Upcycled T Shirts – Ideas and Tips

Do you have a t shirt that you love, but it doesn’t fit anymore or has gone out of style?  Give it a second life by making something else out of it. Here are some great upcycled t shirts ideas and tips.

Knits are “sew” fun to work with and there are so many fun things you can make with them, especially children’s clothing.

Although, nowadays, little kids’ t-shirts are usually cheaper just to buy already made, than to purchase a pattern and fabric (not to mention the time involved).

However, if you already have an existing shirt to use for fabric, and an EASY pattern, then making something can be quite fun and save you a lot of money!

Have you priced good-quality interlock knits lately?  They are not cheap and the selection is usually poor.

This piece of knit with 5 % spandex was $12.99 yard.

So if you have a shirt that has good quality fabric, good colors, and design, and you don’t wear it anymore, MAKE SOMETHING COOL WITH IT!

Here are a few ideas of what to do with upcycled t-shirts:

Here are a few before and after photos


polka dot knit shirt upcycled t shirts

I used this polka dot shirt to make a skirt……..

repurposed t shirts before

……….. and this shirt to make a comfy double fold yoga waistband for the skirt.

Ta-dah!  I added a cute green pom pom trim on the bottom and look what a cute whimsy skirt these upcycled shirts made.

You can get the pattern for this skirt HERE.

Felted wool sweater strips make up this cute skirt. (pattern can be purchased in my Shop).

I used this shirt for the waistband.

This purple turtle neck wasn’t the most attractive shirt to wear, however, it was good fabric and worked really nicely for the yoga waistband on this simple fleece skirt.

So instead of going in the trash, or to the thrift store, this shirt came in real handy!

I love cutting strips of t-shirts and winding them up into a ball. Not only do they look cute sitting in a basket, but there are a lot of fun things to make with strips of knit shirts.

Here is a link to a video tutorial on how to cut up the shirt into t-shirt yarn.

Go to Pinterest and type in the search ” t-shirt strips” and you’ll find all kinds of fun things to make.

If you haven’t seen my post on how to make these adorable baby beanies from upcycled t-shirts, you can find it HERE.

In a previous post, I show and give some tips on how to cut out t-shirts to get them ready for projects and how to use the fabric for other things.


So, that was a mouth full. I hope you find it inspiring and gives you a few ideas.

Have fun sewing my friends!





Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Easy To Make Upcycled Skirts

upcycled skirts

It’s boot and skirt weather! The air is getting cool and crisp and what a great time to throw on your tights and skirts.  In the office, running errands or even keeping house, a skirt, some tights and a pair of boots are a great GO TO for any occasion. I love wearing skirts in the winter.

upcycled skirts

A few years ago I designed a skirt pattern for girls and had intentions of making a women’s pattern but never got around to it until now. These two skirt patterns are so easy to make up, and better yet, you can recycle some of your clothes to do it.

Whether you want the length of the skirt to be just above the knee or mid thigh, the pattern is adaptable. The comfortable fold down yoga waistband makes it easy to get on and off and is easy to sew.

Here are a few tips when choosing fabric or recycled clothing for your skirts.

  • Large sweaters either cotton/synthetic blends or wool blends are great for the eight panel skirt.
  • Check the clearance sections for long knit skirts or dresses. They have a lot of yardage and can be used either for another skirt or the waistbands of other skirts. (Check the fabric content. If they have a high percentage of spandex, and it is a good color and quality, most likely the clearance item will be cheaper than buying fabric. Spandex fabric at the fabric store can be quite expensive and the selection is usually poor).
  • Don’t forget to check the thrift stores and yard sales for sweaters and skirts to use as fabric yardage.
  • If using sweaters, be sure to check for any holes before cutting out.
  • Try to use fabric or sweaters that are similar in weight for the same project.
  • If using wool sweaters, either felt them before sewing, or make sure you hand wash the skirt in cold water. (Shrinking the sweater before may make it too dense to use for a skirt).
  • Use your creativity to come up with some fun color and texture combinations.
  • Add trim and embellishments if you want to get real creative.

The pattern for these easy to make upcycled skirts include women sizes 2-14 and is available in my Etsy shop or Craftsy shop.

upcycled skirts
upcycled skirts
upcycled skirts
upcycled skirts
upcycled skirts

Repurposed T Shirts – Cutting Out Tips


In a previous post, I shared a few ideas of how you can use repurposed t shirts to make OTHER THINGS, upcycling, repurposing, or recycling are a few standard terms used.

I love to repurpose things and I love to sew.

When my kids were little ones, I made a lot of their clothes using some of my and my husband’s knit shirts.

Here are a few examples:

repurposed t shirts

I made this knit overall jumpsuit from an existing t-shirt, and I used a cool applique patch from another shirt. 

The red shirt was made from an adult t-shirt as well.

repurposed t shirts kolby

This jumpsuit was made from one of my cool rugby shirts. 

I loved the feel of the thick knit and couldn’t part with it, so I made something for my little boy. (now 31 years old)

repurposed t shirts allie

I made this jumpsuit using one of my sweatshirts, and the pocket on the front was from an old kit dress.

Little kids are so fun to sew for! 

Little tops and pants hardly take any fabric, so repurposing is easy and inexpensive.  Just think of all the fun things you can make. 

I have a good selection of fun patterns for babies and children here on my site or just Google and you will be surprised at how many free patterns there are out there for little kids.


repurposed t shirts skirt

I am going to show you how to easily cut out a waistband and little girl skirt using an existing adult t shirt.

If you like going to garage sales or thrift stores, watch for unique colors and prints with good-quality fabric.

Check the labels for the fabric content.  For the skirt waistband, use rib knits or any stretch fabric that has 100% stretch. Recycled shirts with a lot of spandex content work really well.

I have even purchased shirts in clothing stores that are on clearance just for the fabric.

Tip:  Get the largest size. 

The larger the size, the more fabric. 

Knit skirts and dresses are a great deal. 

The long knit dresses and skirts that are popular now are an excellent find for upcycling because they have a log of yardage in fabric. 

Look for the killer deals.  If I see a cute knit skirt or dress on clearance I watch it to hit rock bottom price like 70% off then I snatch it up and add it to my knit box.

For a cute skirt with a yoga-folded waistband, choose a shirt with some Lycra or Spandex. 

This will allow it to stretch like you need for a waistband. 

The fabric should stretch at least twice the size.  So, be sure to check the stretch.

repurposed t shirts
repurposed t shirts before

Open up the shirt or skirt and get the wrinkles out.

repurposed t shirts

Line up the bottom hem and fold the shirt so the side seams are lined up. 

The fold will be the front and back of the shirt.

repurposed t shirts

Cut off the hem using a rotary cutter or scissors.

repurposed t shirts
repurposed t shirts

Place the ruler as close to the seam as possible and at a right angle perpendicular to the hem.

repurposed t shirts cutter

To get the most fabric out of the shirt, place the ruler as high and close to the armpit as possible.  Cut at a right angle perpendicular to the fold.

repurposed t shirts

Use the fabric right away, or fold and place in your stash of knit fabrics.

How to Make Skirt from a Repurposed T Shirt

repurposed t shirts

Use the fabric right away, or fold and place in your stash of knit fabrics.

repurposed t shirts

Line up the side seams with the fold in front.

repurposed t shirts

Place the pattern piece on fold where indicated.

repurposed t shirts

This is what I had left after cutting out a skirt front & back.

repurposed t shirts

I added a little trim, and look what a skirt this made.

This simple pattern can be found here on my site, or in  Etsy.

repurposed t shirts

TIP: If the shirt has a turtle neck, cut it off.

This makes a great fabric for cuffs.

repurposed t shirts

Fabric from long sleeves also makes good cuffs.

Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More