What to Do with Old T-Shirts: 12 Upcycling Ideas

Got an old Steel City tee that's seen its fair share of gigs, game days, and garage work? Before you think about tossing it, let’s talk upcycling. It’s like giving your favorite shirt a second life, and let's be honest, we all love a good comeback story. 

Stick around, and we’ll show you how to turn those worn-out tees into something surprisingly cool.

Why Upcycle Your Old T-Shirts?

Upcycling isn't just for the crafty folks — it's for anyone wanting to make a difference, one t-shirt at a time. 

Here’s why it’s worth rolling up your sleeves:

  • Cut Down on Waste: Each shirt you upcycle means one less item in the landfill. It’s a small step with a big impact on our planet.
  • Spark Your Creativity: There’s a certain thrill in turning a worn-out tee into something unique. It’s about putting a personal stamp on your stuff.
  • Save Your Cash: Skip the store and save some bucks. Upcycling uses what you already own to create epic, new pieces.
  • Keep the Memories Alive: That old concert tee or road trip souvenir? Keep those memories going in a new form instead of letting them gather dust.

How To Upcycle Your Old Tees

Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks. Here are 12 great ways to flip those old tees into something fresh. Let’s squeeze more life out of every thread.

1. The Classic T-Shirt Tote

Grab that tee you caught at your first major league game. Snip off the sleeves, cut out the neckline to make a handle, then flip it inside out and stitch the bottom shut — and you’ve got yourself a tote that’s perfect for hauling your Steel City Logo Strapback Hat to the park or gym. Easy, useful, and still filled with memories.

2. No-Sew Pillow Sham

Got a t-shirt that’s too cool to trash but not fitting right anymore? 

Wrap it around an old pillow for a new look in your chill space. Just tuck the fabric into itself neatly, no stitching required. It’s an easy way to keep that beloved graphic front and center on your couch. 

3. Braided Bracelets

Cut up those old tees into strips, braid them tight, and tie off the ends to make your own handcrafted bracelets. They're straightforward, look cool, and keep bits of your favorite memories at hand.

4. Custom Shoelaces

Give your shoes a personal twist with custom shoelaces. 

Cut strips out of those tees you can't bear to throw away, and lace them through your sneakers. It’s a crafty way to inject a bit of your past into today’s look, making your everyday footwear a bit more unique.

5. Wall Art 

That tee with the concert tour dates from the best night of your life can easily be turned into some cool wall art. Just stretch it over a frame, staple it tight, and hang it up for an instant piece of decor.

6. Kitchen Rags

Old t-shirts also make excellent cleaning cloths. Cut them into squares and use them for wiping down counters or cleaning up spills — they’re super absorbent, and you can just toss them in the wash when they’re dirty, making them a great sustainable alternative to paper towels.

7. Pet Bed

Stitch together those larger, worn-out tees, pack them with soft old clothes or fabrics, and voila — a cozy, homemade bed for your furry friend. It's an easy, eco-friendly way to keep your furry friend comfy and make use of those tees that are too loved to lose.

8. T-Shirt Yarn

Turn those old tees into something surprisingly useful — yarn. 

Just cut your shirts into strips, stretch them out, and twist them into balls of yarn. Ready for knitting or crocheting whatever strikes your fancy, from chunky mats to cozy hats.

9. T-Shirt Coasters

Grab a couple of those thicker tees and cut them into circles or squares. Stack a few layers, sew around the edges, and you've got some nifty coasters. They're great for soaking up drink condensation and adding a casual vibe to your coffee table.

10. T-Shirt Scrunchies

Fashion’s a cycle, right? Cut strips from your softest tees, fold them over some elastic bands, and stitch them up. You get a bunch of cool, colorful scrunchies that are gentle on your hair and on your wallet.

11. Hanging Herb Garden

Turn those old tees into hanging herb pouches. Cut the fabric into rectangles, stitch up the sides, fill it with soil, and plant some herbs. It’s a neat way to keep fresh flavors at your fingertips — hang them by the kitchen window or out on the porch. This method is super simple and useful, and it keeps your greens just a reach away.

12. T-Shirt Memory Board

Last but not least, grab one of your old picture frames or some poster board and stretch a tee across it, securing the fabric at the back. This setup is perfect for pinning photos, tickets from epic games, and other keepsakes, making it a living tribute to your adventures. 

Just like our tees, it's all about celebrating those great memories and the stories they tell.

The Wrap Up

There you have it — 12 stellar ways to keep your old tees out of the trash and turn them into something totally new. Whether it’s crafting a handy tote, whipping up some comfy pet beds, or even stitching together a memory board, each project offers a chance to hold onto the stories those shirts tell. 

At Steel City, it’s not just about making clothes; it’s about creating connections, sharing stories, and celebrating the spirit of the Steel City itself. So grab those tees and get to crafting. After all, every old shirt has a tale to tell, and we’re all about keeping those tales alive and kicking.


What is upcycling? | Habitat for Humanity

The cycle of fashion | The Merionite

Eco-friendly Lifestyle: Benefits for You and the Environment | Airly WP

What is Sustainability? | UCLA

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