Reuse Your Old T-Shirt

I have so many t-shirts that I’ve collected throughout the years from various events. There’s the t-shirt we got at middle school graduation, one for being in the high school band, several from the many Hanson concerts I’ve attended, and even more from all the road races I’ve participated in. 

I never wear any of them. 

The bulky and unflattering unisex cut of the free t-shirts given away at events are hardly stylish. Most of them are stashed away in my bottom dresser drawer and forgotten until I need an outfit to wear while painting the walls or cleaning the bathtub. 

It’s such a shame that these perfectly nice t-shirts commemorating my accomplishments and documenting my experiences are banished to the junk drawer and only pulled out for household chores. 

All that is about to change. Here are some ideas to reuse your old t-shirts and give them the proper glory they deserve.

T-Shirt Bag

Turn your old t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag or beach tote. All you need is a sewing machine or some nifty iron on-hem tape and a pair of scissors. Cut off both sleeves and the neck, leaving a U-shaped hole from the top of the shirt. Turn the shirt inside out and sew or tape and iron the bottom edges together. Turn right side out again and you’ve got yourself a tote bag to carry around all sorts of treasures.

T-Shirt Quilt

This one is a little more involved than the others, but I love the idea of creating a quilt from all my t-shirts to display on my bed or reading chair. If you don’t know how to work a sewing machine, enlist the help of a friend or relative who can teach you the basics. This blog has a great tutorial for creating t-shirt quilts.


T-shirts are just big pieces of fabric, so why not create a pillow? Just cut two squares of fabric from the front and back of the t-shirt and sew three edges together inside out. Turn the fabric right side out and stuff with a pillow form or batting. Hand stitch the last edge for a polished look. 

Work Out Tank

Since a t-shirt is meant to be worn, maybe you’d like to recycle the shirt but still use it for its intended purpose. I’ve wanted to try this DIY project for a while so I pulled out a Fourth of July shirt and followed this great tutorial on how to make a work out tank from an old t-shirt. All you need is a pair of scissors and the steps below.

1. Gather your supplies and set up shop on the floor or a large table.

2. Cut off the ribbed neck of the shirt. I chose to go back and make the neck hole a little deeper so the shirt was not so tight.

3. Beginning about an inch from the neckline, cut off the sleeves making two larger arm holes. The original blogger of the tutorial recommended cutting more fabric from the back of the shirt than the front to avoid awkward draping. I did not choose to do this and found that the fabric looked fine without the extra step.

4. If the shirt is too long, you can cut off the bottom hem in a straight line. For an asymmetrical look, start cutting higher in the front and end lower in the back. If you choose do the asymmetric hem, fold the shirt as seen above before you cut.

5. Use scrap fabric from the sleeves to make a tie for the back of the shirt. Gently stretch the fabric to create the curled look seen above.

6. Tie the arm holes together in the back to create a racer back style. Move the tie up or down for different looks.

Ta-da! Now you're ready for a work out in your newly recycled t-shirt.

How do you reuse and recycle old items in your house?