How To Cut T-Shirts To Make Yarn

How To Cut T-Shirts To Make Yarn

In the very near future I plan to make a new gnome house… a very small gnome house… but I plan to decorate it shabby chic. Hey, even gnomes have different tastes, right? Anyway, I do want to crochet a couple rugs for the floors and wanted to use t-shirt yarn for the project. So yesterday I made a ball of t-shirt yarn. (I’ll dye it later.) Of course I took photos while doing it 🙂

Last night I tossed the ball of yarn to Tim. He immediately knew it was t-shirt yarn and asked me how I joined the strips. 

“I didn’t have to. It’s one continuous piece of fabric.”

“How in the world did you do that?” he asked.

I winked at him and said, “Read the tutorial.”

Every time I make t-shirt yarn I am always so thrilled to have something useful from a garment that would definitely have been discarded. All kinds of wonderfulness when you can repurpose/reuse!


  • old t-shirts (use tees that DO NOT have side seams) this will give you the nicest yarn without “lumps”
  • rotary cutter and mat and/OR sharp scissors

NOTE: If this is the first time you are cutting a t-shirt to make yarn and are a bit nervous, you can cut off a sleeve, along the seam line that connects the sleeve to the body of the shirt, and use the directions below to do a mini version. You will only get a few strips out of the sleeve but it will allow you to get a feel for the process.

IMPORTANT… IMPORTANT… IMPORTANT… READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU BEGIN. This is really easy to do but get comfortable with the concept before you make your first cut 🙂 

Start by folding the t-shirt in half lengthwise. Take the time to make sure the tee is neatly folded without wrinkles. The bottom hem should be even. 

Fold the tee so the edge of the top half is about a half an inch from the edge of the bottom half. IMPORTANT: this is necessary to obtain one continuous piece of fabric.

Using a rotary cutter or sharp scissors cut off the bottom hem off. Do this just above the stitching on the hem.

You can make the strips as wide as you like. Usually tees are cut into 1″ or wider strips and when done are used in place of “chunky” yarns. I wanted to try making the strips thinner, more like worsted weight, because I am using them in a gnome house. I cut my strips 1/2″ It worked out great! But the width and type of yarn you want to create is up to you.

Begin cutting the strips starting from the bottom of the tee. When you cut the strips DO NOT cut all the way across the tee. STOP cutting at the top edge. If you cut all the way across you will wind up with individual rings of fabric.

NOTE: If you are using a rotary cutter and are afraid you might accidentally cut too far, stop before the top edge and when you are done cutting all the strips, you can go back and do the final cuts across the first edge with scissors. I include a photo of that later.

Continue cutting up the length of the tee. When you get to the armpit cut all the way across the tee, separating the bottom from the top. NOTE: Later I go back and cut the seams off the top of the tee and cut the fabric into smaller pieces. I use these for rags when watercoloring and for applying beeswax to wood.

If you stopped cutting before you reached the top edge, go back with sharp scissors and make the final cuts. Obviously, be careful not to cut through the bottom edge.

Your t-shirt should now look like this. The strips at the fold have been cut all the way through but the edges are still joined.

Carefully place the t-shirt on your non dominant arm being careful not to twist the strips. Trust me when I tell you this is the easiest way to do the next part. Notice how the cuts are lined up.

Starting at either end, cut each strip diagonally, going from one strip to the next on an angle. IMPORTANT: If you were to cut straight across you would have a bunch of rings instead of one continuous piece of fabric. 

When you are done, you will have one glorious length of fabric. It’s like magic 😉 

Now, my favorite part, starting at one end, pull on the strip of fabric. You will notice that the sides of the strip will fold in on itself. Pretty nifty! Do this the entire length of the yarn. IMPORTANT: If you plan on doing a larger project and think you will want to join more yarn leave about 8″ unpulled at on end for adding more yarn. 


Start with 2 unpulled ends that you want to join.

Make a small slit at the end of Strip A. 

Slide Strip B through the slit in Strip A.

Make a small slit at the end of Strip B that you just pulled through Strip A.

Slide the unslit end of Strip B through the slit on Strip B. Gently pull to bring Strip A and Strip B together.

Finally, when the 2 strips are attached, pull the fabric until the knot is tight and the fabric has curled.

Roll the yarn into a ball and viola! That’s all there is to it. The yarn is now ready to use or you can dye the yarn. I’ll be dying my yarn and will share my method next week!




  1. I love t-shirt yarn!  I go buy t-shirts at the thrift store when they are 50 cents (I’ve gone through the families shirts long ago).  If you buy the yarn in stores is $15 per ball and only about 3 xl t-shirts worth of yarn.  $1.50 and a bit of time and I have my own!  I crochet baskets out of the yarn.  They hold everything, have a bit of stretch, stand on their own, can be flattened down to store and go through the wash great. Right now I have about 50 ball just waiting for me.

    1. Wow! I haven’t hit the resale shops yet. It seems the family always has a supply… but not sure enough to stockpile 50 🙂 I love, love, love being able to make use out of the shirts. I use to cut them up for rags, but not much more. How many rags does one person need? Baskets on the other hand 🙂 Can you ever have enough baskets? ~Kimara~


  2. This is such a great idea!
    I shared it with my friend who knits and now I want to do something cool with this myself <3

    The suggestion of getting shirts from thrift shops is great too! 😀

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