Grit Blogs > News From The Nest In Rural Pennsylvania

Make Your Own Rag Yarn

I want to share a cool way to repurpose old, worn shirts into what I call rag yarn. This “yarn” can then be used to knit, crochet, or even be braided and sewn into various craft projects. Old t-shirts or similar material work very well. I like to use stripes because they are easier to cut evenly, and make interesting color patterns.  Start by laying your old shirt out flat on a table top, keeping the front and back as even as possible.

 Lay shirt out flat

Next you want to cut the top off, cutting as close under the arms as you can.

Start cut under arm 

cut completely off 

Now cut the hem off.

cut off hem 

You are left with a nice chunk of material that is basically a tube. Starting at the end, cut from what was the side of the shirt. Cut ¾ to 1 inch strips to within 1 ½ inches of the top.

cut strips 

Do NOT cut completely off.

cut to within an inch and a half of the top 

Repeat this, cutting strips the whole length of the piece.

Cut strips the entire way across 

Now open the piece and lay the part that is still connected flat on your tabletop.Starting from the outside, you want to make DIAGONAL cuts from one slot to the next.

open uncut part and lay out flat 

If you cut straight, you will not have one long piece, but lots of unconnected loops! Continue these cuts the entire way, ending the same way you started.

continue cutting in this manner the whole length 

At end 

Next to last cut 

Last cut 

If you did it right, you should have one long, continuous thin strip of material.

Long rag strip 

Starting at one end of your strip, stretch it. When it is stretched, the material curls, resembling yarn.

stretch to curl into rag yarn 

After I stretch it, I roll it into rag balls till I think I have enough for whatever project I have in mind.

rag yarn balls 

You can make potholders, chair pads, rugs, and table runners…anything you can imagine!

come up with your own cool creations 

It’s fun to color coordinate too, choosing shirts with colors that complement each other in your project. The top portion of your shirt can also be cut into rags to be used for cleaning, or for someone like my husband, into disposable grease rags. Give it a try, and see what you can come up with! 

10/5/2013 11:34:45 PM

is this project only for "knits" or would an old denim or cotton shirt work? Thinking old pairs of jeans would be a pretty color yarn...You have great ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

lori dunn
3/23/2012 5:01:12 PM

Cindy, I can tell you I would love to get a gift like that. This is very easy to cut, but having someone else do the cutting and just getting the yarn, ready to go, would be great! My first big project with it is going to be a rug. I've made them before, but not with this stuff. Of course, I'm not sure when I'll find the time to do that right now. I've been very busy outside in this gorgeous weather!

lori dunn
3/23/2012 4:57:06 PM

Dave, Oh come on now, I can just see you working a couple of knitting needles! ;) I've tried knitting, and I can do it, but I actually prefer crochet. I've been using the homemade laundry detergent for well over a year now, and I love it. Plus, I've saved us a bundle by using it instead of the other stuff. Rainy days can be productive too, but I just never seem to have as much energy as when the sun is a shinin!

cindy murphy
3/17/2012 12:39:51 PM

How cool is that! It's ingenious, Lori! I don't knit or crochet, but I have friends that do. We usually exchange small homemade gifts at Christmas, and I'm thinking it'd be neat to give them baskets of rag yarn, maybe with a knitting pattern or two thrown in, (what do you think?). If I start now, maybe I'll figure out by Thanksgiving how to cut it properly so I don't end up with a bunch of separate loops!

nebraska dave
3/17/2012 12:26:59 PM

Lori, what a great way to recycle old shirts. I have lots of old shirts. Now if I could only find some one that like to knit or crochet. Those are just not my kind of projects. I suppose if I could figure out a way to use a power tool to knit it would be OK. :0) Hey, I finally got my washing soda. I bought two boxes since it was selling out so fast. I haven't mixed up a batch of the soap yet but maybe next week when the rain comes for several days, I can get it all mixed up and start using it. That will be great. I have the sugar cookie mix for the ice cream cups. Maybe that will get done during the rain as well. However, I can't find my icecream maker. Blast, it wasn't where I thought it should be. I hope I didn't give it away. Anyway, rainy days can be productive too. Have a great shirt recycle day.