Learn how easy it is to Repurpose or Upcycle your Old Shirt into great TShirt Yarn for a variety of Crochet, Knitting and Weaving Projects
Learn how to make some super cool and colorful TShirt Yarn. All you need is some of your old tees (you know … the ones that you just can’t bear to part with) and a really sharp pair of fabric scissors.
TShirt yarn is all over the internet, right? I mean, there are already dozens of different videos and how tos for turning your beloved old tee into yarn.
So, do we really need another tutorial which shows you how to make t shirt yarn? Probably not.
However, this being a website with a focus on yarn and fiber art, I kind of felt like I needed to share it.
The basic steps for making T Shirt Yarn:
- Cut off the bottom hem of the t shirt
- Cut a straight line from one armpit to the other
- Beginning at one edge, cut a 1-1/2″ strip, from the bottom to 1 or 2″ from the top fold
- Repeat cutting strips all across the shirt
- Place the connect edge over your arm and make diagonal cuts from the first strip to the second
- Repeat with the other strips
- Pull/stretch the strips from one end to the other (optional)
In this article:
- What is TShirt Yarn?
- Supplies for Making TShirt Yarn
- How Do You Make TShirt Yarn?
- How Do You Cut Continuous Strips?
- Connecting the Strips of TShirt Yarn
- Stretching Your TShirt Yarn
- How Much Yarn Do You Get from a T Shirt?
- What Can I Make With Old T Shirts?
As a quick disclaimer, I’m sure you know I did not come up with this idea myself. Somebody much more clever and crafty probably had a pile of old t shirts and didn’t want to just throw them out.
However, I would love to find out who ‘invented’ T shirt yarn. If anybody knows, please leave me a comment below so I can give proper credit.
What is TShirt Yarn?
Basically, it is yarn that has been made out of a t shirt. But, that doesn’t exactly explain it, either.
I see Tee Shirt yarn advertised that is simply made from the same material as most t shirts, namely jersey which is a stretchy knitted fabric mostly made with cotton or a cotton blend.
Having said that, I guess you could make t shirt yarn out of just about anything that is made with Jersey such as bedsheets.
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Supplies for Making T Shirt Yarn
If you don’t have enough old t shirts in your closet, you can always head over to your favorite thrift shop. Obviously, you will want to look for the largest tees you can find but also make sure they don’t have side seams.
How Do You Make T Shirt Yarn?
Preparing the T Shirt
To begin, lay your tee flat on a table and smooth out any wrinkles. Taking your fabric scissors (or rotary cutter), cut off the bottom seam (hem) of the shirt.
Next, you want to cut a straight line from one armpit to the other. Make sure and cut through both layers of the shirt.
Ideally, this will leave you with a rectangular piece of the Jersey t shirt fabric but if your cut lines are not perfectly straight, don’t worry about it.
How Do You Cut Continuous Fabric Strips?
Now, you are going to cut your fabric into strips. First, you will need to decide how wide you want your tshirt yarn to be. Obviously, this will depend on how you wish to use your yarn.
I cut my strips about 1 – 1 1/2″ wide. Trust me, they are by no means even but again, we are not looking for perfection here.
Beginning at one edge your fabric, cut a 1-1/2″ strip, straight line from the bottom to about 1 or 2″ from the top fold (see photos). Make sure you don’t cut all the way to the end and also make sure to cut through both layers.
Now, cut the second strip the same way, halting just before the top fold. Repeat until you have cut strips all across the t shirt. Try to maintain the same width across all of your strips but again, they do not have to be perfect.
Connecting the Strips of TShirt Yarn
Now that you have cut all of the shirt into strips, it’s time to connect them into one piece of continuous yarn.
Pick up your shirt and place it over one arm with the top, uncut fold on top of your arm. If you are right handed, place the shirt on your left arm and vice versa.
Since I was taking photos, I placed my shirt over a rolled up piece of construction paper.
From now on, you will cut in diagonals. To begin, diagonally cut from the outside edge to the point where you ended cutting the first strip. This will be one end of your yarn.
The second strip will be cut from the cut end on the bottom to the cut end at the top of the next strip.
Continue cutting the rest of the strips in the same manner. When you reach the end of the shirt, simple cut off the last strip, diagonally to the edge. You now have one continuous strip of tshirt yarn.
Notice, that the fabric is flat. So, you now have a choice to make. You can either keep the yarn flat or you can stretch it to make it curl and therefore rounded, more like traditional yarn. This also makes it longer, giving you more yarn to work with.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Both types of yarn can be crocheted or knitted however, each will give a different weight and texture.
Stretching Your TShirt Yarn
If you wish to curl your yarn, here is all you have to do: pick up a length of the yarn and stretch it or pull it between your hands. You will immediately notice is curling up and thinning out. Do this all along your strand.
Notice, if your shirt had any kind of graphic on the front, those pieces will not stretch. However, that really should not make too much of a difference if you are making a crochet rug, for instance.
All that is left is to wind up your new yarn into a ball. It is now ready to knit or crochet into a fun rug, coaster or purse. That’s all there is to it!
Check out how to join your pieces of t shirt yarn in this step by step tutorial.
How Much Yarn Do You Get From One Shirt?
I was very curious to see how much extra yarn you get by stretching the fabric. Surprisingly, you get a lot! A Men’s XL T Shirt yielded about 22 yards of unstretched yarn.
After stretching, I measured 28 yards of tshirt yarn which added a good 6 yards!
What Can I Make With Old T Shirts?
Basically, you can make anything with tshirt yarn that you can make with regular yarn, only your final project will be bigger and bulkier.
Some patterns that lend themselves well to this type of yarn are crochet and knit rugs, trivets and coasters, baskets or tote bags. You can find more fun projects and patterns in this article.
- Old T Shirts
- Cut off the bottom (hem) of your tee.
- Cut straight across the shirt from armpit to armpit (make sure and cut through both layers.
- Beginning at one edge your fabric, cut a 1-1/2″ strip, straight line from the bottom to about 1 or 2″ from the top fold. Make sure you don’t cut all the way to the end and also make sure to cut through both layers.
- Cut strips all across the shirt.
- Place the shirt over one arm with the top, uncut fold on top of your arm. Then diagonally cut from the outside edge to the point where you ended cutting the first strip.
- Cut the second strip will be cut from the cut end on the bottom to the cut end at the top of the next strip. Continue cutting all strips.
- Pull or stretch the entire length of yarn (optional).
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