Not all of the ideas in this are mine, so there are a few links in this post – be warned, you may end up spending a couple of hours wombling round thrifty idea-mines πŸ˜‰

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Before you cut a Tshirt up, look closely at it. Is it faded/dull or truly worn out? If the colour is off, but the surface has no pills, holes or anti-perspirant stains, maybe you could dye it? If you seem to accumulate band/ charity/ slogan tees in white that goes scrubby, this may be enough. Home dying is easy if you have a washing machine, and if you have a large pan and use things like onionskins, you can try stovetop dying πŸ˜‰

These projects are suitable for second-lifing most states of Tshirt:

T shirt to tote:

T shirt to gym kit or shoe bag: cut the neck and sleeves off, and any stained area under the arms, run a line of stitching around the edge and then fold it in, making a deep hem/tube at least 2″/5cm deep. Cut the sleeves into a longΒ  spiralling strip and crochet/plait it to make it stronger, then use it as the draw string. To ease the string through the tube, put a safety pin through one end of the string so you can feel it as you tug it through πŸ˜‰

in the garden: ‘beefsteak’ tomato and pumpkin slings, soft garden ties

for pets: make knotted bundles for dog pull toys, crocheted snakes for cats

make pet beds from your old Tshirts, they find the smell comforting if you need to take them to stay elsewhere, particularly the vets to stay overnight, it really helps them stay calm

round the house: band/message Tees can makeΒ  cushion covers for sofa or hard kitchen chairs/ memory quilts for bed or sofa

homemade dryer sheets:


decorations/ bunting: any fabric will do for bunting, and you can always cut the motifs/words etc out to make a feature of them, or cut shapes, or make tassels to hang between every few triangles.

garlands: make crochet/ fingerknitting chains from the yarn and then ‘chain the chain’ to make chunky/ fluffy garlands. If you twist different colours together and tie with contrasting colours you can really make something from nothing πŸ˜‰ I’ll do a tutorial on this when I have someone to photograph me!


draught excluders for the doors/windows – make long sausages from the sleeves and across the torso, stitch the neck together and stuff with rolled up scrubby shirts or plastic bags or newspapers

hand warmers/ heat pads: make little pouches and fill them with raw rice and a drop of aromatherapy oil, microwave for a minute to make soothing pads for sore hands, make larger neck pouches etc

baby wipes: keep a stack of squares to hand and mop off the baby as necessary, chuck in the washer, repeat πŸ˜‰

make yarn.: cut the hem off a clean T shirt and spiral up and across so that you make one very long thread for as long as you can, perhaps 2cm/a scant inch across. As the pieces get shorter, wind them in a separate ball to use in rugs

what to do with the yarn:

knit pot holders and mugrugs/coasters/hot mats for pans/oven ware on the table

crochet it into simple chains and stitch it in a spiral to make round mats – use strong waxed thread and a really sharp needle!

hooky/proggy/clippy rugs – these are very traditional in the mining areas of Britain, and are a great way to use old fabric and hessian sacks. Clippy rugs can use a scrap of fabric the size of your thumb and made with T shirt fabric are super soft and cosy bedside rugs.

this is a Yorkshire version ( I know the Northumbrian style, where the hooks and proggers were made of bullet casings, filched from Vickers Armstrong munitions πŸ˜‰ though I also had a hook with a metal door knob as the handle, but a dolly peg, with one leg cut off and everything sanded down smooth is fine and much more child safe.)

Make sure you use ‘soft’ hessian, or for a really easy run, use rug canvas, particularly if you want to avoid overworking your hands and wrists.

An interesting story I was told in a community rug making workshop was that in one old man’s family on Christmas Eve, the new rug went in front of the fire, every rug moved round the house, and the oldest and shabbiest went on the compost heap to keep the compost turning over quicker in the winter πŸ˜‰ Also, your name was in a queue at the coop to get the next sugar sack, as they were the best size for a big rug πŸ™‚

weave rugs on a hula hoop/frame:

which I’m adapting to suit what I have πŸ˜‰ I’m sure Anne of flax and twine would be happy with that πŸ˜‰ she uses one Tshirt for the spokes, but you can use a lot of Tees if you cut them into yarn πŸ˜‰

And after all that, I’m now off to lie in a darkened room πŸ˜‰