T-Shirt Quilts

Re-purpose, Re-use and Remember: Some ideas for using favorite T-Shirts.

The idea of reusing, recycling, and repurposing appeals to me on many levels – of course from an ecological point of view, the less we throw into our landfills the better – but on a personal level there is much to be said for finding new life for something that is old, maybe out-of-style, or simply not in use any more. And, it appeals to me to turn an old t-shirt into a sweet reminder of a special person or event.

In the photos below, these bunnies are one idea if you have only one t-shirt you want to repurpose. The blue bunny is made from a t-shirt my daughter was wearing when she broke her arm, about 15 years ago, during spring break – a little incident with a horse… requiring a trip to the emergency room. The nurses there had to cut off her t-shirt, which was almost more traumatic to her than the broken arm. I recently ran across the remnants of this shirt and was able to use enough of it to make this bunny. And even all these years later, and even though she’s all grown up – she was thrilled to get something new made from an old favorite.

The three other bunnies were made for a set of grandsons from three identical t-shirts of their grand daddy’s. He recently passed away, and these were given to the boys as part of their Easter Basket goodies this year. What a fun keepsake for them!

Another way I’ve re-purposed t-shirts is to make tote bags. The blue one with the Howard Finster coke bottle art, I actually made for myself, using a t-shirt of my own that had gotten too small (or maybe I got too big). I used an old pair of jeans to make the bottom reinforcement piece, removed the hardware off an old purse I never use, and used some left over canvas to line the bag.

The red and white bag is for a friend to give her mother for Mother’s Day. The t-shirt was originally printed to commemorate a milestone birthday for her mother 10 years ago. I had some left over red ticking fabric for the lining and bottom reinforcement panel, as well as a scrap piece of zipper to use for the little clamp on the inside.

Pillows are another option if you don’t have enough shirts for an entire quilt – or you have anything else to reuse. In these photos below all the pillows are recycled from various fabric items – the large Montana pillow was once a tea towel, the woven one was once dish towels, the small white pillow first lived its life as a zippered sweater, the other large pillow with the white lines started out as a baby quilt (that I never liked once I finished) and lastly the small pillow with embroidered flowers originally was a table cloth that ended up stained beyond use.

And in the final photo, of course a single t-shirt can be easily turned into a pillow – maybe you have too many t-shirts for a quilt, or maybe you only have the one t-shirt. Either way, this is a great option as well.

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