Monday, February 27, 2012

How to make T-shirt yarn

If you have a lot of old t-shirts, sweat-shirts, or other knit clothes, you can easily turn them into "yarn" which can be crocheted, knit, or woven into other projects. Basically you are cutting a shirt up to get a long spiral of fabric. Here's how I did it:

Step one: gather your t-shirts. This was the hardest part for me :) I had several which were just rags anyway, so those were easy. But I figured this was a good chance to cull some of those things I haven't worn for years... that turned out to be harder than I thought.

Next, cut the shirt half-way. Lay the shirt on your cutting board, as shown below, and make cuts about 1 inch apart. Don't cut all the way across the shirt - you should be cutting about 2/3 of the way only. Don't worry too much about precision - as long as the strips between more than 1/2 inch wide, you'll be fine. If you don't have a rotary cutter, scissors work equally well.

When you reach the top of the usable part of the shirt (at the underarms), cut all the way across. The top part of the shirt and the sleeves you can set aside for some other project or throw away.

Open the shirt up and put it around your cutting board. The uncut part of the shirt should be at the top, and the already cut strips should be under the cutting mat (so that you can't accidentally cut through them). If you don't have a cutting mat which is the right size to do this, try wrapping the shirt around a piece of cardboard or your ironing board and continuing with scissors instead of a rotary cutter.:

Cut on a slight diagonal from the first cut on the bottom to the second cut on the top. As I've demonstrated so wonderfully in the picture, neatness doesn't really matter:

Then cut down from the first cut at the top, tapering as you go:

The cut the rest on the same slight diagonal as you did the first cut. When you get to the end, again taper the extra strip:

Now you should have a long spiral of fabric. Dump it off your cutting board and begin stretching it out. Here is the part where all your wonkily-cut, curvy, thin-again-thick-again strips will become lovely uniform yarn. Just pull, pull, pull:

You might enlist helpers:

Some strips will turn into yarn nicely, like the pink above and the dark gray below. Other materials won't curl up so well, like the light gray below or the green in the picture below. Don't worry about it too much. Just stretch the strips as well as you can without breaking them. When you're all done pulling, roll the yarn up into balls and set them aside for a project.

There you have it, easy-peasy! Coming in the next post is the project I made with all this yarn (which you can see a peek of in the right side of the photo above).


  1. This is an amazing idea. Thanks so much for showing pictures of all the steps. I'm gonna have to try this. Is a bigger crochet hook like a size K needed to make something with the t-shirt yarn? Now I wanna go search around the house for old t-shirts. Lol. Thanks again for sharing.
    Kraftykaren from "comment on my blog" swap

    1. To be honest, I don't know what size crochet hook I have; it's about half an inch thick!

  2. I used a "K" hook but I think it's whatever will work. It can be tough getting the small hook to work the trope. Nice job here, Emily.

  3. Great tutorial. I've been wanting to do this!


  4. Love the tutorial. This would make an awesome rug for my kiddos room.

    ~J3ss1ca (Swap-Bot)

  5. this is so cool! I last saw this at Upper Canada Village in Ontario, Canada, where early 19th c. women recycled disused military vests, cutting them to ribbons into yarn, and making carpets or place-mats out of them in a spiral elongate pattern