Turn Old T-Shirts Into Yarn You Can Knit and Crochet With

Pop quiz: old T-shirts are perfect for...

A. Wearing to bed
B. Turning into rags
C. Making yarn

The answer is all of the above, but today let's focus on the yarn. Because yep, that ratty old T is a sturdy, durable, soft material perfect for all kinds of projects. Plus, it's an eco-friendly craft that repurposes what you already have, helping to make sure it doesn't end up in a landfill. Follow the below tutorial and you'll have a batch of T-shirt yarn ready in no time.

T-Shirt Yarn

Level: Easy

how to make t-shirt yarn

What You Need

Good to Know

This tutorial uses a knit T-shirt, but most of the instructions are the same for a traditional cotton shirt. The few minor differences are noted below.


1. Cut Off the Top

Lay your T-shirt out flat, face up. Starting right under the armpit and moving horizontally, cut straight across to the other edge of the shirt to remove the top.

2. Cut the Bottom

On a typical cotton shirt, you'll also need to cut off the bottom hem. The knit shirt in the photo above didn't have a bottom hem, so that wasn't necessary here. You should now have a rectangle of fabric held together by the two side seams of the shirt.

3. Make the First Strand

Turn the shirt so the seams are at the top and bottom. Fold the shirt in half from the bottom up, leaving about ½" of the top part taller than the bottom part you're folding up.

Starting about ½" in from the left side, cut straight up toward the top. Leave about ½" uncut at the top, as shown in the photo above.

4. Keep Cutting

Repeat this process all the way across, spacing the strips about ½" apart.

5. Snip the Strips Free

Open the shirt so the uncut portion is in the center and the cuts fan out at the side, as shown in the photo above.

Starting at the bottom, make a cut in the center of the uncut section. Working toward the left, cut diagonally to the edge of your first cut. You're now creating a strip of fabric that will eventually become your yarn.

Keep cutting the strips diagonally, from right to left, to make one continuous strip of fabric yarn.

6. Stretch It

For a knit T-shirt like the one in this tutorial, the process is now done — just roll the strip into a ball and use!

For a cotton T-shirt, you want to stretch out the strip before rolling it to create a thin yarn-like fabric (instead of a thick one). Working in 4-6" sections, hold one end of the section in each hand and pull. The strip will stretch and curl in on itself to create a smooth yarn that doesn't reveal the cut edges of the cotton. Stretch all the way across the fabric, piece by piece, then roll into a ball of T-shirt yarn.

Now, use that yarn to make anything you want — or better yet, grab another old T-shirt and create the next ball of soft, colorful, fabulous yarn for your collection.

Images by Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence

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Turn Old T-Shirts Into Yarn You Can Knit and Crochet With