Try it Out Tuesday – T-shirt Yarn


Several weeks have gone by since I started writing “Try it Out Tuesday” posts.  Each week I have read the corresponding blog or instructional information related to a pin I’ve added to a board on Pinterest.  My goal was to make sure I didn’t just collect a bunch of ‘pins’ without ever trying out the recipe/craft/project/idea that the pin represented.  So far all the ‘Tuesday’ blog posts relate to cooking and recipes, so this week I wanted to try something from my board of craft ideas!

The pin project I chose links to instructions on how to make t-shirt yarn.  This is something I’ve wanted to learn for a while because there are many things I can do with the yarn once created – scarfs, rugs, necklaces, wrapping/packaging supplies.  I’ve been trying to make an effort to be more ‘green’ around our house and upcycling old socks and scraps of fabric into rags is something I’ve done for a while.  After seeing several examples of braided rugs I thought it would be great to recycle old t-shirts into yarn so I could create my own rug without having to buy any supplies!  (If I get around to the rug I’ll definitely stop back by the blog and let you know how it turns out!)

This pin links back to Bailey’s website – Let Birds Fly.  She has all kinds of creative projects and ideas and links back to loads of interesting bloggers!  Although I’ve taken enough photos to show each step of this project, please consider visiting her post for the complete instructions – give her blog the traffic it deserves!  Besides, her instructions and photos are much nicer than mine.  🙂

gray t-shirt, grey tshirt, grey t-shirt, t-shirt and scissors, materials for creating t-shirt yarn

If you’re going to make t-shirt yarn you will need an old t-shirt (whatever color or size you like) and a pair of sharp scissors.  I can’t stress this point enough – if you don’t have a pair of fabric scissors, consider investing in a student pair, at the very least.  The first time I tried this using older, worn-out scissors it took much longer and the results were not very neat at all.  As for the t-shirt – different types of material will yield different results, as will different styles of t-shirts.  The yarn will work best on shirts without any side seams or logos, and I found that a heavier cotton produced yarn that curled in more on itself creating the look I was going for.  Depending on what type of project you plan on using the yarn for you may want to consider experimenting with different types of fabric to see what works for you.

trim t-shirt to create yarn, cut bottom hem off t-shirt as first step in making yarn, trimming unnecessary pieces of t-shirt off before creating yarn, upcycling t-shirts, upcycling tshirts, recycling t-shirts, recycling tshirts
Since the object is to end up with a continuous loop of plain t-shirt material, the first step is to cut off the bottom hem and cut off the top of the shirt just below the arm holes.


folded gray tshirt, folded gray t-shirt, folded grey tshirt, folded grey t-shirt, folding a t-shirt to create yarn
Fold one side of the remaining t-shirt on itself leaving about an inch margin at the side of the shirt.



cutting even strips of t-shirt material to create yarn, creating t-shirt yarn, making t-shirt yarn, making tshirt yarn, creating tshirt yarn, cut even strips into folded t-shirt, upcycling t-shirts, recycling t-shirts
After folding a t-shirt, begin cutting evenly spaced strips almost all the way to the fold on the other side – continue to leave a margin of about an inch or half an inch. Do not cut all the way across.


After cutting evenly spaced strips all the way up the folded section of t-shirt you should have something that looks like this:


evenly cut strips of t-shirt, t-shirt cut into even strips, strips of t-shirt material, strips of tshirt material, creating t-shirt yarn, how to make t-shirt yarn


This is where I have to start being really careful to make sure I’m going to make my cuts correctly.  🙂  At the margin of shirt where the material has not been trimmed, you will make cuts diagonally across the margin to connect each loop of material to the next.  This is how you end up with one long, continuous strand of t-shirt material.


making a strand of t-shirt material, upcycling t-shirts into yarn, going green, reusing old shirts, recycling old t-shirts, making your own yarn, how to make t-shirt yarn


Go ahead and unfold the shirt loops/strips you have created so you can straighten out the margin of fabric you’re about to cut.  I’ve found the easiest way to keep this straight and not get the shirt tangled up is to slide something into the shirt like a cardboard tube or rolled newspapers so that the loops of material go around it and the uncut portion rests on the top of it.  Since I was trying to take photos of the process, I had a hard time correctly showing this step, but Bailey does a good job of explaining it in her post so I would highly recommend reading her instructions before continuing.  🙂


cutting diagonal strips in t-shirt material, creating t-shirt yarn, turning looped t-shirt material into a continuous strip, making a long strand of material from a t-shirt, how to correctly cut t-shirts into strands for yarn
Make sure you cut diagonally up one ‘step’ in order to make a continuous strand of fabric. If you cut straight across you’re just cutting the body of the t-shirt into loops.


After making all of the diagonal cuts you may still have a loop on the end where you started – cut a diagonal going in the other direction to open up the loop and finish the strand.  You should have a pile of material in one continuous strand like this —


pile of t-shirt material, t-shirt cut into one strand of fabric, one continuous strand of fabric


Almost done!  In order to create a neat and finished look the yarn should be stretched.  Take the end of the strand in one hand, put your other hand 12-15 inches further along the strand and pull in opposite directions.  As you pull the material against itself and stretch it out the edges of the strip of fabric should begin to curl in creating a nice consistent appearance.


stretching t-shirt material into yarn, stretching cotton tshirt, stretching cotton t-shirt, stretching t-shirt strips into finished yarn, finishing t-shirt yarn


Don’t pull so hard that the actual material rips (I did this with my first shirt, but it was older material that didn’t have much give left), and don’t slide your hand along the rope of fabric while pulling in the other direction or you might end up with rope burn on your hands.  🙂  Just pull it section by section (until your arms get tired) and then you’ll have a finished pile of yarn!


pile of t-shirt yarn, gray t-shirt yarn, grey t-shirt yarn, gray tshirt yarn, finishing a pile of t-shirt yarn, t-shirt yarn ready to be rolled into a ball, how-to t-shirt yarn, making t-shirt yarn


After you’ve finished stretching the fabric you can roll it into a loops, wrap it around something to keep it straight or roll it into a ball like you might do with regular yarn.


completed t-shirt yarn, t-shirt yarn ball, t-shirt yarn loop, loop of t-shirt yarn, finished t-shirt yarn, finished tshirt yarn, t-shirt yarn project


There are lots of photos with this post but the actual process doesn’t take that long… If you decide to make your own yarn leave a comment and let me know what you’re planning on using it for – I’d love to hear about it!  Also, as always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to hang out with me for a while!

Take care!



5 thoughts on “Try it Out Tuesday – T-shirt Yarn”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s