Reuse Old Clothing

by Kelsey Norwood

in Crafts

Old clothing can be used for more than just rags. Here are some things you can make from old jeans and t-shirts.

T-Shirt Grocery Bag

t-shirt grocery bag tshirt
We have so many t-shirts that we don’t wear, so I decided to make some grocery/tote bags out of them. They’re not the most beautiful things in the world, but if I can put those old t-shirts to use I don’t care how they look.

Cotton knit t-shirts are great to use because raw edges don’t unravel so you don’t have to worry about finishing the edges. And they make pretty large bags, so you can carry lots of stuff. The fabric is strong so you can carry heavy things without worrying about the bottom ripping out like a plastic bag would.

T-shirt bags are especially great to use as at the library, the grocery store, the pool, while traveling, ANYTHING!! Watch a quick video demonstration below or Click here to learn how to make your own fabric grocery/tote bags.

Jean Hot Pads

reuse old jeans hot pad

I’m guest posting on Make & Takes today, and my post teaches you how to make these cute and easy jean hot pads. Visit Make & Takes for the tutorial.

Jean Quiet Book Cover

quiet bookhand made quiet book

I made Joel a quiet book for church a few weeks ago and instead of using regular cotton for the cover I used jean scraps. I wanted the book to be heavier, and the jeans created just the result I wanted. I used the Simplicity pattern #3709 – I made some changes and did a few things differently, but overall it was a good pattern.

I also included a pocket on the inside cover for miscellaneous pieces. Sometimes putting things in the pocket is way more fun than the actual pages…

Jean Quilt

jean quilt

I made this quilt in high school for my Young Women’s project at church. The white squares used to be blue – I bleached them so I could have rows of white, dark blue, and light blue. I love this quilt because it’s heavy and warm, and it’s the first quilt I ever made. Jeans are perfect for making quilts, especially quilts for camping or for keeping in the car for emergencies.

You could also make wallets, tote bags, and toys out of old jeans. The possibilities for reusing old clothing are endless. Instead of throwing things out, try to reuse them!


1 Jeri July 29, 2008 at 6:02 am

The hot pads are SO cute! And we have a million old t-shirts – making bags is a great idea.

2 Natalie July 29, 2008 at 10:58 am

Oooh. I would love to see more of the inside of your quiet book.

3 amy jo July 29, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Great ideas! Last year I made some baby quilts out of old jeans. I saved all the pockets and all the belt loops, knowing eventually I’d find a way to repurpose them! I like the potholder idea alot. Thanks for the post over at Make and take!

4 Teresa July 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Those pot holders are great! I love them! Very clever ideas!

5 jessica o July 29, 2008 at 8:17 pm

what an impressive quilt!

found your site from make and takes

6 Suzette July 29, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Love that you’re reusing fabric! You’re so creative.

7 vanillajoy July 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Well thanks girls! I’m glad you came to visit! I will post some more pictures of my quiet book – it was so fun to make, although Joel doesn’t quite appreciate it yet. All in good time…I hope.

8 Allanna July 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm

You amaze me. I think that I (sewing-phobic that I am) could handle making some of those T-shirt bags. ^_^

It was so, so good to hear your voice again! It’s been forever since I’ve talked to you!!

9 Emily August 7, 2008 at 11:02 pm

Also found your site through Make and Takes. Love the tshirt bag idea. Is that you on the tutorial? You have the most beautiful hands! (Okay that sounds kind of stalker-ish now that I’ve typed it, but really, your hands are beautiful).

10 vanillajoy August 8, 2008 at 6:05 am

Thanks, Emily! That’s a nice thing to say, not stalker-ish. I’m glad you all have appreciated this tutorial.

11 Marne August 26, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Cute! I made my hubby a t shirt quilt several years ago and it turned out great. He loves it.

12 Sarabeth Burke August 26, 2008 at 7:37 pm

what a great idea- I always save EVERYTHING!!!! I definitely would like to do a few of these projects with my mother-I know she is going to love this tutorial!

13 Teresa Anderson August 26, 2008 at 11:25 pm

What a great idea for old tshirts. Who would have thought.

14 Sherry Lovely August 27, 2008 at 7:57 am

What cute ideas! I can’t wait to get a sewing machine to make the bag and the hot pads!

15 Jauna September 19, 2008 at 8:06 am

i lvoe this. GREAT busy book I think i need to make one for my kids to play with at church. the denim is perfect and it look so colorful great job!

16 Meshellyn September 22, 2008 at 3:40 pm

I can’t wait to make a gym bag with some of my old sport shirts! This is a great project!

17 laura September 28, 2008 at 2:41 am

Okay- I was completely skeptical of this- I thought, who would take the time! After watching your demo- and seeing HOW CUTE that turned out… I am SO doing this!!! What a great project and simple project for those who don’t really sew. I am lovin it! Thanks for sharing

18 Iluvbnamom December 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm

What great ideas! I would never have thought to make bags out of old t-shirts. I tend to use them as background fabric for reverse applique projects. Do the bags stretch out over time – you know, the knit quality of the fabric holding heavey loads?
And the jean hot pad is tooo cute. I might whip up some of those as Christmas gifts. I have sooooo many old jeans – I save them in hopes that I’ll one day fit into them again. I’m expecting baby number 3 in a couple of months, so I think that dream is long gone!

19 Michele December 11, 2008 at 12:35 am

This is a great tutorial!!! I love that it’s something “green” to help our environment AND makes something useful in a quick and easy way!!!

Thanks so much!!
Michele R.(CA)
Butterfly Whispers

20 Carolyn S March 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm

This is such an awesome idea! My teenage daughter loves t-shirts and big purses! She also loves to sew, so when I get home today, we are going to see if she wants to reuse some of her old tees and make some totes. I think a great idea for a smaller tee would be to go to goodwill and pick up some small childrens tees and make smaller totes or purses with those.

ceashark at aol dot com

21 danielle June 15, 2009 at 11:19 am

just watched your how to make a bag from a shirt video! Great idea!

22 Lisa Casey June 17, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I love your jeans quilt! I did a search for jeans quilts on google and found yours. What size are your squares and how big is your finished quilt? Is it quilted or just tied with red yarn. GREAT JOB!!

23 Cindy B. in Montana July 28, 2009 at 8:38 am

Love the idea of using those shirts to make bags. I like to take a bag that folds up small when we travel and these would be perfect! Thanks for the idea!

24 Britt August 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

These are all such cute ideas, and so resourceful, too! I can’t wait until I get my sewing machine to try all these ideas!

25 Baba August 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

Everyone need tote bags and this looks easy enough to make. Thanks! Oh and I love the Jean hotpads!

26 Gigi Griffis August 31, 2009 at 8:34 am

This is just awesome to reuse your old t-shirts for grocery bags. I’m off to try this out.

27 Shannon September 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm

You made this look so easy that I had to try it. And it was! I have made several t-shirt bags and we use them for grocery shopping, laundry, whatever else we can think of. I also made a jean quilt once, it was a lot of fun. And you’ve inspired me to make a quiet book. It seems like such a gargantuan undertaking so I’m having a hard time starting it, however.

28 Kayll December 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Hi, I just got a sewing machine for xmas and found your site while looking for a free hobo bag pattern (why I’ll try later). Since I have know sewing experience, the t-shirt bag worked out perfectly. Now I didn’t necessarily sew in the straightest of lines….(got impatient, went too fast). But now I have a t-shirt bag. I may use it for scraps and such. :) I really like your site. Thanks for the tutorial and video.

29 Some Lucky Dog October 12, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I love the idea of making bags from old or unused t-shirts! I could use them for the library and picking up our mail at the post office and leave them in the car since they’ll take virtually no space. Thanks fo much for the idea!
someluckydog at gmail dot com

30 Marcia Norwood December 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I have such a clever daughter-in-law. Your instructions on the shopping bag video were excellent. Even your father-in-law said that you have very clear and given slow enough that you can’t get lost.

31 Jill October 6, 2012 at 7:28 am

Love the t-shirt tote bags! We have quite a few t-shirts that are no longer worn and it’s fab to be able to do something with them!

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