Turning Race T-Shirts into Treadmill Towels

I can safely say that every runner boasts a drawer overflowing with race t-shirts. It seems that more races these days, even the small 5K are giving out tech-t shirts. But even then you only have so much room. Some race t-shirts I decline upon registration or donate right away. Some become nightgowns for my daughter or dust rags for cleaning days. But there are those few shirts that I just don’t want to get rid of: the memorable races, the PR’s. Most of them, especially the cotton ones, sit in the bottom of my running drawer because more often than not I reach for a tank top or a long sleeve (mostly because New England weather changes so drastically that one run you may wear a tank top and then the next a long sleeve, with no need ever for those “in between” t-shirts).


I’ve seen quilts made from old t-shirts, which is a great idea. But a t-shirt quilt doesn’t really fit with my bedroom decor and would probably end up in a box somewhere sitting, just like the cotton t’s at the bottom of the drawer. So I decided if I was willing to take a pair of scissors to them, I may as well make them useful. Enter: the t-shirt treadmill towel. Perfect for wiping sweat while remembering those memorable races.

I took three t-shirts that I haven’t worn in years (all though they did get some good use as some of them had pit stains;-P) chopped them up, sewed them to some terri cloth scraps that I had laying around and made myself a few handy little sweat towels, perfect for treadmill runs.



Here’s how you can do the same:

What you’ll need:

1. Old Race t-shirts

2. A sewing machine. Sewing these by hand would take a while and if you were desperate you could super glue them? But that might be a little rough to swipe across the face. Best bet if you don’t have a sewing machine is to barter with a friend who has a machine.

3. Terri cloth (can be purchased at any fabric/craft store) or repurpose an old towel.

How to do it: 

1. Roughly cut out the design from the t-shirt leaving enough room to trim it down to the size you want your towel.

2. Place your rough cut t-shirt on top of the towel material and cut a rectangle from the two fabrics; keep in mind 1/4-1/2″ margin for the seam. A rotary cutter and mat work great for this.

3. Place right sides together (logo of t-shirt face down on towel material). Sew on three sides, creating a “pillow-case”

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 7.35.56 PM


4. Turn right sides out and sew along the top to close. I used a zig-zag stitch.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 7.35.02 PM5. If you choose cut out the logo from the front of the t-shirt and appliqué onto the terri-cloth side using a top stitch.


6. Go for a run on the treadmill and wipe the sweat!


What do you do with old race t-shirts? Which ones have you kept for years?


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  1. Sarah Hussey says

    What a great idea Sarah!! I don’t wear the cotton t-shirts regularly, but sometimes I will wear them for yard work… Or I’ve given them to Jonathan as a PJ shirt :)

  2. Don Yeaton says

    Great idea Sarah! I wear a running t-shirt to work everyday! Oldest one is reds shoe barn from 1989! My 1st race.

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