Thursday, October 03, 2013

DIY T-Shirt Yarn - joining short pieces

I have some exciting news! I have been asked to participate in a crafty workshop at this year's Forest Showcase!

Lydney Dial-a-Ride - a local charity I have close connections with - have an entire marquee at the show with the aim of educating people about what charity shops actually do! What happens to the items you donate and where the money raised from sales is spent. The manager, Louise, has asked a few of us crafty types to come along and show people that you can do so much more with your charity shop purchases than just wear them off the rail...

My demo will be on recycling old clothes and turning them into beautiful things for your home.

And where better to start than with how to make Tshirt yarn!

The concept of recycling tshirts into a yarn to make something new with has been around for a while. There are lots and lots of tutorials out there showing you how to create a continuous length of yarn from a tshirt (here's a very simple tutorial from Mollie Makes  )

But these tutorials assume that your tshirts are essentially a tube with no side seams. This method of tshirt construction is more commonly seen in men's tshirts as women's tend to be shaped to accommodate (or accentuate) our curves so unless you are lucky enough to have a fella who doesn't mind you shredding his trusty tees finding the right shirt for this method can be tricky.

I have been scouring local charity shops for this project and so far have found only one shirt with no side seams so I really needed to find a way of joining the strips together securely but not too bulky. Machine stitching them together is time consuming so why not try this method...

First you will need to cut your tshirt into panels - cut across the body, just under the armpits. Cut the hemmed piece off the bottom and cut the two side seams out. This should leave two rough squares of fabric.

 Cut these into strips across the width of the fabric. You can cut the strips as wide or as narrow as you want - it depends on the project you have in mind. Just remember that the wider the strip, the chunkier the finished yarn will be (and the less you will get from each shirt!).  I wouldn't recommend cutting any narrower than about 1/2" or 12mm...

 Take two strips and lay them end to end - don't worry too much if they are not exactly the same width... 

Cut a small slit in the ends of your fabric strips

Take one fabric strip (1) and pass it through the slit in the other fabric strip (2)  ...

...then take the other end of strip 1 and pass that through the slit you cut in it...

... and pull!

This creates a good firm join. Once you have joined all the strips you can then pull the strip as for the continuous lengths to create the yarn.

Now you have no excuse not to recycle all those old tshirts whether they have side seams or not!

the start of a t-shirt yarn crochet rug using 10mm hook

I have really enjoyed turning old tshirts into yarn and it is intensely satisfying then turning that yarn into something completely different.  I hope to show off a few finished articles very soon and am planning a couple of simple tutorials - including the crochet rug pictured above!

In the meantime - why not pop along to the Forest Showcase on Sunday 6th October at Speech House, Forest of Dean, join me on the hay bales and learn how to turn rags into rugs! 


  1. I did something similar last year and made some bowls and coasters which are now in my Folksy shop.

    1. and your bowls were a really good way to display other items on your stall too! :-)

  2. I've heard about crocheting with T-shirt yarn and didn't really know what it was, but I should really give it a go as it looks really cool!

    1. It's a great way to recycle old tshirts into something lovely and new! Plus I love an excuse to use my 10mm hook ;-) Going to try knitting with it too!


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