I love a good recycled craft project, and I’ve got a fun way to recycle t-shirts to make a great accessory today! This no-sew scarf is soft, colorful, easy, and fun. Make it up in your favorite colors, to match a new fall jacket, or in your team’s colors!
I’m sharing this project to kick of SCARF WEEK with some fellow bloggers who also have a passion for recycling t-shirts, and also to give you a little preview of one of the great projects you can find in my new book, DIY T-shirt Crafts. It hits the shelves on August 1, and you can pre-order it right now on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble. (The e-book version is available on Kindle and Nook next week on July 15!)
The book will show you FIFTY ways you can recycle a t-shirt, but this week, we’re talking SCARVES! Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to get more scarf-tastic inspiration for recycling those old t-shirts.
Now, let’s dig into today’s project. You will need four t-shirts and a sharp pair of scissors for today’s scarf project, but the good news is that there is NO sewing required, no glue – if you can cut and braid, then you’ve got this!
First, you will need to cut your shirt up into long continuous strips, about 4 inches – 5 inches wide. A men’s shirt without side seams works best for making these long panels. Cut the body of the shirt off just under the arms, and remove the bottom hem.
Next, you’ll turn this into one long, continuous piece. You can begin at the bottom of the body panel, and cut in a spiral until you reach the top, making your cut 4-5 inches wide as you go. That’s the most direct way to explain it. But if you’re into short cuts, I’ve got a suggestion for you!
Fold your body panel in half vertically, doubling it up, and turn it so that the sides of the shirt are stacked on top of each other and facing you. Make three vertical cuts from the edges of the shirt, toward the center. Stop cutting when there is about an inch remaining at the top, keeping the center of the shirt all connected. The exact width of your cuts will var based on what size tee you’re starting with, but make them equal width. They should be between 4 inches and 5 inches wide, roughly.
You’ll have to forgive me for changing shirts to show you the next cuts. I cut dozens of shirts to create my book, and one chapter talks in-depth about how to make t-shirt yarn, which you can cut to any width at all, so my photos here are from another project. But the strips you need to cut for this scarf are nothing more than extra-wide yarn! So now that you have made three wide cuts, open the panel up again. You’ll have cut strips at the top and bottom of the shirt panel, still connected in the center. You’re gong to connect those cuts to create one long piece now.
Beginning at one edge (I work from right to left), on the TOP LAYER ONLY, make a diagonal cut from the edge of the shirt panel, up to the upper vertical cut immediately to the left. Then, move down to the lower vertical cut, and make a diagonal cut connecting the lower cut to the upper cut immediately to the neighboring cut on the left. Again – this is a different shirt with thinner cuts, so you will only have to make a couple cuts! But the process is exactly the same.
This fully cuts the top layer of your shirt. Now, for the bottom side. You can either flip the entire panel over, or, I just push the strips aside and out of my way to complete the lower layer of cuts. On the bottom layer, you will simply connect the cuts vertically. Beginning on the right side, cut from the lower vertical cut, straight up to the upper vertical cut.
I know it feels more complicated to fold and cut in this way, but I have made my long strips of fabric both ways. It took me 40 minutes to turn one shirt into t-shirt yarn by cutting it in a spiral, one layer at a time. I was able to turn the entire shirt into yarn by folding and making these strategic cuts in under 10 minutes. So if you’re up for turning and trimming, it’s a HUGE time-saver.
Now, repeat this for 2-3 more shirts (I used 4 total, but you can also make this scarf as a 3-part braid if you prefer). You may notice that your edges are triangular. I cut the triangular ends off, and ended with four lengths of fabric around 10 feet long. It’s all right if all your pieces aren’t exactly the same length; you can even them up at the end.
Now that you have all your material ready, tie an overhand knot in all four shirts, leaving about a 6 inch tail. Then use the long side of the yarn to begin braiding a 4-part braid. A 4-part braid is very similar to a 3-part braid—the only difference is that as you work, you keep two of the parts instead of one on your left side. Each time you pull from the right side, you will pull that part over one section, to the center. Each time you pull from the left side, you bring that part over two other sections.
When you finish 7-8 feet of braiding, tie an overhand knot in the end and trim the fabric, leaving a 6 inch tail. Finally, cut each of the tails into half inch wide strips, to make fringe. Pull on each strip and it will curl slightly, for a finished look. Trim up any uneven ends, and this braided scarf is ready to be worn!
If you’re looking for more scarfy goodness right now, you can find other recycled t-shirt scarves by visiting my friends today, just click on any image below to check it out! Each day this week is a different theme, with other bloggers sharing scarves that are stitched, knitted, crocheted and more.
Click the images above or links below to check ’em out.
1. DIY Jersey Knit Tassel Scarf by Made in a Day
2. Knotting T-Shirt Yarn Wrist Scarves by It Was Weekend
3. Recycled T-Shirt Project | No-Sew Braided Tassel Scarf by Happy Hour Projects
4. How To Make A T-Shirt Super Hero Cape by Crafty Bonds
5. Faux Tye-Dye T-Shirt Scarf by Apron Strings & Other Things
6. DIY Braided T-Shirt Scarf by The Crafting Nook
7. 10 Minute Fringe Infinity T-Shirt Scarf by The Thinking Closet
To access all 5 days of Scarf Week, visit our co-coordinators, Lauren from The Thinking Closet and Vanessa from Tried & True. They’ll be updating their posts with the clickable collages as they go live this week. And you can also follow along with our hashtag, #ScarfWeek2015.