Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Tween and Teen Programming Ideas: Did you clean out your closet? Here are some ways to upcycle those t-shirts!

We have finally gotten to the point in the pandemic where both of my kids are so bored they have cleaned their rooms. More than once actually. Thing 2 actually even got out the vacuum and vacuumed her room, without being asked. My garage is now full of clothes that no longer fit, toys that need a new home, and various other odds and ends that we don’t want to put into the trash but thrift stores aren’t taking donations – for good reason.

5 Way to Transform a T-Shirt into Something New

In my work life, everyone’s looking for virtual programming ideas. Virtual programs need to be accessible which means craft projects need to be made with items you are likely to have in your home because no one is just running out to the store. Here’s where 26 years of teen programming and knowing 101 things to do with a t-shirt comes in handy.

All those too small t-shirts that you have waiting for thrift stores to open? They can be re-purposed! As someone who loves a good tote bag, I want you to know that you can turn those t-shirts into a tote with nothing more than 1 pair of scissors. It’s something you can do for yourself or make a quick DIY video to share with your patrons.


  • 1 old t-shirt
  • A pair of scissors

Thing 2 loves all things NASA so she was heartbroken to throw this t-shirt onto the throw away pile. So I took 15 minutes out of my day to turn it into an awesome tote bag for her.

To start, you’re going to lay out your t-shirt flat. Use your scissors to cut out the neck and cut off the two sleeves. This will make your tote straps so you’ll want to fit them to your size.

You are then going to cut a fringe around the bottom of edge of your t-shirt. It needs to be long enough for you to double knot it, but you can make shorter or longer fringe depending on what you like and the size of your graphic on the front of your t-shirt. This is the exact technique they use to make those no sew fleece blankets that used to be so popular.

After you cut all of your fringe, you are going to double knot the corresponding back and front fringe. This closes off the bottom of your t-shirt and makes it into a bag that you can carry things in. If you have a sewing machine at home you can turn your t-shirt inside out and sew it closed at the bottom, but it’s not necessary.

Instructables: No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag: https://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-T-Shirt-Tote-Bag-1/

After you have completely knotted off and closed the bottom of your t-shirt, you have a pretty cool tote bag made out of one of your favorite t-shirts.

If your t-shirt is big enough, you can cut the t-shirt all around and knot all the sides, stuffing it with plastic bags or pillow form to make a pillow out of a favorite t-shirt. Again, you can sew all or some of the edged if you want to do this for a pillow.

If you want to embellish a shirt, you can use Sharplies and rubbing alcohol to do less mess tie dying. You can also make some decorative cuts to turn t-shirts into something that better fits your style.

Speak Your Mind