If you’re anything like me, you have a ton of old shirts packed into your fabric bin. Some need mending, others no longer fit, and some are simply out of style. But it’s hard to know how to upcycle all of those old garments. So in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to turn a shirt into a functional pot-holder.

You’ll need heat-resistant batting and one button-up shirt. For this project, I’m using one of my husband’s old Hawaiian shirts. It landed in my fabric bin years ago because it needed new buttons, but truth be told, I think this print is cuter as a pot-holder than as a shirt anyway!

Using an oven mitt from your kitchen (or your hand, if you don’t have a spare mitt around), trace out the shape of a pot-holder. You’ll need 8 of these hand-shapes in total: 4 cut from your old shirt, and 4 cut from your batting. 

The batting material is the same on both sides, so orientation doesn’t matter for your 4 batting pieces. But make sure that you cut 2 of your shirt pieces face-up and 2 of them face-down. You want to be able to match 2 pairs of shirt-pieces with right sides together.

Tip: If you make the bottom edge of your shirt into the bottom edge of your pot-holder pieces, you save yourself the step of finishing the bottom edge. The shirt itself already has a turned-under hem!

Next, stack 4 of your fabric pieces in the following order: shirt fabric (right side up), shirt fabric (right side down), batting, batting. You want to be able to turn it inside-out once it’s stitched and see the “right” side of the shirt on both sides.

Sew around the outside edge of the pot-holder, leaving the bottom edge unsewn. Then trim a ½ inch from the bottom edge of the batting to make sure that it stays hidden between the 2 shirt panels once all 4 layers are sewn together.

Turn the whole thing inside-out so that you have 2 pieces of batting sandwiched between 2 pieces of shirt. Sew along the bottom edge of the hand to secure the batting inside the shirt pieces. 

If you used the bottom edge of your shirt when cutting out your pieces, you won’t even need to finish the edge here. All you have to do is secure the layers of the pot-holder together. 

You can see in this picture how the bottom stitch (an inch from the edge) is the finished edge that the shirt came with, and the top stitch (⅜” from the edge) is my stitch to keep the panels sewn together. I used the same color of thread (orange) as the shirt manufacturer to keep the whole thing cohesive.

Repeat this whole process with the other half of the potholder: sew 2 panels of batting and 2 panels of shirt together, turn them right-side-out, and stitch along the bottom to secure.

Finally, place one half of the potholder on top of the other and sew them together around the perimeter. Don’t forget to leave the bottom edge unsewn so you can slide your hand inside!

And that’s it! Your old shirt has officially been upcycled into a pot-holder. In addition to the hand-shaped oven mitt style we made here, you can also try this as a simple square or any other shape you like.