Confession time: I have drawers and closets full of T-shirts that either don’t fit right, have minor stains or that I just don’t wear, for whatever reason. Second confession: I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s time to upcycle those neglected tees into useful, fun and funky home decor.
1. Graphic Gallery Wall
Shirts with great graphics are, in a way, a form of art. Turn your fab favorites into wall art that only takes a few minutes to make.
- Grab a 12″ x 12″ canvas (or a similar size large enough to show off the entire screen-printed area). A sheet of hard shipping foam or a simple square picture frame, sans glass, can be used instead.
- Set the shirt art-side down on a table, place the canvas face down atop it.
- Next, wrap the sides of the shirt around the back of the canvas, stapling (or thumbtacking) the shirt snugly in place along the back so the staples aren’t visible.
- Wrap the top and bottom of the shirt over the back and staple those as well.
- Trim away excess material, such as the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt, if necessary.
- Repeat the process with another five or so shirts and you’ve got a small gallery grouping to hang on the wall.
2. Shaggy, Raggy Rug
This clever creation is part rag rug, part shag rug – and 100 percent awesome. Old T-shirts with holes or stains are perfect for a renewed life as parts of a shag rag rug. Pick shirts of various colors for a random confetti-style design, or stick with one color family for a monochromatic look.
- Cut 10 or so T-shirts into strips approximately 6 inches long, 2 inches wide (they don’t have to be exact). Shirts made of 100 percent cotton work best and will tear into strips easily by cutting slits an inch or two up the bottom of the shirt past the hem.
- Tug a strip to tear it all the way up the shirt, then cut it off the shirt at the top.
- Use a rectangular panel cut from an XXL shirt or jersey fabric as the base for the rug, or you can use latch-hook style canvas, although this will require more T-shirt strips.
- If using a shirt or fabric for the backing, make dots in a grid every inch on the shirt, then cut the dots into 1/2-inch vertical slits, as shown here.
- Fold a T-shirt strip in half, poking one end of the strip through one hole, the other through the next hole.
- Repeat with another strip so each strip shares a hole with a neighboring strip. If you flip the rug over, all the strips touch one another.
- Keep at it until the full fabric is covered.
Congratulations, you’ve just made something stylish and useful for your home.
(For those really into latch hook kits, you could also use the hook to attach the shirt strips to the backing material latch-hook style, which will make the rug more durable in the washing machine since the strips are permanently attached.)
3. Pillow Talk
The average throw pillow: great for extra comfort on the sofa but not exactly expressive of your personality. It’s time to change that up with a DIY T-shirt pillow showing off your favorite band, sports team or motto that sums up life as you see it. And did we mention that no sewing is required?
- Make the pillow by pinning the front and back together near the edges so the front and back panels line up.
- Cut the largest square possible out of the shirt, cutting through the front and back. (The pillow needs two sides, after all.)
- Cut a two-inch square out of each corner – this shows the depth of the fringe you’ll make.
- Then, cut down to the depth of the notch every 3/4 inch or so around all four sides of the shirt to make fringe.
- Knot each piece of fringe with its neighbor around three sides of the shirt, then fill the shirt with cotton batting.
You can even repurpose the batting from another throw pillow that has seen better days. Finish knotting the fringe and voila! Custom pillow.
If you prefer to sew the pillow, forget the fringe process. Instead, flip the shirt inside out after cutting it into a basic square. Sew or hand-stitch all but the bottom end, then flip the shirt right-side out, fill it and stitch the bottom closed.
4. Quirky Quilt (or Duvet-Cover Do-Over)
Make your own quilt or a cover for an ugly comforter or duvet out of old T-shirts. It takes approximately 30 shirts to make a full-sized quilt.
- Cut the shirts into 17-inch squares, then iron fusible webbing onto the back of each panel.
- Arrange your layout, take a picture so you’ll remember it later, then sew rows of panels together, eventually stitching the rows together to make a blanket shape.
- Sew the finished top onto a fleece backing for a comfy, reversible quilt.
- Transform an ugly comforter by sewing the panels directly onto the top of the comforter, covering it entirely.
Not much into sewing? No problem – make a no-sew version by cutting fringe around each shirt panel, as you did for the throw pillow, tying the shirts to one another via the fringe. Cut slits in a fleece backing, then tie the T-shirt blanket top to the fleece. Simple and smart.
5. Awesome Ombre Wreath
Store-bought wreaths are kind of meh. Instead, transform your unwanted tees into an awesome ombre wreath nice enough to display year-round. Discount-store unprinted T-shirts and yard sale-finds are perfect for this project.
- Pick unprinted T-shirts in several shades of the same basic color, then tear them into long strips one-inch wide.
- A wire wreath form – the type with multiple wire rings – serves as the base for the wreath.
- Start with the top and tie strips of the same color into the same area along each ring of wire.
- As you work your way around the wreath, switch to gradually lighter or darker strips to create the ombre effect.
Make wreaths for each season by using different shades of shirts: red, white and blue for patriotic holidays; black, orange, white and purple for Halloween, and so on.