Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New uses for old t-shirts

If your house is like mine, there are more t-shirts than you can count.  (One summer, my large family counted 100 t-shirts that we could easily get rid of, and we still had a lot left).  I've already written about how great t-shirts are for rags.  Tomorrow I'll write about a t-shirt quilts, which is a lovely way to honor  and preserve a set of t-shirts that have sentimental value.  Here are two other uses for t-shirts.

From a single adult-sized t-shirt, you can make a pair of pajama pants for a small child.  I first read about this in my favorite frugal book, The Tightwad Gazette.  I made a pair or two for my son when he was about a year old, and my then-teen-aged daughter was so jealous that I used a bunch (I'm guessing 4?) t-shirts to make a larger pair of pajama pants for her.  T-shirts are so soft and comfortable that they make great bed-time clothes.  And if the logos on the shirts have sentimental value, then turning them into pajamas is a way to keep the sentiment, get new pants, and reduce the pile of t-shirts all at once.

What pattern did I use?  I grabbed another pair of pants my kids wore and used that to approximate a pattern with the t-shirts.  Pajamas are nice because they don't have to be exact, and of course knits stretch and conform nicely. You can use the elastic from old pantyhose in the waistband, so the cost for these pants is really just what you'd pay for thread.

If you are not up to sewing pants yet and you have a single t-shirt with a design you'd like to save, you can use it to make a bag.  All you do is cut off the arms and neck holes -- that makes the straps you'll use to carry the bag.  Then you sew a straight line along the bottom of the shirt, to make the bottom of the bag.  I then make "gussets", those triangular folds that you see on the bottom of grocery bags or brown lunch bags.  Gussets are what give the bags a flat, rectangular base.  These bags are strong enough to carry groceries.  I imagine you could also use one to "wrap" a gift.

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