How to Recycle a T-Shirt into Yarn

Originally posted 2012-09-20 08:00:19.

Turn an Old T-Shirt into Something Fabulous!

My son cleans out his dresser on a regular basis. He’s one of those neat-freaks (a trait he obviously did not inherit from me) and keeps his room super-organized. He had a pile of perfectly good t-shirts that I couldn’t let go to waste. I usually cut the shirts into pieces to use as rags for painting or staining but decided to go another route this time. I figured I would make “yarn” from the shirts and today, I’ll show you how to recycle a t-shirt into yarn to make some fun and unusual projects!

How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn


How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn knitted example piece

I started by cutting the hem off of the shirts. The hem piece can be saved to use as a drawstring in a future project.

How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn cut hem from shirt

Then, I started cutting a narrow strip, continuing in a circle up the shirt to the sleeves keeping the strip evenly spaced. This will eliminate multiple joins except when tying on another piece to make more yarn.

How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn cut continuous narrow strip

How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn ready to be rolled into a ball

If you give knitted fabric a tug, it will naturally curl up on itself. Depending on the width of the strip as it was cut, the yarn will be extra thick sort of like a chunky yarn.

How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn stretch strip so it curls

I rolled it into a ball and cast 15 stitches on size 17 needles. I wanted to see if it would be easy to knit with, and it certainly was!

How to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn completed example using yarn

I used a stockinette stitch to create a square which can now be used as a hot pad, a dish cloth, or a bath scrubbie! Just think of the possibilities… Several t-shirts could be turned into enough yarn to make a hat or a scarf. The wheels are turning already – I have so many ideas… For other ideas using t-shirts, click the menu at the top of the homepage! Any questions on how to recycle a t-shirt into yarn? Leave a comment below!


  • I love this idea! It looks so nice and squishy in the photo. Or, saving up tons of shirts and making them into a circle rug for the bathroom or stripes for the front door welcome mat. Thanks for sharing!

    • CherTexter says:

      Thank you so much! I was thinking about a rug, also, and maybe raiding my fabric stash for some tubular knit fabric to knit one… That would be cool! Stop by again soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.