Clear Out Those T-Shirt Drawers with Some Easy Summer Projects

DIY GeekMom
Turn old T-Shirts into easy afternoon projects. All images: Lisa Tate

Each summer we clean out the closets and drawer to give away everything outgrown, worn-out or otherwise forgotten. The majority of clothes we’ve accumulated over the years are t-shirts.

T-shirts flow into our home as gifts, giveaways, and “required uniforms” for camps or school events. In a few cases, we feel hesitant to give away a shirt that is too small or too worn to wear because we have a sentimental or geeky attachment to the design.

July is often the time when the summer boredom can set in, and we’re looking for some lazy afternoon projects. When the summer restlessness and clutter collide, here are three kid-friendly projects to upcycle old those old t-shirts:

Novelty Throw Pillows


This is one of the easiest ways for kids to keep a favorite t-shirt that doesn’t fit anymore.

First, flatten out the t-shirt and cut out the area where the image is, as well as the back of the shirt.

Turn the images so they are facing the piece from the back of the shirt, and sew around the edges, leaving about a three-inch opening. The quickest way to do this is with a sewing machine, but some might want to hand stitch around the edges.

You can also make a no-sew version by clipping the design around the edges little fringe strips about a half-inch wide and tying the front and back images together. This one is fun for younger crafters as you don’t have to sew or turn the shirt inside out to do this, but sure to cut extra space around the design to avoid cutting into the image.

Cut out the design area on a t-shirt to make a simple throw pillow by sewing or tying the edges.

You can stuff the pillow with the excess t-shirt material, but polyester fiberfill is much softer. Once stuffed, sew or tie up the opening.

Wall Art


Another way to display a favorite design is to make some easy wall art.

In addition to the t-shirt, you’ll need about a one-inch thick piece of Styrofoam like those that come packed with electronics, cut it into a square or rectangle a little bigger than design on the shirt.

Place it over the design on the shirt and cut around the design out with about two inches longer than the Styrofoam on all sides.

Attach the t-shirt to the board by pulling the excess shirt around the edges of the Styrofoam and attaching it around the edges with several metal brads found with office or school supplies. You can push the brad through the shirt without having to cut any slits. Don’t pull too tight, or you’ll risk breaking the Styrofoam board.

Fold a t-shirt design around a Styrofoam base and attach it around the edges with metal brads for easy wall art.

To hang it, simply dig a small dent in the back of the board and hanging on the wall over a pushpin or small nail.

If you want a sturdier piece, you can use a piece of wood keep it in place with upholstery tacks instead of brads..

Beach Bag


These look good with both plain or patterned tees, and are really easy to make.

Cut off the bottom half of a t-shirt, and turn it inside out. Sew the cut-off edge, and turn it right side out. This creates a pouch. The bottom edge of the t-shirt is already hemmed, so that makes it easy.

Cut the bottom off a t-shirt and sew along the cut-off edge to make simple pouch.

To make the strap or handle, cut several small strips from the remaining t-shirt. Tie the ends together to make loops, Cut a small slit one end of the pouch and thread one of the loops in it, bringing the ends together. Pull another loop through the ends, and fold it up as well. Repeat this until to you get a strap as long as you want it.

To finish it off, cut the small slit in the other side of the pouch, and tie bring the final loop through it. Tie the ends together in a tight knot.

Excess t-shirt material can be made into little loops to create an strap.

These work well for carrying towel and a book to an outing, and they also make good bags for yarn or other craft supplies.

All of these projects are quick and easy enough for kids can make a few of these in the summer to have on hand for upcoming gift giving needs as well.

It always feels good to give kids a sense of accomplishment during the downtime as well as clean out the old t-shirt drawer at the same time.

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