9 Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Old T-Shirts
If your T-shirt drawer is overflowing, put the extras to good use with these fun DIYs.
No matter how many times I thin out my T-shirt drawer, I always have too many. It seems like every time you get rid of one, you somehow get another one for free, right? If you, too, are inundated with tees, try upcycling the ones you never wear into something you'll actually use. You may be surprised by how many cool things a humble T-shirt can be transformed into.
Get out your hot glue gun and dress up a plain doormat with colorful T-shirt fabric knots.
Make This: T-Shirt Rug
These lightweight produce bags are just what you need for gathering a harvest from the garden or the farmer's market. If you're not handy with a sewing machine, we've got two no-sew methods to make them.
Make This: T-Shirt Produce Bags
Turn old T-shirts into yarn, then craft up this cute hanging planter for terra cotta pots.
Make This: T-Shirt Planter
At the Beach
Bring a bit of the seaside to your garden with a collection of beach-themed planters, such as inexpensive sand buckets or other plastic beach toys. Plastic and insulated metal coolers make great containers too. You can even fill large shells with sandy growing mix and tuck small succulents into them.
Decorative or storage baskets come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors to complement any of your favorite container flowers. To help wicker and woven-wood baskets last longer, treat them to a coat of varnish or polyurethane and line them with plastic before adding the plants.
Color Your World
Recycle your old paint cans into pretty container gardens. Or buy metal paint cans at hardware stores and home centers. To dress them up, drizzle craft paint around the top rim and add some drips down the sides. Cover with a coat of polyurethane to stop the cans from rusting, or leave them untreated and enjoy the rusty, rustic look that develops within a few months.
Celebrate the guy in your life with a collection of containers that represent his favorite things. If he enjoys grilling, for instance, tuck some low-growing plants into a little hibachi, or go big by turning an old kettle grill into a mobile planter. Other fun ideas include coffeepots and mugs, animal-themed containers, toolboxes, auto accessories and sports-related items.
Give tired or tattered old hats new life as a hanging garden. Baseball hats make instant pot covers: Simply open the sizing tabs in back, slip the opening around the base of the plant and snap the tabs closed again. On straw, felt or fabric hats, cut a hole into the front or top and gently feed the plant stems through the hole.
Old or damaged kitchen-related items those you don't plan to use for cooking any longer offer endless possibilities for plant containers. Cooking pots and pans are just the start: Try colanders, cupcake tins, measuring cups or any other items meant for holding liquid or dry materials. Bundt pans and angel food cake pans make perfect planters for living wreaths.
Turn an old desk into a charming container by tucking small bushy and trailing plants into the partly opened drawers. Complete the effect by popping plants into desk accessories, such as a pencil holder, an old telephone or a small desk lamp.
Time for Tea
It's easy to get carried away collecting teapots and teacups to the point that you run out of room to display them indoors. Why not turn some of them into pretty planters? It's fine if they're chipped, or if their handles or lids are missing. Metal teakettles and tea tins can be delightful additions to the grouping.
Have a surplus of long-sleeve tees? Cut off the sleeves and transform them into cute boot socks. We embellished ours with buttons, lace, sequins and bows.
Make This: T-Shirt Boot Socks
Some T-shirts have sentimental value, so you may be hesistant to completely cut them up even if you no longer wear them. Instead, turn them into decorative throw pillows that you can display at all times. Better than hiding them in a drawer!
Make This: T-Shirt Throw Pillows
DIY T-Shirt Headbands 00:30
Watch the video above for two easy ways to make headbands out of old clothes — just cut and tie or cut and twist.
Perfect for a child's bedroom, this colorful collage headboard can showcase old sports jerseys, camp shirts and other items the kiddos have outgrown.
Make This: T-Shirt Headboard
Designer Kara Paslay made this headboard from a thin piece of stained luan for this small bedroom. She adorned the luan with spray-painted painter's tape in a geometric motif. The look is great for dorm rooms or guest bedrooms.
A do-it-yourself headboard is the best way to get a one-of-a-kind look without the cost. Designer Maureen Toribio used some wood, chalkboard paint, primer and a handmade stencil to create this whimsical headboard. The silhouette adds a youthful touch and the chalkboard allows for fun and creativity. Silhouette image courtesy of Susie Harrington of Petite Prints
A Little Corkiness
What better way to display your child's art than a corkboard? Cork is a versatile material that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Designer Kara Paslay recommends using cork flooring material because it is less costly than buying cork tiles.
Adding sparkle and texture to your bedroom doesn't have to be costly. This shining headboard was made from corrugated metal usually used for roofing purposes, and it only cost about $30. Design by Kara Paslay.
Window of Opportunity
When looking for items to decorate your bedroom, designer Jessica McKay suggests looking for pieces you already own and transforming them into something new. This headboard is made from an old paned-glass window from a barn door. It was too small for a standup mirror, but it works great as a budget-friendly headboard.
A great, simple way to personalize a standard white headboard is by using vintage textiles. In this bedroom, designer Jennifer Jones used a kilim rug down the center of the headboard to add pattern and to reference the client's love of travel.
Use a padded headboard to create a warm, comfortable feel in your bedroom. To get the look without the price, find two large cushions from a discount store and attach them to a piece of plywood covered in grass wallpaper. It has the look of luxury but won't empty your wallet. Design by Shoshana Gosselin.
When choosing a headboard, pick one bright color as your inspiration. RMS user sford used yellow, black and white pieces of fabric and old frames to create a fun, dramatic effect in her bedroom.
Designer Layla Palmer created an impressive cottage-style headboard using shutters, paint and sandpaper. The weathered look is easily created by wiping some of the paint off the brush before applying it to the shutters.
A headboard doesn't have to span the entire width of the bed. Designer Melaine Thompson painted an old round frame to match the four-poster bed then painted a piece of wood with chalkboard paint. This budget-friendly headboard allows the mind to be creative by being able to write different messages.
Designer Nicole Potter uses a two-tone, oversize plywood headboard as an inexpensive way to create warmth and drama in this room. The darker wood frames the headboard giving it a defined look. The recessed light creates a calming effect.
Give an ordinary headboard an extra flair with a little wallpaper, paint and glaze. Designer Kara Paslay used a roll of paintable wallpaper along with hanging wall decor to create this unique, inexpensive look.
White Tile Headboard
Reusing materials in unexpected ways can add a creative and budget-friendly design element to any space. Designer Nicole Potter used reclaimed tiles set in metal frames to give a checkerboard effect. Bright pillows with black bedding will help offset the cold tiles.
Make a 'Corset' T-Shirt Dress 03:54
All you need is a basic unisex T-shirt, ribbon, scissors and safety pins to make this corset-inspired dress — no sewing required!
Make This: Corset T-Shirt Dress
Natural Tie Dye
Make the blueberry dye by adding 1 cup of blueberries for every 3 cups of water. For a medium or large men's t-shirt you will need about 12 cups of water and 4 cups of berries. To enhance color you can add blackberries. Bring the berries and water to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Place t-shirt in a large bowl and strain out solids to cover with the water/dye.
Photo by Sam Henderson
Maybe you have a tee that's in pretty good shape but has a stubborn stain that can't be removed. Using berries, beets, onion skins and other fruits and veggies, you can make natural dyes to conceal your shirt's imperfections.
Make This: Natural Dye Using Fruits and Vegetables
Old Cabinet With Antique Charm
The key to upcycling is being able to see the beauty in an old, damaged piece of furniture. Erinn Valencich found an old cabinet at a flea market and repurposed it as an antique bathroom vanity, bringing a charming look to this bathroom.
Stair-Post Kid's Desk
The best part of upcycling is taking an old piece of furniture and creating a custom-made piece with new life. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn made a colorful kid's desk using old stair posts and stain-grade plywood — the perfect spot for a kid to do homework.
Upcycling can be as simple as placing a frame around an architectural object, bringing new life to it as a stunning piece of art. Here Brian framed an old barn door and placed it over the bed to create a focal point.
Don't know what to do with that small, damaged table? Brian cut a table in half and painted it a bright color to give the tiny piece a bold look.
Bookshelf Turned Kid's Play Kitchen
You would never guess that the base of this kid's play kitchen is an old bookshelf. To get the look, use a cake pan as the sink and painted wooden play blocks as the faucet. Slide playful fabric on a tension rod, and place it in the shelf opening to create a sink skirt.
Eclectic Dining Chairs
Flea markets are full of seating options, but they rarely come in sets. Brian suggests buying chairs in different styles and painting and upholstering them in the same shade and fabric. The mix-and-match chairs will bring an eclectic look, but the color will unify them.
Kids' Craft Station
The Junk Gypsies sisters created a kids' mobile craft station using an old wooden spool. They attached wooden dowels to separate the stations and screwed on jar lids underneath the top surface to hold crafting tools.
Wine Bottle Table Lamp
Lighting is one of the easiest things to upcycle. You can turn practically any hollow object into a lighting source if you wire it. The Junk Gypsies sisters turned a large vintage wine bottle into an antique-inspired table lamp.
License Plate Room Divider
Sometimes the items you collect make the perfect objects for upcycling. If you love collecting license plates, attach them to metal chains to create a vintage room divider. You can use it to divide a basement, outdoor space or studio apartment.
Piano Coffee Table
The Junk Gypsies sisters love scouring thrift shops for treasures, like this set of piano keys. They added a wooden frame and legs and topped them with a piece of plexiglass to create a coffee table that fits right in a music or theater room.
Outdoor Buffet Table
Lab Container Coffee Table
Don Short of West End Salvage used acryclic lab boxes from the '70s to make a sturdy coffee table. He stacked them in a spiral design and topped it with glass, proving you can make any unattractive object into a work of art.