White tops are among the most basic essentials of anyone’s wardrobe. I love pairing them with jeans and a colored cardigan or fun necklace. I buy several for each of my little girls (ages 4 and 1) each season to pair under jumpers or with colored shorts.
The problem is, white shirts obviously show every drop of dripped popsicle and every mishandled marker, and I’m not so good with the stain-removal part of housewifery (among many other parts!) so I often end up with white shirts that are only good to be worn under a jumper or sweater or just bumming around the house.
I love to get crafty, however, and these “ruined” shirts make the perfect canvas for some creative expression, resulting in some unique pieces of clothing. Cover those stains with an iron-on patch or applique, let the kids decorate with fabric paint, or dye the whole thing a dark color. Here are three of my recent creations that saved speckled shirts from the rag pile. Check out these clothing savers projects!
1. Fabric Flowers
While I’m usually neater than my girls, my clothes get inexplicable and irremoveable spots on them as well, sometimes. This white top was easily saved and fancified with some fabric flowers I found at a craft store for $4.99. I had some spots on the shoulder and breast, but just a few flowers hand-sewn over those spots made a boring (and stained) top into something much more stylish and pretty!
2. Permanent Marker Tie-Die
I found this idea via Pinterest, with full instructions here. Using a cup to raise a section of the shirt, and a rubber band to secure it, you or your child can use permanent markers to create a design, then drip rubbing alcohol onto it and let it spread. I did a trial run on one shirt, then helped my kids each make their own.
A starburst design works best, though my kids were a little young to understand that concept, and the higher the alcohol percentage, the better it is likely to work. The tutorial linked above used 91%, and my 70% didn’t seem to disperse the color quite as well. Still, my four-year-old loved creating her own shirt and telling people about it when she wears it. You could easily do one in a limited color scheme for Christmas, Halloween, or the Fourth of July.
3. No-Sew Applique
I got a sewing machine for my birthday last week, so the quality of my craftiness may go up a few notches in the next year, but Heat&Bond (StitchWitch, whatever you want to use) is such a fun and easy way to add embellishment. I quickly pieced and ironed on these turkeys to some old tops before a playdate last November for some fun and festive matchy-matchies around the Thanksgiving holiday.
Keep those stained shirts on hand, because you never know when the crafty bug might strike and you’ll find a perfect canvas for some creative expression that gives new life to old clothes.