How To Make T-Shirt Yarn

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how to make t-shirt yarnOh my goodness. Is there anything more exciting than reclaiming something that was going to be trash? There probably is something as exciting but it isn’t coming to mind- because I am just so dang excited about all of the possibilities of projects to make with t-shirt yarn!  But first thing is first- before you can get started with all of the amazing crafts to make with t-shirt yarn,  you will need to know How To Make T-shirt Yarn.

Which brings up an entirely different question. Is it Tee Shirt yarn or T-Shirt yarn? Or maybe no dash- just T Shirt yarn? The more time you spend thinking about it, it gets even harder to decide. Well, regardless of HOW you decide to spell it, we think that any craft that rescues something from the trash and turns it into a craft supply that is this versatile is a winner in our book!

Supplies Needed to Make T-Shirt Yarn
(or Tee Shirt yarn- if you insist!)

  • An old t-shirt that you no longer wear
  • a good rotary cutter and self healing mat (a scissors will work, but a rotary cutter will be considerably faster)
  • a straight edge or long ruler

how to make t-shirt yarn

Step One:
First, assemble your supplies. A rotary cutter will make this project go much more quickly. Make sure your blade is sharp and you are using the appropriate mat reccomended by the manufacturer of your rotary cutter. Both of these will save you a lot of headache in the long run, honest. The wrong mat will get nasty grooves and dull your blade, and a dull blade will lead to choppy cuts and worse! Dull tools lead the user to press harder, which can lead to injury. Ok- lecture over! Now to the fun stuff!

Fold your shirt in half lengthwise so that the arms of your shirt are lined up. Use the edge of your ruler as a guide to cut a straight line across your t-shirt, starting under the armpits. Set the top of your shirt aside for another project. You can still cut shorter strips out of the top of your shirt, but you would not be able to make one continuous strip of t-shirt yarn, as we are about to do below.  Try to smooth out as many wrinkles as possible in your shirt before you start- these can cause uneven cutting.
how to make t-shirt yarn how to cut a tee shirt into yarn
Step Two:
Repeat on the bottom of your shirt- line your ruler up next to the bottom seam of your shirt and use it as a guide to cut off the seam of your t-shirt. Remember to make sure the seams are well lined up before cutting.
cut a t-shirt into yarn
Step Three:
Decide how wide you would like your t-shirt yarn to be. If you are doing a more heavy duty project you may want slighty thicker yarn. If you are doing something more lightweight to wear, you may want thinner yarn. You can see in the photo below the difference- the lower yarn was 1 inch strips of t-shirt, while the upper yarn was cut into 2 inch strips. Once they are pulled and curl they will both end up much longer and thinner than the original strip, although the 2 inch t-shirt yarn still has larger curls and is thicker. I would not recommend going much thinner than an inch, you may begin to see the t-shirt material lose integrity. We experimented with sleeve fabric to see which size we liked and you could do the same- just make sure that you cut with the direction of the stretch so that your yarn curls properly. (If you aren’t sure what that means- hold your t-shirt with a few inches of fabric between our fingers. Pull the fabric left and right, then pull it up and down. It will only stretch one way- this is the direction you want your cuts to go.)
how to cut continuous t-shirt yarn
Step Four:
We decided that we wanted thinner t-shirt yarn, so we cut one inchs strips of tshirt. Start on the outside of your folded shirt and cut towards the fold in the center, stopping at least an inch from the crease.
how to cut a tshirt into yarn
Step Five:
Continue making evenly spaced cuts, stopping at least an inch before you reach the center. As you can see, we did not draw any lines to follow since we were following the lines on our ruler and our cutting mat. If you are not using a ruler or a mat with a marked grid, you can draw out your lines with chalk or a tailors pen in advance. This could be especially helpful if you are using scissors.
tee shirt yarn tutorial t shirt yarn tutorial
Step Six:
Once you have reached the end, unfold your shirt.  To make a continuous strip of t-shirt yard you will connect the cuts diagonally. You will make cuts from the lower left to the upper right slit- as we have layed out our ruler below. Make sure you separate the two layers of t-shirt before you begin though!
how to make t-shirt yarn
Step Seven:
Continue to make diagonal cuts connecting the previous cuts until you have gone all the way around the shirt. The beginning and end cuts will be the same- an angle cut towards the outside. I prefer not the do the beginning cut until the last, since things stay together and are a bit easier to see that way- but where you start and end are really up to you. If you goof up a bit while you are learning it is ok- it was a trashed t-shirt right? Plus, at the very worst you will make a few shorter strands of yarn while you are learning. These are great for bracelets, or can be used by just tying them together to make longer strands. It is all part of the process- have fun with it!
how to make t shirt yarn how to make tshirt yarn
tshirt yarn tutorialhow to cut continuous t-shirt yarn
Step Eight:
Once you have cut your strips, simply pull on them to encourage the curling process. This is how you will go from strips of fabric to usable yarn!
diy t shirt yarn
Keep pulling until all of your yarn is ready to use! You may want to wind it into a ball or around a piece of cardboard to keep it tidy until you are ready to use your t-shirt yarn to make a project.
t shirt yarn tutorial
If you are planning to knit or crochet with your t-shirt yarn you can even wind your yarn into a center pull skien by leaving one end hanging while you wind it onto a dowel or a pencil. Once you pull the pencil in the center out, the first end of the yarn that you left hanging will be where you pull from to knit or crochet. (I forgot about this trick before I wound my t-shirt yarn into a ball. Next time!)t shirt yarn projectsHands down, my favorite use for t-shirt yarn is using it in a simple t-shirt yarn necklace or a t-shirt scarf. Just tie the ends together, wrap at a length that you like, and go! It is as easy to make as it is to wear- it just has a laid back cool that can go anywhere! Experiment with wrapping, braiding, or even adding some chunky beads or pretty flowers to really jazz up the look!

So now that you know how to make t-shirt yarn, what will you do? We are always looking for things to make with t shirt yarn since it is such a fun, easy and inexpensive project, so we would love to hear your plans! Leave a comment below!

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2 Comments

    • Hi Judy!

      Thanks for asking! I know that it is possible to knit with t-shirt yarn, though I have not tried it myself yet. If you give it a try we would love to hear about it!

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