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How to Make T-Shirt Yarn

Have you ever heard of t-shirt yarn? 

If you’re on Pinterest with any regularity, then I’m guessing you have, because it’s everywhere. It’s pretty much the coolest stuff ever. 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

You take a plain old t-shirt, make a few folds and a few cuts, stretch it out, and suddenly you have 30+ yards of yarn that you can use for all sorts of stuff — like jewelry, rugs, flowers, and lots more! I’m going to be sharing a tutorial for some super cute coasters this week over at Mom it Forward, and I have a bunch of other projects planned, so stay tuned!

So even though there are a bajillion t-shirt yarn tutorials out there, I’m going to share my own today so that you can refer back to it as needed.

All you need:
Old t-shirts — you want to use plain t-shirts with no side seams and no graphics below the arm holes {i.e., if there’s just a small graphic on the top front of the shirt, it’s fine, because you’re going to cut that part off anyway}. Dig through your closet or head to the thrift shop!
Sharp scissors or a rotary cutter and a cutting mat

 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Lay your t-shirt out on your cutting mat or other flat surface. Try to get it as flat as possible. Cut straight across under the arms, and cut off the bottom hem. 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

You will be left with a tube of knit material.

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Turn your t-shirt tube so that the folds are at the top and bottom and the sides are open. Fold the tube almost in half, but leave an inch or two at the top. 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Cut the tube into strips about an inch wide, being careful to not cut through the fold at the top. 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Rearrange your tube and flatten out the top fold so it is laying flat on your cutting surface. {Does it make me creepy that I always think that this part looks kinda like a rib cage?}

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Now comes a part that’s a little tricky to explain, so take a look at the photo. Your goal is to make one long piece of fabric, so you want to cut diagonally from one strip to the other. So cut off that first strip at a slant, then cut diagonally through each of the strips. When you’re done, you’ll have one crazy long strip of fabric. 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Don’t be alarmed if you have some wonky, zig-zaggy pieces. Once you stretch out the yarn in the next step, you’ll never even be able to tell.

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Just start at one end and pull the t-shirt piece to stretch it. As you do that, it magically curls up onto itself and becomes yarn! How cool is that? 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

Stretch out your entire piece of fabric, roll it into a ball, and you’re done! This gray t-shirt was a men’s XL, and I ended up with over 30 yards of t-shirt yarn. For reals. I couldn’t believe how much one t-shirt provided!

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

I will warn you, this becomes a mighty addicting process. Tell your husbands/boyfriends/roommates/kids to guard their shirts with their lives, because you will begin to somewhat obsessively check out what they’re wearing to see if you can yarn it up. 

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn! You can use t-shirt yarn to make jewelry, rugs, bags, coasters and lots more!

I think my favorite is the roll that I got from a tie-dyed t-shirt. So much fun.

You tell me: What will you make with your t-shirt yarn??

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • M.e.
    August 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I always wondered how to do this! Thanks for the easy tutorial!
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  • Jenn
    August 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I know, I couldn’t believe how easy it was either!! I was so amazed at how much I got from just one shirt!
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    August 20, 2014 at 12:21 am

    waaaaay cooooool! 🙂
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  • Liz
    August 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for the great tutorial. These are by far the clearest directions for making t-shirt yarn that I have seen yet. Definitely pinning and sharing.

  • Sarina Francis
    September 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Love it! Simple Maggie has how to make a blanket using it! Watch out Husband, your shirts are mine! As soon as I find some half decent scissors.

  • Beth
    September 17, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    This is BRILLIANT!!! I was looking on pinterest for how to make t-shirt yarn so I can make a crochet cat bed!

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    October 15, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Love using this for crafts! Have one featured on our blog today @ Twitchetts.blogspot.com Using this T-Shirt Yarn. Used a link to your page for the step-by-step, best instruction I could find!!

  • Johanna
    April 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Thanks! This is so good!

  • Karen
    April 12, 2015 at 1:40 am

    What do you do with the top part of tshirts and hem?

    • Jenn
      April 12, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Karen! I usually throw out the hem, but I save the other pieces to use as scraps. You can find all sorts of really cute and easy t-shirt flower tutorials on Pinterest!
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  • Donna Schafer
    April 22, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    What happens if you use a shirt with side seams?

    • Jenn
      April 23, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Hi Donna! Unfortunately, it won’t work with a t-shirt with side seams, because you won’t be able to get a nice, long piece.
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        July 2, 2015 at 5:48 pm

        I make latch hook rugs with t-shirt pieces! You need about 5″ long strips so you can use old shirts with side seams for those!

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    June 7, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Awesome things here. I’m very satisfied to peer your article.
    Thanks a lot and I am having a look ahead to touch you.
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    July 8, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Why won’t my strips curl? They just remain flat

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    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing, usually my discarded t-shirts go to my husband’s art studio (www.wilderann.com) recycled for rags though being a knitter when the mood strikes I like your suggestion with t-shirt yarn. Will surely give this a try. What have you knitted with this yarn? Also, since I just stumbled upon your sight I look forward to taking a peep. Happy New Year!

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    Thank you for the great instructions. I never could figure out “cut at a slight angle around the shirt”???
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