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Turn Old T-Shirts Into Crafts

written by: •edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 9/22/2010

Don't turn those T-shirts into rags just yet; use them for crafty projects that commemorate special moments, instead.

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    It's Hard to Say Goodbye to Treasured Old T-Shirts

    We’ve all hoarded a special T-shirt at one point or another; it’s hard to let these relics of beloved times and places go. Here are three ways to eke a little extra life out of your tattered clothes by turning them into recycled T-shirt crafts.

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    The Easiest Recycled T-shirt Craft: Frame It to Preserve Memories

    If your favorite ragged old t shirt commemorates a significant event in your life -- whether it was a special gift from a loved one, reminds you of that last wild concert you attended or bears your alma mater’s logo -- preserve those memories by framing it. Have it done professionally or, if you're feeling crafty, do it yourself. This simplest of old t shirt crafts is also a great gift to give a loved one, and a not-so-subtle way of taking that ragged shirt you're tired of looking at out of the wardrobe lineup.

    Measure the graphics to find the most appropriate frame size (the frame should be slightly larger than the portion of the graphics you want displayed.) Then cut out a piece of stiff cardboard that fits the frame, less 1/8-inch on each side.

    Lay the old shirt graphics-side down. Place the cardboard on the back of the shirt and carefully fold the shirt around it in to make a neat, frame-shaped package with the graphics centered in front of the cardboard panel. Use masking tape to secure the shirt in place on the cardboard if necessary and slide it into the frame.

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    Recycle Your Old T-shirts as Wrapping Paper

    Have you heard of wrapping gifts with the Sunday comics? Using an old T-shirt for the same purpose is a great way of recycling your favorite ragged duds into another old t-shirt craft.

    Slit the shirt up one side seam, all the way from the bottom up through the sleeve to the neck opening. Next, cut along the shoulder seam on the other side of the neck until you can open the T-shirt and lay it flat. Then wrap your present, taking care to position any logos or graphics on the T where they can be seen.

    You can also stitch the neck and sleeves of the old T-shirt closed flat (cutting the sleeves off and just stitching the openings shut is another option), tuck your gift box into the body of the shirt, then stitch along the bottom. Your gift is now all dressed up -- literally.

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    Hold a Quilting Bee With Recycled T-shirts

    Now that you know how to slit a T-shirt open while still preserving the most usable fabric, you can also upcycle old shirts into the ultimate t-shirt craft: A patchwork quilt. Cut equal-sized squares from the front and back of every shirt, making sure not to cut through any graphics, then piece them together. Alternate between blank and logo / graphics squares, or create a panel full of themed logos for the enthusiast in your life. You can collage sports-related shirts for the sports fan, anime shirts for the anime fan, and so on.

    This is the most skill-intensive of these old t-shirt crafts. If you're a crafty soul and want to tackle something just a little more complicated, click here.