T-shirt yarn

I have a new obsession: creating lovely things out of recycled t-shirts! How did I not know of this before?! I love recycling, I truly believe it’s the only way to give our kids the best world in the future, so I’ve evolved from chucking my plastic bottles in the green box to using old t-shirts as yarn. One day maybe I’ll be brave enough to use the plastic bottles to crochet with too….is there a big enough hook?!?! Also, I’m a  fan of the ‘make do and mend’ initiative that is best known for taking off during the 2nd World War. I never just chuck out clothes because they no longer fit or have developed a hole. My sewing drawers are full of clothes my family would like back (minus holes) one day. So when I saw a pattern in Inside Crochet magazine this month for baskets made out of t-shirt yarn I immediately looked up how to make my own.

I found two helpful instructive blogs on the subject (thanks to Pinterest) here and here. Both said use t-shirts without seams. This was my first hurdle. I wanted to use 7 old school shirts, both of which my children had worn but now the school had changed uniform there was no point saving them for child number 3. Plus they were past their best. They were polo/airtex shirts and full of seams.


So I decided to be brave and try the method on one t-shirt to see how it worked. I followed the instructions firstly cutting the bottom seam and arms off to just use the body of the shirt.  


Then you fold the t-shirt length ways but not quite in half. It’s important to leave a boarder at the top so to achieve one long piece of yarn at the end. I then cut up to the first seam. I didn’t cut through it as this proved very tricky on the first couple of attempts and I was worried my boarder would disappear.


Then I cut the seams (picture one below). After this I cut the boarder as instructed. You open it out so you have a flat piece of material with the cut pieces either side (see picture two below) and then cut diagonally from the second cut to the third cut leaving the first until the end (shown in picture three). Repeat this until the end and finally return to the beginning and complete the first to second cut. Then you pull either end of the of your long fabric strip and it rolls itself up and stretches out nicely. This proved hard work with the seems in place and I had a couple of breakages but it worked…I confess a little to my surprise.


I was quite pleased that after all seven t-shirts were cut up I made a nice big ball of yarn. This wasn’t one continuous piece but it worked quite well.

  Working the yarn was much harder than I’d expected. Partly due to the material and partly due to the seams. I used a 15mm hook and alter to alter my hold from the one hold to the knife hold though it worked very well for this fabric. I managed to make this:


a basket for my new baby’s socks

Having tried this again I’ve learnt a lot from my first attempt. Airtex is a difficult material but obviously very hardy. I like the rough look of the seams as I feel it gives it character and a rugged finish. I have since cut up a couple of t-shirts and one with specific stretch I like best to work with. Trouble is I have now run out of some yarn I was using half way through another basket.  *calling over shoulder* Frank? Do you have any old t-shirts you don’t want?!

Update: I found some jersey material I didn’t need so used it to create the star basket below. Due to wanting to make the star it became quite tall (about 30cms!)  but it’s stretchy and I can fit 10 baby blankets in it so has it’s uses.