Is your closet full of oversized freebie t-shirts or shirts you never wear, but you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of them? Making t-shirt yarn is the perfect way to upcycle an unwanted t-shirt. This yarn can be used to make a variety of cute and trendy items. Such as bracelets and headbands. Or it can be used in place of chunky yarn in almost any project. Making t-shirt yarn is simple, as long as you follow a few basic steps.

What You Need

  • Unwanted t-shirt
  • Sharp scissors
  • Ruler

Step 1 How to Make T-Shirt Yarn: Cut the Hem and Fold

First, lay your t-shirt flat on your cutting surface. You can use a table, cutting board, or even the floor. I frequently use a craft mat because the grid lines help me cut straight strips for the yarn.

Next, cut off and discard the bottom hem.

Then, you can either cut below any design (if you do not want bits of color from the design to show on your finished project) or you can cut straight across under the sleeves.

Next, fold the t-shirt. Do not fold the shirt directly in half. Instead, offset the fold so the upper edge sticks out an additional inch or inch and a half. Both folded edges of t-shirt (what used to be the sides of the shirt) should be up. And the cut edges should form the sides of the rectangle.

Step 2 How to Make T-Shirt Yarn: Cut Strips

Place your ruler below the t-shirt and line it up along one edge, use a cutting mat, or just guesstimate.

Next, cut strips up the t-shirt. You can make the strips as wide or as narrow as you like. But I like cutting strips that are 1″ wide, or even less. I learned (the hard way) that 1.5″ strips can look bulky and strange. And anything wider than 1.5″ should be avoided. When you cut your strips, make sure not to cut the top edge.

Step 3 How to Make T-Shirt Yarn: Unfold the Shirt and Cut the Edge

After cutting all the strips, unfold the t-shirt. It should now consist of bands of fabric connected by a (roughly) 2″ strip in the middle.

In order to transform these strips in to one continuous ball of yarn, cut the far left edge at an angle. That way the outside edge has a direct line to the right side of the first strip. You do not need to draw lines on the t-shirt, but you may if you find them helpful.

Proceed across the shirt, cutting at an angle, so the yarn is cut in one continuous strand.

Step 4 How to Make T-Shirt Yarn: Ball Your Yarn

Once your cutting is complete, all that remains is balling your new yarn. I like to start by taking the yarn around two or three fingers a couple of times. Then I slide the yarn off my fingers and use these loops as the base for my ball.

If you do not feel comfortable balling yarn, you can simply coil it or make it into a small skein. It doesn’t matter what it looks like for storage or use, as long as the yarn does not become tangled!

Step 5: Create Your Project! (And Remember, This Yarn Is Stretchy)

There you have it: your very own t-shirt yarn. You can use it to make bracelets or headbands—or even to knit or crochet basically anything. Unless you stretch it out yourself before using it, t-shirt yarn is stretchy, so bear this in mind when designing a t-shirt yarn project. It also tends to be fairly bulky. These qualities are perfect for a cute hat or bright scarf, or even a reusable duster, but are less than ideal for other projects.

I hope you enjoy your new t-shirt yarn, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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