T-Shirt Umbrella





Introduction: T-Shirt Umbrella


  • 4-8 T-shirts
  • Umbrella
  • Scissors
  • Needle and Thread
  • Steam-a-Seam and/or Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Scotch-guard: Fabric and Upholstery Protector
  • Cardboard (optional)

Step 1: ​Prepare the T-Shirts

You’ll need your shirts to be mostly wrinkle-free. Iron your shirts if they’re wrinkled. If you don’t, the fabric might be difficult to cut and some pieces might come out larger than others.

You should be able to cut out 2 triangular panels from each shirt. Four shirts is enough to create one umbrella (if your umbrella has 8 panels like mine), but I wanted more colors so I used more than four.

Cut each shirt in half- separate the front half of the shirt from the back half so that you have two large pieces of fabric to work with from each shirt.

Step 2: Take Apart Your Umbrella

  1. Open up your umbrella and take a look at the spokes on the inside. You’ll see small holes where thread is sewn/looped through to attach the fabric to the frame of the umbrella.
  2. Snip all of those pieces of thread that are used to attach the fabric to the frame. My umbrella had three per spoke: one at each joint and one at the bottom/end of the spoke.
  3. At the top of the umbrella, there should be a little bit that screws off. Unscrew that piece and set it aside.
  4. Separate the fabric part of the umbrella from the frame. You might find a small circular piece of fabric that sits around that top screw. Set that aside as well.

Step 3: Template

  1. Take your old umbrella fabric and cut along the seams of one of the triangular sections. Keep cutting until you have separated that section from the umbrella. You’ll be using this piece as a template for your new umbrella.
  2. If you think the template will be too hard to keep in place or too hard to work with, trace it onto a piece of cardboard, cut that out, and use the cardboard piece as your template instead.
  3. If you need more seam allowance than is already there, add that to your cardboard template- Mine had a 1/4 inch seam allowance, which was good for the sides, but I wanted a bit more to work with at the bottom so I made the seam allowance at the bottom a 1/2 inch .

Step 4: Cutting

  1. Take your template and lay it on top of one piece of T-shirt.
  2. Cut around that template (rotary cutter was the easiest to cut with).
  3. If it helps, you can trace around the shirt with a crayon or pencil to mark where you’re going to cut. Then use fabric scissors to cut the piece out.
  4. Repeat these steps until you have 8 triangular panels. Or however many panels you need, depending on the original design of your original umbrella.

Step 5: ​Attaching the Panels to Each Other

For this umbrella, instead of sewing the panels together, I used a double stick fusible tape. If you have a sewing machine, you can use that to sew the panels together. Steam-A-Seam has always worked well for me and I didn’t have a sewing machine so that’s why I used it.

  1. Start by laying down your first piece of fabric. The panel should be facing up and you should be looking at the side you want to be on the outside of out the umbrella.
  2. Apply the Steam-A-Seam to the right edge of the panel.
  3. Place your second panel face down on top of the first panel. You should be looking at the side of the second panel that you want be on the inside of the umbrella.
  4. Iron or sew the two panels together.
  5. Repeat the process for the second and third panels. With the second panel facing up, apply Steam-A-Seam to the right side. Place the third panel (face down) on top of the second panel. Iron or sew. Continue this process until all of your panels are connected.
  6. To connect the 8th panel to the 1st panel:The 8th panel should be facing up. Apply the Steam-A-Seam to the right side of the 8th panel. Place the 1st panel (face down) on top of the 8th panel. Iron or Sew.
  7. Fold over and sew or fuse the seam around the entire bottom of the umbrella fabric.

Step 6: Attach New Fabric

  1. With the umbrella closed, put the small round circle from your original umbrella back in its original spot.
  2. Place the new fabric onto the umbrella, and screw on the piece that you removed earlier.
  3. Open the umbrella and stretch the corners of the panels to the ends of the spokes.
  4. With a needle and thread, hand sew the fabric to the spokes in the same places the original fabric was connected to the spokes.

Step 7: Make It Water Resistant

Make the fabric water resistant with a coat of protective spray.

At first I used Scotch-guard Heavy Duty Water Repellent and it didn’t work at all. Even after multiple coats, the fabric just absorbed the water.

I decided to try something else. I found an old can of Scotch-guard Protector for Fabric and with a coat of this the water just rolled right off.

I’m not sure how well this umbrella would work in heavy rain, but it looks like it would be good for a light shower or blocking some light on a sunny day.

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    So cool! Upcycling those robot t-shirts is probably one of the best things for them.

    I know! But they were destined for greater things than being just t-shirts.

    I use steam-a-seam alot but I also go back and hand sew the area I used the steam-a-seam to make sure it won't come apart and to make it last longer.

    1 reply

    I agree. If you use steam-a-seam it’s
    a good idea to go back and sew to make it more durable.

    This is SO much fun. Sew easy. Great repurposing. Well-done!

    1 reply

    Thanks :)

    I don't get why you didn't just buy a clear umbrella and sew on the t-shirt cut-outs?? would've been a lot easier..

    3 replies

    Because where is the artistry in that? I LOVE what you did! Best of luck!

    Exactly! Thank you!

    Well, that’s another way of doing

    Love the cartoons, but it will really look awesome when I use my grandsons baseball t-shirts. What a way to show school spirit.

    1 reply

    That's a wonderful idea!

    Thanks! It's a great project for anyone looking to upcycle some old t-shirts.

    Thank you :)