Recycled T-shirts

The Donald Duck shirt was very much loved.  When Joey was 4, he wore it as much as he possibly could.  Who could blame him?  Even Donald Duck himself approved!  It was a sad day when the shirt was removed from rotation due to a growing boy.

Thanks to a brilliant recycling idea from my friend Beth, the Donald Duck shirt has been reborn!  Beth makes really cute shirts for her children by taking a piece of fun fabric and appliqueing it to an old t-shirt.  I decided to use this technique to re-use good old Donald.

To begin, I cut the Donald shirt in a rectangle big enough to cover the design on the old t-shirt.  It was a bit uncomfortable to take scissors to the beloved shirt, but I persevered for the greater good.

For stabilization, I used double-sided fusible interfacing to adhere the Donald shirt piece to the recipient shirt.  To use this product, I first traced and cut out a piece of interfacing that was the size of the Donald shirt section.  The interfacing was then ironed onto the wrong side of the t-shirt piece.

Next, the interfacing backing was peeled away.  Now I had the Donald t-shirt piece with interfacing on the back.

Donald was now ready for his new home.  I centered him over the old t-shirt design and ironed him into place.

The final step was to satin stitch all around the Donald image on the new t-shirt.  This proved frustrating.  Despite the interfacing, the stretchy t-shirt fabric on both the applique piece and the recipient shirt presented quite a challenge.  I ended up doing two passes around to achieve consistent stitching.  The resulting shirt had more wrinkles due to the fabric stretching than I would have preferred, but I am satisfied because Joey is happy with the results.

Because I can’t make a fun shirt for only one boy, all three of my guys received recycled t-shirts.  Using the same technique (and construction theme fabric from my friend Beth), I made “tractor shirts” for Sam and Tom.  Because the applique fabric wasn’t stretchy for their shirts, the stitching around the fabric pieces is much smoother on their shirts.  All the boys are happy though, and that’s what counts!

I’d love to hear your ideas for recycling old clothes.  Are there any other great concepts out there?

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6 Responses to Recycled T-shirts

  1. Lisa says:

    What a great idea. I would never have thought of that. I have heard of people taking beloved garments and making pillows or quilts from them. I too would have trouble cutting the original though. Of course, as you know, it would help if I could sew in a straight line. : )

    • Amy says:

      I had originally promised him a pillow (and we have a Donald sweatshirt that still may become a pillow), but I loved the idea of it becoming a shirt again. Crooked lines just add character!

  2. kristin says:

    I love this!!!! I might have to give this a try but you or Beth will have to teach me to use a sewing machine first :).

  3. Maryann says:

    Hi Amy-
    What a great idea! I’ve taken some old beloved t-shirts of Levi’s and made them into boxer shorts for him. He loves them. I think the jersey knit helps make them super comfy. Plus he kinda likes the idea of his favorite frog or tractor or whatever from his old t-shirt on his bum. Anything involving bums is super funny I suppose. 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, Maryann! Boxer shorts is a great idea. I’ll have to give that a try. I can see it now: Lightning McQueen boxers – sure to be a huge hit!

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