30+ Projects for Recycling T-Shirts

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Grab your scissors! It’s time to get down and shirty with some great DIY ideas recycling T-shirts. Old T-shirts are great to donate to thrift stores once you’ve outgrown them, but only if they’re in good condition. It’s the same situation that we talked about with recycling socks- you’ve got to be creative if items are too worn out to donate. It’s important to realize that old shirts are actually a fabulous resource, as their stretchy knit material lends itself well for cutting up and reusing.

The first idea is the most basic way in recycling T-shirts: Simply cutting it up for use as rags to dust around the house or polish shoes. But if you enjoy sewing and crafting, old T-shirts will be transformed into T-shirt bracelets, necklaces, scarves, and more.

There are literally tons of simple instructions that can be found online, and you’ll find that the knit fabric of a T-shirt is very forgiving. Use this handpicked list as a springboard for even further creativity.

recycling t-shirtsIn her book The Shirt Off His Back, Juliet Bawden covers 30 different projects for transforming everyday shirts into a variety of home accessories. Bawden provides details on recycling t-shirts into everything from pillowcases to hats, placemats, and book covers using the material from old shirts.

In fact, making a pillow cover is one of the best beginner sewing projects you can find. This project works well with regular cotton fabric or a heavier decorator fabric.

Bibs are another fun project in recycling t-shirts.

Make a bag or tote as seen here.

Take a look at this great overview on making colorful jewelry and headbands from recycled tees.

Here’s a great recycled T-shirt rose bouquet from the Sewing Loft.

The African InKNITiative is a nonprofit organization that employs Ugandan women refugees to reuse T-shirt material by knitting it into scarves. This micro-business model provides fair wage to the women, with all proceeds going back into the program. Your with purchase of one of these responsible scarves provides women work toward a future, so check out their t-riffic site.

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