Stitching Green: How to Make T-Shirt Yarn

by Cameron

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If you're like most Americans you have a large stack of unworn t-shirts - promotional t-shirts, old t-shirts, ill fitting t-shirts - taking up precious space somewhere in your home. Good news! Those shirts aren't eyesores, they're future rugs and bowls and potholders and, and, and...

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Some people recommend using only t-shirts knit the round (i.e. no side seams) to make t-shirt yarn, and I don't disagree that they make the nicest yarn, but my goal is to take something unwanted and make it into something useful, so I'll use whatever t-shirts I have in front of me. In the projects I've done, the seams are easy to tuck away and not noticeable as part of a finished rug.

Start by slicing of the hem your t-shirt. It's too think and won't roll in on itself nicely the way the rest of your shirt will.

Now your going to cut your shirt in strips, starting from one side and stopping 3-4" short of the other side. A rotary cutter and straight edge make quick work of this project, but you can use scissors. Depending on what your intending to make with your t-shirt yarn, you might want your strips to be narrower or wider than mine. I'm going to use these to make a crocheted rug, so I'm cutting mine between 1.5" and 2" thick depending on the weight of the fabric. A flimsy tissue knit will need to be cut thicker than a heavy 100% cotton jersey.

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At the underarm, slice all the way across the t-shirt. Put aside the sleeves and chest for another project that can make use of smaller lengths (like a nice tassel garland or rug hooking or all manner of useful things for babies).

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The body of your shirt now looks like a rib cage. You're going to want to cut through the "sternum" to make a spiral. From the bottom of the shirt cut diagonally across to the top of that same strip. Repeat working from right to left (or left to right - it doesn't matter as long as you're consistent) until you reach the top of the tube.

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That's it! You can wind your ball up - I used a knitting ball winder - but you could also do it by hand.

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Below are two rugs I've made with t-shirt yarn. The first is a wonderfully squishy crocheted rug and the second is more of a trivet-sized braided rug. By the way - learn from my painful mistake and don't use t-shirts to make a braided rug. I think because the fabric has so much stretch to it, the process of hand sewing the braid is pretty painful.

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T-shirts come in every color you could possibly imagine and are available by the pound at Goodwill outlets and most likely for free from everyone you know, so you can cover your floors in handmade rugs without breaking the bank!

Make a Rope Bowl

by Cameron

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There's a craze sweeping the nation. A rope bowl craze. Maybe you know someone who's been afflicted by the madness. I was shocked to find myself caught up in the excitement, wandering grocery stores and hardware stores, craft stores and pharmacies looking for clothesline. You'd think it be with laundry supplies, right? But it never is. Anyway... search no more fellow and future rope bowl fiends! Your friendly neighborhood fabric boutique is now carrying cotton clothesline.

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Once you make a - shockingly easy - rope bowl, it's easy to see way they've become so popular. They're so simple to make. There's almost nothing to prepare and no fiddly finishing. Just wind up a ball of rope and sew it together.
 

To get started you'll want to use a denim needle and have a couple of bobbins wound and ready to go.

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Start by making a small coil 1"-1.5" in diameter. I stick a pin straight through it to keep it together until I get some stitches in it.

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Using a straight stitch, sew across the coil at least twice, but more is better, being sure to back stitch.

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Place the coil under your presser foot so that you'll be winding counter-clockwise, with the tail on the right side of the bowl. Set your machine to zigzag. I use the widest zigzag stitch with medium stitch length (shorter than what you see in these photos is better - oops!). Line up the gap between the coil and the tail under the center of the presser foot. Stitch slowly as you build up your coil. The bigger your bowl gets the more you can let it rip and put the pedal to the metal.

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When your coil is big enough, tilt the base of the bowl up (see above) to start building the walls of the bowl. Keep stitching until you like the looks of your bowl. To finish, cut your rope, leaving yourself at least 4". I like to fold the end in on itself, toward the rope bowl so it's sandwiched between the previous coil and the top coil, creating a small loop. Making your stitch length even narrower, I go back and forth over the end to hide loose rope threads and secure the loop in place.

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There you have the basics, now let your imagination run wild! There are so many ways to get creative with rope bowls. You can decorate the rope with dye or paint before stitching. I experimented with dyeing rope with indigo, and I really love the variegated look of the resulting bowls. You can also use different colored thread - it's a great way to use up odds and ends! - varying your stitch length, or wrapping the rope with scrap fabric while you're stitching. Whatever you end up doing, I think you'll have as much trouble stopping as I've had! Luckily, rope bowls are both practical and lovely, and make excellent gifts.

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Incoming and Outgoing

by Cameron

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Two exciting announcements for you - first we've started stocking Maxi-Lock serger thread and wooly nylon. We'll be keeping on hand a selection of essential colors that we think will work for most of your projects. If you need a specific color that we don't have in the store, we're happy to order it for you. Delivery typically takes between 10 days and 3 weeks.

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Second, we're discontinuing most of our American Made Brand and Everyday Organic solids, and we're sending them off in style with a 50% discount until they're gone. These are great fabrics! We just need the room. We will continue to carry the full line of shot cottons as well as a handful of basic quilting weight solids from American Made Brand.