Clever Ways You Should Use Your Old T-Shirts Around Your Home & Garden

T-shirts accumulate quickly — a travel souvenir here, a concert memento there. Then, there are those packs of 10 undershirts for a bargain price during Black Friday sales. Suddenly, after years and years of purchases, your closet and drawers are overflowing with shirts you never wear. While you could donate those that are still in good condition to the thrift store, they won't want your shabby sweat-stained pieces, and you may not be ready to part with the memories some of those clothing items represent. So, what's the answer? Upcycling! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to repurpose your old t-shirts around your home and garden.

Certainly, those used-to-be-white cotton tees make excellent cleaning rags, but what are you going to do with that 1994 Motley Crew shirt from your college days? You cannot just throw it away. Although there's a market for vintage concert t-shirts, it's unlikely anyone will be interested in your "My mom went to Daytona Beach and all she brought back was this shirt" tee. Free up storage space in your closets while giving your t-shirts a new lease on life with these ideas.

Memory quilt

Clear your closet and condense your memories by making a cozy memory quilt featuring all your cool screen-printed shirts. Whether you're an avid traveler, music enthusiast, or just like quirky shirts, you can cut large squares from each tee and sew them together. With this simple sewing craft, you can literally wrap yourself in warm memories during the winter. Simply cut squares out of your shirts, then attach them together in a collage pattern. Even if you don't sew, there are services that allow you to send them your shirts, and they will make a quilt for you.

Plant hangers

If you have an excess of plain t-shirts, you can turn them into macrame-style plant hangers that are perfect for trailing plants like ivy and pothos. The stretchy-yet-sturdy weave of jersey knit makes it a very versatile material that will not unravel when cut. To make these, cut your shirt into eight long strips, then tie them altogether in a large knot near the bottom. Tie pairs together about 2 inches above the knot. Next, take one fabric strip from a pair and tie it to one piece from another pair, about 2 inches above the previous knots. You can then tie them altogether in another large knot.

Pet bed

Your pet loves you and that means they also love your smell. Provide an extra level of comfort for them by making a soft bed out of some of your old tees. This is an excellent idea if you have a pooch who deals with separation anxiety — while you're at work, your furry friend will have your smell to comfort them. To create this, cut out squares of your favorite shirts with both the front and back and sew them together on the edges. Before you close off the edge completely, fill the piece with fluff, then finish sewing.

Tying up plants

Do you know who doesn't mind stinky, old, worn-out t-shirts? Plants. The breathable fabric used in jersey knit shirts makes this material a good option for tying up wayward plants both indoors and out. All you need to do is tear your old shirts into short strips, about an inch wide and 6 inches long. Keep them on hand to support your tomato plants by securing them to their cages or posts. You can also use strips of t-shirts to train houseplants up a moss pole or other small trellis.


Sure, you can buy jersey knit pillowcases, but why not embrace the "waste not, want not" mentality and make your own? We love t-shirts because they can get softer with each wash. Naturally, a well-broken-in tee would feel extra comfy, and natural fibers like 100% cotton do not retain heat like many synthetics, so they could keep you cool. To make a pillowcase for your bed or throw pillow cover for your couch, cut two pieces out of your shirt that are slightly larger than your pillow. Sew around the edges, leaving one side for a zipper or button enclosure, and place your pillow inside. 

Rag rug

There was a time when homesteaders let nothing go to waste. They wore their clothes until they were only suitable for rags, and sometimes they used those rags to make a rug. With a little crafting skill, you can keep your ratty t-shirts out of the landfill by turning them into a rag rug. The great thing about this process is that you can combine many colors to make a bright, functional, and completely-free rug. To make this, cut your shirts into long, thin strips, then braid them together and wind the coil up into a spiral. Finally, you can sew the pieces together so it stays in place.


Gardeners and farmers have used scarecrows in their gardens for ages to try to keep birds from eating their crops. Now, we see scarecrows in fun fall decor, and they can be made with old clothes. For this project, you'll need to build a frame, collect some burlap for the face, and dress your scarecrow in an old t-shirt. Fill the shirt with straw, tying the bottom of the shirt and the end of the sleeves shut with twine. Finally, get creative with other accessories you might have in the donation pile like jeans, hats, gloves, and scarves.

Produce bags

Skip the plastic by bringing your own custom produce bag to the market. This fabric option is actually better than plastic because it allows your fruits and vegetables to breathe while also absorbing moisture. When it's dirty, just toss it in the washing machine. Make a simple bag by cutting the neck and arms off of your old t-shirt. Sew the bottom together, and cut slits for handles at the top as well as some throughout the torso of the shirt to allow for airflow.

Throw pillows

If you've got a grease stain or a hole in one of your favorite t-shirts, keep the cool design by turning it into a throw pillow. A collection of superhero shirts or your favorite sports teams would add a fun punch of color to a family room or wherever you like to relax. To make them without sewing, cut two of the same size pieces of fabric out of your shirt, then cut 4-inch squares out of each of the corners. Next, slice 1-inch wide and 4-inch long slits around the edges and tie them together after filling it with stuffing.

Vertical herb garden

If you want to make some extra room to grow herbs in a tight space, you can turn your old t-shirts into a vertical herb garden. This project will also require sturdy backing fabric, like shade cloth. While you can also make the pockets out of that material, you can add color and interest by using 100% cotton t-shirts instead. To create this, cut your t-shirts into small squares for the pockets, then sew them onto the fabric in rows and place your plants inside.