15 Super Creative Ways to Upcycle Old T-shirts

Don't toss your old t-shirts! Give them new life with these upcycling projects.

Published August 8, 2023


T-shirts aren't like other clothing; they have a ton of sentimental value and a funky style. We've mastered the art of the t-shirt upcycle, so before you throw away your old shirts, try these awesome projects. We promise there's one (or lots) that will let you show off your old t-shirts in a totally new way.

Make a T-Shirt Quilt

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If you have some old t-shirts you don't want to get rid of but don't wear anymore, one of the best t-shirt upcycling projects is a quilt. You'll need at least 20 T-shirts for a large quilt. Cut the designs off the fronts in a uniform size (we recommend square) and sew them together. Sew the entire quilt to a piece of fleece that's the same size and show it off in your bedroom.

Create the Funkiest Pillows

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That old band shirt or vacation memento can actually give your living room or bedroom a super cool and funky look. Making a pillow from a t-shirt is really easy.

Just choose a pillow form from the craft store that's the same size as the design and cut the front and back of the t-shirt to the dimensions on the form. Sew the front and back pieces together (right side in) on three sides and then turn the pillow right side out. Slip the form inside and sew up the remaining side.

Sew a Super Easy T-Shirt Dress

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Grab your favorite t-shirt and cut it off just below your rib cage. Then pick up some fabric to match it and make it into a dress. You don't need to do anything fancy here - just use a rectangle of knit fabric and gather it. It's a basic sewing project that can work for kids and grown-ups alike.

Quick Tip

To make the skirt part of your dress nice and full, measure the waist of the t-shirt after you cut it off and cut the skirt fabric to twice that width. Then when you gather it, there will be lots of movement.

Rock an Upcycled T-Shirt Infinity Scarf

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Cut out the designs on your favorite t-shirts and sew them together to make an infinity scarf. This is a super easy project that doesn't have to be perfect or neat; it actually looks cooler with a bit of mix and match happening. The standard infinity scarf is a loop about 50-60 inches around, so you can sew squares or rectangles of t-shirt together until you get this size.

Make the Hottest Pot Holders

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Don't want to sew? No problem. Remember those awesome woven pot holders you made as a kid? You can do the same thing with t-shirts. Just cut them into narrow strips, pick up a loom from the craft store, and weave them into pot holders.

Patch Your Way to a Whole New Style

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Some t-shirts have basically the most beautiful designs ever on the sleeves, front, or back. They can make amazing decorative patches for tote bags, jeans, backpacks, or even other shirts. Just cut out the design and sew or use iron-on backing from the craft store to attach it to something else.

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You can also give a plain t-shirt a whole new look by using any type of fabric to make an appliqué patch for it. This is a great way to get a boho look with a custom shirt.

Upcycle T-Shirts Into Rugs

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Braided rugs add a comfy and classic style to any room, and you can totally make them out of strips of t-shirts.

Cut the shirts into long pieces of fabric about three inches wide. Braid them together, sewing on a new piece when you get to the end of one. Coil the braid, and starting in the middle, sew it into a rug.

Craft the Coolest Pet Bed

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Instead of a braided rug, turn your t-shirt braid into a pet bed. Make the bottom just like the rug, but then turn the braid sideways and start sewing it to make edges for the bed. Pets will especially love this bed if you make it out of your old t-shirts because it will smell like you.

Become Your Own Fashion Designer

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Love your t-shirt but not its fit? You can change it up completely and be your own fashion designer. There are tons of ways to do this:

  • Crop it. Cut the t-shirt shorter to become a midriff-bearing top.
  • Turn it into a tank. Cut off the sleeves to make it a tank or racerback.
  • Slash it. Get the scissors out and cut lots of slashes in the t-shirt. You can tie them or twist them to create a different look.

Even better, combine different modifications to make a shirt that's uniquely you.

Upcycle a T-Shirt to Make a Reusable Shopping Bag

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Turn a t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag with this simple upcycle. You can add handles from the bottom part of the t-shirt (cut off the bottom) or pick up some straps from the craft store. Either way, this is a fun and statement-making bag that's super useful.

Create a Crocheted Basket Out of Upcycled T-Shirts

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Cut t-shirts into long strips of fabric and crochet them to make a basket. There are lots of different crocheted basket patterns you can try, so experiment with different designs that work well with t-shirt scraps.

Quick Tip

For a fun variation on this t-shirt upcycle, try crocheting a basket to cover a potted plant. You'll give your room a super cozy look.

Make a Set of Coasters Everyone Will Love

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You can also upcycle t-shirts as a set of funky coasters. Start by cutting squares about four inches on each side out of craft felt. Cut the same size squares out of t-shirts and sew the two together (leave those raw edges out to make it easy and casual looking). Stack four coasters to create a custom gift everyone will love.

Quick Tip

You can also sew strips of t-shirts together if you want to use more than one color and design on each coaster. There are no rules here.

Create a Custom Dog Toy

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Braid or crochet strips of t-shirts together to make a dog toy your pet will totally adore. You can use any t-shirt you like for this, but it's super fun if you mix a bunch of colors. To make the toy stronger, add multiple layers of t-shirt as you're braiding.

String Old T-Shirts to Make a Colorful Banner

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Upcycle t-shirts into a colorful banner for your room by sewing them to a piece of ribbon or seam binding. You can cut them into triangles or rectangles that show the designs on the shirts and then sew these together to make your decoration. This is a super cool party decor item too, and it's also ideal for adding personality to a dorm room.

Make Jewelry From Upcycled T-Shirts

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Turn old t-shirts into new and stylish statement jewelry. All you need to do is cut the t-shirt into thin strips and braid or crochet these to make bracelets, chokers, or anything else you like. You can also make them into super adorable hair ties or headbands.

So Many Possibilities for Upcycled T-Shirts


Upcycling t-shirts is easy because they offer so many awesome possibilities. Grab your stack of old shirts and a few craft supplies and spend the afternoon creating lots of cool and useful projects.

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15 Super Creative Ways to Upcycle Old T-shirts