Cutting up a t-shirt

Here are some pictures and explanations to show how I recycle a t-shirt into “yarn” for knitting.

First, cut the hems off of the bottom and sleeves of the shirt. Cut off the sleeves. Cut the shirt across the chest right at the armpits.

T-shirt 1

Next, take the main body of the shirt and fold it over, leaving the right side folded to around 1inch from the left side.shirt2

Next, cut across the shirt through all of the layers, leaving the far left bit uncut. I’ve highlighted where the cuts will be made by drawing with a sharpie marker. Cuts can be anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1 inch. Mine are usually around 3/4 inch, but they vary a bit, which is fine. I don’t really measure, just eye it and cut.


Here are a couple of pictures showing the shirt as I began the cuts and then when I had finished them.


Shake all of the ends out.


Shift the cut ends so that you can see the entire un-cut section.


Next, I begin by making a diagonal cut across the un-cut section. Start from the outside edge, cutting across to the first cut section. In the photo below, I’ve highlighted the areas to be cut with a sharpie marker.



Finished! One continuous strip of t-shirt yarn!


To make a continuous strip from the sleeve, I cut in at a diagonal from the edge and then just cut around and around the sleeve. This same technique can also be used when cutting up the main body of the t-shirt, but it takes quite a bit longer than the method I detailed above.


Now, I wind up my yarn into balls and start knitting!


The top part of the shirt can be saved to be pieced into linings or can be cut apart at the shoulders and then sewn together at the side seams to create a tube of fabric that can be cut into a continuous piece following either the option for cutting up the main body of the shirt or for the sleeve.



  1. Marci said,

    March 18, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Great instructions! I’m a brand new, baby knitter but gonna keep this in mind for the future. Thanks for the info.

    Marci in Illinois

  2. drenka said,

    April 8, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Great idea.You can do many things with this, like a door mat for example.

  3. Cynthia said,

    May 27, 2007 at 9:41 am

    What a great way to recycle a tee shirt. Have you made something with this tee shirt yarn yet? I’ll have to check back later to see if you show a picture of anything you’ve made from recycled tee shirt yarn.

  4. Nerayah said,

    September 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    awesome idea thanks for the cool tip

  5. sillyhether said,

    November 10, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    If you pull on it, it stretches out and becomes even more yarn like.

  6. July 27, 2013 at 5:08 am

    […] March 2007 – […]

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