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8 Ways to Recycle Your Old Custom T-Shirts

People wearing a green recycled tshirt.

When you create your own T-shirt, you want to keep it as a treasured part of your wardrobe for as long as possible. However, there may come a time when your favourites are no longer wearable or you decide the style just isn’t for you.

Don’t toss those custom printed T-shirts! Consider re-purposing them instead. You don’t have to be a master at crafts to transform a tee into a unique keepsake with one of these fun projects.

1 - Take It to the Market

Scissors and fabric glue are all it takes to turn a shirt into a produce bag. Grab a shirt and cut out your desired bag shape, including an arch at the top for the handles.

Turn it inside out and apply fabric glue along the bottom edge.

Once it’s dry, simply cut a handle slit near the top and a few more in the body of the bag to act as vents.

Scissor and glue to be used for turning tshirts into a bag

2 - Make It Strappy

Any customized shirt can be reborn as a tank top with a few quick steps. Use a tank you love as your pattern to mark out the right places to cut and double-check your marks before breaking out the scissors. Reinforce the cut edges with basic stitching and step out in style.

3 - Be Stuffy

Do your kids have customized T-shirts they want to keep but have outgrown?

Making a stuffed animal is a perfect way to preserve those memories.

Have your child pick out a pattern big enough to show off the custom design and get some soft polyfill for stuffing to create a new friend from an old tee.

Stuffed Teddy Bear with old recycled tshirts

4 - Strut Your Skirt Style

Making skirts is another great way to recycle your kids’ favourite tees. It’s a quick project you can do even if you’re short on time, and it can also double as a sewing lesson for your child.

All you have to do is cut the top off a tee to remove the collar and sleeves, fold the cut edge over and sew a seam with enough space to insert elastic for the waistband. When the elastic is in, your child can pair her new skirt with some tights and show off her style to the world.

5 - Ladder It

Making a ladder-back shirt is a great no-sew project for summer. These breezy printed shirts are perfect for wearing to the gym or layering over your favourite tank tops.

Lay your custom shirt of choice out flat with the back facing up, and either mark out lines to follow or cut freehand. Roll the resulting strips between your fingers to turn them into thin "rungs," and pull them down in a ladder design to complete the style.

6 - Cuddle Up

Who needs pricey throw pillows when you can make some one-of-a-kind accents for your home out of your favourite custom tees? With a pillow form, a pair of scissors and a sewing machine, your shirts become cozy works of art you can snuggle up to anytime.

7 - Showcase Artistic Walls

If you’re more into the kind of art you can hang up, why not make something funky to adorn your walls? Head to a local arts-and-crafts store and find pieces of canvas in the right sizes to show off the artwork or slogans on your printed shirts. Cut the shirts large enough to fit over the canvas and fold around the edges.

A girl customizing a Pillow with her old tshirts

Secure the fabric to the back side with a staple gun. You can frame the finished canvas or put it on your wall as-is.

8 - Get Crafty With Panels

What do you do when you have so many customized shirts that you can’t possibly decide how to recycle them all? Turn them into squares for a stylish scarf or quilt. Gather up all the tees you no longer wear and those with irreparable rips, holes and stains anywhere but on the main design.

Cut the custom logo or slogan out of each shirt, creating squares you can sew together later. If you’re not adept with a sewing machine, find a friend or family member who’s willing to assemble your collection of panels into a distinctive memento.

A girl wearing a green recycled tshirt

Try any or all of these projects with your old custom clothing, and don’t be afraid to experiment to make them your own.