Let’s go thrifting! I wanted to explore some of the fantastic upcycled Cricut ideas out there. With a simple cutting machine, you can create crafts to sell and gift-worthy items without spending a bundle.
When you upcycle something, you give it a new life. It’s amazing how an item that’s used, outgrown, or discarded can come out looking like a fabulous treasure with a little embellishment. This is one area where cutting machines like Cricut and Silhouette Cameo shine. With some vinyl, transfers, and cool artwork (either of your own design or pre-made), you can create something beautiful and unique.
If you’re new to cutting machines, I suggest you explore my Cricut tutorials first. Are you trying to decide on the right machine? I’ve broken down a comparison of the Cricut machines to help you weigh the pros and cons. No matter what you choose, there are all sorts of projects at your fingertips.
Ready to explore some of the best upcycled Cricut ideas? Here’s where to begin.
How to Find Items for Cricut Upcycle Projects at the Thrift Store
When I go to a thrift store, I often get a little overwhelmed. I’m not sure what to look for—which items are “upcycle” worthy. What do I need or want? So, before we explore these cute upcycled Cricut ideas, I wanted to share a few tips to help you shop.
How to find great items to upcycle at the thrift store:
- Look for clothes in solid colors or small patterns.
- Look for items in good (like new) condition.
- Explore the framed art section for solid frames (even if the art inside isn’t your taste).
- Watch for mirrors and shadow boxes.
- Visit the appliance section and look for minimally used items, often still in the box.
- Pick up containers like storage bins, boxes, and even jars.
- Look for dishes that are plain, solid, or feature small patterns.
- Don’t miss linens like extra fabric, tablecloths, lampshades, and even curtains.
- Seek items with smooth surface areas that are easier to work with.
- Watch for glassware that’s chip-free with a smooth surface.
I have two main ways of thrifting: either I go in with a project in mind and look for the perfect supplies, or I browse the store and let inspiration jump out. Either method works if you allow your creative juices to flow.
Sometimes having a specific project in mind can pose a challenge, as you may need to be flexible with the availability of items. For example, if you want to make a shadow box or mirror project, you might not find an appropriate item at the thrift store this time around. On the other hand, if you want to upcycle a plain shirt, you will find a wide array of options.
I like to take a combination approach. I go shopping with a few projects in mind, and then, if I find a treasure, I ask myself how I could personalize and upgrade the item. If I find a great deal such as a like-new set of plain mugs, I’ll pick them up, because I know I can use them for a great Cricut upcycle idea.
When you decide to go thrifting, here is some inspiration to help you in your search for items to upcycle. You could also do these projects with brand new supplies, but giving new life to an old item (at a bargain price) is a lot of fun. Enjoy these awesome upcycled Cricut ideas!
1. DIY Bleach Spray T-Shirt from Practically Functional
Bleach spray t-shirts are one of my favorite upcycling projects because it’s so easy! All you need is a plain solid-colored top, bleach, spray adhesive, and a vinyl stencil from your Cricut or Cameo. For my shirt project, I used a cute little owl stencil.
Bleach spray shirts are an excellent option for groups and teams. If you need a fast way to make cute “uniforms” for a kickball game or camping trip, these are a unique, casual option. Each person can bring their own shirt in a specific color and choose a unique stencil or pick a different color shirt but use the same stencil to match. Kids love these shirts and they make great gifts.
Make Your Own Bleach Spray Shirt In Just 10 Minutes!
2. Dinosaur Fabric Scrap Matching Game from Swoodson Says
How cute is this dinosaur fabric scrap matching game made with an old pair of jeans and Cricut vinyl cutouts? I love dinosaurs, but you could use all sorts of designs for this project. This is a fun spin on the good old fashioned “memory” game and it’s great for kids.
I really love that this project doesn’t require advanced seamstress skills. Sometimes it’s nice to have a DIY fabric project where you can cut and go. Pinking sheers help prevent the edges from fraying, but you can run a machine around the edge of each “card” to keep them looking uniform.
Dinosaur Fabric Scrap Matching Game from Swoodson Says
3. Make Your Own Minnie Mouse Mug by Practically Functional
Let’s talk about upcycling mugs and ceramic items using cutout stencils. I made this custom oversized Minnie Mouse mug using Contact paper stencils (that I made on my Cameo) and ceramic paint. I’ve seen many different takes on upcycled ceramic goods and they always turn out so cool. These items are perfect gifts as well.
Check out these monogrammed plates from Maritza Lisa. Using any pretty dishes and vinyl cutouts (in this case, she used metallic temporary tattoo paper with a Cameo), you can create a modern spin that looks like it came from a designer store. These decorative plates on Creative Bug are another great example. While the dishes aren’t always food-safe, they make great decorations, pretty catchalls, and helpful desk accessories.
Make Your Own Minnie Mouse Mug!
4. Cricut Vinyl Milk Can Project from Typically Simple
The milk can for this project wasn’t purchased at a thrift store, but rather on sale at a craft store. I chose this example, though, because I think it’s an excellent idea for a Cricut upcycle project with an item you could easily find second-hand.
This project reminds me of my personalized watering can, which is a similar concept. Using vinyl cutouts, you can upcycle metal items like cans and buckets for a unique farmhouse look. If you’re looking for the items at a thrift store, watch for plain pieces with relatively smooth surfaces. I also suggest using outdoor vinyl if you plan to use your project as a flower holder, porch decoration, or in any other spot where it might get wet.
Cricut Vinyl Milk Can Project from Typically Simple
5. DIY Vanity Tray and Ring Dish from by Pink
I love how girly and glittery these cute vanity trays are. They would make the perfect gift for a teen girl (or anyone who loves a little sparkle in their life). Small melamine dishes and trays are often an easy-to-find item when thrift shopping. Using vinyl cutouts and pour-in epoxy is a fantastic Cricut upcycle idea.
If you’ve ever worked with pour-in epoxy resin, you know it is tons of fun. You can use resin to capture all sorts of little things—from beads to glitter and give it an “under glass” finish. Epoxy is ideal for use with jewelry projects and other upcycle endeavors.
DIY Vanity Tray and Ring Dish from by Pink
6. DIY Etched Glass from Practically Functional
Another item at the top of my “thrift list” is glassware. Look for jars, pint glasses, plates, and vases. With stencils and glass etching cream, you can create some utterly unique custom gifts and home décor. Etched glass is stunning. Once etched, the glass is food-safe and ready to use.
Etching cream is inexpensive, and once you try etching, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. You can make monogrammed champagne flutes for wedding gifts. Create custom pint glasses for Father’s Day. Use glass etching on mirrors; create beautiful vases; label upcycled bottles, jars, and containers for storage. The options are limitless.
How To Etch Glass At Home
7. Quote for Your Bathroom Scale from a girl and a glue gun
I chose this inspirational bathroom scale quote as a great example of how some glittery vinyl can add tons of impact to everyday items. For this project, she used a Silhouette Cameo and glitter vinyl (you could also use a Cricut).
If you check out Etsy, you’ll find an array of vinyl decals for coffee makers, hilarious Instant Pot decals, and decals for KitchenAid Mixers. Most of these were created by using a Cricut or Silhouette and vinyl. So if you have a cutting machine, you can personalize and upcycle almost ANY item. Look for gently used small appliances and let your imagination run wild. Again, I would use outdoor vinyl to protect your project in applications where it might get wet.
Quote for Your Bathroom Scale from a girl and a glue gun
8. Thrift Store Picture Farmhouse Makeover from Christina Faye Repurposed
Some of the best items to pick up at the thrift store are picture frames. You can often find tons of framed art for $5 or less. When looking at the framed artwork, you might be wondering, “why on earth would I ever buy this?” There is some bizarre thrift store art out there, but when you explore the art section, it’s all about the frames.
Look at this fantastic upcycled farmhouse picture! She used Cricut vinyl to create a cute quote and cow to frame against a fabric backdrop. For less than $5, she made a great wall hanging that would easily cost upwards of $20 at the store. When you go to the thrift store, look beyond that bad art and find the potential. Here’s a further tutorial on eHow for modern twists on upcycled thrift store artwork.
Thrift Store Picture Farmhouse Makeover from Christina Faye Repurposed
9. DIY Table Runner with Foil Iron-On from That’s What Che Said
Foil iron-on is one of my favorite Cricut upcycle materials. I used it for my St. Patrick’s Day shirt, and it elevates plain fabric. For this DIY table runner, she also used foil iron-on to create a beautiful design that would look great on any holiday table.
Thrifting and upcycling holiday items are a great idea. After all, you don’t want to spend tons on holiday décor that you’ll only use for a month or two out of the year (or in this case for Thanksgiving dinner). Table linens are an especially lovely option because holiday table decorations are often pricey. Look for plain tablecloths, napkins, and table runners that you can jazz up with Cricut.
DIY Table Runner with Foil Iron-On from That’s What Che Said
10. Cricut Tee with Infusible Ink from Thrift Diving
Let’s explore the more advanced Cricut upcycle ideas for clothing. Heat transfer and infusible ink are truly stunning options that help you create shirts that look completely professional. If you have the Cricut Explore Air 2 and a Cricut Easy Press, you can make some fantastic items. See a detailed, step-by-step process in my infusible ink tutorial, where I show you how to make an adorable kids mermaid tee!
How To Use Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets
Even if you aren’t ready to invest in the infusible inks, there are many options for heat transfer projects too. Adding lettering to a shirt (like this cute Beatles song shirt) is easy with Cricut iron-on vinyl and the Easy Press (or an iron). I made this iron-on transfer bag with a Cameo and Silhouette heat transfer material. I really love how well heat transfers work on fabric. You can make baby onesies, shirts, bags, and throw pillows.
Cricut Tee with Infusible Ink from Thrift Diving
The next time you go to the thrift store (or consider tossing out an item that’s lost its luster), consider upcycled Cricut ideas. Could you customize the item to add new life? Would lettering or vinyl designs make the piece special and unique? Get creative and play with your die cut machine!