Monday, August 22, 2016

Ideas for Reusing Scrap Material from Old T-Shirts

This post is a special collaboration with our partner blogs Creativity Unmasked and Dalmatian DIY. Creativity Unmasked is sharing the details for how to turn your old t-shirts into a cost quilt, pet bed, or cushion cover, and we're going to share some ideas for making use of the extra bits and pieces leftover from that project.  Here is a peek at the quilt:

If you've salvaged any shirts that are suitable for charity, kept a few unworthy specimens for sacrificial dirty work wear for painting, plastering, etc, and taken what you need to large recycling craft projects like our quilt, here are some other ideas for your scrap t-shirt fabric. Note: In some locations you can also drop textiles for recycling - check options in your local area.

T-shirt yarn is easy to make using the bottom (from just below any design/pattern to the hem) of any t-shirt without side seams.  Hubby is a hulk :) so the section below the designs still included plenty of material for yarn.  To make your own yarn: 

  • Remove the bottom hem (and top design, if any, just below the arms).  Dalmatian DIY is going to help us out by showing you how to put those pesky bottom hems to use in homemade dog toys later this week.
  • Fold almost in half, side to side, leaving a gap roughly the size of you planned strips between the edges.
  • Cut from the fold just past the inside edge. Do not cut all the way through.
  • Starting with the bottom, cut across the remaining section of intact edge on a diagonal. Repeat this diagonally from cut to cut with your strips, releasing one long "spiral" strip of fabric. 
  • Pull the strip through your hands, stretching gently to curl the fabric and turn the strip into "yarn".  Be careful not to do this too quickly or too forcefully or the friction can hurt your hands.

Sections that are unsuitable for yarn but still large enough to be of use can be cut into rags.  Don't be shy to do this in different sizes including smaller than you might typically buy/make a cleaning rag. Little cloths can come in very handy for small jobs and are perfect for a quick polish.Garden ties are also a great use for extra scraps. Our local garden suppliers sell rolls of what is effectively t-shirt yarn - soft, slightly stretchy, easy to use, and gentle on plants.  You can use yarn made as above, or just cut small strips from your scrappy odds and ends. I popped mine into an old food jar for a double dose of recycling and have them in my garden shed for ready use.

In addition to two great quilts and a cat cushion, leftovers from the quilt project yielded six big balls of yarn, a bounty of rags and polishing cloths, a huge supply of garden ties, plus two dog toys from the hems (stay tuned for that on Friday at Dalmatian DIY), giving all of this scrap a second useful life. Yeah!  I still have lots of yarn left - any suggested t-shirt yarn crafts for me to try?  This time around, the quilting project used most of the "good" material, but it's only a matter of time until there are more t-shirts in the culling pile so if you have other t-shirt crafts or re-use ideas to share, please do!  Related links are also very welcome, as always.


  1. Do you knit or crochet? You could make it into a rug. :-) The pets would like it!

    1. Thanks, Marguerite! Sadly , I don't (at least not yet...) although I did think about trying a braid-and-sew rug or basket. :)

  2. Great how this is shared across the three blogs with different ideas for using as much as possible from the scrap tshirts. Thank you of all of the ideas.


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