another shirt I have (skip over to my blog in a few days and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the finished project!).

If the word refashion sounds inspiring, be sure to check out the site where I found the term: Wardrobe Re:Fashion, where you can get serious about repurposing, with their pledge that will start up again in July, where you can pledge to refashion or handmake your clothes for a set amount of time that you choose.
Here are a few more inspiring links for DIY repurposing and some handmade, repurposed finds:

If you do decide to jump into some DIY repurposing, my best advice is to be brave! It’s hard to cut up something beloved, but so exciting to make something unique and new.

Have you done any repurposing with your clothes or do you know of any cool tutorials or finds online? Please share!

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Comments

  1. BIG vote for the t-shirt quilt!!! I followed the book tutorial from http://www.toocooltshirtquilts.com for a few high school t-shirts and then had one made for my college t-shirts (it was too big for me to handle on my own, the lady who makes them did a fantastic job). I love my quilt. Everyone should make one/have one made!

  2. I love the tshirt into tote bag idea! Its a great way to make a new bag (I know I’m always getting bored of mine) and to recycle your shirt. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Great ideas! I’ve got a box I’ve been storing up t-shirts to use for a throw quilt, but I love the other ideas there! That Hawaii bag is too cute!
    .-= Kait Palmer’s last blog: The Business of Christianity =-.

  4. I love Wardrobe Refashion! I check in daily for inspiration. Actually, right now I’m doing a bit of wardrobe refashioning myself. Just taking things in, making items more workable for nursing, etc. Maybe someday I’ll post it on my blog! Drat, this crazy summer schedule! :(

    Right now, refashioning works for me because my husband is in law school and there’s no clothing budget! But I think doing refashions is the one of the best ways to help the planet. I think even when we have a more flexible budget, I’ll still do a lot of refashioning instead of buying new.
    .-= Rhiannon’s last blog: Megan Neilson Rocks- =-.

  5. Have a look at these instructions (see the tutorial links on the left) to refashion t-shirts :)
    http://ohmystars.net/craft/index-surgery.php

  6. Don’t forget cloth diapers. I’ve made quite a few out of t-shirts that had cute pictures but not quite what anyone over 12 would want to wear. Perfect for babies…flowers, kitty’s and many more. I can’t look at any cloth, clothing, linens without thinking about diapers.
    We’ve even left the t-shirts whole, and used them as little artist coverups.

  7. dont forget about the undies…great tutorials online about making new skivvies out of t-shirts…

  8. I have a t-shirt quilt. I made it with t-shirts from high school and my first couple years of University. I haven’t collected nearly as many oversize theme t-shirts since then :)
    I just cut the fronts into blocks and sewed them together without borders between (borders would have made the quilt stiffer, which would be good), added a backing piece of flannel (I love flannel) and binding and tied it together.
    If I were to do another, I would border each block with cotton and add a border on the outside edge.

    What I did do that I like, I added some shirts with buttons, one with a zipper, and other interesting features. I sewed the button flaps together and added backing to the zipper piece. It makes thw quilt a bit more fun :)

  9. My mom made us each a t-shirt quilt when we finished high school that we could use in college. It was a great way to reflect on our childhood together than then take those memories off to school. She let us choose a more “traditional” bedspread fabric for the backing, so we could flip it over when we grew tired of the t-shirts. That quilt will be in my keepsake box forever!
    .-= Alissa’s last blog: This and That and a Haircut =-.

  10. My 8 year old daughter made a great discovery with the T-shirt sleeves I cut off a men’s size XXL T-shirt (given to use in a big bag of second-hand clothes – and my husband is a L at the most). She did what all kids do with stuff – she put it on her head. It turns out that sleeves make cool bandana-style headbands (leave the underarm seam intact). She then cut ear-holes out of the other sleeve and made a bandana for our dog! These photos aren’t the best – but they give you an idea of how it works: Photos
    .-= Trisha Cupra’s last blog: What got my design juices flowing today =-.

  11. avatar
    Milly Haynes says:

    All the ideas are great….I loved the sweater to leggings idea….thanks for sharing you innovative momma!!

  12. I don’t have any current pic’s, but did find one on my photobucket
    Just not sure how to post it.
    Guess I’ll try this link.

  13. Update! I finished my t-shirt halter, here it is!
    http://gidgetgoeshome.com/2010/07/28/t-shirt-refashion/

  14. great stuff, i think that this is a great way to immortalize your favorite t-shirts, a quilt would be comfy and warm and still help get some extra use out of some old standby t-shirts.

  15. I got a t-shirts quilt from Campus Quilt and it is wonderful. Great prices too.
    http://www.campusquilt.com

    I considered another company, http://www.tshirtquilt.com
    They have better prices on the small quilts but campus quilt was better for large t-shirts quilts.

  16. Thanks for the link to my “How To Cut Your Tee” tutorial, Nicole!
    http://willotoons.com/customcut/

    And congrats on your precious newborn – and happy anniversary!! <3

  17. This is cool that people can get the loan moreover, that opens up completely new opportunities.

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