T-Shirt Yarn - Darn Good Yarn

T-Shirt Yarn



We all have favorite t-shirts; new ones, old ones, beautiful ones, ugly ones (One Fish, Two Fish?!!!). I have such great memories attached to some of my t-shirts and know you do, too. It's hard to part with them, even the ugly ones! But how about this thought? Your angst with throwing away the t-shirt may be more about the memory attached to the shirt.Or maybe, you just don't like throwing another thing to the landfill.

It's a great time of year to think about going through your clothes and getting rid of things you don't wear.Grab a cup of tea or a bottle of wine and tackle the project of your clothes. Start with your closets and move to your bureaus. Are there things you just don't wear but "might someday"? The rule of thumb is that you haven't worn it in one year, you should consider getting rid of it. 

I have things I haven't worn in five years, ten years! Reality is I am not going to wear these clothes and they need to go. I hate to just get rid of them as I DO have memories attached to these t-shirts and other clothes. Don't just throw these clothes away. Re-purpose them by giving them to Goodwill or other organization, a friend, or giving them another life. Another life for this old cotton t?


(Have you read this Kate Atkinson book called Life After Life? I highly recommend this fictional read about re-doing a life time and time again).

We live in a world where we must be conscientious about what we use and how we can find another purpose for what we have. Landfills are, well, full. Composting and other practices are no longer cool, but essential to best practices to our one and only planet Earth. Darn Good Yarn recognizes the need to re-purpose and offers many recycled fibers and at the same time, we provide work for over 600 women who are able to give their families a better life.

So, getting back to your clothes. There are many uses and reuses for fiber. T-shirts and other cotton fiber can easily be reused as a cotton yarn. No, you won't be using that really old t' that is full of holes because, well, sorry to say this, but, um, "that" t-shirt is a rag, nothing more than a rag. We all need a few rags in life so that is purposeful, too!

I have t-shirts that I dearly love because they could be from my trip to the Yucatan Peninsula or my Galena adventure in Idaho.  Hard to part with, right? But honestly? They look faded and blah; great memories but time to get rid of the shirts. I don't want to part with them so making them into re-usable cotton let's me hang on to the t-shirt albeit in a new form and also keeps those memories alive.

Re-purposing cotton t-shirts is really easy and the things you can make are really amazing! So gather up those tired cotton t's, grab a sharp pair of scissors, and you are ready. Easy so far and when you follow a basic tutorial from www.molliemakes.com you will quite soon have balls of cotton fiber. This yarn will be bulky and the wider your strip the bulkier your fiber. Pay attention to your strip width for even-ness in your re-purposed yarn. I recommend keeping it about 1" in width for a good curl in your cotton.


So now what? Depending on how diligent you are with clearing out your old t's you may find yourself with several small balls of fiber. (See the video link below for more ideas on how to connect each of those cotton yarn balls to make one continuous ball). If you have always used wool or synthetic fibers, you may be wondering what you would make with this cotton fiber. Thanks to naztazia.com for this video tutorial that includes how to make the cotton t-shirt yarn, how to connect multiple balls and perhaps crochet a cotton basket .

shawl with flip flops


Re-purposed cotton yarn is fabulous for making rugs.  The rugs looks great with color and deep bulky texture and they are cotton so they are super easy to care for, like goes in the washer and dryer! The Darn Good Yarn team has put together a knit rug pattern that works up quickly and would make an amazing house warming gift. 

yarn scarf

The crochet pattern for this meditation mat uses fibers such as At The Bahamas sari recycled silk fiber but why not throw some of your homemade cotton yarn with the recycled silk for a totally re-purposed rug?  This rug idea has no limits to your patterning or the fiber you use but the idea of creating a work of art for your home is worth cleaning the clothes drawers!  Loving the tassels on this beauty!

We've Got You Covered (with t-shirt cotton, that is!)

Other ideas for making things might include place mats, a cell phone case, a table runner, a purse or comfy slippers. Because you are using cotton, this would be a wonderful fiber for making a toy for a baby; if you have a little one in your life or soon to be, find yourself a toy pattern and make that munch-able toy. With everything going in the mouth, a cotton toy is great for the parents as they can throw it in the washing machine! Cotton is also a vegan friendly fiber. Yep, we have a whole line of vegan yarns, too!

turquoise yarn skein

Really not wanting to create your own cotton yarn?  We have our own cotton t-shirt yarn and you may even want to take a look at our patterns for other ideas for using cotton yarn. Darn Good Yarn cares deeply about what is going in to our landfill and that is why we promote many recycled yarns. I could talk all day about the benefits of using recycled fiber and doing the earth friendly thing but...


Realizing that those t-shirts that I just couldn't part with have a whole new life ahead has inspired me! Guess I will break off from this blog because I need to go look through my closet and bureau to see what life I can breathe into my old t-shirts! Rejuvenation! Happy Spring cleaning my dears and thanks for keeping it earth friendly from all the staff at Darn Good Yarn!

xo Janis