Introduction: Hanging Planters From Old T-Shirts

About: Quirky gifts, colorful paintings, detailed drawings, silly graphics--I do it all.

Despite already having a number of household plants, I always pick up a few new plant friends during these freezing months in an attempt to make my house feel more outside-like. The reality of Colorado Winters is that many of my days December - March are spent huddled in my living room with a hot cup of tea, dreaming of my Spring garden and Rocky Mountain wildflower hikes; therefore, household plants from other rooms migrate to the living room to ward off my seasonal blues. This Winter has been particularly frigid, and I seem to have acquired more plants than I had room for. Time for some plant hangers!

Even the most basic plant hangers at my local nursery cost $20, and I wasn't happy with the limited color selection. After wearing out a burnt orange t-shirt, I used it to make yarn for my first planter hanger; it worked and looked great in my home (and was soon joined by many other hanging planters). My t-shirt plant hangers don't use any materials other than your old shirt, making the cost $0. The color is determined by whatever shirt you use, so the options are endless! I don't use any fancy knots--just your basic overhand knot. Depending on the size of the shirt used, I've found that each shirt has material to hang two medium pots, one large and one small pot, or one extra large pot.

Get your plants up off the floor; let's make some free hanging planters!

Step 1: Tools and Materials


Rotary Cutter - you can use scissors, but the rotary cutter makes the process much faster.



Cutting Matt

Optional: Binder Clips


Old T-Shirt - you need a shirt that is round-woven with no seams running up the sides.

Pot and a Plant - if you don't already have extra plants and planters around, go get a new plant friend! I love looking at thrift stores for "planters" like old cookie jars, serving bowls, and goldfish bowls. All make excellent and attractive vessels for your plants.

Step 2: Make the T-Shirt Yarn

Let's make t-shirt yarn! This is a material that you can use for all sorts of projects where you normally would use yarn, decorative rope, or thick cord. It has a modern, chunky look, and is very strong--and most importantly, it's reusing something you don't want anymore!

Fold your shirt in half length-wise. Use the rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat to cut the shirt just below the sleeves. If your shirt has a printed design, cut below the design. Cut the hem off of the bottom of the shirt, leaving you with a round tube of fabric. I use the rest of the shirt for making T-Shirt Journals if it has a cool design, and I cut up all un-printed parts of the shirt to use for shop rags.

Fold the tube so that the bottom fold sticks out about 2" above the top fold. Using your ruler as a guide for width, cut through all the layers of fabric in thick strips, stopping the cut just after the top fold. Repeat the cutting across the entire tube until you have a jelly-fish-like shape of many fabric tentacles attached at the top.

Unfold and shake it out. Your tube will now resemble a ribcage with large loops of fabric connected at the top. Lay the connected section flat. Cut across the section at a diagonal (see diagram), connecting each cut line on the right side with the cut line just above it on the left side. Continue cutting up the section in parallel diagonal lines. The first and last cuts will be from a previously cut line to the edge of the fabric; keeps these cuts parallel.

After all of your cuts are made, you will have one long piece of t-shirt. Starting at an end, grab about an 18" section of the piece and pull it tight. As if by magic, this will curl up the fabric into a nice round piece of t-shirt yarn! Keep moving down the strip of fabric, pulling it tight as you go until you have a lovely pile of t-shirt yarn. Ball up your yarn for easy use.

I like to let my (and donations from my family and friends of) unwanted t-shirts pile up, then process all of them at once into yarn so that I have a nice stash of different colors to work with.

Step 3: Create the Basket

Now that you have your t-shirt yarn ready, let's start making your plant hanger! Cut eight strings of t-shirt yarn; the length will depend on how far you want your planter to hang and the size of your planter, but a yard is a good starting point for a small hanger. Hold all of the strings together and tie an overhand knot towards the end of the strings. Pull tight; t-shirt yarn is stretchy! Cut the ends to create a neat tassel. This will the bottom of your plant hanger.

Working with the knot at the bottom, separate the strings into groups of two. Tie an overhand knot in each of the pair of strings about 4" from the base knot. As you make more hangers, experiment with the distances between knots; I like my smaller/medium hangers to have closer knots, and for my larger ones to have the knots more spread-out.

Next, take one strand from a knot and a strand from a neighboring knot. Tie these strands together with another overhand knot, using the same distance you used before. Repeat around the first layer of knots, connecting the strands into a neat little net. You can repeat this step to create a larger basket for your pot; I find that 2-3 layers of knotting is enough to create an attractive basket for any size pot and make some structure for climbing plants if needed.

Step 4: Finishing the Ropes

After you've finished your basket, it's time to add a decorate twist to the top. It is easiest to work this step with the hanger laid over an upside-down pot. Grab one strand coming out from a knot and twist it to the left until it is nicely twisted. Keep holding that strand so it doesn't unravel! Grab the other strand coming from that same knot and twist it up to match. Now, hold both strands in one hand, and twist them together to the right. The will bond together like happy snakes, creating a pleasing rope. The strands stay twisted quite well, but you can use a binder clip to keep them secure if you have troubles with unravelling. Repeat this twisting on each of the four knots until you have four happy, twisty rope pairs.

Remove the binder clips if you used them. Hold all four ropes together and let the basket hang down. Pull lightly on the bottom knot to stretch the basket a bit; make sure that your hanger is nice and straight from top to bottom and that your ropes are even. Tie all of the ropes together with a final overhand knot and trim the strands neatly.

Step 5: Hang Up Your Lil' Plant Buddy!

Your hanging planter is finished! Hang your beautiful work from the knot on the top and carefully put your favorite little plant friend into the basket. Awwww, she looks so happy in her new home.

Now that you can hang your plants without buying expensive hangers, don't you think it's time to get a few more? Keep recycling those t-shirts!

Trash to Treasure

Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure