Making T-shirt yarn is a fun option to repurpose T-shirts you might have stopped wearing because of stains, sizing issues, or not liking them anymore. The yarn can be used for a variety of home decor and other projects, including bags, rugs, bathmats, and coasters. There are several different ways to cut a shirt to make T-shirt yarn, but this is one of the fastest methods.
Shirts that don't have side seams make the smoothest yarn, and you'll also want to skip the parts of shirts that have logos on them. To get started you'll need some old-but-clean T-shirts and a good, sharp pair of fabric scissors.
Equipment / Tools
- Fabric shears
- 1 T-shirt
Readying the T-Shirt
Begin by laying the shirt out flat and cutting off the bottom seam and the top below any logo. If there's no graphic on the front of the shirt, cut it just below the armholes. Then cut off the hem at the bottom.
The table shown is protected by a craft cutting mat with grid squares. Substitute a playroom mat, old tablecloth, or even a flattened piece of cardboard to protect your table.
Cutting the Shirt
Leave the shirt in two layers as if you were getting ready to fold it, with the closed edges at the top and bottom of your cutting surface and the open edges on the sides.
Cut the T-shirt into 1-inch wide strips as shown here, working from the bottom fold to 1 inch short of the top fold. Leave the inch at the top uncut.
The strips can be made in any size, depending on the desired look. Avoid going narrower than 1/2 inch, though, or the yarn can become unstable.
When the cutting is done you'll have something that looks like a hula skirt, but with the top edge closed.
Starting the T-shirt Yarn
It takes a few more cuts to make this cut-up T-shirt look more like yarn.
Open the shirt up so you're looking at the uncut space of the top fold. You will be cutting from the end of one slit to the start of another, working diagonally across the uncut space.
Begin with the slit closest to the edge. Cut diagonally from the side edge near the first slit to the start of the slit across from it (off screen to the left). This will make a V-shaped piece.
Cutting the Strips Apart
Begin the next cut with the slit shown at right above, working diagonally across the fabric to the start of the next slit.
Continue cutting diagonally from the end of one slit to the start of the next one until you've cut all the strips apart.
Cutting the Last Piece
When you get to the end of the T-shirt, you'll have something that looks a little like the strips and slit in the picture, with a triangular or rectangular piece connecting the two parts.
Snip that piece, and the loop will straighten out, giving you one long piece of T-shirt yarn cut continuously. You can leave the end of the yarn slanted if you don't care about perfection (and this is not a project about perfection), or trim it square, as you prefer. Don't worry if you make a wrong cut and end up with a couple of different pieces of yarn. It's still totally usable even if it is in shorter lengths.
Finishing the T-Shirt Yarn
Now that your T-shirt yarn is all cut out, it's merely a matter of rolling it into a ball, and you can use it just as you would any other fiber.
Before you start rolling, though, you'll probably want to encourage the edges to roll up, leaving fewer of the raw edges exposed. To do that, take the yarn by the length and give it a hard tug between your hands. You can also roll it a bit between your fingers as you go to help the raw edges move to the inside. Even after this treatment, the edges might not be completely perfect, but that's part of the beauty of making your own yarn.