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How to Make T-Shirt Yarn for Knitting or Crafts

Updated on July 29, 2016
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What you Need to Make T-Shirt Yarn

  • Unwanted t-shirt
  • Sharp scissors
  • Ruler

T-Shirt Yarn

Is your closet full of over sized freebie t-shirts or shirts you never wear, but just can't bring yourself to get rid of? Making t-shirt yarn is the perfect way to upcycle an unwanted t-shirt. This yarn can be used to make a variety of cute and trendy items, such as bracelets and headbands, or used in place of chunky yarn in almost any project. Making t-shirt yarn is simple, as long as you follow a few basic steps.

First, lay your t-shirt flat on your cutting surface. You can use a table, cutting board, or even the floor. I frequently use a craft mat because the grid lines help me cut straight strips for the yarn. Next, cut off and discard the bottom hem. Then, you can either cut below any design, if you do not want bits of color from the design to show on your finished project, or you can cut straight across under the sleeves.

Next, fold the t-shirt as shown. Do not fold the shirt directly in half. Instead, offset the fold so the upper edge sticks out an additional inch or inch and a half. Both folded edges of t-shirt (what used to be the sides of the shirt) should be up, and the cut edges should form the sides of the rectangle.

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Place your ruler below the t-shirt and line it up along one edge, use a cutting mat, or just guesstimate. Next, cut strips up the t-shirt. You can make the strips as wide or as narrow as you like, but I like cutting strips that are 1" wide, or even less. I learned (the hard way) that 1.5" strips can look bulky and strange, and anything wider than 1.5" should be avoided. When you cut your strips, make sure not to cut the top edge. To see what I mean, look at the picture to the below.

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After cutting all the strips, unfold the t-shirt. It should now consist of bands of fabric connected by a (roughly) 2" strip in the middle. In order to transform these strips in to one continuous ball of yarn, cut the far left edge at an angle, as shown, so the outside edge has a direct line to the right side of the first strip. You do not need to draw lines on the t-shirt as I did for the photo of the white shirt, but you may if you find them helpful. Proceed across the shirt, cutting at an angle, so the yarn is cut in one continuous strand.

How to Make T-Shirt Yarn

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Once your cutting is complete, all that remains is balling your new yarn. I like to start by taking the yarn around two or three fingers a couple of times. Then I slide the yarn off my fingers and use these loops as the base for my ball. If you do not feel comfortable balling yarn, you can simply coil it or make it into a small skein. It doesn't matter what it looks like for storage or use, as long as the yarn does not become tangled!

T-Shirt Yarn
T-Shirt Yarn | Source

There you have it - your very own t-shirt yarn. You can use it to make bracelets, headbands, or even to knit or crochet basically anything. Unless you stretch it out yourself before using it, t-shirt yarn is stretchy, so bear this in mind when designing a t-shirt yarn project. It also tends to be fairly bulky. These qualities are perfect for a cute hat or bright scarf, or even a reusable duster, but are less than ideal for other projects.

I hope you enjoy your new t-shirt yarn and, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

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    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Wow, this is a brilliant idea!! I have so many shirts taking up room in my closet!

      Voted up and awesome!!

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 4 years ago from USA

      Aha... I see now how people do this. I had a project I wanted to do last year that called for t-shirt yarn, but I couldn't figure out how to make it into long enough strips.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much for the votes and comments!

      Yes, jellygator, it confused me at first, too! I tried just cutting it in a huge spiral. It was an awful looking mess.

    • stessily 4 years ago

      Natashalh, This is so simple and so creative! Your presentation is clear and helpful, and your obvious enthusiasm is inspirational. I love your creative projects which rescue and transform.

      Kind regards, Stessily

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! I really appreciate the complements, and thanks for stopping by. =)

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 4 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      Useful hub. Thank you sharing this new idea. If you have enough length you can make bathroom carpets by tying this back to back. for enough length we can use old unused bed sheets.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Yes, colorful t-shirts would make a nice-looking rug! And sometimes you can find sheets very inexpensively at a thrift store.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, anusujith!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I almost missed this hub; again, no notification email. Great idea! You are so talented! Are you sure you don't want to move to Washington and meet my son? :)

      Great job my young friend!

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Hahaha. I do know a lot of people out that way, including some family, but it's way too cold for me! Thanks for the offer, though.

    • hecate-horus profile image

      hecate-horus 4 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I usually use my old t-shirts as cleaning rags, but this is a great idea too! Voted up and useful.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! I've used old shirts as rags, too.

    • Cheds profile image

      Cheds 4 years ago from Maine

      Love seeing people reuse. Nice hub!

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, Cheds!

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Very neat idea you got here Natashalh! Thanks for sharing. Voted Useful.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you. I really appreciate the votes and the share! I love it when sharing brings new commenters and interesting "new" hubbers to check out!

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 4 years ago from Ohio

      Awesome and informative! Great use of the thumbnail pictures, too! Up and useful! Great job.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks. Now that I've finally discovered thumbnails, I love them!

    • Sheepsquatch profile image

      Sheepsquatch 4 years ago from Springfield, MO

      Have you tried making anything with the the shirt yarn. If you have you should definitely import pictures of them into your hub.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Yes, sheepsquatch, I agree! I have made things, but I want to make a tutorial hub on a couple different projects. Unfortunately, where I live has been very cloudy and rainy (and flooding), which does not lend itself to photo taking. I will definitely add more pictures as soon as possible!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is a pretty cool idea Natasha, and clearly instructive...you are so creative...well done & up and awesome...

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! I'm glad you took the time to vote and comment, carter06!

    • DragonflyTreasure profile image

      DragonflyTreasure 4 years ago from on the breeze.........

      I'm collecting tshirts now to make a rug with! ?

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 4 years ago from New York, NY

      I love your DIY projects, Natasha! They're always so inspirational, including this one. Looking forward to trying this out. I'm sharing this and voting it up and useful :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Yes, you can make a pretty cool looking rug with t-shirts, but I don't have that many!

      Thanks for all the votes and the share, Global-Chica! I'm glad you like my DIY efforts.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My husband is a t-shirt hoarder and I was going to go and donate them all, but I think I'll start cutting them and making shirt yarn out of them now.

      Very useful and creative!

    • Audiogeek profile image

      Audiogeek 4 years ago

      Susan, I think donating clothes is much more rewarding...

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Maybe...but reusing t-shirts to make yarn you can then turn in to gifts for birthdays, holidays, etc is a great way to give something personalized and a low cost without just buying more stuff.

      T-shirt hoarding is way too easy a trap to fall in! When I reuse them, I can justify not having them in my closet any more.

      Thanks for stopping by, Just Ask Susan and Audiogeek. It's nice to see some differing openions!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was just considering turning a pile of old t-shirts into cleaning rags, but this sounds much better. Up and awesome!

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent! Glad to be of service, dirt farmer. Thanks for the votes!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      What a neat idea! I may need to search for some t-shirt yarn projects now.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome. Thanks for stoping by, randomcreative!

    • summerberrie 4 years ago

      Natashalh, this is just too cool! I am definitely giving this a go. Thanks. Voted up and useful!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you for the votes! And have fun with the t-shirt yarn.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      This is a great way to re-cycle those old T's. I usually donate them or toss them (they are pretty beat up after years of use). The more colorful ones would make interesting designs. Great idea and one that helps people go green.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      That's true - sometimes things just aren't donation-worthy! I end up with lots of unworn shirts, though, because giveaway shirts are always, always far too large for me. As long as you don't mind the writing bits showing through, ad-covered freebie shirts have lots of fabric and are great to turn in to yarn.

    • penguinforsale profile image

      penguinforsale 4 years ago from Kentucky

      This is a great tutorial- I've had my eye on some Pinterest projects that use T-shirt yarn, and now I know how to "harvest" it, for lack of a better word. Thanks!

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent! I'm very glad you found it useful and hope you enjoy crafting. Thanks for stopping by.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I remember reading this idea before, years ago. I'd forgotten all about it. I really like your upcycling and repurposing posts.

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, That Grrl. I guess this is what happens when you love to make stuff and don't have much of a disposable income. I enjoy it, though, and I'm glad others do, too.

    • RoxiM profile image

      RoxiM 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Thanks for such a great explanation! I've always wondered how these were done. I recently used t-shirts cut into loops (straight across the shirt) to make a hula-hoop rug with one of my classes. I'll have to think of a project for t-shirt yarn for next year.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Cool! I tried cutting the t-shirts straight across, but cut the loops in the middle. I quickly learned It is a poor way to make yarn. It's cool there are projects you can do that way, though. Thanks for stopping by!

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Very creative. Voted up and useful.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, carozy!

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 4 years ago from Cardiff

      What a great idea, better than chucking all those old t-shirts! Helpful hub thanks!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, daisydayz! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      What a great recycling project! I'll have to try it when I clean out my T-shirt stash. :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      It's pretty fun and easy. I was just thinking about a tshirt yarn knitting project earlier today!

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 2 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      What a good idea. I think we all have t-shirts we can use. I will have to figure it out a bit though, I think once I start I will probably understand better.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      I think you'll get the hang of it! Practice first on a sheet of folded over paper if it's confusing - that should help.

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 22 months ago from Dartmoor

      Wow, I've been doing this the hard way for years!

    • Natashalh profile image
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      Natasha 22 months ago from Hawaii

      Amusingly, I just made some t-shirt yarn the other day and it had been so long I had to really stop and think about how to do it!

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