Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Upcycling T-shirts

Recently our Simple Living Toowoomba group was fortunate to have Jane Milburn present a workshop on finding meaning in what we wear and she showed us how to use T-shirts to make necklaces, bracelets, garden ties etc. This was just up my alley as I had kept all the free T-shirts I had been given at Curves intending to make a toothbrush rag rug out of them one day.

As well as her denim pinafores, history skirts and other clothing Jane had also brought along a crocheted cowl made from the shirt yarn which sat beautifully when she put it on and I should have asked her what pattern she used but she was too busy.

She had also made this necklace out of T-shirt yarn and I thought to myself that that would be really easy to make.

So a few days later, when I had a chance I dug out all of my Curves T-shirts and although I had done over 900 workouts it looked like I had missed out on that T-shirt before I left.

Still 800 workshops are not to be sneezed at and looking back it was probably some of the best exercise that I had done and it would really benefit me now as I am getting older but gyms aren't cheap places to go to unfortunately.

It would look better ironed but this is one of my favourites .....green and pink together of course :-)


Anyway, there was nothing for it but to get the scissors out and start cutting one inch strips across the shirt after cutting off the hem.


With this one I cut up the whole shirt as sections of the top part can be used to cover up the seams when making a necklace.

After cutting up a couple of T-shirts I realised I was going to have enough yarn to supply the whole of Toowoomba...


 ...so I just cut some of the others into strips to be used later on in the year at our Simple Living Toowoomba toothbrush rag rug workshop. Have a look here if you aren't sure what these rugs are. I usually use old cotton sheets for mine but I want to see how rugs made from T-shirts turn out. Check out Renata Rugs as she uses T-shirts for hers.


Anyway, I digress...back to the necklaces. Remember I said how easy it looked to make them? Well, I did a silly thing and I had a look on Pinterest for T-shirt yarn necklaces and now I am completely confused as to what to make as there are so many different styles on there....some are plain, some have beads, some have plaits and on it goes.  Sometimes it is easier to just decide to go with one or two styles, isn't it? It is the same with soapmaking...so many people have their own technique, recipes etc. so it is less confusing to just pick out one or two and follow along with them until you get the hang of it.

So at this stage I am still sorting out what design I will go with. Watch this space. I found an old necklace that I had pulled apart so that will feature in one of my first ones too.

While I was in the T-shirt upcycling mode I decided to put a side panel into one of my shirts which is a bit too clingy around the hips as it has shrunk recently. Ha ha! Not really. 

I did a tutorial on how this is done a while back and you can check it out here if you are interested. I promise I will trim that seam in the above photo.

This is the fabric I am using for the panels. It should go well with the pink.

Of course, you can just make T-shirt yarn with your shirts and roll it up into a big ball. There are lots of ideas here on Pinterest if you want to know how to use it up but for the moment I am going to stick to the necklaces and I will show you what I come up.

 If you have made any can you let me know what style you used? I am ready to be inspired :-)


  1. Toothbrush rugs look studier than my braided t-shirt rugs.
    Can't wait to see what type of necklace you are going to make. Pinterest has so many great ideas and can be very addictive, so I rarely go there now. :)

    1. I agree that Pinterest is addictive, Nil. There are just too many choices on there.

  2. Your beads look good against the orange of the tshirt strips, like Nil, looking forward to seeing what you make. And don't forget to show us how your tshirt with the floral panels turns out......funny how they suddenly shrink, isn't it? You certainly came away with a lot of ideas from Jane's workshop.

    1. Nanette, I will definitely show you the Tshirt (that has shrunk)when it is finished. Yes, I do like the colours of the necklace against the white, grey and orange.

  3. I look forward to seeing how your Tshirt and necklace turn out Chel.

  4. Sherri, where have you been? I have been thinking about you lately and wondered how things are going.

  5. The workshop sounds inspiring. I've had a few attempts at upcycling opshop finds which have not turned out too badly. I love the ideas for the t-shirts. I'm particularly intrigued to see the finished product when you work your magic on the 'shrunken' shirt. After two babies a few of my t-shirts have also shrunk and this could be a good way to breathe a little new life into them (finding the time to do any sewing/crafting around life with said 2 babies is another matter of course!). look forward to the show and tell.

  6. i love those curve Tshirts! they are so durable! have had mine for over two years now & they have worn a tad thin but i think they will see the year out then they go into the repurpose stash. really thick cotton too, they last an age;
    some interesting items there
    thanx for sharing


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