Make art out of band tees so you can prove you listened to them way back when

January 12 | Guest post by Cindy

I stopped buying band t-shirts at concerts a long time ago because they never fit quite right. Men's tees are too big and the girl's "babydoll" sized tees are always too little, even if they claim to be an extra large. I didn't learn that lesson until I accumulated a small collection of them. I kept them for sentimental reasons, and because I thought that maybe the band would become popular and I could be one of those annoying people who say they listened to them before everyone else. I'd have the t-shirt to prove it.

That hasn't happened, so I decided I should do something crafty with them. I thought about making a t-shirt quilt, but I didn't have enough shirts or patience to take on such a large project.

After seeing a tutorial using embroidery hoops and fabric samples to make wall art, I decided to do the same using that bag of t-shirts in the back of my closet. If you don't want to go the music route, you can use any shirt with an interesting logo or design, or another piece of clothing with a pattern you like.

What you'll need:

You can buy embroidery hoops in various sizes, so pick up one that will work with the size of the logo on your shirt. If you want to be extra crafty, spray paint the outer hoop to match.

Loosen the screw and take the hoop apart. Put the inner hoop inside the shirt, underneath the design, and see how it works in the space. Slide the outer hoop onto the front of the shirt, tighten the screw, and center your logo. Pull the fabric between the two hoops so that it's snug, but not so taut that you stretch the design. Tighten the screw again, if needed. Cut off the rest of the fabric but leave an inch around the edge.

Run a line of glue around the top of the inner hoop and press down the edges of the fabric. If you're using fabric glue, be careful not to get any on the back of the fabric because it may seep through to the front. Let it dry and it's ready to hang.

You can create a wall showcasing your awesome taste in music by putting them alongside framed concert posters or a shadowbox of your ticket stubs.

And, if that band does become popular among the masses, you can point to your wall of music memorabilia and say you listened to them first. You'll still have the t-shirt to prove it.

  1. Nice! I love the idea of doing creative stuff with old t-shirts. I always hang on to them forever. Just yesterday I made 2 throw pillows for my mom from 2 t-shirts that are over 20 years old – she bought them when we moved to American Samoa when I was a toddler and later passed them to me to wear as a teen. Now they are headed back to her in pillowy form!

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  2. This is such a great idea! I did made a t-shirt quilt once, but I'll probably never get around to another one.

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  3. Awesome! I generally turn my old d-shirts into cleaning rags – but it makes me sad to use some of my favorites in such a way (really? Bob Dylan's face, scrubbing my bathtub? Seems disrespectful). I don't know why I never thought of this, and when I go home tonight I'm SO going to look and see if I can try this with some of the less-destroyed band t-shirts. Yay! :)

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  4. This is a great idea .. I just put away a bunch of band shirts in a space bag, and was a bit sad to be putting them up, but I didn't know what else to do with them! Maybe this :D

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  5. This is awesome! My husband is a musician and music junkie, and has probably 300 tshirts from various bands that are taking up ALL the closet space. We talked about a tshirt quilt but I like this idea better!

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    • I've always wanted to try a t-shirt quilt, but I don't know if I'd have the patience. You could also frame the whole tee if your husband didn't like the idea of cutting up one of his favorites, but didn't wear it anymore.

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      • My mum is currently making a t-shirt quilt for my hubby. He had over 100 odd shirts in varying condition. She has gone for the band design on the front of the quilt and the concert dates on the back. Iron Maiden, Megadeath and Body Count welcome to my lounge.

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  6. I can do this with all of my high-school and community theatre tees! They are currently in the "too sentimental to throw away but will definitely never wear again" pile in our storage area… Great idea!

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  7. I can totally relate to the size issue. This is such a great DIY idea. I do have a few "baby doll" band shirts and men's shirts that I have been using for working out, moving and sleeping in. I like the art display of shirts much better.

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    • The sizing for tees has always bugged me! I haven't bought a t-shirt in years, so I don't know if it's changed.

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    • Pillows are a great idea, too, but I tend to end up with too many of them and nowhere to put them.

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  8. This is a great one! I've been turning mine into grocery bags – anything to empty the dresser of stuff I never wear.

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  9. You know you can make men's t-shirts into strappy tops, right? It takes about 3 hours once you've got the shape that fits you, maybe 4 if you're still working out the fit.

    You cut the sleeves and shoulder seams etc out, move the whole thing down your body so the top edge is as low as you like, sew up the sides so that it flatters your body shape however you prefer, shape and hem the top edge, take up the bottom edge if you like, then turn the sleeves into thick straps (guaranteed to cover your bra!) by opening them out then folding them the opposite way to how they were folding in the shirt, stitching and turning inside out. Then sew them on and hey presto: perfectly fitted top. If it's an extra long shirt and you're not too tall you can even wear it as a dress.

    I've got so many of these now it's ridiculous, but they're my favourite thing to make and I no longer have to get annoyed at merch stores that only seem to cater to men (because women apparently don't like rock music). Only problem is that it's not great for larger ladies as the narrowest part of the shirt has to fit across the broadest part of your torso; I've got a 40inch chest and need an XL usually.

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  10. just rolling past this old post to say YESSSSSSSSS! my favouritest favourite band t-shirt from a super-sentimental farewell tour has so many holes i can't even comfortably wear it to bed anymore, and i've been at odds about what to do with it, since i just can't bring myself to get rid of it. this is PERFECT. ah. thank you.

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