How To Cut Continuous T-shirt Yarn

Updated: Apr 3

T-shirt yarn (tarn) is quick and easy to make. It can be used in an endless array of projects. Try to use it in crochet, weaving a bath mat, or making a trendy scarf. I’ve used it to create a macrame throw.

In the macramé t-shirt throw tutorial, I recommend cutting multiple strips from t-shirts. This gives you strands that are shorter and thus easier to work with, but there’s a tradeoff. As those strands get shorter you have to attach new strands. The point of connection will leave you with a less-finished look. Cutting continuous t-shirt yarn is an optional technique you can use to make your macramé t-shirt throw a bit more finished.


If you use a longer strand you’ll have fewer of these connection points. Working with longer strands will still be more cumbersome than working with short strands, even if you spool them. You’ll just have to decide what’s more important having more consistent knots or having strands that are easier to work with. Just so you know, I went with shorter stands for the throw I made for Nate Berkus and used the single stitch joining method.


Supplies

  • 1 cotton jersey t-shirt To make this a true upcycling project use shirts that can’t be worn or donated to charity. You can start the throw with 1 t-shirt, but you can add more t-shirts as you acquire them to make the throw bigger.

  • 1 ruler

  • 1 pair of scissors

  • rotary cutter or X-Acto knife


How-To

  1. Fold your t-shirt, by bringing the right edge of the shirt, which is closest to you, towards the left edge of the shirt, which is farther from you. Don’t bring them together all the way. Leave about 2″ of space between them.

  2. Smooth out your shirt as much as possible. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but large creases can give your strips jagged, inconsistent edges.

  3. Cut off the bottom hem.

  4. Cut 1″ wide strips. Starting the cut from the right edge of the shirt down to the folded side. Notice the strip is still attached because we left a 2″ allowance between the right and left sides of the shirt.

  5. Continue cutting out the rest of the strips.

  6. When you reach the sleeves. Start your cut from the left edge of the shirt this time to fully separate it from the remaining portion.

  7. Open up the shirt and insert your hand through all the loops. Notice the right slit and the left slit.

  8. Cut towards the left slit diagonally from the outer edge.

  9. Now starting from the right slit cut diagonally towards the left slit.

  10. Repeat this until all the left slits have been cut.

  11. For the last cut, start from the right slit and cut towards the outer edge.

  12. Stretch the t-shirt strand to curl in the edges. Be careful to make sure the edges curl in evenly. To ensure, this untwists the strand before stretching.

  13. Stretch the t-shirt yarn a second time going in the opposite direction to ensure it’s fully stretched and curled.

Useful tips

  • This technique can also be used with plastic bags to make plarn or plastic yarn, with the exception that you won’t need to stretch the plastic bag to finish it.

Special thanks: Doris, Scott, Sara