39 Ways to Upcycle Your T-shirts

A T-shirt is something to look forward to at the end of a long day. Slipping into the soft weave of a jersey knit can take us back in time to childhood, our first rock concert or the summer we fell in love with hot pink. There’s just something undeniably special about that fabric.

With so much going for it, no wonder that most of us hate to part with our favorite T-shirts. Thankfully, you don’t have to. Aside from its magical time-traveling abilities, T-shirt fabric has properties that make it an excellent source of upcycling potential. It’s easy to cut, doesn’t need to be hemmed and stretching it only makes better.

To help you hold onto those old T-shirts a little bit longer, we’ve gathered more than 40 amazingly easy ways to refurbish, reuse or refashion them.

1. Chunky Braided Bracelets

Chunky braided bracelet

Glue and Glitter shows two different ways of making chunky bracelets from old T-shirts. In about a half-hour you can try finger knitting and the Josephine knot to see which one you like best.

2. Pretty T-Shirt Roses

t-shirt roses

Love a reason to break out the hot glue gun? Then you’re in luck. It’s the only thing you need for this quick T-shirt upcycling project from Cathie Filian.

3. No-Sew T-Shirt Scarf

no-sew t-shirt scarf

Green Upgrader has a wonderful bohemian scarf project for beginners. It’s essentially just three steps: cut, pull and knot.

4. No-Sew Headbands

No-sew headbands

I am a Momma Hear Me Roar offers a truly simple tutorial for making headbands from old T-shirts. Plus, the finished bands are so cute that no one will ever guess you made them in two minutes.

5. Braided T-Shirt Belt

Braided t-shirt belt

We love this clever re-use idea from Delia Creates that turns an old T-shirt into a braided belt. Once you perfect the four-strand braiding technique, it can be used in many different projects.

6. Ombre Four-Strand Head Wrap

Ombre four strand head wrap

Whistle and Ivy shows that even a plain white T-shirt is worth saving. In her easy headband tutorial, she uses fabric dye to paint on an ombre effect for a splash of color.

7. DIY T-Shirt Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarf

These infinity scarves from Madigan Made are perfect for spring. The style is on trend and the fabric is lightweight, so you can show it off for the next few months.

8. Flouncy T-Shirt Flowers

T-shirt flowers

These giant blooms from Matsutake are so full and lovely; it’s hard to believe that they used to be T-shirts in a former life. Make a whole vase of for your mantle; they’re certain to brighten any day.

9. Bangle Bracelets Covered in T-Shirt Fabric

braided t-shirt bracelets

If chunky bracelets aren’t your style, try these sleek bangles from Family Chic by Camilla Fabbri. Mix and match your favorite colors, and when you tire of the set re-wrap them for a whole new look.

10. 10-Minute T-Shirt Tote

t-shirt tote

Take this bag to the beach, the gym or an afternoon at the park. It’s perfect for smaller T-shirts and you can whip one up in about five minutes with the instructions from Leethal.

11. Mesh T-Shirt Produce Bag

Mesh Shirt Produce Bag

Delia Creates offers a different take on the T-shirt bag. The mesh cut is great for carrying fruits and veggies from the farmers market.

12. No-Sew Vest

No-sew t-shirt vest

The flowing cut of this no-sew vest from WobiSobi is super feminine. The fabric drapes nicely and would be an excellent swimsuit cover during the summer.

13. Simple No-Sew Bolero

no-sew bolero

Brit + Co. has 10 tutorials for styling an old shirt, but our favorite is this cute bolero jacket. Cut a T-shirt down to size and add a few buttons for flair.

14. Adorable Little Girl’s Skirt

little girl's fringe skirt

Every little girls loves a skirt she can twirl in, the more colors the better. This baby skirt from Generation T is a smart way to use up all the T-shirt scraps you’ll have leftover from making the other projects.

15. No-Sew Drawstring Skirt

No-sew skirt

TrashN2Tees offers this tutorial for a casual skirt that gals of all ages can appreciate. This no-sew version will be finished in minutes. Those who like to sew can click through to step two for a tutorial on adding pockets.

16. Make a Souvenir T-Shirt Pillow

souvenir t-shirt pillow

We all have them, those silly T-shirts purchased impulsively on vacation. Chez Larsson shows how to turn a dorky souvenir into a darling conversation piece.

17. No-Sew Pillow Tutorial

Souvenir T-shirt pillow

Faith Rim shares her spin on the T-shirt pillow with a tutorial that adds fringe. If you can tie a knot, you can make these no-sew cushions.

18. T-Shirt Yarn

t-shirt yarn

This T-shirt yarn from Mollie Makes is the first step to a whole new world of crafts. It’s thick enough for finger knitting, so you won’t even need a pair of needs to get started. You will, however, need a large pile of gently worn shirts.

19. Woven T-Shirt Pillow

woven t-shirt pillow

Turn a T-shirt into anything when you learn how weave. Alpha Mom shows how to weave a colorful piece of cloth that can be used to make dishrags, rugs, placemats and more.

20. T-Shirt Art

T-shirt wall art

Some T-shirts rise to the level of art, so it makes sense to hang them on the wall. My Home My Style shows how to stretch your favorite designs over canvas for a unique way to decorate.

21. Fluffy T-Shirt Pom-Poms

t-shirt pom poms

These whimsical pom-poms from Craftaholics Anonymous are great for adding color to any room. Hang them from a mantle or on the door, they’ll last a lot longer than the tissue paper variety.

22. Plant Hanger

macrame t-shirt plant hanger

Macrame is back and this easy craft from Walk in Love will make you wonder why it ever went away. Start with T-shirt strips, then twist, knot and tie your way to a beautiful hanging planter.

23. DIY Espadrilles

t-shirt espadrilles

Next time you pick up a brightly color T-shirt, grab an extra one to make a matching pair of shoes. That’s right, A Little Tipsy shows how to give new life to old soles.

24. Refashioned Flip-Flops

Refashioned flip flops

Here’s another footwear idea, this time for flip-flops from Make It and Love It. Using the same braiding technique as you used for the belt, you can make a comfortable cotton strap for an old pair of sandals.

25. Block-Print T-Shirt

block print t-shirt

Give any top a quick makeover with a set of block stamps. This crafty idea from Killed by Crafts can be used in combination with many of the T-shirt tutorials below.

26. Trendy Tween Top

Gathered tween t-shirt

With just 15 minutes before the big game, who has time to transform anything? Uncommon Designs Online shows 15 minutes is all it takes to make a shirt that will stand out from the crowd.

27. Cropped and Knotted Tank

Cropped and knotted tank

Who doesn’t love the look of layers? This cropped tank from La Vie en Rose is perfect for layering and it only takes a few snips of the scissors make something fabulous.

28. Fringed T-Shirt

Fringed t-shirt

Rescue a pretty print by reconstructing a boxy T-shirt into a feminine knit top with help from Fine and Feathered. The fringe sleeves are cool for summer days, which are just around the corner.

29. DIY Workout Shirt

DIY Workout Shirt

Guys have been tearing up T-shirts to make workout tanks for years. It’s about time we gals got in on the action! Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth shows how.

30. Dolman T-Shirt

dolman t-shirt

Comfy and casual, dolman sleeves seem like the perfect fit for pure jersey cotton. Trash To Couture shows where to cut and what to sew to achieve this piece of effortless fashion.

31. Fringe Tank

fringe tank top

Long fringe and a row or two of loose knots give this reconstructed T-shirt from Pop Champagne a free-spirited look. Consider adding a few beads for a bit of bohemian sparkle.

32. Big Bow Tee

big bow t-shirt

Turn a long-sleeved T-shirt into a summery blouse with flowing bows. Skip the neck detail if you prefer not to sew, either way this top from Ruby Murrays Musings can be finished in less than an hour.

33. One-Shoulder Shirt

Single Sleeve Shirt

Pressed for time on a Friday night? This no-sew tutorial from WobiSobi will turn your husband’s oversize T-shirt into a formfitting top fit for a night on the town.

34. Braided Neck Tee Shirt

woven braided neckline t-shirt

Her New Leaf gives a plain T-shirt a sophisticated edge by braiding the neckline. It’s a lovely detail that you’d never know was handmade.

35. No-Sew Bow Sleeves

No-sew bow sleeves

Express your girly side with a subtle, no-sew bow. This 10-minute craft from Creating Laura looks nice with a plain T-shirt, but really pops on the sleeve of a striped or floral fabric.

36. Studded Lattice T-Shirt

Lattice t-shirt

Once again, WobiSobi proves you don’t need a needle and thread to make a big impact. This simple lattice design gets an infusion of elegance from the diamond-cut studs.

37. Lacy T-Shirt Revamp

lacey t-shirt revamp

Fabric markers are the secret behind this intricate design from Meijo’s Joy. Once you’ve drawn the pattern, all you need to do is cut, cut, cut to create this delicate lacy T-shirt.

38. Bleach Pen T-Shirt Design/p>

Bleach Pen T-Shirt Design

No sew, no scissors, no problem. That’s the motto for this T-shirt craft from The Lovely Side. Just grab a bleach pen from the laundry room and start doodling.

39. Tie-Sleeve Tank

tie-sleeve tank

It’s almost time to transition your wardrobe from winter to spring. When the time comes, use this tutorial from The Practical Perfeccionista to keep your (formerly) long-sleeve tops around for another season.

Long Live the T-shirt!

How do you repurpose your old T-shirts? Like us on Facebook and share a photo of your most creative customizations.


For articles of clothing that have just reached the end of the line and can’t be upcycled you can see our list of 200+ items of what can be recycled in a common household.