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Recycle Your Husband's Old T Shirts

By: Stephanie Boarman for Ooh Baby!

My husband, has what we can only refer to as, a t-shirt collection. From the reasonable to the ridiculous, he has collected and worn it. The quippy phrases boggle the mind "Squirrel, it's what's for dinner", "Looking for groupies", etc, etc. There are so many that I can barely close the dresser drawer, it takes the jaws of life just to put the laundry away. Behold...

Husband's Recycled T-shirt

One shirt at a time, I am slowly reducing the collection to the oldest and most tattered, not fit for recycling. Anyway, if this works on your man, then hopefully this tutorial below will be helpful.


  • Really cool old t-shirt
  • Thread
  • 1/4" to 1/2" elastic
  • safety pin
  • 1 cute child to wear pants!

Husband's Recycled T-shirt

We begin with one of Dad's treasured gems: the hookah caterpillar Grateful Dead shirt

Husband's Recycled T-Shirt

This one has 2 great images on it that I want to capture in Rowan's pants. You can fold your t-shirt to incorporate the images like I did here.

Recycled Husband's T-Shirt

Once you have your fold right, take a pair of your kiddos pants, fold them in half and lay the straight side on the fold. This is your pattern. Next you are going to cut around the pants just like you were tracing the outline on a piece of paper. Remember to include a seam allowance when you cut. About half an inch would be good.

Husband's Recycled T-shirt

Here we have cut our pieces for our kids' pants.

Husband T-shirt

Notice I was able to capture both of the super cool images! Also notice that when I laid out the pants I used as the pattern, I made sure that the bottom of the pattern pants lined up with the bottom of the t-shirt. That way I already have a finished hem on the bottom of my pants when they are done, and I save myself the extra hemming step.

Husband T-shirt

Now I place my pattern pieces right sides together and pin in place.

Husband T-shirt

The black lines show you where you will be sewing. Don't sew past this point on either side.

Husband T-shirt

Once you sew them up, re-orient the pants by grabbing the top of the sewed portion and pulling open the pants. This part was not intuitive for me, just keep messing with them until they appear. Once they are re-oriented they will look like the pants above.

Husband T-shirt

Now line up the crotch seams, pin, and sew the legs together.

Husband T-shirt

Next roll hem the waistband. Fold, then fold again and pin in place.

Husband T-shirt

Sew the hem on the waist band leaving a small opening. This is where you will thread your elastic through.

Husband T-shirt

Choose whatever size you prefer, or have on hand. This project is about recycling, so I pieced together some scrap pieces of elastic and used the 3/4 inch size.

Put a safety pin in the end of your elastic and thread it through the small opening you left in the waistband.

Husband T-shirt

Husband T-shirt

Once it is threaded all the way through, make sure there are no twists in your elastic and sew the two ends together using a zig-zag stitch.

Husband T-shirt

Sew the waistband opening closed.

Husband T-shirt

Tada! A super cool pair of grateful dead pants for Rowan, one less t-shirt to stuff into the drawer for Mommy, and one sexy man in a Dad sort of way.

Husband T-shirt

Here they are on Daddy's little deadhead...

Husband T-shirt


Learn more about Stephanie and this craft at our Blog!



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I have many T-shirts that do not fit sons or husband anymore and they will make some real cool pants. I really like the simple step by step instructions with the photos. Is it really hard to line up the crotch seam? Seems like that is going to be the toughest part.I loved that you recycled and glad that you shared this so I can recycle too. Thanks.

How about some recycling for dress or other men's shirts? My father died recently. He wasn't much of a tee-shirt wearer (I found a good home for his undershirts with a nonprofit that helps families after fires), but I do have some of his former work shirts. Any good recycling ideas for them? I have donated some of them to a summer arts program to use as coverups for kids. Thought it would be nice to remember Dad with some crafting that I or my sister could wear. These are sizes L to XL; arm lengths work as is as we're all short in my family (my sister's the family amazon at 5'4"). Thanks.

i found this tutorial...

Very cool idea. I have that many "old" t-shirts as well and several grand kids running around. So I gues they will all be getting some "new" pants. LOL Thanks for the inspiration. Lil Leprechaun

ingenious! you did a super recycling job. Love to recycle things. Any More ideas? Phyl P

HI! I recycle my husband's Tee's by making them my baby's bib. The neckhole fits her small head and the full shirt covers not only the chest but her lap and arms as well. Works really well for us :-)

Before folding over your waist band make 2 buttenholes in the front, cut before sewing down waistband. Take a 32"shoestring. Cut in half and join with about 6" elastic, thread and you have a tie in front to one size fit the pants

nnniiiiiccccce! Great PJ's

Finally a way to re-use the tee's we no longer wear!!

This is awesome. I think some of my son's old shirts are going to become pants for my niece. And I have a couple old nightshirts for myself that might become lounge pants, even. Very cool idea!

How can you not love this idea!!! Perfect and my husband has the tee's.

I think this is a wonderful Idea!! My grandson will love this for pajama pants. I am in the process of making him a quilt out of his old t shirts, and he even helped lay out the tops in the order he wanted them. My daughter bought an inexpensive blanket to sew in for a lining and we had enough to make it reversible even!! He is an only child and had lots and lots of outgrown tops. In fact every day he says, gramma when are you going to finish my quilt??

I think this is a wonderful Idea!! My grandson will love this for pajama pants. I am in the process of making him a quilt out of his old t shirts, and he even helped lay out the tops in the order he wanted them. My daughter bought an inexpensive blanket to sew in for a lining and we had enough to make it reversible even!! He is an only child and had lots and lots of outgrown tops. In fact every day he says, gramma when are you going to finish my quilt??

really cute, opps awsome! If the boys hear me call them cute they won't wear them. My daughter will want one also. no skirt or dress for her she says.

The first comment said that you also have directions to make a little girls dress from a T-shirt. I'd sure like to have those directions, too!

Love this idea and the one to make a t-shirt dress for a little girl. Next, it's on to t-shirt grocery bags and (who-knows)... Thank you for the idea starter! pj

ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING!! My mother, and all grandma's going back as many generations as they could remember, INCLUDING one grandpa, SEWED their own clothes and had busineses and THIS IS HOW THEY DID IT!!! EXCELLENT job for bringing BACK what used to be an oldie, but absolutely wonderful! I have done this oldie for years. So glad to see this coming back!!! Thanks for bringing it out again!

What a great idea. Look for shirts in flea markets, yard sales, etc.

What a Fabulous Idea! I'll have to pass t his on to my daughters as they both have boys and the oldest also has a girl.

love this idea, I think i'm going to try this for my little one next time i have a t shirt I can't wear anymore

Great idea for those of us who just CAN'T part with all those old T-shirts! Very cute!

I wish I could sew!!!! Heck I'd love a pair of these and I'm in my 40's!!!!

I don't have children, but we have TONS of tees that are too good - and have interesting sayings on them My roomie is losing weight (had bypass surgery) and I bet I could make shorts for her with these cool tees for lounging around the house (since she works from home anyway) and say $$ on new pants - at least until she's at her new weight! Even then - well, she likes to save $$

Smart idea! I enjoy re-cycling a 'this' into another more useful 'that'. Keep up the good work and keep us posted.

Cute Idea! Goodwill here I come!

Love this idea! You could also make a t-shirt dress for a little girl.


love it


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