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How To Make Yarn From T-Shirts, or T-Yarn

12 Dec

Just like wonders can be created out of plastic bags, so can they be out of t-shirts.

In a slightly different technique than the plastic bags, the T-shirts can also be cut into strips to create yarn, out of which many things can be made.


Apparently not all t-shirts were created equal, and not all are equally suitable for this task. For the best results, the t-shirts fabric shouldn’t be too worn, and should have a bit of elasticity left in it, or it won’t curl in nicely. It is also better if the T-shirt is  seamless, which will allow you to cut one long continuous, even strip, which will  give the best end result.

Unfortunately, when I went to my waiting pile of t-shirts, I found that most of them had seams, and that quite a few were made out of a textured knit, so were no good for this project.

I did an experiment with one small seamed t-shirt. I separated the front panel from the back, and also removed the hem, sleeves and collar. One of the panels I cut in a continuous spiral, and the other I cut like an accordion to see which strip would be more even and would curl better.

I wasn’t pleased with how either curled in, but decided to hold my judgment until I had knitted a little sampler to see how bad they looked.

I also incorporated in the sample some yarn from a t-shirt that had no elasticity left.

On the whole, doesn’t look to bad although you can see, even through the knit how very worn that t-shirt was, and I will probably try to use t-shirts like that in invisible places.

I don’t intend to crochet or knit this one, since I want to step out of my comfort zone and try different techniques. I am quite sure what or how, and will probably spend the rest of my evening looking at youtube video’s, searching for techniques…

Surprising Discovery: Chicken Scissors Do Not Cut Fabric!

28 Nov

Yay! My experiment has yielded its first product – a basket out of plaited old t-shirts.

This attempt of mine to learn how to use    recycled materials proves to me once again, that for every idea that pops up there will be another two hundred that follow. It is the nature of creativity. As I said, the problem is not the lack of ideas but the lack of time and ability to execute them all, right-this-very-minute.

This thing that I am doing right now hasn’t just popped up in my head, at least not in theory. I have been playing with the idea of recycle reuse repurpose upcycle, but  at a slow pace. For a while now there has been a pile of mostly white t-shirts in my studio, waiting patiently for me to make something out of them, but some how the pile is always pushed aside in favor of some other activity.

One day I decided. Enough. Now is the time to act.

A while ago, on the internet I saw a plaited blue/grey carpet. I realized that the easiest place for me to start from would be there. Not with the carpet, but with the braid.

So I cut the only 6 colored shirts in the pile into strips. Sounds simple. Right? Wrong. Not When the only decent pair of scissors in the house are chicken scissors. After a bit of disappointing research, I discovered that the fact that they are adept at cutting chicken does not mean that they are proficient at cutting fabric.

I was left with only one option; my box cutter knife. In order to get nice, clean strips with a box cutter knife, this is what you need to do:

1.    Fold the shirt in half, length wise.

2.    Fix all the layers together with lines of pins.

3.    Use a ruler to lead the knife.

4.    Cut each strip in short segments in order to avoid the blade pulling the fabric.


Including all the experimentation, discoveries and system development, cutting the strips took a few hours.

Weaving the Plat was less straightforward than I expected – and while I was plaiting, I also needed to unravel the knots that were forming under the plaits. It wasn’t to bad, just surprising.

When I started making the braid I wasn’t sure where it would take me, and after a few hours of playing with the options I decided to go with a narrow and slightly taller basket.

Sewing the basket also held a unexpected element, and that was the amount of needles I broke while putting this basket together, also, that I flat nosed plier doesn’t loose its usefulness once it leaves the jeweler’s bench .