Wondering what to do with an old t-shirt? It’s not straightforward, is it? We know that if we donate it to Goodwill, it’s likely to find its way to the landfill. If we hand it off to someone else, they’re likely to donate it, and it comes back around to the landfill. So what can we do with that old t-shirt? Or perhaps a new t-shirt that we got for free and don’t like? We can fix it up or make it into something else!
Here are 8 ideas for what to do with an old t-shirt (linked to detailed tutorials below):
1. Use dye to cover up stains:
It’s inevitable – our t-shirts get stains on them, especially the armpits if we wear natural deodorant. (Side note: anyone have a solution for that? If so, please comment below.). So how can we revive our old t-shirt if it is stained?
Dye it! We want to go for natural dyes when we’re doing this so that we show the earth as much love as we’re showing our old t-shirt. To learn more about natural dyes and why we should use them, listen in to episode 46 with Lindsey Biondo of Violet Revolt.
Here is a great resource from HGTV that walks us through the step by step process of using fruits and vegetables to naturally dye our clothes: Easy Fruit & Vegetable Tie Dye Shirts
2. Repair holes:
Let’s say you love your old New Kids on the Block t-shirt. Like really love it. And you’ve worn it for 20 years. And it has a few holes… rendering it most likely not useful for anyone else. But, you just can’t bear the idea of chopping it into rags and cleaning your house with it. I get it! So let’s see if we can help you repair those holes and keep it in operation. Here are some quick tutorials to for repairing an old t-shirt:
- Repair small holes with a simple needle and thread – easy video tutorial by Encircled
- Repair larger holes with a needle, thread and a teensy bit of craftiness – easy darning tutorial from Clothes Doctor
If you try the darning technique and don’t like the look of just one covered hole, consider cutting and darning a few more to make it look like you bought your shirt this way!
3. Turn it into a cute yoga top:
So maybe yoga’s not your flavor, but I do know that you like to relax. We all do! So why not turn that old t-shirt into a cute workout/relax tank top? The ideas to turn an old t-shirt into a cute new style are endless. Take a look at Fashion Wanderer’s tutorials – DIY Muscle Tank looks like the easiest, most versatile option. And it doesn’t require any sewing!
4. Turn it into a tote bag:
Creating a tote bag from an old t-shirt is pretty straightforward, and it gives that old shirt a new chance out on the town! I think this is an excellent use for the old concert shirts. Martha Stewart walks through how to do it on her show with one of her staff crafters, Kristen St. Claire. It does require a sewing machine, but it looks really easy.
5. Make no heat hair rollers for curls:
This is one of my favorite old t-shirt ideas! You cut it into strips, and you use those strips as no heat curlers while you sleep. I slept on rollers often as a little girl, and I love curling my hair in this natural way without the heat damage. Katie’s Kreations has a good video on YouTube for how to make T-shirt curls.
6. Create fabric twist ties:
Just cut your old t-shirt into small strips, and you have ties! You can get fancy if you’d like and cut a thick strip, fold it in half lengthwise, and sew along the long edge, finishing with one short edge. Flip inside out and finish the other short edge by tucking the raw ends in and sewing across. You can also add a pipe cleaner or small piece of wire to the inside if you want them to behave just like traditional twist ties.
Here are some cool ideas for how to use your new twist ties around the house:
- secure garden plant stalks
- bundle & organize cords
- group together measuring cups and spoons
- bundle loose drawer items like chopsticks and skewers
- attach keys to each other
- attach rubber bands to one another
- hang Christmas ornaments
- suitcase zipper lock
- add to the end of a sweatshirt or coat zipper for easy pull
- organize yarn, thread and embroidery floss
- ribbon for a wrapped gift
- hang tags if you sell or label clothing
- bind together hole punched paper for a DIY notepad in the kitchen
7. Make dog beds for the local shelter:
I’ve talked about making dog beds from old t-shirts before. I learned how to do this back in my young intern days at Disney. An incredible co-worker had the idea to take hundreds of wasted volunteer t-shirts (Disney had decided to go with a new design) and turn them into dog beds for the shelter. This is one of my favorite ways to help local shelters because it’s easy to do with the kids, it’s fun to get crafty, and it really helps! Here are two of my favorite tutorials:
8. Create a rice heating pad:
Do you use heating pads at your house for sore muscles? We use them often! Rice pillows are my favorite because they can be popped into the microwave, hold their heat, and can be formed into various shapes. A rice heating pad made from an old t-shirt will be super soft and comfy!
Here’s a link to an easy DIY Homemade Heating Pad.
Watch the episode:
Closed captioning transcript included in video. Subscribe on YouTube.