Creative articles about sewing

Upcycling project: Sewing festive decoration and small cases from old shirts

Dear community,
in this blog post you can find easy instructions for crafting festive decoration and small cases from old shirts.

Upcycling project: Sewing festive decoration and small cases from old shirts

I am absolutely delighted to be able to introduce to you today the seventh window of this year’s advent calendar. Because our theme this year is sustainable Christmas gifts, I am going to show you how you can re-use (“upcycle”) shirt sleeves.

I decided on sleeves because they generally are the least “worn”, i.e. are usually in great condition. You can find many many wonderful examples of upcycling men’s shirts on the internet. A magnificent inspiration!

And now for the shirt sleeves: Cut off both sleeves from the original shirt. Below, two gift ideas will be shown.


  • 2 shirt sleeves
  • Small labels or pieces of woven bands
  • Felt remnants 3 mm thick
  • Vliesofix (Bondaweb) (iron-on adhesive webbing)
  • Elastic band remnants
  • Wooden rods with 6 mm diameter
  • Small tree trunks, mine are approximately 3 cm wide and have a diameter of about 6 cm
  • A little wood glue


Carefully detach the cuffs from the sleeves using seam rippers. In doing so, make sure that the material remains in one piece. Place the two open edges on top of one another and stitch them together close to the edge. Afterward, fold the third section with the buttons onto the middle third. Pin this using clips.

If you like, you can also place a label or a piece of woven band between the layers. Stitch both exterior edges closed and lock the seam beginnings and ends well.

And there you have it, a little bag made out of cuffs that you can fill with all types of things. For men, this bag is ideal for headphones, USB drives, or memory cards, to name a few. If the cuff bag is for a seamstress, it is perfect as a small sewing case for traveling or as storage for precious embroidery scissors.

The little bags are also wonderful for children to play with.


The rest of the sleeves will be made into appliqué stars that can be used as decoration. Using this method you can make any shape you have in mind – stars are perfect for Christmastime. You will need two shapes per decorative piece, where one is just 1 cm larger than the other. 

Draw the shape on the paper side of the Vliesofix with a pencil and roughly cut it out.

After that, iron according to manufacturer’s instructions onto the left material side of the shirt.

Now cut the shapes out along the drawn lines. Transfer the larger shapes onto the felt using a heat-sensitive pen and cut them out. Cut pieces of the elastic band with a length of 3 cm.

Place these in a circle with approximately 1 cm of overlap.

Subsequently, these small elastic loops will be sewn onto the left side of the felt shapes in the middle.

Because the loops are very narrow, it is best to use a narrow edge presser foot or an invisible zipper foot.

After that, pull off the paper side from the smaller shapes and iron them onto the right side of the felt in the middle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stitch around the shapes close to the edge. If you like, you can decorate with additional shirt buttons.

Drill a hole in the middle of the tiny tree trunks the size of the wooden rod (here 6 mm). Apply a little wood glue so that the wooden rods stay in place. Insert the sticks and wait the designated drying time for the glue.

Finally, pull the shapes with the attached elastic band over the wooden rods and there you have it! A beautiful, sustainable, and natural decoration.

Together with the little bag, these make excellent gifts that the whole family will enjoy, even the former owner of the shirt.

Wishing you a peaceful, holy, and inspirational advent season


Difficulty level: Beginner
Time to Complete: Evening
Used Material: Elastic band remnants, Felt remnants, Shirt sleeves, Tree trunks, Vliesofix, Wood glue, Wooden rods, woven bands
Used Products:
Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50
Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50

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