Did you ever wonder how to make t-shirt yarn? Did you even know that was a “thing?” It is and it’s a super fun way to up-cycle a ratty t-shirt into cozy yarn perfect for crafting with.
Supplies for making t-shirt yarn….
Any old t-shirt will work for this. We tried smooth knit fabric, rib knit, shirts with no side seams, shirts with seams. For the smoothest t-shirt yarn a smooth knit shirt made without side seams is the best choice. But…we’re not that picky and used it all! Experiment and see what you prefer for different purposes.
You’ll also need a super sharp pair of fabric scissors. I like these. They are affordable, great quality and remind of my own Grandma. Investing in sharp, quality scissors will make this (and every project involving fabric) much easier on your hands! These are also a great budget option.
I feel comfortable letting my kids use sharp scissors for purposes like this. They know they are sharp and only to be used for fabric. You know your kids and what they are safe doing.
How to turn an old t-shirt into yarn….
Start by cutting straight across the shirt directly under the arm holes. Then cut straight across the bottom, cutting the hem of the shirt off. What’s left is essentially a tube of fabric.
Fold the fabric almost in half. The two edges with seams should stagger about an inch or two. Start cutting through all four layers of fabric. Cut in a straight line cutting through the first fold but stopping before you get to the last folded layer. If you cut through the last folded layer the t-shirt would be cut into short strips. We don’t want that. Instead, we want to make one long continuous piece of yarn using the entire tube of fabric.
Keep cutting parallel lines across the shirt that are approximately an inch apart. I’m not a measuring type of person. A little irregularity here doesn’t bother me and doesn’t effect the final project enough to bother marking out inch wide lines. Continue cutting these strips all the way across the fabric.
How to make continuous t-shirt yarn….
Now the tricky part. We want to take all these strips and make them into one long, continuous piece of yarn that can be rolled into a pretty little ball and used for all sorts of craftiness. Open the fabric up so that the folded portion that was uncut is now open. Flatten the fabric and move the already cut pieces as out of the way as possible. Connect each cut diagonally to the cut above it. This creates one super long continuous piece of t-shirt yarn. Yay- you did it. The hard part is over!
If that diagonal cut part is still a little confusing be sure to watch the movie below- you can see a demo there!
Tug and roll….
Now for the fun part. The t-shirt yarn doesn’t look like yarn yet. It looks like a pile of t-shirt cut up. Probably not quite what you were going for. Am I right?
Take a long strip and give it a tug. Pretend you’re curling Christmas ribbon, but with your hands. No scissors needed here. Because the shirt is knit fabric the edges will curl right up leaving you with a skinny tube of t-shirt yarn that goes on and on. Those edges curling in are the reason not to be too careful about your measurements being precise. They are very forgiving.
If you aren’t comfortable with your young kiddos taking part in the cutting steps of this project this a great place for them to jump in.
What to use t-shirt yarn for…..
The prettiest and easiest way to store this up-cycled yarn is to start wrapping it around a finger or two. After wrapping it around a few times squeeze your fingers out and continue to wind the yarn into a ball.
This handmade t-shirt yarn is perfect for any project that you would use regular yarn for. I love it for kid’s projects because it does have a bit of bulk to it. Thicker yarn means weaving projects (like this bowl) add up quickly and kids have less time in which to get frustrated. Thicker yarn bought in stores tend to be specialty yarn which is pricey.
This handmade yarn ,is as affordable as it gets- free!