DIY

Swag Hacker: DIY Gifts Using Free T-Shirts

DIY Cat Tent

Since my recent trip to PAX Prime was my first time attending a convention where I wasn’t working the exhibitor floor, I was able to amass quite the collection of con loot. However, as is often the case, by the time I’d gotten home I realized that I didn’t actually need most of my hard won booty.

What to do with all this free swag?!

Well, it turns out the answer was really quite simple: make things with my swag then give them to other people.

For this first edition of Swag Hacker I decided to focus on some DIY Gifts I made using free t-shirts.

DIY Tote Bag

DIY Shopping Bag
This was probably the easiest out of all my t-shirt projects. All I needed to do was cut off the sleeves and the collar to create the handles. I just kind of kept trimming until they looked thin enough to be comfortable, but still sturdy. Then, turn the shirt inside out and sew up the bottom. I also added a few stitches at the top of the handles to reinforce the seams and make them more durable. Martha has a perfect step-by-step tutorial.

DIY Racerback Workout T

DIY Workout Shirt fron and back
This one was definitely the most difficult to make. It would probably work best with one of those “one size fits all elephants” type t-shirts, but I’m pretty happy with what I managed with a men’s small. I cut off the bottom hem, the sleeves and the collar, significantly enlargening the arm holes. Then I made three cuts in the back, one horizontal and two vertical. This left me with three strips that I braided together and sewed back onto the upper strip. If I was giving this as a gift I would hand sew in a strip to cover the stitches where the braid meets the rest of the shirt. I used this tutorial as a guide, but it seemed to be missing a couple steps.

DIY T-Shirt Cat Tent

DIY Cat Tent
The most involved of all my t-shirt projects, but definitely the most fun, I just followed this tutorial from Instructables to the letter. I like the fact that there’s no sewing or cutting involved (of the t-shirt, anyways). The t-shirt is actually held in place using safety pins, meaning is can be taken apart at any time to clean. The only things you need other than the shirt are a couple of wire hangers, like the ones you get from the dry cleaner, masking tape, pliers and some cardboard.

The best thing about all of these gift ideas is that they can all be whipped up in 10 minutes or less. In fact, I did all three in less than an hour.

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Ash
    November 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    The cat tent is so cute and such a good idea! 😀
    Now if only I had a cat… 😛

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 13, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Yeah… it would still probably get as much use as mine does.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    November 13, 2014 at 5:35 am

    OMG this is so cool! I love the cat tent, I may make one for my bestie and her catc Charlie for Christmas. On another note – no fair! I recently went to PAX Aus and there were no free T-shirts that I could find! 😛

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Huh. I won one in a raffle draw and the other I got for playing a demo. It seemed like most of the t-shirts were rewards for waiting in the crazy lines to play demos.

  • Reply
    Fiona
    November 13, 2014 at 5:38 am

    weee you made a cat tent – now do the cats love it? I might have to make Gremlin one 🙂 The shirts and tote are cute too!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Not so much. I’m not sure Gatsby can fit in it and Kala’s only spent about 10 mins total in it. But I keep it out just in case…

  • Reply
    Jessica
    November 13, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Whaaat these are amazing! That tote bag is my favorite! You did an awesome job 🙂

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Thank you! I had to borrow a friend’s sewing machine, but it really couldn’t have been easier.

  • Reply
    Stephanie Medeiros (@ohnerdjoy)
    November 13, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Great ideas, especially that cat tent! Will have to try it out with my cats, although with my luck they’ll just sit NEXT to it and not IN it, haha.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 13, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Yeah, that’s pretty much what’s happened with ours. I’ve caught Kala in it once or twice, but she never stays in it very long.

  • Reply
    Ari Carr
    November 13, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    These are brilliant ideas! I’ve amassed loads of free tee shirts from working festivals over summer, so I might finally have something to do with them!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Yeah, I started a board on Pinterest to keep track of all the awesome T-shirt hacks I find there. These were the three simplest for me to tackle in one day.

      • Reply
        Ari Carr
        November 14, 2014 at 5:12 pm

        I saw one a while ago where you could re-make an over-sized tee into a vest dress. It was incredible!

        • Reply
          Mariko
          November 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

          Whoa. I’m quite partial to all the shredded/braided variations.

  • Reply
    Jane
    November 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Great ideas, especially the tote!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Thanks! The print and colour really make it pop.

  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    November 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    what?! these are amazing! i love love that tote!!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 17, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks, Jane! The tote was the easiest one to make, too. If you don’t have a sewing machine I’m sure you could do it by hand, too.

  • Reply
    Jen
    November 14, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    The t-shirt DIYs are great! Love the cat tent!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      November 17, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks! I just wish my cats loved the cat tent as much as I do.

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