How To Recycle Old T-shirts Into New: Redesign Ideas For 40+ – Eco Fashion Sewing

How To Recycle Old T-shirts Into New: Redesign Ideas For 40+

How to recycle old T-shirts into new, especially those old favourites of yours, could involve different things.

Soft, comfortable and cotton, these hidden treasures in your wardrobe can absolutely make your body shine again. In a surprising new light. Even when you think you moved on to a lifestyle which kind of feels like you've outgrown them.

I remember my wardrobe full of T-shirs. Easy to grab and dress up in new colour for the day. Because the most important back then was everything else but how I did look. Anythings was going to do the job back then. And T-shirs were just an easy wear.

Fast forwarding years, even though I donated some faves (and later regretting doing so) now I still keep some of my favourite T-s. Some I reworked and you get how exactly in this episode 13 of the Art of Refashioning.

How to recycle old T-shirts into new

Where To Start

If you still keep those faves, then here you’ll find ideas how to rework them so that make your 40+ body shine. I share examples explaining how to make it work for you.

Unflattering cap sleeves, tight on the tummy, or too short. There is a creative solution (and often simple too) for every flaw.

Often the hardest part of the process is to find what idea would work best for your lifestyle and taste for clothing. Regardless the taste though, which is quite normal to be different for every one of us, it is good to keep in mind my successful formula  (explained in this episode on the podcast).

‘Use what you have, do what you can, make what you love.’

This is definitely true when it comes to refashioning T-shirts, too. Your now not so flattering fitted faves could become beautiful unique new pieces in your wardrobe!

Exactly How To Recycle Old T-shirts Into New

The good part of when figuring out how to recycle old T-shirts into new is that you are your own client. You know what you like, what suits you best, and how you want to show to the world.

Hence, if there is one single piece of advice I have to pick is this: make sure, as much as possible at this first stage of figuring out your idea, that you love it! If you don't, most probably you won't love it later, too.

That is why 'Make what you love’ is important part of your successful formula. So, make sure you give it proper attention and time, and don’t rush simply by copying whatever idea grab you initially. Make sure you feel it suits and reflects your wants and desire how you want to look.

If you need more, subscribe to get a copy of the 'Clothes Upcycling Starter Kit'. There I explain in details more about refashioning, the process, examples, upcycling techniques and great inspiration to get you started.

EP 13: Redesigning Your T-shirts: Inspiration & Ideas for 40+

How to recycle (a.k.a. upcycle), how to make the design work, what details, where - it is all there. Plus, some good tips and books on sewing knitted fabrics (or knits for short). I hope you'll find it inspiring and helpful.

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Listen to this episode:

Or listen on the podcast page HERE.

Some Highlights Inside This Episode:

[2:30] Some essential resources to help you start refashioning. Quick overview what is included in this episode.

[4:35] Why you should rework your old T-shirts.

[6:15] Easy care tips to make T-shirts last longer.

[8:15] Questions to consider and two initial direction or strategies when thinking how to recycle old T-shirts into new.

[10:40] Tips on how to strengthen the material if you’re adding embellishment or similar.

[11:10] Other ways and ideas, including example of the distinctive applique that Alabama Studio use to create their unique artwear.

[12:40] Few other ideas for how to change the surface of the material while keeping the garment more or less intact.

[15:55] Some examples of quick projects that change the look of a T-shirt with materials at hand.

[17:30] Two more books on how to recycle old T-shirts into new styles and how to use them when over 40.

[18:50] Three examples of more creative upcycling approach that suit better mature body types. Plus, some insights about the creative process.

 [23:10] A couple of books that offer great coverage of the essentials around working with knitted fabrics in general (plus my tip for vintage books).

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Rate, Review & Subscribe On Apple Podcasts:

If you love the conversation, please consider writing a review and rating the show. Podcasts are great way to get the word out to others who want to make change by buying second hand and/or refashioning.

Your actions will help me reaching out more people and helping them learn the ins and outs of refashioning. The ultimate goal: the more we are, the more valuable textiles saved from being wasted!

Go to the show page here and click “Listen on Apple Podcasts”. In iTunes then select the “Ratings and Reviews” tab à click 5 stars to rate and select “Write a Review”. Make sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

If you haven’t done so yet, subscribe to the podcast. It will secure you never miss out, including the free downloads which I’m adding to some of the episodes. Subscribe here.

Other Podcast Episodes Mentioned In This Episode:

Links & Projects Mentioned In This Episode:

T-shirt refashion with lace

How to upcycle men’s shirts into women’s pants (purple T-shirt)

NOTE: Some of the projects mentioned are new so yet to be separately published.

Websites Mentioned In This Episode:

Jane Milburn’s website Textile Beat and her amazing Slow Clothing Project that gathered over 40 makers across Australia in 2016 promoting the Slow Clothing Philosophy as opposed to fast fashion.

Books Mentioned In This Episode:

Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns by Natalie Chanin, 2015

Generation T, 108 ways to transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay, 2006

T-shirt Makeovers: 20 transformations for fabulous fashions by Sistahs Of Harlem, Carmia Marshall and Carmen Webber, 2006

A beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward, 2018

Tilly and the Buttons Stretch by Tilly Walnes, 2018

Space Age Sewing with Knit and Stretch Fabrics, Course 1 and 2, by Beverly Sharp, approx. 1976 and onward

What's Next

Now, do you think you could find some old T-shirt you’d like to try turning into something more flattering? Time to check the back of your wardrobe or your clothing stash, as I call clothes with good potential you've collected over the years.

Hopefully the examples and book resources will help you decide on how to recycle old T-shirts into new. Let me know. I’d love you to tag me on social and share your ideas or, even better, your creations :)

Happy refashioning

Mariana x

Mariana Kirova

Mariana is passionate about garment upcycling and helping others making their own upcycled clothing. Graduated with Award in garment construction from WAIFT, Perth WA, Mariana is not a main stream eco fashion designer. She makes unique eco-friendly garments from unwanted clothes and materials and believes that small fashion professionals and DIY sewers can embrace sustainability in garment creation, thus changing the fashion world for good.