Gear

Odds are you have a lot of old race t-shirts sitting around. There are the ones that actually fit and have made into your wear rotation—and then there are all the rest that sit in a pile in the closet because they’re too big or too old or just don’t make the cut. You don’t want to throw them out (afterall, that race meant something!), but you don’t know what to do with them either.

This is where Project Repat comes in.

The company takes old t-shirts and turns them into keepsake quilts. Technically, you could use any old t-shirts, but the company’s found a particular following among athletes with old race shirts. While the idea of turning race shirts into quilts has been around for decades, Project Repat takes the DIY out of the equation and makes it easy even if you’re not very crafty.

The process: Gather up your old shirts, cut them in half for the pieces you want, and mail them with the paperwork you’re given after placing an order. (You can also let the company do the cutting for you for an extra fee.) The front and back of each shirt form what the company calls a “side”—ie. one t-shirt forms two “sides” or squares of the quilt. You need 16 “sides” for a lap quilt and 42 for a queen size. You can mix and match, pick and choose which parts of the races you want to remember, but one thing to keep in mind I found: On a lot of race shirts, the design or logo isn’t actually in the middle of the square, but rather sits higher up in the top third of the shirt; this can lead to your squares having a large amount of empty blank space below the design and looking slightly lopsided.

Pick your shirts, cut them up, pick your size and number of panels, pick the color of the fleece you want for the back of the quilt, mail it all in, and then wait.

Two to three weeks later, you’ll get your quilt in the mail. (If you want to surprise the triathlete in your life for the holidays, you probably still have time. Or, you can give it as a gift and let your giftee decide on the shirts themselves.) These quilts aren’t necessarily the prettiest things—though, I’ll admit I didn’t put a ton of thought into my design and let Project Repat make the decisions. You could specify more if you chose. But even if it looks a little handmade and piecemeal, isn’t that the point? It’s a way to remember all the races you did and it’s surprisingly warm now that winter’s rolled in. Plus, apparently, my cats aren’t the only feline fans; these quilts appear to be very popular with everyone’s pets.

RELATED: Triathlete’s Holiday Gift Guide