Today I’d like to share a quick tutorial on how to make t-shirt yarn from old shirts. T-shirt yarn is great for projects that require a thick, bulky yarn and there are tons of great t-shirt yarn patterns out there for chunky crocheted rugs, baskets, purses, and wall décor.
A few weeks ago, my fiancé and I cleaned out our closets, setting aside clothes to be donated. We ended up with a large pile of his old white Hanes undershirts that couldn’t be donated due to wear & tear, stains, etc. He was going to throw them away when I thought, “Hey wait! These would be perfect for t-shirt yarn because there are enough to make a large one-color project!” There were 12 shirts which makes a TON of yarn. In the past when I’ve made t-shirt yarn, my shirts were all different colors, which means any large projects had to be multicolored.
All you need for this project is old t-shirts (without side seams) and a pair of scissors. You can also use a cutting mat, ruler, rotary blade, and pen/pencil for marking, but I prefer just eyeballing it with a pair of scissors because I’m not too picky about everything being perfect (once you stretch the yarn, it becomes much more uniform so that slight differences in width and crooked cuts aren’t noticeable). The whole process took less than 10 minutes per t-shirt.
Here we go!
MAKING T-SHIRT YARN
- a pair of scissors
- Lay your t-shirt down on a flat surface and smooth-out any big wrinkles. Cut off the top half of the shirt, right under the sleeves, and discard.
- Cut off of the bottom hem and discard. You’ll essentially be left with a tube of t-shirt fabric.
- Fold this tube almost in half, bringing the uncut seams toward each other. Leave about an inch gap at the top (see photo below).
- Cut the folded tube from bottom to top in sections of equal width, cutting through the first folded seam, but not the second (see photo below). For this project, I cut about 3/4-inch sections. Just don’t cut smaller than 1/2-inch or your yarn is likely to tear when you stretch it later. Once you’ve made the cuts, you will be left with something that looks like this:
- Open your t-shirt and lay it down so that the uncut section is in the middle and lays flat. This step reminds me of a ribcage and I like to think of the uncut section as the spine LOL. So make sure the “spine” in the back is as flat as possible to make the next series of cuts.
- The goal for this step is to create a continuous strip of fabric. The cuts are tricky to explain, but easy to make, so the photo below is probably the best reference. Start by making a diagonal cut from the bottom of the piece to the top of the first left “rib”. Now cut diagonally from the top of the first right “rib” to the top of second left “rib”. Continue making these diagonal cuts all along the spine until you reach the end, where you’ll make a final cut just like the first one. Here’s a photo with the score lines for each cut: Once you’ve completed the cuts, you will be left with a continuous strip of fabric like this:
- Now we need to turn that long strip of fabric into a length of yarn! All you do for this step is PULL. Grab one end of the fabric in your hand and hold the rest in your other hand while you pull. The fabric will stretch and curl in on itself, creating your yarn. Here’s a photo of the fabric before (bottom) and after (top) pulling: Continue pulling down the length of the fabric strip to create a pile of t-shirt yarn like this:
- All that’s left to do now is wrap your yarn neatly for use/storage! I looped mine between my palm and elbow then wrapped the end around the middle to secure it.
There you go, easy-peasy! Repeat the steps above for each t-shirt. I had 12 shirts so I was able to create a nice big stock of white t-shirt yarn! All that’s left to do now is figure out what to make with it!
P.S. Cats love yarn, so they’ll probably also love “helping” you make yarn. If you have any feline friends in the house, it’s best to do this project in a space where they can’t “help”. Otherwise, you’ll be dodging paws the whole time like I was. 😉