Easy Recycled T-shirt Scarf Tutorial

t-shirt scarf tutorial

One of my favorite things to do is rescue something that is destined for the trash can and turn it into something fabulous. This is an example of just that!

Start with any old t-shirt - I know you have one (or several)- that has a hole in the front (HOW do those get there?!?); underarm stains (eww!); or maybe it just doesn't fit right anymore.

End up with a great new scarf to keep your neck warm, add color and style to any outfit, or give as an awesome handmade present.

All you need for this recycled t-shirt scarf:

  • an old t-shirt
  • a pair of sharp scissors

1. Start by gathering your materials. All you need for this project is a t-shirt and a pair of sharp scissors.

2. Lay the t-shirt out on a flat surface and cut the hem off the bottom.

3. Cut the rest of the shirt into strips - up to the arm pits. You don't need to worry about the strips being perfect. This is a very forgiving project (great for beginners!).

4. Stretch each strip out - this will cause the fabric to curl in. (Fabric not curling? Find out why below.)

5. If your t-shirt has seams on the sides, cut two extra strips from the top or sleeves of the shirt (8 - 10 inches long is about right).

6. Gather the seams of the strips together

t-shirt scarf tutorial

7. Wrap one of the extra strips around the other strips to hold them together and to cover the seams.

8. Tie the extra strip in a square knot and tuck the ends under the other fabric (unless you want a funky bow-tie embellishment on your scarf).

If you have seams on both sides of your strips, you can put extra strips around both sides, or you can leave one side rough-looking.

Here is a scarf I made with a fabric that was printed. I didn't realize this before I made this one, but you should look at the INSIDE of the shirt to see what the color of your scarf will be. It is still pretty, but not quite what I expected.

Wear this scarf doubled, tripled (if very long), or one long strand.

Have fun!


Sometimes you start this project with a happy heart and are very soon disappointed when your t-shirt strips don't curl when you stretch them. What is up with that?!?

I asked my friend, Cynthia (who is a textile engineer) why some of my t-shirts didn't want to curl when cut into strips. She educated me on what to look for. There are single knit and double knit t-shirt fabrics. Only single-knit fabrics will curl when cut and stretched.

Here is how to tell BEFORE YOU CUT if your fabric is single- or double-knit.

First, look closely at the front of the t-shirt fabric. You will see small rows in the weave. Now look at the back side of the fabric. If you see those same rows, it is a double-knit fabric and it WON'T curl. If there are no rows on the back, it is a single-knit fabric and your t-shirt will curl when cut and stretched.

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