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How to Make T-Shirt Yarn

I was having a clothes clearout and found a t-shirt that had seen better days, so I decided to recycle it into something useful; t-shirt yarn!


I have recently had a dabble with weaving, and I can also knit, so I certainly had use for it. If you can't weave or knit, you could use this chunky yarn for making rag rugs, crocheting, braiding into spaghetti straps or drawstrings, fringing, latch hooking, macrame, necklaces...many things really :)


And since I love a tutorial, I thought I would put one up here just in case someone has use for it. It's quick and easy to do, and a great way to recycle your old tees.

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What You Will Need:


- Cotton jersey t-shirt(s)

The bigger the t-shirt, the more yarn you will make.

Find t-shirts without side seams:

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And also try to find a t-shirt that is either plain or has a motif only towards the top of the shirt. If the motif becomes part of the yarn, it will stop the jersey from curling up correctly. You could probably get away with a faint pattern or a design with just lines and no solid blocks of colour, but plain jersey is best.


- Sharp scissors

Scissors that cut smoothly through fabric so they don't leave the edges jagged.


- Tape measure or ruler


- Flat, solid surface to work on

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The first step is to cut across the t-shirt from one side to the other, through both layers, just under the arms (or under the motif if that's lower).


Also cut across the bottom of the shirt to remove the seam, as shown above.

Make sure that you cut straight across, in parallel lines, so that you get a neat rectangle:

T-shirt yarn 4.jpg

* Please note that I have rotated the rectangle of jersey by ninety degrees so that the 'open' edges are now on the left and right, and the 'closed' edges are at the top and bottom.


Measure across this rectangle, and then decide how you are going to split this width up into strips.

My rectangle was 34 cm wide, so I decided to split it into 17 x 2 cm strips.


1.5 cm - 2 cm is the thinnest strip I would recommend...but if you want something chunkier then you can make a much wider strip (up to around 5 cm or so).

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It might be time to get the calculator out if you have an awkward number to work with ;)

You don't have to use all of the fabric of course, so you can trim off any excess.


For example, if your rectangle was 29 cm across and you wanted 3 cm strips, then you could discard 2 cm of fabric on one side.

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With your scissors, snip into the fabric at the bottom edge to mark the strip widths you have chosen. I made a cut every 2 cm.


Next, cut vertically up from each of these 'snips'. Cut through both layers, but on each cut stop 1" from the top edge of the fabric.


Try to keep the strips as parallel as possible, but they don't have to be perfect.

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 Now if you lift up the fabric by the top edge and separate the layers, you'll find you have a single layer of jersey that is 2" or so wide, like shown below:

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You need to cut this area of jersey diagonally to complete the strips.


Make sure you only cut the single layer of fabric, and that nothing else gets caught on your scissors (easily done :))

T-shirt yarn 11.jpg

The first cut you make will go diagonally from the very edge of the fabric to the inner edge of the first strip.


Carry on cutting the fabric in the pattern shown on the above diagram. As a result, the 2nd strip will join to the 1st strip on the opposite side; the 3rd strip will join to the 2nd strip on the opposite side; the 4th will join to the 3rd; the 5th will join to the 4th etc.

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 You will get something a bit like this:

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...Which you will be able to gather up into one long strip...

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To finish the yarn off, you need to turn the flat strip into a more rounded yarn-like shape.


All you have to do to get this effect is to stretch the jersey along the whole length of the strip. Do this bit by bit, as shown below, and you'll be finished in a minute or two.

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You can then wrap the yarn into a ball...

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(I ended up with a ball of yarn about 9cm wide.)


That's it! You're all done, so I hope you've had fun and now are holding something a bit like this:

T-shirt yarn 20.jpg
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