Adventures in crafting home décor: T-shirt edition


rolled-up colorful T-shirts

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I’m willing to bet you have some extra T-shirts lying around. Old, stained, ripped, unwearable. As you get further into spring cleaning mode, you will probably find even more of these poor unfortunate souls: promotional tees, gym class relics, impulse buys from the clearance rack at Target.

But if you think of your spring cleaning as a treasure hunt, you will be thrilled with your bounty of T-shirts. It’s time to get crafty and repurpose those tees, using the following tutorials as your guides. Remember, crafting is all about trial and error, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Read on and see how I tackled some of my own crafting conundrums.


Bowls of fun

I love decorative bowls. They're great for storing random pocket change, keys, jewelry and other assorted trinkets. When I found this brilliant tutorial for neon coil bowls by Lisa from We Are Scout, I kind of fell in love. A little sewing know-how helps with this project, but once you get the hang of a blanket stitch, you are good to go. I love the look of the neon cord that Lisa used, but I am all about using what you have. So I went with some neon friendship bracelet thread I unearthed in a massive closet purge. If you’re using a thinner thread, such as the one I used, double it up before sewing and make a tighter blanket stitch coil until you’ve established a base. As you distance the stitches, the walls of your bowl will form naturally, something I discovered on my first bowl attempt as my T-shirt scraps and thread curved into a teeny-tiny vessel that now houses my collection of Lush Gorilla Perfume samples. As for my larger bowl, I love the weirdness that came about from trying different techniques as I went along. I’m so excited about making more of them — a collection of color block coil bowls are definitely in my future.

Photo by Jessica Mendez


Spring cleaning cloths

T-shirts are the best cleaning rags; growing up, there was always a bag full of cut-up tees in the cleaning cabinet. I’m tired of wasting paper towels, so I’m going back to my T-shirt roots. Just because you’re recycling an old tee to clean doesn’t mean you can’t make it look a little bit special. Ms. Sews-It-All is helping us break our collective paper towel addiction by teaching us how to sew reusable cleaning cloths out of old T-shirts. No sewing machine? No worries. If you are comfortable with hand-sewing, you can still stitch a few of these up in an hour. I actually find hand-sewing very soothing. If you choose to sew these by hand, I suggest you cut your tee just under the arms, keeping the sides of your T-shirt intact. Then, cut the rectangle in half. Now each of your cleansing cloths already has a finished edge. I got rid of the hem, as is directed in the tutorial, and my hand-sewing was very smooth.

Photo by Jessica Mendez


Rad rug

An area rug always adds interest to a room with color and texture. Artist and performer Molly Kay Stoltz has created a detailed tutorial that demonstrates how to turn ugly tees you never wear anymore — thanks, early 2000’s graphic print trend! — and old fabric scraps into a totally adorable shag rug for any room in your home. If you can use scissors, you can make this rug, but take your time. I cut up some faded tees and a foil print monstrosity I had lying around, and within minutes, I felt like a kid weaving potholders on a rainy day. Then, I hit a crafting wall when my scraps began falling out of the holes. Pro-tip: don’t think larger holes will make this project any easier. If you find yourself getting frustrated with a project, put it aside for a bit, then read the directions again and examine the pictures. I followed these steps and continued, and my new work-in-progress looks a lot more promising. I’m finding it helpful to use a self-healing cutting mat and align the holes that I am gently poking into the fabric with the previous row of holes as I weave. Please, use caution when poking the holes into the tee! The cutting mat is great for stability and safety while cutting. I also shake out the rug after weaving every scrap to make sure the rug is taking shape.

Photo by Jessica Mendez


Take every error as a learning experience and an opportunity to strengthen your crafty skills. These projects are a lot of fun, and I hope you attempt to make some treasures of your own. Let us know how your projects turn out!