How to Make and Dye T-Shirt Yarn

I followed this tutorial at Craft Passion for making t-shirt yarn. I want to emphasize a few points.

  • T-shirts must have seamless sides. Women’s t-shirts, for the most part, have seams because they are made to fit a woman’s curves. This means when you’re searching for t-shirts to transform into seamless yarn, you’ll most likely have to use men’s t-shirts.
  • The bigger the t-shirt the better – more yarn for you!
  • You’ll only get variety in color if you dye white shirts. Men’s white t-shirts are the easiest to come by.
  • Dying t-shirts takes some time if you’re making a lot of colors. You have to dye and then wash the material. Providing a first washing will prevent horrible color bleeding later.
  • I practiced on a shirt with side seams before I began cutting on a t-shirt with seamless sides. If you practice first then you won’t waste a good shirt.
  • See the Craft Passion tutorial for other helpful tips.

Dying the T-shirts

Fabric Dye for Cotton

I found dye at JoAnn on sale (see brand above). It made really beautiful colors that kept their intensity after washing. If you choose this dye, you’ll need salt to add to the washing machine when you create the colors. Since I was doing small loads, I reduced the amount of salt used. Make sure you have a least a carton or two if you’re going to use this brand.

Tips:

  • Cut away the portions of the t-shirt you don’t need before dying. It’s best not to reduce the material to yarn – if you do that, you’ll have to hand dye. That will be time-consuming and messy.
  • Dye lighest to darkest in your washing machine. Then you won’t have to rinse out the machineĀ in between dyes. I ran 5 colors (beginning with yellow and ending with purple); therefore, at the end my machine was quite colorful. That’s easy to fix – run a large load of water and a cup of bleach. Wipe down any exterior components with a mixture of water and bleach (or use a cleaning product that has bleach).
  • Dye then dry. I hung the material to dry. Keep colors away from each other. I chose this option because I was doing so many colors. If you’re doing one color and a bunch of t-shirts, use the dryer.

  • After the material is dry, wash, and then dry.
  • Once the material is dry, you’re ready to make yarn.

I plan on using the t-shirt yarn I’ve created to crochet a colorful rug to put in the kitchen or in a bathroom. Visit later to get the pattern. As of July 16, 2012 – completed rug pattern available.

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