Recycling T-shirts Into Useful Stuff

With all the hits that my post about getting armpit stains out of t-shirts (240,000+) has received…I am beginning to see what a love affair we have with our t-shirts. We will go to great lengths to keep them bright, white and clean…and when that fails we find OTHER ways to use them! The thought of just throwing one away without at least giving it one last chance at a re-purposed life is almost unthinkable!  I mean that is some perfectly good, soft, lived-in cloth we’re talking about.

Some of the things I’ve seen done with recycled t-shirts lately are pictured here. Dishcloths, pillows, bracelets, necklaces, etc etc etc.

recycling t-shirts But my 2 favorite so far have got to be these T-shirt Grocery Bags…and this T-shirt Headband. It might have something to do with the fact that they are BOTH super-duper easy! But I actually think it has MORE to do with the fact that they are just plain cool!


{T-Shirt Grocery Bags}

The other day I was going through my boys vast t-shirt collection and getting rid of the ones they no longer wear for one reason or another.  I ended up with 3 perfectly good t-shirts that were too small now and were just begging to be given another chance. So I decided to make a few more of these grocery bags that I first discovered back in Nov.  Right now I only have the one I made…and that just won’t cut it when shopping for 3 “boys” every week.

Both of these “tutorials” are SO easy….they really don’t even require instructions. I think the pictures can speak for themselves.

recycling t-shirts 2

  • #1:  Get a pair of scissors. :-)  (Or “get a scissors”, according to the hubster. How do you say it?? I’m certain I’m right! lol)
  • #2:  Cut off collar with your PAIR OF SCISSORS! :-)  I just free-handed a dotted line with a Sharpie just to have something to follow.
  • #3:  Cut of sleeves just inside the seam.
  • #4:  Turn t-shirt inside out and sew a seam along the bottom.
  • #5:  Trim the excess seam (completely optional…you just just leave it.)
  • #6:  Turn right side out and you’re done! (Is being “done” a step? So many questions!)

A couple of things about these bags….they hold a TON OF STUFF!!! Which is GOOD, unless you just keep filling them until they are super full and you can’t even LIFT them. Just keep that in mind. Also, they are super STRONG!  Don’t have to worry about these babies busting a seam and sending a sackful of produce rolling across the parking lot!

recycling t-shirts The ONLY thing I have found to be tricky about using these bags for grocery shopping is actually REMEMBERING to TAKE THEM grocery shopping!  (So if any of you reading this see me at the grocery store without my t-shirt bags…just assume I have forgotten them…once again.) But I am trying a new tactic. I moved them to this little wall-thingy with pegs that hangs right by our door to the garage…hopefully this will be the reminder I need.

recycling t-shirts 4

 Now for my second, less practical t-shirt craft….The T-shirt Headband! Either I am getting more and more crafty since I started this blog….or this project really IS super duper easy! Hopefully a little of both. :-)

Start out with……guess what???  An old t-shirt!  :-)  In this case it was a perfectly good t-shirt my 16 year old had somehow managed to get bleach spots on. (It certainly couldn’t have been moi!)  But since I’d been on the lookout for a t-shirt I could use to do this project I only PRETENDED to be dismayed. Inside I was thinking…….I can work with blue! ;-)  No one tell him that.


recycling t-shirts 5


T-shirt Headband

I first saw this idea at:

I’ve seen other t-shirt headband tutorials that involve braiding the strips of material…but I wasn’t as impressed. I love how this one is a little more bohemian-looking and gives you the option of spreading the strands apart or smooshing them together.

recycling t-shirts 6

Cut off sleeves. Cut 4 strips from each sleeve. S T R E T C H each t-shirt ring (This causes the cool curling effect). Stack them together, with seams lined up. Take the piece of the t-shirt sleeve that was the hem, snip it then wrap it around the seam portion of rest of the t-shirt rings. Glue it to keep in place. (You can also just tie it in a knot…but I liked the flattened, smoother look better.)

recycling t-shirts 7

(A special thank you to my new daughter-in-law Kaitlyn for acting as headband model for me!) I let her keep the headband. Big of me don’t you think? ;-) Actually, after I saw how cute it looked on her, a WANTED her to have it. It suits her. :-)

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  1. BowlnGreen says

    As for forgetting the bags in the car (or just trying to deal with them in the store), I have a LARGE D-clip I found at Wal-mart that holds all my bags and clips nicely on the cart handle. After bringing in a load, I clean any that need cleaning then they go back in the van and clip nicely on the cargo net. When I know I'm going to the store, I throw them in the front seat so I don't forget them. Just a little tip that works for me at least!

  2. Gale says

    I'm going to make lots of these…we always end up saving our empty pop cans in plastic grocery bags, which makes them all nasty and sticky by the time we return them to the store. So I'm going to use some of these just for that purpose…then once they're empty again, I can just throw them in the wash! This will be my upcoming weekend project! Last weekend it was the miracle cleaner on my bathroom floor and mason jar soap dispensers! Jill, you're making me stay busy on my weekends! lol

  3. Jodi says

    I love how you show how to make the bags and then you can use the sleeves from them to make the headbands! Multi-tasking!

  4. says

    Ok, I just zoomed over here because I have a serious crush on your blog, Jill. *LOVE* the headband and have already tried the t-shirt bags. Super great stuff – thanks for such an awesome blog!

  5. says

    The grocery bags can easily be made without ANY sewing. Do not cut off the hem of the tee. Use a piece of string or a sliver of fabric cut from the sleeve. Thread it through the hem, pull tight, and knot. If the hole is too big for your liking, do this twice, going half way through the hem each time.

  6. Beth says
    ^the books have lots of other ideas for what to do with old t-shirts. There’s just about everything from other shirts (like tank tops and tube tops), skirts, and even oven mitts!

    Another thing I really like to do is make “t-yarn”, which is just cutting the shirt (or scraps from stuff I made in the books) into strips and using them in projects. I crocheted some rugs out of old t-shirts and they are still holding together well after a year of using.

  7. Jay says

    Can you please link the actual projects with the variety pictures and not the website? It’s a pet peeve of mine to go through pinterest and have ppl pin one pic from the top of a blog and not the article itself. So when you click back it’s long buried behind other stuff and I get distracted and forget what I’m looking for. Thanks.