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How to Make T Shirt Yarn (Super Simple To Do!)

T-shirt yarn is so simple to make and is a great way to use up all those old t-shirts that are too worn out to wear or donate.

I wanted to try making t-shirt yarn to make a large rug, but I thought I’d test it out on a few smaller projects first.

This type of yarn is really versatile, and you can use it for a wide range of crafts, including crocheting, knitting, weaving, and sewing.

It’s so simple to make t-shirt yarn that you only need two things – an old T-shirt and some fabric scissors!

Follow this tutorial to make your own yarn in less than 10 minutes. It really is that easy!

Supply List

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
  • An old t-shirt
  • Scissors

How to Make T-Shirt Yarn

I made four balls of yarn from four different t-shirts in well under an hour. By the time I was on my third and fourth skein of yarn, it was probably taking about 10 minutes from start to finish.

This is a really quick craft and a great use of old t-shirts!

Step One: Preparing The T-Shirt

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

To start, lay your shirt on a smooth surface and use your hands to smooth the fabric and remove any wrinkles.

You will now need to cut off the hem.

Make sure you cut through both layers of the shirt and keep the lines as straight and neat as possible as these lines will be the edges of some of your yarn.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it completely straight, as this yarn is very forgiving, especially when you stretch it out.

Next up, cut across from armpit to armpit so you have one large rectangular piece of fabric – this is the bit you’ll be using to make your yarn!

It should look like this:

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

You can save the other pieces of fabric for future projects if you like – just add them to your scrap bin! I have loads of other posts about using scrap fabric on my sister site (Scrap Fabric Love), just like these Scrap Fabric Flowers.

Step Two: Fold the Fabric

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

So now you have a roughly square shape of fabric, it’s time to start turning it into yarn!

Fold the fabric as shown in the picture above, keeping the sewn seams of the t-shirt horizontal, and the open ends you’ve cut, vertical.

Don’t quite fold the fabric in half, you want around 1 inch of the bottom edge of the fabric showing.

Step Three: Mark Where You’ll Cut

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Depending on how thick you want your yarn, start to mark every inch or so, across the width of your shirt.

If you want thinner yarn, make marks every half an inch, if you want thicker yarn, you could make the marks up to 1.5 inches apart.

Use a pencil or pen that doesn’t show up obviously on the top, so that you’re not left with pen marks on your yarn when you start to cut.

I made my strips around 1 inch each, don’t forget that this isn’t the finised size of the yarn. You strecth it out at the end so it becomes a lot thinner!

Step Four: Cut the Strips

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Next up, start to cut the strips following the marks you’ve made.

Cut straight to the top edge of the folded shirt, but stop around an inch before you get to the underside of the shirt.

You’ll cut all the way through the top layer, but the bottom layer will still be attached all the way across the t-shirt.

You can see a close-up of what that looks like here:

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Continue cutting until you’ve cut all the strips.

At this point, you’ll look like you have a hula skirt! Don’t worry – it will all come together with just a few more cuts!

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Step Five: Make the Final Cuts

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Open the shirt up and stretch it over a small table or ironing board to make it easy to see where to cut.

It’s easy to accidently make the wrong cut here which isn’t the end of the world, but it will mean you won’t have one long piece of yarn.

To make your first cut, cut from the outside of the fabric diagonally, to the first strip. See step one in, the photo below – it makes more sense!

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Continue to cut diagonally, from the edge of one strip to the start of the next (see step two and three in the photo).

For your last cut, you can just phase the fabric out but cutting diagonally towards the edge of the strip (see step four). If you’d rather finish with a straight edge, you can neaten this up and just cut a straight line across.

When you’re finished these final cuts, you’ll have one continuous length of yarn that looks a little something like this:

Step Six: Stretching the Yarn Out

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Once I finished making all the cuts in my t-shirt, I decided to stretch the fabric out.

You don’t have to do this, but it does make the yarn longer and gives you quite a bit of extra fabric to work with!

Another advantage is that it makes the edges curl over, leaving the raw edges less exposed.

Wrap it in a ball as you go and you’ll keep it nice and neat, ready to use in your next project.

Homemade yarn isn’t usually as neat and perfect as shop-bought yarn, but I like that it’s not totally perfect!

Finished T-Shirt Yarn

I love how simple this yarn is to make!

If you have old t-shirts that are just lying around at the bottom of your wardrobe, this is a great way to repurpose them!

Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Can I Use Any T-Shirt?

You can use any t-shirt, but some are better than others.

I’d avoid using t-shirts with interfacing or pictures on them. You can cut those designs out first and save them for a t-shirt quilt or an upcycled tote bag.

T-shirt that have seamless sides are better – you can see from my pictures that I used one with seams and therefore my yarn has a few seams.

This isn’t the end of the world as I can easily hide them when I make future projects, especially if I’m knitting or crocheting.

Some t-shirts might just be well past the point of salvaging, for example, if they’re covered in paint, or holes in which case they might be better as stuffing for dog beds, cushions or bean bags.

Can You Use Multiple T-Shirts?

Absolutely! You can use t-shirt of the same color or different colors, you’ll just need to decide on a way to fasten the strips together. There are a few different ways to attach more than one length of t-shirt yearn.

Knots

The first is to tie the two ends of the yarn together. Simply tie them together as you would when you make the first tie in your shoelaces, and then repeat the knot so you have a double knot.

    Trim the ends of the knot so you don’t have bits of fabric sticking out. This no-sew option is quick and easy.

    Loops

    You can also cut a small slit about an inch or two from the end of your strip and another at the end of your second strip.

    Next slide the second strip through the hole of your first strip and then again through the slit at the end of the second strip. This will anchor the two strips together without a knot although there will be a smallish ‘bump’ where they connect.

    Sew

    If you want something a bit neater and not as visible when you use the yarn in a craft, you can stitch the two ends of yarn together with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

    Lie the ends flat, one on top of another, and hand sew or use your sewing machine to fasten the two pieces together.

    This method is a lot neater and makes the join less visible but it is more time consuming if you are doing it by hand.

    What Can You Make With T-Shirt Yarn?

    Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

    There are so many different projects you could make with t-shirt yarn.

    I made a cute pencil holder with t-shirt yarn (see the photo above!), but the options really are endless!

    You can read 20+ projects that I’ve rounded up in my t-shirt projects article.

    I’ve included everything from rugs and household items to more decorative items like jewelry and wall hangings.

    Here are a few examples:

    Toys: Plush Teddies, play food, stackable cups and rings and dog toys.

    Household Items: Baskets, rugs, face cloths, cleaning rags and coasters.

    Accessories: Purses, Bags, and jewelry.

    Is T-Shirt Yarn Easy to Use?

    This type of yarn is really simple to use.

    My main word of advice would be to make sure you don’t pull the yarn too taut as you’re crocheting or knitting with it.

    Because t-shirt yarn is so stretchy, if you pull it too tight, the fabric will lose its stretch and become difficult to work with, and your projects can easily lose their shape.

    I’d love to hear from you if you decide to follow this tutorial and make your own t shirt yarn!

    Other Clothes Upcycling Ideas You Might Like:

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    Kath

    Wednesday 1st of May 2024

    Thank you for the good instructions.

    Kristen Hubert

    Thursday 2nd of May 2024

    Glad you liked this one!

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