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 PantsPhoto 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 BagPhoto 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 QuiltPhoto 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 FitPhoto 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:
- Recycled Lovelies blog (for beautiful repurposing inspiration)
- T-shirt laptop case tutorial (or find one to buy!)
- Preloved Clothing (hip & modern repurposed clothes)
- TipJunkie‘s amazing list of links for repurposed children’s clothing (including tutorials!)
- Upcycled Sweater Beanies (from my own etsy shop)
- SO’s very own Amy @ Progressive Pioneer‘s experience repurposing (took a couple of tries but she ended up with something awesome!)
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!