These cool t-shirt projects are the perfect way to recycle shirts your older kids aren’t ready to part with.
Once or twice a year, I have my kids sort through their closets with the goal of removing clothes that no longer fit, items they don’t wear, or things that show excessive wear and tear. Often, this is a simple process.
But sometimes, we come across shirts that are too special to throw away, even if they’re no longer wearable. It’s hard to convince them to toss items if they remind them of a family trip, special event, or a favorite person.
One way your tweens can preserve these memories is to repurpose their favorite t shirts into some DIY crafts.
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T Shirt Projects
When your kids can’t wear their favorite t-shirts any longer, instead of letting them sit in drawers, upcycle them. Not only will your tweens have something new that’s also functional, they’ll be able to see their treasured shirts every day.
We had no idea there were so many ways to repurpose them when we decided to tackle our growing stack.
We chose three projects to start with – wall art, a pet pillow, and a shopping bag.
T-shirt Wall Art
My youngest has accumulated many taekwondo tournament shirts over the years. In her dojo, they turned these t-shirts into artwork that they hung on the walls. It was a great way for everyone to see all the events the school was a part of.
Marianna couldn’t wait to turn her beloved tshirts into canvases that she could hang up in her room. Since she doesn’t wear them anymore, she was excited to get them out of the closet and out where she could see them regularly again.
To make a wall canvas, you’ll need:
- A favorite t-shirt
- Stretched canvas (you can use any size, we used 12×12)
- Sawtooth ring hangers to attach to the back of the finished canvas
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
T-shirt Wall Art Instructions:
- Select a tshirt. Determine which part of it will be shown on the canvas (the front or back of the body of the shirt) and cut that side away from the rest of the shirt.
- Place the shirt on top of the canvas and center the design.
- Flip the canvas and shirt over and fold the sides of the fabric over the edge.
- Trace along each side of the canvas on the shirt so it will cover the edge on the back of the frame. Cut away any excess you marked.
- Glue down the fabric to the back of the canvas, folding and gluing the material neatly around the corners.
- Place the sawtooth ring hanger in the center of the top edge on the back and hammer into place.
- Your project is ready to decorate your wall.
Now, she gets to see her tournament shirts every day and is reminded of the wonderful memories. This is a great project for your tween’s treasured t shirts.
Recycled T-shirt Bags
This project grabbed my attention right away because it’s the perfect bag to leave in the car for quick shopping trips. I think this will be very useful at the farmers’ market.
It’s also a great summer craft project – kids can make a unique bag that they can take to the pool or when they visit friends.
This incredibly simple project will give teens extra practice on the sewing machine.
Supplies for a t shirt bag:
T-shirt bag instructions:
- Select the t-shirt you want for your bag.
- Fold the shirt in half, lengthwise, with the sleeves together. Place the folded shirt on a flat surface.
- Cut around the neck and the sleeves.
- Open the shirt and turn it inside out.
- Pin the edges together and sew a small hem across the bottom of the shirt, about an inch. The easiest way is to stitch just above the existing hem. Sew it a couple of times to reinforce it.
- Turn the t-shirt right side out and presto, you have a handy bag.
- Because this type of fabric doesn’t run easily, you don’t have to hem the other rough edges. However, if your teen wants to, she could sew a small hem around the cut sides.
This DIY project is fun to make, plus extremely functional. Your tweens can come up with dozens of uses for these cute bags.
T-Shirt Pet Pillow
One of our favorite t shirt pillow ideas is to make a pet pillow. You could easily encase a pillow form with your shirt, but I would suggest you make a pillowcase instead. This way it can be removed and washed as needed.
This is another great sewing project for your tweens.
You’ll need these supplies to make a t-shirt pillow:
- A well loved t-shirt
- Pillow form (we used a 12×16 form, you can use any size you prefer)
- Sewing machine
- Measuring tape
T shirt pet pillow case instructions:
- Select a t-shirt to use for your pillow case.
- From the body of the shirt, cut out two squares (or rectangles depending on the shape of your pillow form) a couple of inches larger than your pillow form. Before you cut, make sure you’re including the design you want from the shirt.
- Put the two right sides of the material together, pin the two long edges and one small edge so they stay in place. Then sew a small hem down the three edges. The remaining edge will be the opening for the pillow form.
- Flip over a 1/2″ hem on the open edge, pin it, and sew around the case.
- Turn the pillowcase right side out and insert the pillow form.
Your pet will love their new pillow, and your teen will enjoy seeing her favorite shirt regularly.
Overall, we were very pleased with our DIY recycled t-shirt projects. They were fun, yet simple crafts, and we really appreciated being able to keep some well loved t-shirts around.
More DIY Craft Projects for Tweens
If your older kids are excited to do more crafting, here are some project ideas that are perfect for tweens and teens.
- If you want to give your kids more practice with a sewing machine, let them make some cute Minecraft stuffies.
- Middle schoolers love to give gifts, and what’s better than handmade presents? Here are a few that tween girls will love giving to friends.
- Tweens can make their own lava lamp with this simple tutorial.
Which t-shirt craft will your tween make first?