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The Art of Upcycling T-Shirts: Giving New Life to Old T-Shirts

August 05, 2023 4 min read

Hate waste but love crafting? Discover 5 creative ways to upcycle your old tees. T-shirt blankets, tote bags, tank tops, and so many more!


Do you have an abundance of old t-shirts taking up space in your closet? You don’t want to wear them, but you don’t want to throw them away either? Thanks to the art of upcycling, there are now so many fun and creative ways that you can give new life to old shirts.

Whether you love fashion, interior design, or helping others, there is something for everyone in the below 5 t-shirt upcycle ideas.

  1. Make a tank top

Tank tops never go out of fashion which makes them one of the most versatile wardrobe staples you can own. If you haven’t ever tried upcycling a t-shirt into a tank top, you will be pleased to hear that it is very easy to do. All you need to do is follow the below simple steps:

  • Find an old t-shirt, a pair of scissors, and a needle and thread.
  • Cut off the sleeves.
  • Cut along the seam of the sleeve and straight across the armhole.
  • Next, cut a horizontal line across the t-shirt, just below the chest area.
  • Lastly, cut off any excess fabric from the bottom.
  • Hem the raw edges if desired.


  1. Create a t-shirt blanket

Custom blankets have never been more popular, with people looking for more unique and bespoke gifts for their family and friends. Also known as a shirt quilt, a t-shirt blanket is also easy to make and is great for people of all ages.

To make one yourself, simply follow the below step-by-step guide:

  • Gather your supplies, including a sewing machine, a selection of t-shirts, scissors or rotary cutter, measuring tape, and thread.
  • Decide how big you want your blanket to be depending on the number of t-shirts you have available.
  • Cut equal-sized squares out of each t-shirt. You can use just the front or both sides if there are graphics on the back also.
  • Sew all the panels together using a sewing machine or by hand.


  • Cut the fleece to match the panels you’ve sewn together


  • Join the front to the back leaving and opening and then turn to the right side.


  • Then topstitch around the outer edge to complete your blanket

You could always contact our team to do this for you if you aren’t feeling brave.

  1. Design a tote bag

Tote bags are stylish, practical, and durable, making them one of the most sought-after handbag styles. If you have an oversized t shirt, this is perfect for this DIY project as it will allow you to make a bag big enough to carry all your shopping or daily essentials.

To make a tote bag, follow the below instructions:

  • Select the t-shirts you want to use. Ideally, one that has a high-impact pattern or a large image or logo on the front.
  • Cut two equal size squares to sew together to create the sides of your tote bag.
  • Use any scrap fabric from the shirt sleeves or ends to make the handles.
  • Sew these to the top of the tote bag.

If you are not very good at sewing, you can find no-sew tutorials for t-shirt tote bags online.

  1. Make a pillow

Want to update the look of your bed without having to spend a fortune on new bedding? One of our favorite t-shirt upcycle projects, T-shirt pillows are easy to create and make a big statement in the style stakes.

If you have access to a sewing machine, then you can create your very own t-shirt pillow in as little as 10 minutes. Simply follow the below steps:

  • Choose T-shirts. Ideally, one that features a bold pattern or graphics.
  • Cut off the sides of the shirt and then the sleeves so that you are left with two square panels.
  • Flip the front and back pieces of the pillow so that the right sides are facing each other and pin around the edges.
  • Sew around the cut edges, leaving a margin of ½ inch.
  • Leave the bottom edge of the t-shirt open for stuffing.
  • Stuff the pillow until you get the desired firmness.
  • Stitch the bottom closed.


  1. Design your own wall art

If you have lots of t-shirts that you love but no longer wear, then t-shirt wall art offers a super stylish way to upcycle these versatile garments.

T-shirt wall art is made much the same way as a blanket, by cutting and sewing panels of the fabric together. To make a wall hanging or room divider, you will need quite a large amount of old t-shirts as well as a rod for hanging. Wall hangings and room dividers are perfect for injecting a bit of your personality into your bedroom, study, or living room or as a gift for a housewarming party.

What else can I do with old t-shirts?

Donate to them to charity

If you are not feeling particularly crafty but don’t want to contribute to textile waste, then why not donate your old tees to a charitable cause or a thrift store? There are so many people in need in the United States who would benefit greatly from your old t-shirts. For example, Goodwill is always in need of donations and if you have a large number of items to give away, they will even come to your house to collect them for you.

Alternatively, there are a number of fashion retail stores that will recycle old t-shirts and clothing for you and give you a money-off voucher or some other incentive in return, such as American Eagle Outfitters and H&M.

Sell them on social media

Want to make a bit of extra cash? If you have clothes that are in good condition, you may be able to sell them on a local social media selling site. It is worth knowing that designer brands sell best, but you can still make some money selling bundles of non-designers t-shirts as long as the price is right. You could also host a yard sale if you have other garments or items in your home that you want to get rid of.

Do you need help upcycling your old t-shirts? Here at My T-Shirt Blanket, we love nothing more than helping people transform their once-loved tees into something special.

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