T-shirt yarn is a great option for making a variety of different items including baskets, coasters, vases, washcloths, rugs and more. It is sturdy and durable but still soft on the hands. Plus, making T-shirt yarn is a great way to use up old shirts in an eco-friendly way!
Here is the step-by-step information you need to make your own T-shirt yarn.
Images by Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence
Note: I used a knit T-shirt for this tutorial. Most of the instructions are the same for a traditional cotton shirt, but there are a few minor differences, which I’ve included below using a second set of photos.
Lay your T-shirt out flat, face up.
Cut the top of the T-shirt off by starting right under the armpit and one end and cutting straight across.
If this were a typical cotton shirt, you would also need to cut off the bottom hem. The knit shirt I was using didn’t have a bottom hem so it wasn’t necessary here.
You should now have a rectangle of fabric held together by the two side seams of the shirt. Turn the shirt so that these seams are now at the top and bottom. Fold the shirt from the bottom up, leaving about half inch of the bottom part taller than the top part you’re folding up.
Start about half inch in from the left side and cut straight up to the top. Cut all the way through the top layer of the shirt and slightly up into the bottom shirt. Leave about half inch of the bottom T-shirt uncut at the top.
Repeat this process all the way across, cutting strips from the bottom to the top of the T-shirt, about one half inch apart. (Note that you can cut the strips as thin or as wide as you want but 1/2″ – 1″ is standard.) When you are finished, you’ll have what looks a little bit like a grass hula skirt.
Open the shirt so that the uncut portion at the top is in the center and the cut portions fan out at the side. This will look a bit like a ribcage.
Start at the bottom by making a cut in the center of the “ribcage” and working towards the left, cutting diagonally to the edge of your first cut. You’ll see that this begins to create a strip of fabric that will eventually become your yarn.
Continue cutting the strips diagonally from right side to left side to make one continuous strip of fabric yarn.
For my knit shirt, the process is then finished. Just roll the strip into a ball and use it. However, when you are using a traditional cotton T-shirt, you will want to stretch out the yarn before rolling it to create a thin yarn-like fabric instead of a thick fabric.
This is done by gently holding 4″ – 6″ portions of the yarn between your two hands and pulling apart. The yarn will stretch and curl in on itself to create a fabulous yarn that doesn’t reveal the cut edges of the cotton. Stretch all the way across the fabric, piece by piece, then roll into a ball of T-shirt yarn.
Now you’re ready to make something with your T-shirt yarn. Check out Ashley Little’s “Tips and Patterns for Knitting and Crocheting with T-shirt Yarn“.
What is your favorite project to crochet or knit using T-shirt yarn?
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