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Upcycled Inspiration: Quilting With Shirts, Ties, Jeans and More

Have you ever tried quilting with old clothes? Using upcycled materials as the fabric for quilting is a great way to maximize your resources and curb fabric shopping. It’s also a great way to bring new life to pre-loved clothing. Many keepsake quilting projects are made from old shirts, jeans, ties and other fabric.

Whether you’d like to create a family heirloom or just be a more resourceful quilter, here are some great ideas for quilting with old clothes!

Quilting with shirts

Photo via Lindsay Sews

One of the most common ways to start quilting with old clothes is to cut up some shirts and work them into your patchwork design. The Framed Shirts Quilt seen above uses a mixture of designer quilting cottons and men’s dress shirts for each of the quilt blocks.

To make your own, press your shirts and cut them into the basic shapes needed for any quilt pattern.
Tip: For lightweight or stretchy materials, you may want to add interfacing to the wrong side of the shirt fabric before cutting.

Photo via Craftsy member Jodie Hickman

T-shirt quilting is another popular way to make a quilt from old clothes. This is a popular project to make before sending off a student to college. This T-shirt Quilt by Jodie features mementos from three dozen tees. Remember to add interfacing to the back of your shirts to keep your quilt blocks square.

Quilting with ties

Photo via Craftsy member Dkydesigns

If you’ve saved up years worth of ties from a family member or friend, this Silk Table Runner project is a great option for turning those pieces into a keepsake quilt or home decor project. This Craftsy member combined deconstructed silk ties and paired them with dupioni silk for a luxurious, improv-pieced table runner.

Photo by Craftsy member Caraline2

If you don’t have enough ties around for an entire quilt, why not use a few favorites to make a patchwork pillow? Caraline2 learned how to make this Tied Cushion while enrolled in Peggy Martin’s Quick-Strip Paper Piecing class. It’s made from just two neckties, which are opened up and cut into diamond shapes. When quilting with old clothes, consider the possibilities for helping someone to remember a lost loved one with a handmade project. Or, perhaps you can sneak a couple of your spouse’s seldom-worn ties and turn them into a quilt to commemorate a special anniversary.

Quilting with jeans

Photo via Deb Reed

If you have jeans with holes or several pairs that don’t quite fit, why not use them as quilting material? This inspiring Denim and Flannel Rag Quilt pairs old jeans with a soft and cozy quilt back for any easy upcycling project. We love how Deb included the jean pockets, which are convenient for stashing a remote control!

Photo via Craftsy member Marie Withrow

If you have just one pair of jeans to spare, but not enough for a whole quilt, we love this idea to make a smaller patchwork project from upcycled denim. The Recycled Jean Clutch pairs a tiny jeans pocket (think children’s sizes) with scraps of checkered and striped denim for a dainty zipper pouch that’s as durable as it is adorable.

More upcycling ideas

Photo via The Passionate Maker

Here’s an interesting idea. Quilter Louise Coombes made this rainbow-colored quilt from a unique material: prize-winning ribbons. She collected more than 180 ribbons for the design, which were earned by a 4-H member who showed animals at county fairs while growing up.

Photo via Craftsy member Hideshobby

Here’s another great idea for using a common accessory as quilting material. The Hav-a-Hank Pinwheel Quilt is made entirely from cotton bandanas, cut and pieced into half-square triangles. The quilt back is made from square bandanas. If you make this project, take this tip from the creator: “Bandanas and hankies are not the easiest medium to work with as there are never two exactly the same, and they all very slightly is size.” Nevertheless, we love the patterns and fresh, bright colors!
Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow to weigh in on the debate: to starch or not to starch.

Do you have a stash of old clothing that could be turned into a quilt? What’s your favorite upcycling idea?


Sandra rasmussen

I love your website and have learned to quilt using many of the classes. I was hoping that you would add upholstery to you variety of choice from beginning to advanced. I have alway wanted to learn upholstery. Now I would like to combine upholstery with some of my other skills learned from crafty classes. Thanks love craftsy

Mary Jane Steinbrecher

Suggestion: On the bandannas, instead of worrying yourself crazy around the evenness of the squares, why not do strips instead.
I always bought dozens of bandannas for the Sturgis Rally having a few dozen left over, I think I will make a quilt, out of bandannas and jeans maybe sell it now to keep them( or me lol) warm.


as a child I watched my grandmother recycle a mans wool suit in to a suit for me I loved that suit and wore it until I out grew it. I’ve been up cycling ever since. I’ll use any thing I can get my hands on.


I have several upcycled projects in progress, or planned. The first quilt I started two years ago (but keep putting off since it’s for me) is a simple patchwork made from my cut up scarves I wore (many I made) during chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment. I’ve been mad a couple of times that I did that as I’ve had three recurrence scares and always think, “Great, now I’ll need those again!”. But I’ve been spared from that – maybe because I did cut them up?!?!? 😉

I’m also making my son a t-shirt quilt to give him at his Boy Scout Eagle Court of Honor. It will have t-shirts from his first year in Cub Scouts ten years ago, through his most recent summer camp. He’s getting another, different quilt, too, with all of the patches he’s earned.

I’m making my son a quilt to take to college next fall that is made from my husband’s worn out plaid shirts. It will be like a hug from Mom and Dad while he’s at school. 😉

I also have a ton of jeans cut up for some unknown jean blanket project. I first tried making a braided rug with the scraps, but my arthritis wouldn’t let me. I may make denim rag rugs in the tradition of rag quilts.


I’d love to see a picture of the Eagle Scout quilt.

Patti Cucchiara

I collected the bandanas when my 3 dogs went to the groomers for about a year. I used them to make a quilt using the half square block. Haven’t quite finish it but will post a picture when I complete it. Even my husband thinks it really cute.


Is it possible to combing tshirt t’s and sweatshirts in the same quilt?


I’ve been recycling old jeans into quilts for a few years now. I personalize them to the people I make them for. Great project and everyone loves them. I’d love to post some pictures.


I have never quilted before but would love to make me a quilt out of old jeans for my queen bed. Any tips would be appreciated. Just thought I would cut a bunch of squares and start sewing. What do you think?

Terry McFarlin

This is what I want to do with my 18 year old’s jeans, he was killed in March of 2012.


I am so sorry Terry that you have to live with the pain of not having your son with you any more. God Bless You and Keep You.


I am in the process of making a quilt with my granddaughters clothing (special ones) from her 1st year…..and ideas or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!!
Love the ideas here for tshirts and the jeans!!!


I have worked in the medical field for 26 years. Since I quit last February, I plan on making each of my grown children a quilt out of all the hospital scrubs I have left. I have many, especially ones for the holiday which will make a cute and colorful quilt. The hospital logo that we had to have embroidered on the last ones the department had us buy will be the center of each of the quilts.

Katherine G

I want to do something also with all the old scrubs and lab coats from Med and dent school of my sons. But aren’t scrubs made of a cotton polyester blend? Would that be a problem? Never having made a quilt – I’ve been reading it should be 100% cotton…?

Betty Grove

I have a large box full of old worn out jeans and now I am inspired to put them in a quilt. Thank you for the tips.


I made pillows for all of my mother’s grandchildren and living sisters (35 total) out of her clothes when she died. She collected fans so I used that motif. My dad was a rancher so I made his shirts and pants into pillows with his cattle brand. Good memories.

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Sherry Mollett

We watched Dolly Parton’s movie Coat of Many Colors. I want to make a vest or jacket out of quilt pieces please help


Wow.. Its really great.
But you can also sell your kids cloths online. I use some sites like and others to sell my kids designer cloths. Benefit is that designer cloths are costly and obviously no one wants to waste it. So its better to sell it so other kids can use it.

Barb Mahn

For my god daughter’s wedding I contacted everyone on the guest list asking for a donation for a wedding quilt. I got lovely letters with fabric from baby blankets, graduation gowns, grandfather’s pastor’s robe. Quilt turned out beautiful and I felt like I knew everyone from the groom’s side too I included a small album with the letters and scraps of fabric for the couple.


That is a wonderful and very thoughtful gift!

Amy Govoni

Love these ideas! A friend wants me to make a quilt from her mom’s clothes. I am sure some are polyester, rayon, etc. Would using interfacing keep them stable enough for a quilt? It do I need to stick to cotton only? Any thoughts would be most helpful!! Thanks much!


I am on this site for ideas to make my Mother’s clothes into memory quilts for my Sister and I.
I have the same question. A lot of the fabrics are t-shirt type and sweat pant material. I don’t know which fabrics I should interfacing on.
I also have never quilted, so I am going to practice on scrap fabric before I potentially ruin all of her clothes.


Would love to learn to do this I have all my husbands clothes before he entered into heavens gates …I want to do this


I just finished the quilt top from my mom’s blouses (florals & stripes) with a batik strip to separate. It is great. I’ll use it while tv watching or reading. She’ll be with me, keeping me warm.


can you post a picture? I’d like to make one with my parents clothing. Can you mix different types of fabrics that are heavy and light weight like silky, stretch knit, cotton, denim?

Maggie Thompson

Hi I am wanting to make a t-shirt blanket but I also have spared jeans that I thought I could use also. Can I combine the two materials into one quilt or will that become too difficult?


Hi Maggie! As long as you can avoid using the bulky seams in your quilt, it should be okay to combine the two materials. The jeans will be a bit thicker, but you can add interfacing to the back of the t-shirts to make them a more similar weight as the jeans.


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