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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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