Home » DIY upcycled flannel shirt w/ a T shirt applique

DIY upcycled flannel shirt w/ a T shirt applique

Before you donate or toss out your clothes, try this DIY upcycled flannel shirt with a T shirt applique! It’s a great way to combine clothing items into something creative you can wear, sell, or give as a gift.

This upcycled flannel with T shirt applique project is one I did in 2020 as a TikTok, but I never did a full-blown tutorial. There were a few of you who asked, so I made it again.

@craftychica Upcycle your tees! #LearnOnTikTok #tiktokpartner #sewing #flannelshirt #upcycledclothing #craftingtutorials ♬ MI MUNDO – Nomad & Lola

If you check out YouTube, this is a popular DIY with so many creative opportunities. While I say “flannel shirt” it really works nicely on any button-up item: Flannel, cotton, a dress shirt, a Hawaiian shirt. Just make it your own!

Check out my video for this DIY Upcycled flannel shirt project!

YouTube video

Reasons to upcycle clothing 

Photo by Tom Fisk


I’ll never forget when I participated in a recycling campaign and learned that the WORST category to ever toss out is CLOTHING. Why? Because it goes straight to the landfill. And the United States sends 12 million tons of textiles to landfills every year. 

Not to bum you out, but that info really stuck with me and made me think of the bigger picture. Upcycling our clothing is a great reason to celebrate our creativity.

And don’t even think about putting shirts or other wearables in the recycling bin. They have to be removed because they will become caught in the sorting machines.

I was told the best thing to do is either donate them or upcycle them into something else. We’ll take the latter, por favor!

What to do with your upcycled flannel shirt

upcycled flannel shirt
This was a tee I bought in Mexico City, but they only had size Small. I bought it anyway and made this shirt! CraftyChica.com


RELATED: How to recycle like a boss!

There are LOTS of ways to use it!

 – Add it to your own clothing.

– Gift it as a gift.

-Sell it at a pop-up (make several).

-Donate to a local thrift store so they can sell it and use the funds to support their business.

-Bring it to a clothing swap.

-Push your creativity to design other garments from these shirts!

Choosing a shirt

thrift store shirts

Look through your closet, ask family members if they have any buttoned shirts they want to donate for your artsy cause. Visit a clothing swap and as a last resort, check out a thrift shop.

You can always find sale days to buy a stack of shirts on the cheap.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a flannel shirt, choose whatever you like! I like patterned shirts because they make the result look more interesting. 

As far as T shirts – there is no shortage of those!

upcycled flannel shirt
This was a shirt I bought on clearance at Target in the kids section!


Supplies for your upcycled flannel shirt 

Flannel shirt – or other kind of button-up shirt, even a hoodie!

T shirt of your choice

Background fabric

Optional: Basting spray or lightweight fusible interfacting

Scissors or rotary cutter

Straight pins

Sewing machine (or needle and embroidery thread if you are stitching by hand)

Optional: Trims, appliques, etc

Optional tools: Sewing mat, cutting guide

RELATED: More sewing and fabric projects HERE


Set out your T-shirt flat and run your fingers over the fabric to remove any bumps. 

t-shirt on a sewing mat

Using scissors or a rotary cutter, cut the design into a rectangle. You can trim it down later.

Cut out a piece of fabric to be the background. This is required, but it gives your shirt more personality!

Crafty Chica fabric


Play around with the placement of your t shirt appliqué and the way it will set on the fabric. If you are using striped fabric, make sure everything lines up nicely. Or you can set the background fabric diagonal so you don’t have to worry!

If you are using basting spray or ironing on interfacing, this is the time to add those.

pinning fabric

Pin the t shirt applique in place on the background fabric. Set the shirt down on a flat surface, spread it out so it is smooth and free of wrinkles.

Iron it if neccessary.

And then pin the background fabric to the back of the shirt.

Take it to the sewing machine.

How to sew on the t shirt applique

sewing fabric

In my video, I sewed the first two shirts one way – I sewed the outer edges first and then the t shirt part, as seen in this photo.

The other two, I sewed the inner t shirt area, then the background fabric. I liked this way much better.

Here are my finished shirts – well, almost finished! They may look like a pile of old shirts, but they are going to be fabulous!

pile of shirts

Now comes the clean-up part. Go through with a pair of scissors and snip away any loose threads. This is where the quality control portion of this project come in. 

Inspect your garment to see if there are any sewing mishaps you can fix. And also if you want to add any trim or other embellishments.

snipping loose threads from fabric on a t shirt applique.

Here are the finished shirts, I love how they turned out and can’t wait to make more!

This one is my fave! 

upcycled flannel shirt with a t shirt applique

And yes, I am selling these because I’m ready to make more! I have a lot of cool shirts!

What do you think? Will you be making one?


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