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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