What do you do with all the old t-shirts that belonged to kiddos who decided to grow too fast, or the ones belonging to you that unfortunately do not fit any longer or are not the same color that you bought anymore, have holes in places where you do not want them or the ones you now absolutely dislike after the initial fancy.
How many t-shirt cleaning rags would you want anyway. So What do you do? You make yarn with them and keep them aside for a lot of future DIY possibilities.
For the uninformed, T-shirt yarn is a super star in the craftsy world- it is a rugged yarn that can make a lot of things. Kitchen rugs, bath mats, drawstrings, balls, mug rugs, potholders, baskets, headbands, macrame work, bags, throws, cushions – there are so many things that smart people make with the t-shirt yarn. Frugal DIY at its best.
As a first step in making t-shirt yarn, Iron your t-shirt to get rid of all the wrinkles it has.
Lay it out flat in front of you – any creases or folds should be straightened till everything is flat as much as possible.
Method 1. Make continuous t-shirt yarn.
This is my absolute favorite way- you get about 13 meters of t-shirt yarn from a large women’s t-shirt in a long continuous strip when cut this way.
First cut off the top portion and bottom hem of the t-shirt.
Keep this tube in front of you such that the folded edges are placed horizontally. Keep it flat in front of you, removing all the folds and wrinkles.
Mark vertical lines on this tube 1 1/2 inches apart – leaving 2 inches at the top folded edge.
Cut through these lines – the top portion (2 inches ) is not cut, remember.
Now open up these strips, laying one of the side seams open in front of you as in the picture – the strips have to be joined in a diagonal fashion to get the continuous t-shirt yarn. You do that with clever cutting and absolutely no sewing.
Mark the strips diagonally across joining them together. The first strip is joined to the second strip and so on and so forth
Cut through the marks. It may look slightly awkward at first but if you pull the yarn it will make it more smoother
After you have cut it out, pull the strips – the edges will curl inwards and give you a thin continuous strip of t-shirt yarn.
At times you just want some short strips of t-shirt yarn or maybe you cannot cut the t-shirt as described earlier – because of holes on the t-shirt etc – then you can cut out short strips of t-shirt yarn and then join them together .
Method 2. Cut short T-shirt yarn and join
Cut out the hem portion – you do not want that.
Mark lines horizontally across your t-shirt – 1 1/2 inches should be width of all your segments. You can go as wide as 2 inches for a thicker t-shirt yarn
Cut along the lines through all the layers of your t-shirt. You get small tubes of yarn. This is your short t-shirt yarn.
Join small strips to make long t-shirt yarn.
Make small slits on both the short edges of the yarn strips.( A & B )
Say you have two yarns X & Y which you need to join ; On both the yarns make the slits A & B. ( If you are just joining two strips you need to make only one slit A on strip X) Top slit is A and bottom slit is B.
Insert the yarn Y through the slit A on Yarn X
Bring up the other edge of the Y strip and insert it to the B slit on Yarn Y itself ( Which is projecting out through the slit A of X)
Pull the yarn and tighten the knot you have just now made. This will create a knot there which will join the two strips together.
You can join all the fabric yarn strips together this way to create a long yarn in the length you want.
Create your own fabric using the yarn you have made. Related post : How to weave using a cardboard loom
Or a braided rug – Check out the tutorial to make a braided rug here.
More : Different types of yarn used for knitting; Make a 3 strand braid; Make a 4 strand braid; Make a 5 strand braid; Make braided cord with a cardbroad loom
Updated on September 6, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
Thank you Kiyoko
I agree with Sherry. This was a great explanation and extremely helpful graphics.
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Sherry for the nice words.
This is the best explanation of t shirt yarn I’ve found online Others had me totally confused at the diagonal cutting part.
Thanks for clear descriptions and pictures!
That is nice Rangeni; thanks for leaving the comment
Wow, that is nice. You are really creative to make that
Thanks for leaving the comment, Jean; You can try with an old t shirt so need to be tensed.
I am not too sure but I will give it a go keep your fingers crossed for me.
As a knitter, several years ago I purchased a lovely pastel plaid, enough to make a skirt & cut the remainder into 1″ Bias strips. I then wound the bias into a ball & (using US size 8 or 9 needles) knit a coordinating top. Received Lots of compliments on the outfit.
Crochet-ers could do something similar.
i use these to make jewellery with beads