Introduction: T-shirt Yarn

In this instructable I'm going to show you how to make the easiest t-shirt yarn ever! I'll also give you some tips and tricks for getting the best t-shirt yarn that you can get.

And it goes very quickly because of the way you'll cut the shirts - you'll be crocheting and braiding in no time!

Step 1: What You'll Need:

  • 100% cotton jersey t-shirts
  • scissors or a cutting mat & rotary cutter
Make sure that the shirts you're using are cotton jersey (preferably 95% or more!) and not any crazy blend of fabrics. Lycra makes horrible t-shirt yarn, as does modal. Polyester and cotton blends seems to work fine though! I had one of those in my stack and it worked just as well as cotton - not sure why. :)

Also, make sure the shirts are not ribbed jersey fabric - they will not curl properly. I bought one to try it out and it came out a mess. I'll still use it, but it won't be pretty!

Step 2: Lay the T-shirt Flat on the Floor and Make the First Cuts

Flatten your shirt on the floor and decide how big you want your strips to be.

I am making strips about 2 inches wide because they make a nice rounded braid, which is what I want for the project I'm making with the yarn. Play around with strip sizes to see what you like best - if you're using the yarn for crocheting instead of braiding you will probably want strips 1 inch wide or less. The strips will shrink by a little over half once we pull them to curl them.

Cut off the hem of the shirt if you want your finished yarn to curl nicely all over. :)

Cut the shirt into strips as shown, stopping a few inches from the top of the shirt. Keep making strips until you reach the armpits of the shirt.

Now the magic happens!

Step 3: Make the Final Cuts

We're going to cut from left to right. :)

Grab the cut shirt and rotate it so that you can see the side seam. (see the 3rd photo) Start a few inches below the first slit above the seam, and cut diagonally up to the slit. (photo 4) This is the beginning of your yarn!

Then look at the first slit under the seam. Cut from that slit to the next slit above the seam - you'll be cutting diagonally. The photos will help you here! (photo 5)

Make a diagonal cut from every slit below the seam to the corresponding slit above the seam, always moving to the right. When you get to the end, you'll make a diagonal cut from the last slit below the seam to the edge of the shirt.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this! I could always make a video if it's hard to understand. :D

Step 4: Pull the Yarn to Make It Curl

Working from one end of the strip to the other, pull it taut between your hands. This is pretty quick and gives the strip a nice finished look!

Now you've got yarn! What'll you do with it? :D


CarolynY8 made it! (author)2016-09-17

how would you do this if you bought jersey material that t- shirts are made from I would appreciate it very much if you can help me thank you

Showerrug made it! (author)2016-08-23

I would love a video. So want to make a rug!!! ?

sprogmom made it! (author)2013-08-19

Thank you for this tutorial! I have a question. Any idea how far one t-shirt goes? I'm looking at a pattern for a cat cave (it's super cute, like a basket, but closed on top with a hole on the side for the kitties). It requires 2.5lbs of tshirt yarn. I have no idea how many shirts that equals. Can you help, before I go under- or over-buying shirts for my project?

Lavoz24 made it! (author)Lavoz242016-03-14

I know I'm a few years behind and you probably have your answer but out of a small tshirt, if I'm cutting it 1/2"-1" I get about 20-24yrds. Cutting it 2" gives me about 10-12yrds. Ive been blessed when it comes to finding big shirt sizes (3xl-7xl black & white) in my area's thrift and second hand stores so you could imagine how many yards I get when I cut 1/2" up to 2" lengths of yarn.

maddy28574 made it! (author)2015-11-03

made my pwn yarn haha

emlu.voon made it! (author)2015-10-22

Way awesome, as always Jessy ;) thank you

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teachpad made it! (author)2014-11-15

You are right! It is magic, and amazing!

pupetta1 made it! (author)2014-07-27

I love the instructions. But I have a question regarding the type of T-shirt I can use. Can I use a T-shirt that has side seams? Thanks for sharing.

Boppylop made it! (author)2013-08-24

my only problem is with the seam. the threads that make up the seam pull apart, leaving me with severed yarn. please help!

h10134g made it! (author)2013-05-12

Hey, another way to make it clearer might be to draw/otherwise mark in where you cut (say in the 3rd photo of step 3), I think that would make it much clearer.
That said, Thanks for the instructable, I've been trying to work out how to get continuous for ages! :-)

mom2A made it! (author)2013-01-10

Thanks, step 3 was a little confusing with the pictures, would it be possible if you can make a video? Appreciate you taking the time to do this.

jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2013-01-17

I keep meaning to make a video and never finding the time. :P

This is a video that I think explains it pretty well though:

emilyvanleemput made it! (author)2012-08-18

I finally made it :)
Not with a t-shirt, but with an old pair of pajama pants
It works fine :D

pbrux made it! (author)2012-07-25

Loving the tshirt yarn.

I actually buy the 100% cotton fabric by the yard, gives more room to work with. Super cheap (I live in MexCity, so no JoAnn prices, I mean REALLY cheap).

Funny actually, I've been playing with it for the last days, making scarves for meh friends, and lord, when I say fun, I mean FUN!! (although, my index finger is numb from all the snip snipping, bummer).

Oh, I didn't know that pulling it curls it. I thought it was something that just happened, I love it, thanks for the tip!!!

reganbella made it! (author)2012-07-10

Thank you so much! Your instructable was great! I get the part about cutting now. I am going to make your basket after I'm done the yarn.

reganbella made it! (author)2012-07-09

I really want to try this as it is beautiful when braided, but I don't understand the cutting process. Could you please make a video of that. It would be great help!

jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2012-07-09

I will definitely try to make a video, but in the meantime, I'd check this one out:

I think it's explained pretty well. :D

HollyMann made it! (author)2012-06-30

Wow I love all your creative ideas! I cant wait to try this...never knew much about doing this! And your dress is So cute too!

jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2012-07-02

Thanks, it is definitely my favorite dress. :D

HollyMann made it! (author)HollyMann2012-07-02

:) Yeah it is way too cute! I would definitely wear it - and with leggings also- so cute and comfy!

billbillt made it! (author)2012-06-30

Great idea!..

jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2012-07-02


Ez-Kabob made it! (author)2012-07-01

Oh my goodness, that's a great way to cut it!

jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2012-07-02

It really is - makes it so fast!

canucksgirl made it! (author)2012-06-29

Nice tutorial (er... Instructable!). I've made this before, so you did a good job of explaining the process. ;-)

jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2012-07-02

Thank you!

ravenking made it! (author)2012-07-01

I woner what you will knit with your new yarn?

ravenking made it! (author)ravenking2012-07-01

oops I misspelled. I wonder what you will knit?

About This Instructable




Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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