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How to Make T-shirt Yarn

7 February 2012 142,422 views 9 Comments

by heather

ball of tshirt yarn

Reader Blair liked our t-shirt yarn dishcloths, but had a major question about t-shirt yarn: "So I don’t know how when one piece of yarn ends, to begin again with a new one… Does that make sense? Someone please email me.and tell me!" Well, Blair, I'll do you one better and write a whole post about it! How do you turn t-shirts into yarn, and then attach the ends? Read on!

There are a few common methods for making t-shirt yarn. The photo from the top of the page is from Let Birds Fly - she has a great visual tutorial for making t-shirt yarn. The method she uses for making the yarn involves doing "diagonal cuts" to make a continuous spiral of t-shirt yarn.

diagonal t-shirt yarn

This seems to be the most common method for cutting a t-shirt into yarn, and it also seems the most time-economical.

When you get to the end of one piece of yarn you can attach it like this:

1. Attach T-shirt Yarn by Stitching

tshirt yarn connect by sewing

Amanda's Happy Hearth shows how you can attach yarn ends simply by stitching through the ends of the t-shirts. Amanda's tutorial also shows how to create yarn from the non-tubular parts of t-shirts (like the upper chest section), and is good for using the entire t-shirt with almost no waste.

2. Attach T-shirt Yarn by Knotting

knotted t-shirt yarn

Another way to attach ends is by just tying the ends together in a square knot (if you don’t mind the nubs in your finished project), or just twist them together when you are crocheting or knitting to create a more seamless join. I used this method when I made my recycled fabric rag rug over at CROQzine. This is also the method used by Meridian Ariel in the photo of knotted teal yarn above and below.

teal knotted tshirt yarn

As you can see, the knots add a certain amount of rustic charm to your knitting project. You'll have to decide if it's right for your project.

3. Attach T-shirt Yarn with the Slit and Slip

The third method is the easiest and least visible once it is worked into a knit or crochet project.

joining tshirt yarn

To join t-shirt yarn, cut a small slit in the end of each piece of t-shirt yarn. Slip one end through the other. Push the opposite end of the first piece through its own hole. Pull tight to secure.

So, there you have three methods for joining the ends of t-shirt yarn or rag strips! Hope that helps. Here are some t-shirt yarn ideas for you to get started with once you have a ball of yarn or two:

T-shirt Yarn Craft Project Ideas:

reusable tshirt yarn duster

1. Reusable T-shirt Yarn Swiffer-Style Duster Knitting Pattern by Verdigris Knits

tshirt yarn hangers

2. Recycled T-shirt Yarn Macrame Hangers by The L-T Experience

tshirt braided rug

3. Rainbow T-shirt Braided Rug by Sew Liberated

tshirt yarn dahlia

4. Recycled T-shirt Yarn Flower by Little Treasures

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  • Michelle L. said:

    I didn’t know any of those methods – I’m so glad Blair asked the question. Faaaabulous post, thank you, Heather!

  • Mandy Williams said:

    Great explanation. I never understood the slit & slip method until now! The braided run is a dream!

  • Carol Anglemyer said:

    I really like the idea for useing old t-shirts.I’am allway looking for new things to do .look on family fun for to use old t-shirt with a hula hoop to make a rug. i would like to copy this site the t-shirt craft but can’tdo it.could you send it to me in my e-mail? thank you Carol

  • Dollar Store Crafts » Blog Archive » The Best of DSC: Top 12 Posts of 2012 said:

    […] T-shirt fabric is one of our favorite recycled craft supplies.  It's versatile, it's cheap, and it's easy to work with even if you completely lack and kind of sewing skills.  One of the most popular ways to use old t-shirts in crafting is to turn them into t-shirt yarn, a continuous strand of fabric that can be used any way you would use regular yarn.  We put together the ultimate guide to t-shirt yarn, including several different methods for making the yarn and a bunch of project ideas to inspire you!  [how to make t-shirt yarn] […]

  • How to Make T-shirt Yarn – Free Tutorial | said:

    […] Dollar Store Crafts » Blog Archive » How to Make T-shirt Yarn. […]

  • Brenda J said:

    I just found this site today and I will be back many, many times. I do t-shirt yarn and plarn. I have never seen the dahlia idea before. Beautiful and I am thinking of cutting the t-shirt yarn as thin as possible and making the dahlia into a pin to wear!!

    Thanks again and see you soon.

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