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Tutorial: DIY Jersey (aka. “t-shirt”) Yarn

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Later this week I’ll unveil what I made with this yarn but in the meantime here is how I made jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn from knit fabric yardage. This project can easily be done with a t-shirt as well.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com
Materials Needed:

Knit fabric yardage OR t-shirt to upcycle
Scissors
Rotary Cutter* (nice to have but optional)
Ruler*
Pen or other making device
Coordinating Thread
Sewing Machine
Ball Point or Jersey Needles*
Cardboard Tube (optional)

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How much do you get from a yard of jersey?
With shrinkage, trimming off the uneven bits, and seam allowance, I calculated that I got about 48 yards of yarn by cutting 1″ strips from what was originally one yard of a mid-weight knit. Your mileage may vary depending on how much stretch/recovery your material has,  the width of your starting yardage, and any trimming/shrinkage.

What is the weight of the resulting yarn?
Again this will depend on how much stretch/recovery your material has. Some will stretch thinner than others. Chances are your resulting yarn will be something in the Super Bulky to Jumbo range. If you use a really light weight knit it could even fall under Chunky.

One of the contributing factors to deciding a yarn size is the WIP or Wraps Per Inch. They sell testing devices for this but really all your need is a stick, a pen, and a ruler. Not only is this technique great for testing your DIY yarn but also for any mystery skeins you may come across.

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Mark at least one 1″ wide space on your stick and wrap the yarn around the stick. You want each wrap to lay close without pushing against the strand next to it and the tension not so tight that you will distort the yarn’s true structure. How every many wraps you can fit in that 1″ space will tell you the WPI.

I used a store brand yarn that I could easily  check the official WPI of. for this example. The yarn wrapped 6 times around the stick which falls under “Super Bulky” and indeed the example yarn is a Super Bulky yarn. Ravelry has a handy chart with WPI data that you can use for reference. It does not include Jumbo WPI but it 4 or less would probably fall under Jumbo.

Of course whether you are working with DIY, mystery, or known yarn you always need to knit a test swatch (or two) to make sure the drape and gauge is suitable for the project.

Any reason I can not cut the strips a different size?
I’ve found 1″ wide is a good number in general. If you want a Jumbo yarn from something really light-weight then 2″ might be better. From personal experience I’ve found that a lot of knits start to lose their structural integrity once you go smaller than 1″. Cut too narrow and really light-weight knit will start to stretch unevenly which will lead to wonky looking stitches. Some knits start to get weird and fuzzy. When I made the yarn to make the pompoms for the Face of Boe hat, I cut the width closer to 1/2″ and I think that mid-weight knit that was a cotton blend had a good enough balance that it would have worked for knitting as well. The 100% cotton knit I used for this tutorial would have probably done wacky things cut the same width. In the end, the best advice I can give you is sacrifice some fabric, cut a few test strips, and give them a good tug to see what happens.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

How to make your own jersey (aka. “t-shirt”) yarn.

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Step 1: PRE-WASH your fabric and fold it in half. Right sides together, folded with greatest stretch going up, and wrinkles smoothed out.

I had our family cat assisting me so keeping the fabric completely wrinkle free for photos was a frustrating adventure. Of course the cat won.

When folded as neatly as possible the top edge did not exactly match up. You can either trim this off now or do like I did, sew a straight line across a bit below the edge and trim off the excess.

Skip everything but the PRE-WASH in Step 1 if you are using a t-shirt then skip to Step 3b.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 2: Sew a straight line across the top of your fabric. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance and trimmed the excess off being careful to not cut through the stitches.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 3: Turn the fabric right side out and again fold the fabric width-wise but this time leaving a 1″ gap at the top between the two edges.

I made this sample using contrasting fabrics so you can see the gap clearly.

Step 3b: If you are using a t-shirt you can skip past the sewing part. Lay your t-shirt with the length horizontal to you, fold according to the directions in Step 2, trim off the hemline and anything above the armpit.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 4: At the bottom fold use a ruler* to guide your 1″ (or strip width choose) cuts. You can use a pen to pre-mark the cutting lines. Only cut to the first top edge. DO NOT CUT BEYOND THE FIRST TOP EDGE!!! That 1″ gap we made in Step 3 is a no cut zone.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

After I took the example photo above I dragged everything over to my cutting mat* and used the rotary cutter* to quickly cut the 1″ increments. Much faster than scissors. Just don’t go crazy and cut into the gap!

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Now you should have what looks like a potential flying spaghetti monster.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 5: With the strip connecting the loops in hand, cut the first loop at an angle slightly below the line of stitching.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Which will look like this.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 6: Wind that now loose strand around until you reach the next loop junction and cut diagonal through the junction.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 7: Keep doing the winding and cutting diagonally as described in Step 6 until you have no more loops and one long continuous strand. Which most likely looks like a giant noodley mess.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Step 8: I like cutting off a 2-3″ piece of a cardboard tube, cutting a small slit on top, catching one end of the yarn in the slit, and using that as a base to wrap the yarn into a ball. There are other ways to do this and you are welcome to make your ball or skein as you see fit.

DIY Jersey (aka. t-shirt) yarn tutorial // pensebrox.com

Tada! Now the big question is… what am I making with this yarn?

If you make your own jersey yarn using this tutorial be sure to tag any shares with #craftyrox on social media so I can check it out!

 

Products mentioned in this post I purchased using my research and money. Any affiliate links in this post (marked with an *) may one day generate enough commission where I can buy the kids an ice cream cone but do not influence my support of any product linked to in this post. You can read the full disclosure over here.

6 comments

    This doesn’t galen frequently, but several times while reading this I’d laugh and day “we need to be friends”. Between the doctor who reference and the flying spaghetti monster, just ahh! I’ll definitely be coming back to check your stuff out frequently.

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