Creating t-shirt yarn (or tarn) is a project that is not nearly as complicated as it seems. It takes a little bit of work, a little bit of thought, and a pile of old t-shirts. Before you know it, you’ll have yards of your own super-bulky yarn, ready for your favorite projects. Here’s how you do it.
- T-shirts! The larger the better. It's also a plus if the shirts don't have side seams. Shop our blank t-shirts here.
- Scissors or a rotary cutter.
STEP 1: CUT THE TOP AND BOTTOM OFF OF YOUR SHIRT
Remove the bottom seam and discard. Cut from armpit to armpit and set the top part of the shirt aside. (You can use that chunk of t-shirt fabric for other projects.) You will be left with a nice rectangle of cotton material.
STEP 2: FOLD THE SHIRT [ALMOST] IN HALF
Fold the shirt over itself, leaving a small margin at the top. Make sure to keep the fabric as flat and even as possible, so that when you start cutting the tee, your lines will be straight.
STEP 3: CUT SHIRT INTO STRIPS
This is where things get interesting. Decide how wide you want your strips to be (we went with one inch) and begin. Cut until you reach the first fold – cut through THAT, but don’t go any further. Make sure that very top fold is uncut; we want all the yarn to stay in one piece. Continue until you have gone across the whole width of your fabric. After you’re done, you can fold the top layer down and it’ll kind of look like a hula skirt.
See? The bottom left is the hula skirt part!
STEP 4: COMPLETE CUTTING
This is the most difficult part, but it’s still not that bad. Unfold your t-shirt rectangle (which should still be a tube!) and flatten it out with that 1-2” margin flat in front of you. It should kind of look like a ribcage. Like this:
After that, you have to make the first cut to start this chain reaction of snips. Start at the very bottom and cut diagonally from the edge to the first split to your left. See the picture below:
Then, just keep cutting the middle margin apart like that, moving from the split on the right diagonal up to the split on the left. Trust us, it makes way more sense as you go along.
Eventually you’ll get to the end and you will have one big piece of t-shirt yarn! The rest is cake.
STEP 5: STRETCH AND ROLL
To get the wide stripe of t-shirt material to become yarn, all you do is stretch. The material will curl up over itself to form a little tube. (TIP: protect your hand with your shirt sleeve or a towel so you don’t get rug-burn while stretching your yarn.)
Get all the fabric stretched out, roll it up into a ball, and you’re ready to crochet or knit your project!
STEP 6: GET TO WORK!
Crafting with t-shirt yarn can be a little tricky at first – the material is way bulky and kind of stiff – but once you get used to it, you’ll love the finished results. We usually work with large hooks and needles and pick projects that need sturdy yarn, such as rugs, baskets, and belts. Have fun! Let us know in the comments what crafts you'd like to create with t-shirt yarn.