Introduction: Laser Cut Yarn From Old T-shirts

Recycle your old t-shirts into yarn, by using the lasercutter for a quick and regular smooth yarn.


You need old T-shirts, a sewing machine and a pair of fabric scissors.

Step 1: Choose Your T-shirt

Seamless T-shirts are the best, ones without seams at the side, but rather rare to find. If side seams, choose a t-shirt with straight side seams, not wavy and twisted. Most worn and often washed T-shirts have side seams that are moved forward and backwards, this is still workable. The surface and the seams need to be flat, not wavy. Printed T-shirt are ok, unless they are water-based prints and not transfer printed. Transfer prints make the jersey stiff, why the tapes do not curl into into a smooth round yarn. Striped T-shirts are also fun to work with. The knit construction also matters. You need single jersey knitted T-shirts. When the knit has little V-shapes on the front, and little waves on the back, you have the right single jersey knit construction. When you have V-shapes on both sides, it is not good for cutting yarn.

Step 2: Cut Off the Hem Cut Off Neck and Sleeve Part

Step 3: ​Extra Preparation Step to Strengthen the Side Seams

If you have a seamless T-shirt, if you do not see any seams at the sides, you can skip this step.

If not, this is what you need to do: cut away care labels and redo the side seams on the opposite side as the original seam (=the side you wear) by using very small stitches and stitching at least 3 times over the same seam. Cut the original seam at 3 mm from the new stitch.

Step 4: ​ Drawing the File Vectoral File for Laser Cutting

The rectangular piece of T-shirt is ready for cutting into 2 cm wide tapes by laser cutter. Every t-shirt has different measurements, so the included Adobe Illustrator file needs to be adapted according to the size of the cuttable rectangle. The obtained rectangle is irregular, you must imagine a regular rectangle within the irregular rectangular zone. You need to measure the smallest width=X and the smallest height=Y of the rectangle, and use these measures as basic measures. On the left side we leave an uncut zone of 3 cm, and to the right an uncut zone of 1,2 cm. We also attached the PDF document.

Step 5: Cutting by Laser

Use the cut-off sleeve and neck part to test the density of the laser. Every t-shirt has a different weight and needs to be tested. The power varies around 10, speed 100. Load up the file including the rectangular, this helps for the right positioning of the fabric.

To start the cutting, delete the rectangular, you only need the lines.See picture of the screen.

Step 6: Cutting With the Scissors

Cut through the uncut side seam zone A (smaller part of 1,5 cm), see diagam in step 4, so you obtain a kind of Hawaiian skirt.

Step 7: Cutting in the Other Seam, the Most Important Step....

Now comes the most important part. The cutting of the side seam B (wider part of 3 cm) turns the 2 cm wide tapes into a continuous yarn. To do so, you must cut in diagonal lines, as you see the pencil marked line about to be cut.

Step 8: Stretch and Wind....

Now you have a continuous tape. When you stretch the yarn by sliding it through your hand, the yarn curls up and gives a nice round yarn. Wind it up on a piece of cardboard, and the yarn is ready for use. Out of a 10Y kids T-shirt you can cut an approximately 17-meter-long tape, out of a men’s adult T-shirt this can go up to 30 meters tape.

The yarn is suitable for any use regular yarns are used. We apply the yarn for weaving, cross-stitching and rope making in further instructables.

The last pictures is from the site where you find a lot more interesting information on