How to Make T-shirt Yarn

Making t-shirt yarn is a great way to relove an old shirt or other item made from knit (stretchy) fabric. There are tons of projects out there that use t-shirt yarn in fun, creative, and useful ways. Over the weekend I’ll be putting together a video of how to make my favorite crochet rag rug using t-shirt yarn.

First, obviously, you’re going to start with an old t-shirt or other knit fabric item that is worn out or you no longer use. Shirts with stains, holes, rips etc. work great because you won’t see those blemishes once you make it into yarn. I’ve even had success using graphic tees with fairly large areas of pictures painted on the front. It pretty much disappears into the projects as you use it, so no need to skip that shirt with the floral rainbow unicorn cat saying swear words. Or the shirt featuring your political disappointments. (Now you won’t feel bad every time you see it lying crumpled in the corner where you threw it) Give it new life!

You can also use any other fabric item that is made from knit fabric. Knits are typically stretchy feeling, like a t-shirt. Basically, if it feels like a t-shirt you can use it to make t-shirt yarn. I’ve used old dresses, skirts and leggings to make t-shirt yarn.

If you are planning to make a project larger than a trivet or hot pad, I’d suggest gathering several t-shirts to start with.


I’m using a long sleeved tee for my tutorial. I’ve folded it in half lengthwise so the sleeves line up with one another.

(You can use just scissors to make your t-shirt yarn, but a rolling cutter is much quicker and less work so I recommend that)

I cut off the collar and sleeves first, and set the sleeves aside to use later.

DSC_0273Then I rotated the shirt horizontally. Notice that the shirt is still folded in half lengthwise with the seams towards the top in this photo.

DSC_0274After that I cut off the bottom hem and the unevenly pointed top area where the collar and sleeves used to be. I used a ruler to make sure my cuts were straight.

DSC_0275Then using my ruler as a guide, I cut the fabric into strips ALMOST to the seam edge of the tee.

DSC_0276I left roughly an inch to a half inch uncut as I neared the edge.

DSC_0279Here is the fabric unfolded so you can see how both edges of the shirt are still connected down the sides.

Now I opened up the shirt, and shifted it around so that the uncut sides were facing me so I could work with them easily.

DSC_0283After that I got out my scissors and started snipping diagonally between the strips as shown so that it all stays in one long strip.

I found it helpful to go “around” the shirt during this process, rather than just cutting all up one side and then down the other. I did one cut on the right side, then one on the left, etc. as I made the circuit. It should be easy to see what I mean as you proceed.

DSC_0289Once I finished cutting the sides apart as shown, I ended up with one long strip of fabric like this.

DSC_0290To finish the yarn, I pulled and stretched out the strip of fabric until it started to naturally roll up. All knit fabrics will do this naturally to an extent. Some more than others, but it will be useable either way. You just want to make sure and stretch it out really good now or the projects you make with it in the future will get all saggy and funky.

DSC_0291And here is my adorable little ball of t-shirt yarn so far!

Now we will go back to those sleeves I set aside earlier. That’s a lot more fabric! I don’t want to waste it.

DSC_0292Using my ruler and the rolling cutter, I cut off the hems and the uneven areas toward the shoulders. Then I cut what was left into more strips using the ruler as a guide so that everything is the same size.

DSC_0293Here are the strips I ended up with. I snipped a little hole in the ends of each of the strips where I marked on this photo.

DSC_0295This is how it looks close up.

Now to connect them all into one long strip without any sewing or tying bulky knots.

I took one of the strips like this,

DSC_0296and I slipped it through the hole in the next strip.

DSC_0297Then I took THAT strip, and pulled the whole thing through the hole in the first strip.

Now they are kind of woven together.

DSC_0298This is how it looked once I pulled it tight.

DSC_0300All wound up! So much crafting potential right here. SO much.

Have you ever made your own t-shirt yarn? What are your pro tips? Let me know in the comments!



3 thoughts on “How to Make T-shirt Yarn

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