Adventures in Making and Dying T-Shirt Yarn

After cleaning out my closet, I found I have two bags of t-shirts that I didn’t really want to keep in my clothing rotation any longer. Two trash bags. It was ridiculous.


I considered taking them to goodwill…then I thought “You know what? I should make some t-shirt yarn. That would be fun!” This is what happened next.

For a brief video on how t-shirt yarn is made check below.

After cutting up some yarn, I decided to try some dying. I had some Rit dye that I needed to use up, and I thought it would be interesting. First up was some kinda grungy looking gray and cream t-shirts that needed to be refreshed.


The first one I tried was a kind of stripey thing. I laid out the cream yarn in a shallow tub and poured purple and green dye over it in strokes. Rit tends to diffuse and it travels in water, so I wasn’t sure how the mixing of two colors was actually going to work. The other gray I just dumped in the purple like normal. I just wanted some chunky purple yarn.


With the thinner gray one I thought I would use the last little bit of some tie dye spray I had. Just laid it out and sprayed it down.


While I was cutting, I ended up with some more yarn that had a kinda gross color, so I thought I’d try something I’d been reading about I dipped one in a cup of navy dye, dampened the rest of it, and tried to create an ombré effect using the vascular action of the cloth to drag the dye and water upward.



After about an hour, I saw that it wasn’t working. So I threw all the dye together and just let it go.

After doing all the necessary rinse outs, I threw everything in the dryer to heat set.


From Left to Right: 1.) The purple and green stripey. 2.) The solid purple. 3.) The red tie dye. 4.) The failed ombré.

  1. This one ended up being the ombré I was looking for. The green didn’t hold, but there’s some really great cream to purple to fade. Dyed T-shirt Yarn detail
  2. Yay purple!
  3. This was weird. So, there was a little bit of purple dye transfer while doing the heat setting, so I ended up with a red/purple/gray mottled look. It’s pretty cool.
  4. Navy blue+ooky orange=dusty seal brown? And there ended up being a little bit of a multi-tonal quality to it, after all because the little bit that I had dyed initially, those little patches are darker.

My most interesting yarn that came out of all of this, however, was the yarn made from a bleach shirt fail. It’s all smudgy and polka dotty and awesome.


When I eventually make something with all this yarn, there will be updates to follow!


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