DIY: How to Make Yarn from an Old T-shirts

I love to wear t-shirts. They are so comfortable that I wear them often. But when they become worn out, I hate to just throw them away. If you are like me and try to use every item to it’s fullest then you’ll love this easy way to transform an old t-shirt into yarn to use in your craft projects.

Got a few old t-shirt hanging around? Transform them into yarn you can use in crochet and knitting projects. It's easy to do, just follow the instructions in this tutorial. In just a few minutes you can upcycle those worn out t-shirts into a useable ball of yarn.

You can take your old t-shirts and recycle them into yarn for knitting and crocheting projects. It is fairly easy and you can get one good-sized ball of yarn out of each t-shirt. Plus as a bonus, you can cut the top portion of the t-shirt, that can’t be used for yarn, into rags. None of those old t-shirts need to go to waste.

Because I’ve had a few readers ask questions about cutting the t-shirt into yarn, I decided to make a quick video. I know sometimes having written instructions and photos just isn’t enough to get a clear picture of how to do a task.

Got a few old t-shirt hanging around? Transform them into yarn you can use in crochet and knitting projects. It's easy to do, just follow the instructions in this tutorial. In just a few minutes you can upcycle those worn out t-shirts into a useable ball of yarn.

I’m a visual learner and I understand that sometimes you just need to see how it is done. If you prefer to learn by video, watch this quick, less than 5 minutes, video to see how. If you prefer to learn by reading or photos just scroll on down to see the photo tutorial.

How to turn Your Worn Out T-shirts into a Ball of Yarn

Start by laying your t-shirt out on the floor and smooth it out. Be sure to match up the hem at the end.

Smooth out the t-shirt

Cut the shirt at the armpits from one armpit to the other across the front of the shirt. I keep the upper part of the t-shirt and cut it into 6 rags for cleaning. They work really well for cleaning up spills and messes.

Once the top of the shirt is cut off, you’ll want to cut off the hem on the bottom of the shirt. The hem is thicker than the rest of the material and won’t work very well in a project.

Once the bottom hem is off, you’ll have a tube of fabric in front of you. The next step is to fold one of the uncut sides up so only 1/4 to 1/3 of the underside fabric is showing. See the photo below.

Now it’s time to cut the strips. I cut the fabric in 1 to 1.5 inch wide strips. I usually use my thumb as a guide to gauge the thickness I want. But you can adjust the thickness as needed for different projects.

Cut from the folded side to the other edge but stop short of cutting all the way through. If you cut all the way through you’ll have rings instead of a long continuous strand of yarn. See my photo below.

You’ll want to leave a little strip at the top uncut so the fabric stays together but has strips cut almost to the top.

All of these strips will be held together at the top. Now it’s time to cut them into one continuous strip of fabric, which can be a little tricky. To do this, slide the fabric onto your arm by opening the uncut side and slide your arm inside.

In this photo, you can see how I hold the fabric on my arm to make it easier to cut. When you start to cut you want to cut at an angle. If you cut straight across you will have rings of fabric instead of one continuous piece of yarn.

For the first cut, I cut a narrow cut from the edge of the fabric to one of the first strands or slits. Then just cut from one slit to the other slit across from it at an angle from there on. See photo below. If this step isn’t quite clear, scroll up to the video above and go to 2:30 to get right spot on the video for how to cut the fabric into a continuous length of fabric yarn.

The photo above shows how to cut at an angle. Keep cutting across at an angle until you get all the way to the end and then you will have one continuous strand of t-shirt yarn.

I roll the t-shirt yarn up into a ball for easy storage until I am ready to use it in a project.

I’ve used this yarn to make bath mats and throw rugs. The rugs turn out very soft and like a cushion under your feet.

That is how you can recycle an old t-shirt into yarn. I hope the photo and video tutorial was helpful in showing you how to make yarn for an old t-shirt.

If you have any questions or something isn’t quite clear, just leave me a comment and I will answer any questions.


Other DIY Projects You’ll Want to Try

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Upcycle a 2-Liter Bottle into a Chia Pet
4 Ingredient Honey Lip Balm

8 thoughts on “DIY: How to Make Yarn from an Old T-shirts”

  1. Hi Shelly
    Just found your site this evening and I love it. Before I read that you love Jesus, I felt you were a Christian, isn’t that amazing?
    Not sure where you are yet, but I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
    I really love the idea of the old t-shirts being cut to make things….I would like to make mats, but what else can be made from them?
    I just lost my only sister a couple months ago, and, while still in shock and grieving, I am thinking of making something from her clothing and this will use her t-shirts.
    Can you please explain a little clearer (Just for me, it’s already clear, I know) about cutting the strips….I was ok until you got them over your arm and started making the slanted cut…my head is filled with lots of emotions these days and I’m sure it is already clear, but somehow I can’t make heads or tails of it and don’t want to ruin a shirt

    1. Nila, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. I added a video to help to make the instruction a bit more clear. I know sometimes seeing a video of how to do things is so much better than just reading it. I hope the video helps if you start the video at 2:30 it will be at the right spot for cutting the fabric into one long strip. You can also cut the bottom off of a paper sack and then follow the instructions for practice before using the t-shirts. Just follow the instructions after you cut the bottom of the paper sack off. And if there is a wrong cut made it’s only a paper sack you have lost. 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions after watching the video. ~Shelly

  2. Great article! I really like the idea of making yarn from t-shirts. This seems the best way to use old t-shirts. I like this article so much. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Speaking of theT shirts….
    I HAVE BEEN SEWING BURP CLOTHS AND BANDANA BIBS FOR MY NEWEST GRAND BABY WHICH WILL BE HERE SOON . DEPENDING ON THE QUALITY OF THE SHIRT DETERMINES THE LAYERS OF FABRIC I USE. I also use what’s leftover by serging around for whatever rags. Cleaning, make up removal, runny nose, or what ever….

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