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Did you know you can make continuous yarn out of an old t-shirt? Yep it is true and it is super easy. You can do all sorts of cool stuff with it. But first you have to figure out how to make a lot of yarn (also called ‘tarn’). Go and grab an old tee to get started.

How to Make T-shirt Yarn


You already know I am an upcycle machine and a thrift store addict. Also, upcycling old tees is one of me best hobbies and is so much fun. You can make rugs, pet toys, baskets, tote bags and a lot more! See at the end of the post my best projects upcycling shirts.

All you need to get started is that big pile of old t-shirts and fabric scissors. If you have a quilting ruler and rotary cutter that is even better. But if you don’t have those, keep it simple, with some good fabric cutting scissors. Also your t-shirt can’t have side seams.

What is T-Shirt Yarn?

T-shirt yarn, also known as jersey yarn or ribbing yarn, is a type of yarn made from recycled or repurposed t-shirts or other jersey fabrics. It consists on cutting the fabric into long strips and then twisting the strips together to create a continuous strand of yarn.

T-shirt yarn is often used for crocheting or knitting and is popular for making baskets, bags, rugs, and other home decor items. It is known for being strong and durable, as well as being a sustainable and eco-friendly option for crafting. And I love everything on a budget and eco friendly!

What is t-shirt yarn used for?

Tshirt yarn is a versatile and durable material that can be used for a wide range of crafting projects. Although the possibilities are endless! Some common uses for t-shirt yarn include:

  1. Crocheting: T-shirt yarn is often used for crocheting baskets, bags, rugs, and other home decor items. It is known for being strong and durable, making it ideal for projects that will be subjected to wear and tear.
  2. Knitting: T-shirt yarn can also be used for knitting, and is a popular choice for making scarves, blankets, and other projects that require a thicker yarn.
  3. Weaving: T-shirt yarn can be used for weaving, and is a great option for creating wall hangings or other decorative pieces.
  4. Macramé: T-shirt yarn is often used for macramé projects, such as plant hangers or other decorative items.
  5. Other crafts: T-shirt yarn can also be used for other crafts, such as braiding, knotting, or even making jewelry.

How Do You Make T Shirt Yarn?

Making t-shirt yarn can be a simple process but it can be a bit time-consuming. It requires cutting the fabric into strips and then knotting or twisting those strips together to create the yarn.

If you are a beginner to t-yarn or have limited experience with fabric work, it may take a bit of practice to get the hang of it. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be a fun and rewarding activity. It allows you to create your own unique yarn for use in a variety of crafting projects.

The basic steps in a nutshell are:

  1. Gather your materials: You will need a t-shirt or other jersey fabric, a pair of scissors, and a ruler or measuring tape.
  2. Cut the fabric into strips: Lay the t-shirt flat on a cutting surface and use the ruler or measuring tape to mark out even strips of fabric. The width of the strips will depend on the thickness of the yarn you want to create. For a thicker yarn, cut wider strips, and for a thinner yarn, cut narrower strips.
  3. Knot or twist the strips together: Once you have cut the fabric into strips, you can begin knotting or twisting the strips together. You can either knot the strips together at regular intervals, or twist them together to create a strand of yarn.
  4. Repeat the process: Continue cutting, knotting, or twisting the fabric strips together until you have created the desired amount of yarn.

That’s it! I am showing how I make it step by step with pictures below. I am using a 100% cotton jersey tee as this is the best materials to create the yarn. If it is not pure cotton and has other fabrics like lycra, the result is not as good.

How I Make Yarn with Old T-shirts

Step 1

To get started fold your t-shirt in half lengthwise. Cut just below the screenprint or under the armpits of the shirt if it is a plain one. Next cut off the bottom hem.

tutorial step 1

Step 2

With the middle section, cut strips in a straight line leaving 1” still connected and folded at the top.

For my yarn I used 1/2” strips but if you want wider yarn you can cut it wider.

After you cut the strip move it out of the way and keep cutting the entire piece.

continuous-t-shirt-yarn

You can see it is still uncut at the top fold.

tutorial step 3

Step 3

Once all the strips have been cut open up the fold at the top. You will now have the top and bottom of the strips still connected.

tutorial step 3

Step 4

Take your scissors and cut the top strips all the way through the fold at the top.

tee strips diy

Step 5

At the bottom, start with the first fold and cut at an angle to the second fold going only through the top layer of your t-shirt.

We cut from the cut end on the bottom to the cut end at the top of the next strip.

cutting diagonal

Step 6

Next loop the fold around the opposite hand and then use your scissors to cut towards the next loop.

Cutting in hand
Cutting in hand 2

It will look slightly weird when you cut on an angle like that but it works I promise.

tshirt yarn string

Step 7

When it is all cut out then stretch it between your hands. This will roll the edges up and give you a tight knit yarn.

It will end up looking like traditional yarn.

how to make tarn
spools of tshirt yarn

Step 8

Lastly roll it up into a ball and store it somewhere.

pink yarn ball

Go crazy and make them in every color.

tee shirt yarn ball

How much yarn you get from a t-shirt?

The amount of yarn you can get from an old shirt will depend obviously on the size of the tee, the width of the strips you cut, and how tightly you knot or twist the strips together.

A men’s XL shirt will provide much more than a kids sized one.

As a general rule, you can expect to get around 8-10 meters (26-33 feet) of yarn from a medium-sized t-shirt if you cut the fabric into 1-inch wide strips and knot them together tightly. If you cut wider strips or twist the strips together instead of knotting them, you may be able to get even more yarn from a single t-shirt.

Keep in mind that the amount of yarn you can get from a t-shirt will also depend on the thickness of the fabric. Heavier, thicker fabrics will yield more yarn than lightweight or thin fabrics.

What is another name for t-shirt yarn?

T-shirt yarn is also known as jersey yarn or ribbing yarn. Jersey yarn is named after the jersey fabric that it is made from, while ribbing yarn refers to the ribbed texture of the fabric that is often used to make t-shirt yarn. Both names refer to the same type of yarn, which is made from recycled or repurposed t-shirts or other jersey fabrics.

What projects can I make with tee shirt yarn?

T-shirt yarn is a strong and durable material that can be used for a wide range of crafting projects. Here are a few ideas for things you can make with t-shirt yarn:

  1. Baskets: T-shirt yarn is a popular choice for crocheting baskets, as it is strong and holds its shape well. You can use t-shirt yarn to make a variety of baskets, including storage baskets, laundry baskets, and more.
  2. Rugs: T-shirt yarn is also a good choice for making rugs, as it is durable and resistant to wear and tear. You can crochet or knit a t-shirt yarn rug to add a colorful and unique touch to any room in your home.
  3. Bags: T-shirt yarn is great for making bags, such as tote bags, beach bags, or market bags. You can crochet or knit the yarn into a variety of shapes and sizes to create the perfect bag for your needs.
  4. Scarves: T-shirt yarn can be used for knitting scarves, and is a popular choice for making warm and cozy winter scarves.
  5. Wall hangings: T-shirt yarn can be used for weaving and is a great choice for creating decorative wall hangings or other home decor items.
  6. Plant hangers: T-shirt yarn is often used for macramé projects, and is a popular choice for making plant hangers or other decorative items.

These are just a few ideas, and the possibilities for using t-shirt yarn are as huge as your imaginations can go.

Here are some projects you can make out of the yarn…

tshirt-yarn-project

Left to Right: T-Shirt Shoelaces, Tee Shirt hair Bows, Tee Shirt Sleeves Pouches

finger-knit-necklaces-out-of-tee-shirts

          Want more upcycled t-shirt ideas?  I have a whole bunch of them…

upcycled tshirt projects

Left to Right: Ransom Note Sweatshirt, Painted Striped Shirt, Patriotic T-shirt Dress, Upcycled Stamped Dress, Stamped Valentine’s Day Scarf, Patchy Skirt.

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6 Comments

  1. well, you never cease to amaze me! great tips and tutorial… pinning!

  2. This is great and talk about the perfect timing!! I was about to donate/pitch a whole bag of t-shirts! Now to figure out what to do with the “yarn.”

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