Is there any symbol of the volunteer experience more iconic and recognizable than the t-shirt? This cultural mainstay of American volunteerism represents unity, pride and purpose to everyone bonded by its bright colors and advertised program, organization or mission.
When it comes to showcasing our passions and involvements, our t-shirt collections define us. Indeed: we are what we wear.
For those with years of service under their belts, you’ve probably got a drawer full of t-shirts that rarely see the light of day. Too sentimental and hard-earned to give away, too starchy or unisex to make it into your everyday wardrobe – what is to be the fate of these wearable certificates of community involvement?
Luckily, creative minds have put their energies toward inspiring re-use options for this personal, yet impractical collection. Here is just a sampling of the fun and funky ways to give your volunteer wardrobe a second life, whether you are an animal lover, fashionista, home decorator, or deal-seeker looking for do-it-yourself gift ideas. Enjoy!
For the At-Home Artisan:
Make your colorful collection brighten up a room with a cozy rag rug or a braided basket.
Want to keep your t-shirts more intact and be reminded daily of all you’ve been a part of? This t-shirt quilt is a total favorite! Get those memories and feel-good vibes out of the drawer and onto your bed – it’s safe to say, this quilt will help you sleep at night!
Easy coasters and fabric bowls are perfect touches for beginner crafters to start with.
For the Do-It-Yourself Trendsetter
Pinterest is bursting with intriguing ways to “upcycle” your t-shirts into more artistic wearable designs. Check out making a fringe scarf, a halter top, or even jewelry out of your old tees, and enjoy the comfort and softness of cotton while making a much more upscale fashion statement.
Your t-shirt is a blank slate, a palette, and with ideas like these, you can play trendy designer and show everyone how fashionable it is to help others. Ooh, community service looks good on you!
For the Homemade Gift Enthusiast
Have a friend who loves a particular cause? Make a no-sew tote bag out of a t-shirt with a compelling quote, striking image or the name and date of an event she loved, and she’ll be able to showcase her pride daily, without having to re-wear the same t-shirt day after day.
For the cook in the family, a fun t-shirt you just don’t wear anymore can become a go-to apron – might be the perfect solution for one that already had a stain or paint splatter.
A braided rug can make a lovely housewarming gift for the entryway, and this darling, soft headband is a perfect pick-me-up for a sister.
For the Pet Lover
Make a braided doggie chew toy! This is a fun one to do with your kids – no sewing necessary, and they’ll have a blast making a gift for the family dog. Once you’ve got it down, keep up the do-gooder spirit that got you the tees in the first place, and make a batch to bring to your local pet shelter. The animals rarely get new toys, so it’ll send the pups and the caretakers over the moon. This is an awesome activity for a birthday party, camp service project, or rainy afternoon playdate.
For older kids ready to take it to the next level, here’s a crocheted t-shirt kitty cave for your feline friends – washable, durable and cozy.
For the Mom-to-Be
No one wants to overspend on clothes for little ones that will no longer fit in 6 months, so why not make pajamas, dresses, even blankets out of your soft, well- worn t’s? Here’s to passing on the spirit of volunteerism to the next generation!
Looking for an adorable gift for a baby shower? These little lamb toys will add a soft touch to any nursery, and this knotted baby hat is sure to warm heads and hearts alike.
Thanks, volunteering, for the starting materials for all of these cute, crafty and useful designs! Just more proof that doing good in the community always ends up making the volunteer feel awesome, too.
Happy crafting! Need more t-shirts to complete these? We know where you can sign up to volunteer again…