Friday, January 13, 2012

What can you do with a T-shirt?

The most useful item in a secondhand shop is a simple T-shirt. There are so many options and I am sure that this post doesn't even do it justice! This is actually my list of items that I want to make with T-shirts so stay tuned to the blog.

Here are some of the things that I can think of on how you can reuse a T-shirt:

As T-shirts:
  • Yoke-neck T-shirt: try this idea that details how to fix a crewneck.
  • Ruffled girly T-shirt: Cut part of the neckline away on an old T-shirt along with the sleeves. Take it in so that it is fitted then sew the sleeves back on in gathers. Do a ruffle with the leftover cut part from the neck back on. This is what I did with this T-shirt.
  • Remodeled men's T-shirt: this version has a ruffle, buttons and nice billowy sleeves.
  • Tucked neck: cut the crew-neck collar off then do a series of tucks around the neck (inspired by this T-shirt from calpatch on Craft Stylish).
  • Victorian ruffled T-shirt: first, fit it on the sides and the bottom to your figure. Save all of the extra fabric. Cut the crewneck off and sew the neck down to a more comfortable place, pin and sew down. Then add the extra fabric to make a ruffle down the front centre of the shirt like a Victorian top. Leave space in the middle and sew the ruffle to the shirt. Add buttons down the middle.
  • Smocking: add smocking! Anywhere! try the shoulder seams, under the bust, around the sleeves or all three options! I love smocking, it looks so cool.
  • Gathers: like tucks, you can get a large T-shirt and fit it by creating gathers on the sides, or perhaps just one side to create an interesting look. 
  • Dolman sleeved wonder: use two T-shirts to make a dolman-sleeved shirt. Stay tuned, I plan on trying this.
  • Baby doll T-shirt: take a really big men’s shirt and cut at bust line, fix sides and shoulders then sew arms back on and gather the shoulders. Then, leave bottom as one large connected piece and sew on with gathers so that it flares all the way around. 
  • Crocheted details: after adjusting a t-shirt, add crocheted details like a crochet neck, sleeves or hems. 
  • Piped details: add piping in contrasting colors around neck, arms and bottom of fitted shirts. Piping can be made from other t-shirts that are solid colours, or printed T-shirts.
  • Lace: take a T-shirt and cut off the sleeves, and cut it in half for a front and a back. Buy a sheet of lace in the same colour and cut to fit either the front or back. Then, sew to the shirt (either front or back), and reassemble the shirt. Take it in to fit on the sides, shoulders and sleeves. Fix the neck perhaps with some satin ribbon in the same colour around the edge.
  • Tank or racerback T-shirt: turn a men's T-shirt into a racerback tank top or a tank top. Perhaps even add details like a lace panel on the back or the front. 
  • Elastic: try adding an effect by sewing elastic underneath the seams on the neck (like this t-shirt) or on the sides (like this t-shirt)
  • Screen printing: try using fabric paint and a stencil or spray paint to create your own logos. Here is an idea on how to do it.
  • Beading: adjust the T-shirt to fit then add beads along the neckline, sleeves or anywhere else.
Other clothing items:
  • Underwear: have you ever tried to make underwear from t-shirts? Here is a tutorial from calpatch.
  • Jersey skirt: what about cutting the neck off and using the arms as pockets on a T-shirt skirt?
  • Cardigan: a t-shirt can be cut up the middle and turned into a ruffly cardigan from this tutorial or a button-up one from this one.
  • Dress: turn two T-shirts into a dress. They could be the same colour or different and the connection between the two can vary from the waist or an empire waist. It can be fitted or not. Ruffles can be added along with other embellishments as well as darts.
  • Hairband: Use leftover scraps to make a hairband. This can be flat, embellished with beads, or braided. Along with many other ideas.
As home items:
  • Cleaning rags: these make fabulous rags for dusting and polishing any surfaces and also for washing the car.
  • Cloth garbage bags: I am going to attempt these with leftover white men's T-shirts. I will post the results. I only plan on doing these for the smaller garbage bins around the house, not the one for the kitchen.
  • T-shirt quilt: if you can't part with them but they are taking up space, make a T-shirt quilt.
  • Lunch bag: try making a lunch bag (perhaps like this one) out of an old T-shirt.
For ideas on what you can do with other clothes in your wardrobe or from a secondhand store, see my post on what you can do with secondhand clothing. This is everything else but T-shirts.


  1. Another idea for you....I have made sone throw pillows out of t-sirts that I loved too much, no longer fits, got stains, etc. Fuuny screen printed shirts are perfect and make great gifts!

  2. Great idea! Indeed, T-shirts make great pillow covers and can be quite the conversation piece.