How to Upcycle Your Old T-Shirts

Image courtesy

Do you want a funky eco friendly handbag that doesn’t cost a penny? Have some old t-shirts lying around?

Then you can make recycled fabric handbags in minutes.

I love the idea of upcycling old t-shirts into reusable shopping bags for several reasons.

First, all of us probably have some really cool t-shirts that we don’t wear (or that don’t fit) but don’t want to donate. Turning them into bags allows us to keep them around and still give them a useful life.

Second, t-shirts fold up really, really small. This means that these t-shirt bags would easily fit in a corner of our purse. If we’re out shopping and need a reusable bag, voila! We can just whip one of our little t-shirt bags out and skip the plastic.

Want to know how to do this project? There are some awesome instructions over at Instructables (one of my favorite sites!) that show you exactly how to sew these up.

There’s also a handy video tutorial when this idea was featured on the Today Show. On the show, however, they turned it into a heftier handbag that we can use every day simply by adding a duct tape liner (brilliant!). You can see the Today Show clip here. Their design is cool because it’s so ridiculously easy. You don’t need a sewing machine for this one! Since sewing is a skill I’m still learning, I’m definitely going to try this version first.

More Upcycling Ideas…

Image courtesy Planet Green

What are some other t-shirt crafts you can do? There are TONS of ways we can recycle t-shirts.

1. The T-Shirt Mashup

Another cool way to upcycle t-shirts is to make post-modernist designs out of them. There’s a great article on Planet Green that talks about how easy this is to do. ¬†All you do here is find a t-shirt that fits great. Then cut up old t-shirts in various shapes and to create a new, Warhol-esque design.

There are some really creative pictures on the Planet Green article. I love this one so much! This would be a great way to repurpose concert shirts (from bands you don’t listen to anymore).

2. A T-Shirt Quilt

One of my favorite green bloggers, EcoKaren, just made a really awesome Memory Quilt for her son. And, it’s made entirely out of old t-shirts he didn’t want anymore.

Karen’s article is amazing; she gives detailed instructions and provides some excellent pictures on how to do this. If you have a stack of really cool t-shirts you’re no longer wearing, this would be an awesome way to turn them into something useful.

Last Word…

Do any of you have any crafty ideas for reusing/upcycling your t-shirts? If so, I’d love to hear them!

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One Response to “How to Upcycle Your Old T-Shirts”

  1. hey, i totally love the shopping bag idea! but i can’t sew or have a sewing machine, and I sew like a 9-year-old =(
    btw, your link for the Today’s clip doesn’t work..

    and here’s another idea to upcycle old T-shirts: use it as book covers (especially since I’m a bookworm). I haven’t tried it yet, but i guess it wouldn’t be that hard to make .

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