More Creative Ways To Recycle Old T-Shirts!

recycling tshirts I can’t believe it took me TWO DAYS…but yesterday I FINALLY had a chance to take my Christmas present from Santa out of the box and try it out! I had so much fun!

It couldn’t have come at a better time because today I am appearing on a local television talk show called Good Things Utah. The producers and I decided something on recycling old stuff into new stuff would be fun so I pulled out my bag of olds tees that I keep in an old pillowcase on a shelf in my closet and got busy!

I was just going to do re-do a few things I’d already done about recycling t-shirts from this former post…but looking around Pinterest and other places on the net, there were so many other good ideas I simply HAD to try some of them out! Besides, I had to break in my new sewing machine SOMEHOW! :-)

As I have a tendency to do sometimes (OK, most of the time) I kind of went overboard. I was going to make just 1 or 2 things and ended up making EIGHT! And I could have make TWICE that many if only I’d had more time. Time certainly is becoming a more and more precious commodity. But that’s another topic…for another day…

Since it is already 1:00 am and I have to be on TV in a few hours….I better get as much beauty sleep as I can! ;-)  So here’s what I’m going to do….I will post pictures right now…and ASAP I will post the instructions. Does that sound like a deal?  Well, it’s the only deal I have to offer right now. :-)

UPDATE: INSTRUCTIONS HAVE BEEN ADDED.  Thank you for your patience!

Let’s get started….there are a LOT of pictures to go through!

I started with a project I spied on Esty that I thought was so cute and clever and just HAD to try it out!

T-Shirt Leg Warmers

recycling tshirts

Cut the sleeves off of a long sleeve t-shirt.
recycling tshirts 3 Make another cut to make the top even with the bottom.


recycling tshirts 4

recycling tshirts

recycling tshirts 5

From the sleeve of another, contrasting-colored t-shirt, cut two strips about 1 inch wide.  Stretch.

recycling tshirts 6recycling tshirts

Fold over the top edge of each leg warmer about 1/2 inch and sew a seam almost all the way around, leaving a 1/2 inch opening. Using a safety pin, thread the white strip of t-shirt through the channel you just created until it goes all the way around.
recycling tshirts

Turn the leg warmer right side out and make a small slit on the outside of the channel you have just sewn and bring the two ends of the strip through. Now sew the opening on the inside, along the seam, closed.


recycling tshirts

Tie the ends of the strips into bows (or knots) and you’re done.

I apologize for the color on these photos! I’m not sure what happened there. :-)  The shirt I used was actually closer to a RED than a PINK…but whatever. I didn’t have a “model” available to photograph them on, but here is a photo from the Etsy website. Aren’t they adorable with Uggs?!


tshirt leg warmers


The next thing I tried my hand at were a couple of scarves which I’d seen floating around Pinterest that I thought were super cute! The first one is an infinite scarf of sorts and it’s SO easy to make it’s ridiculous!

T-Shirt Infinite Scarf

recycling tshirts

Cut the body of the t-shirt off. (Save the top portion of the shirt for some other later project.)


recycling tshirts

Now cut approximately 1 inch strips horizontally across the body of the shirt, up to about 1 inch from the edge.


recycling tshirts

recycling tshirts

Once all the cuts have been made, gather the uncut edge and the slide your hand down the length of the strands and PULL!  S T R E T C H those strips until you have a VERY LONG scarf, then double wrap it around your neck.


recycling tshirts

You will be AMAZED at how long the strips of t-shirt material will STRETCH. And as they stretch they will also curl in giving them a finished look without any sewing required!


recycling tshirts


Add a t-shirt flower to give it a little more finished look….or just for fun!

recycling tshirts

I think the little flower MAKES it…don’t you? :-)  More on that further down.


Here is the other scarf I made. I love how ruffly it looks without having to make a single ruffle using a sewing machine.  As a matter of fact there was no sewing involved on EITHER of these scarves! (So much for trying out my Christmas present!)

Ruffled Scarf

recycling tshirts

Using a paper plate as a template, trace four to six circles on one side of your t-shirt. (I was able to fit four circles on this shirt.)


recycling tshirts

Cut out all the circles through both thicknesses, making sure to trim off any of the pen or pencil on the fabric. You will now have 8 (or 12) circles.


recycling tshirts

Again, cutting through both thicknesses, cut each circle into a spiral. No template needed…just freehand it. They don’t have to be perfect because when they are all uncoiled you won’t notice any imperfections. :-)


recycling tshirts

Uncoil each piece of fabric. Separate into two sections of 4 (or 6) and attach the two sections on one end. You could hot glue them together or stitch them together by hand or with a sewing machine. It only takes a few stitches.


recycling tshirts

And that is all there is to this lovely, feminine-looking scarf.


recycling tshirts

recycling tshirts

To make the cute little white flower that I embellished the scarves with…first I made a ball of t-shirt “yarn”. It’s such a simple idea, I just love it. I actually found it at a gardening website,, where it was suggested to make a ball of “gardener’s twine” for tying plants to stakes that need a little extra support out of an old t-shirt. It’s done by  making in one continuous cut starting at the bottom of the t-shirt and working up to the top.


T-Shirt Yarn

recycling tshirts

recycling tshirts

recycling tshirts


T-Shirt Flower

recycling tshirts

After I made the ball of t-shirt yarn..all I did to make the FLOWER was to roll the yarn up into a flat circle (adding drops of hot glue as I went along to keep it together).


recycling tshirts

I then hot glued the entire flower to another piece of t-shirt material and cut it out.  I attached the flower to the scarves with a large safety pin.


At this point, after seeing how nicely the scarves and the flower turned out…I was on a roll!  I couldn’t stop!  Next I decided to make our grandpuppy Milo, who we were baby sitting for the day, a TOY! Probably the EASIEST thing I made all day…and that’s saying a lot, because they were all pretty easy! But most importantly, Milo thought it was great and it kept him entertained for at least a few minutes! :-)  9 month old boxers have LOTS of energy!! whew!!

DIY Doggie Tug Toy

recycling tshirts

Once again, start with an old t-shirt. This one sadly was stained beyond repair by some mystery substance. I also used the body of the red t-shirt that I cut the sleeves off of for the leg warmers.


recycling tshirts 27

Cut 10 strips of each colored fabric approximately 20 inches long (stretched out).  Alternating colors, lay the strips altogether in one bundle. This photo shows two…but you only want one. :-)  Tie a double knot in one end of the strips, leaving several inches extra on the end. Below the know, separate into 3 sections and braid approximately 6-8 inches down, then tie another double knot.


recycling tshirts

Be sure the knots are pulled VERY tight. These make great chewing for puppy. :-)


recycling tshirts

Here is Milo guarding his new toy with his life! He thought it was pretty great!  It’s he the cutest!? :-)  OK…I’m a bit prejudiced.

Next up is the project which gave me the most trouble because I really STINK at tying knots! But I just love the looks of this Josephine Knot used as a headband (like I did) or as a bracelet and I was determined to figure it out.


DIY Knotted Headband

recycling tshirts

I was planning on taking pictures of how this was done, but forgot in the frenzy to get these done before the show. However, there is a good video tutorial of how to make this knot here. Just fast forward the video to approximately the 7:00 minute mark. It took watching this section of the video 4 or 5 times before I FINALLY got it…but now that I’ve done it…it’s VERY easy!  Can’t wait to make more! I will take pictures when I do.

Once again, I was lacking a “model” for this (darn houseful of BOYS!), but trust me, it’s really cute ON! :-)


The last recycled t-shirt project I decided to tackle was one I’ve done before…but this method I found at Between The Lines was so much EASIER than the one I did…I had to give it a try!


T-Shirt Grocery Bag

recycling tshirts

Cut the sleeves and neck off of an old t-shirt. I also cut a deep scoop where the neckline was and cut the armholes bigger and longer. This makes for longer straps on your bag. Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew the bottom opening shut. Just one long seam. (Or if you don’t sew….get out the handy dandy hot glue gun.)


recycling tshirts

Now fold the bottom of the bag/shirt up approximately two inches and make a 1/2 inch slits with your scissors at regular intervals all along the fold. Mine were approximately 1 1/2 inches apart.


recycling tshirts

Fold the bag/shirt up another two inches and repeat the process, spacing the slits in between the previous row.


recycling tshirts

Continue to fold up and make slits in the bag/shirt until you reach a few inches from where the armholes begin.


recycling tshirts

At this point you can call it DONE, or you can add a few other touches if you feel so inclined. I decided to braid the handles. All I did was cut the handles at the shoulder seam of the t-shirt, and then cut both sides of the strap into three strips. Stop cutting down the strips when reach the top of the bag. Braid both halves of the strap and then sew back together at the top where the original shoulder seam was. Trim any uneven edges after sewing.

You’ll also notice that my bag is slightly gathered on the bottom.  All I did to achieve that effect was to sew a gathering stitch along that one seam we made on the bottom of the shirt. After I gathered the fabric a little bit, I sewed one more seam along that gathered fabric. That’s it.

You can’t see the slits in the bag very well in this picture…but they are there to allow produce to “breathe” when used as a grocery bag. Such a great use of an old t-shirt that would normally be thrown away!


Wow! That was a lot of pictures! No wonder it took me all day (and night)! I really need to learn to stop myself when I start getting carried away with ideas. :-)  Hope you enjoy!  Happy recycling!



Print Friendly
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter24Pin on Pinterest20,056Google+5

Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Jillee's FREE email newsletter and receive more great tips and ideas!



  1. Kristi Myers says

    Awesome! Can’t wait to get started on some of these! Bring on the instructions – when you can. =) Some are easy to figure out because of your photos. I’m not quite sure how to put the ruffle scarf together. It looks like you only used the 4 circles. (I can wait for the how-to) It is soooo cute. I have been wanting to make an infinity scarf and low & behold- there it is- I’m doing it today!! I hope. I actually made an awesome t-shirt flower! Jillee, you must give it a try. It takes a little time but the result is soooo worth it. It looks like a real rose. I did some with a beautiful red colored t-shirt. They really are nice! I gave a few to special friends this Christmas and for me too! I found the instructions here: from pinterest. (sorry I don’t know how to put the website on there so you can just click on it, my genious son is asleep!) God Bless You!

  2. Katie E says

    I made no-sew t-shirt bag just the other day! It was so easy, only took a few minutes to do. I think maybe 10 minutes from start to finish. I am really wanting the instuctions, I am already thinking of things to make from the t-shirt yarn!!

  3. says

    Love this post and the “T”riffic ideas! I made a rug using the T-yarn and loved working with it. Good luck to you on the show!

  4. Char says

    You are just amazing! Good luck on your show and thanks for being a bright spot in my day every morning as I look to see what brilliant thing you have to share that day

  5. Hazel says

    Great ideas, i’ve only used them as cleaning rags, i’ll try making the scarves today( i’m so excited) will patiently wait for the how to on the grocery bag, thanks Jillee, will be looking for your appearance online, (hope I find the broadcast), have a great day…