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What’s Old Is New: How To Upcycle Your Old T-Shirts


January 20, 2020

Everyone has that drawer, closet corner, or random repository for old t-shirts. Old band shirts, complimentary event tees, your old high school homecoming shirts; they’re all there. They pile up, take up valuable space, and you haven’t worn any of them in years–save for some off-the-bench game play during laundry day. Let’s be proactive and make use of those old pieces of nostalgia! Here are 12 ways to upcycle an old t-shirt.

We’ll begin with the basics.


Do you have any light or white t-shirts that you never use? Give them new life with a fun makeover. If you’ve ever tie-dyed before, you know the drill. If you haven’t, it’s a good excuse to learn something new for future crafty projects (you can tie-dye just about anything!). Check out the Youtube video above for step-by-step instructions, including what materials you’ll need

Cut It Up

DIY tank top

This next option requires you to be handy with a pair of scissors. Even if you aren’t, the projects I’m going to recommend are pretty forgiving, so don’t worry too much about exactness and skill level. A quick Pinterest search returns a bunch of possible projects for how to cut up a t-shirt and give it new life, but here are our favorites for beginners and experienced pros, alike:

Sleeves Schmeeves

DIY Cut-Off Sleeves

…Especially in the summer, right? Whether you want to make them more fancy, or get rid of them altogether, there are a few different ways to get rid of those pesky pieces of fabric:

  • Rip them off. Or, cut them off, if that proves to be difficult. You’ll have a super casual look that’s perfect for the warm weather. Just make sure they’re even. If you want to make sure your cuts are going to be even, use a pen, marker (and cut inside the line), or an invisible ink pen to draw some guide lines.
  • Roll ’em up. Maybe you’re not willing to cut up a t-shirt, and that’s okay–you don’t need to. Instead, just roll your sleeves up for a similar effect! One or two cuffs is a popular look right now for more baggy t-shirts, but a full roll-up is a classic tweak that never goes out of style.
  • Add ribbon. After rolling your sleeves, tie the ribbon on both sides between the sleeve and neck holes. This will create a sporty, yet effeminate look that’ll help keep you cool on those hot summer days!


If Your T-Shirt Is Too Big

How to wear a large shirt

One of the biggest reasons t-shirts end up at the bottom of a drawer or in the “Corner of Lost T-Shirts”  is that they’re just too big. You keep them around because you think that one day, just maybe, you’ll have a reason to toss that old 3x Poison 1987 tour t-shirt on and go wild in the streets! Just in case that occasion ever presents itself, here are some tips to make use of those too-big t-shirts and turn them into a fun and stylish outfit:

  • Wear the shirt with leggings.
  • Use it as a nighttime shirt. Ok this one isn’t exactly an outfit, but if it’s laundry day, this can be useful!
  • Tuck it into pants or shorts and wear a thick belt

Add Your Own Style

Blazer and t-shirt combination

My final tips for you revolve around the pieces you already have in your wardrobe. Use what you have, and your own unique style, to turn an old shirt into a fashion statement:

  • Pair your old t-shirt with a chunky necklace with the option of tucking it into a skirt. Hello, street style!
  • Wear a nice blazer or button down over your t-shirt. Both will create a completely different feel, but will bring new life to an old shirt.

This list represents just a few of many options you have when you’re trying to style an old t-shirt. There are unlimited more options when you consider what you can make with an old t-shirt. So don’t let those shirts take up space in the back of your closet, gathering dust. Give them a purpose and let them work for your and your wardrobe!



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