5 T-Shirt Yarn Crafts to Try to Master New Maker Skills

Turn tired T-shirts into treasured projects with T-shirt yarn!

Got an old T-shirt in your house? Good news! You’ve got everything you need to start crafting. We’re rounding up some awesome skills that you can learn using T-shirt yarn as your medium.

 

Not only are these projects fun and fabulous, but they'll help you hone your maker skills and you can apply what you've learned using T-shirt yarn to other fiber arts projects. 

First, round up your materials... those T-shirts that are a bit tired or have seen better days are PERFECT for these projects.

 

Now, let's literally round up the T-shirts into yarn! Watch this video to learn how to convert your fabrics to a usable yarn. 

Five crafts you can Do with T-shirt yarn 

Finger Knitting

Finger knitting is an easy way to get started with fiber crafts. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite relaxing. Knit a long line and turn it into a necklace for an easy starter craft! 

Macrame

Macra-make some amazing things for your home! This video shows you the basic knots you’ll need to get started. T-shirt yarn is great for practicing before you commit to a project.  

Fabric Coiling

You can create a bowl out of fabric! T-shirt yarn is perfect for this since it’s chunkier and sturdier than most yarn. This bowl will be perfect to hold your crafting supplies! 

Pom Pom Making

They look easy, but there’s actually a pattern to creating pom poms! Use this template to learn to make t-shirt yarn pom poms, and then scale it down for smaller yarn – or if you prefer, you can purchase small pom pom makers at a craft store.

Crochet

Learn basic stitches and their abbreviations so that you can conquer a simple pattern! Note: you will need a crochet hook. Carving your own is a tutorial for another time…

Mother and daughter using T-shirt yarn to practice finger knitting

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Build a Birdhouse Upcycled Activity: A Maker Project Worth Tweeting About

Build a birdhouse to attract your fine-feathered friends!

Do you have a quart carton in your recycling bin? Why not turn it into a home for your local birds? Birds are some of the best tenants. They're not picky about their homes and are pretty grateful to have them. They may even thank you with a sweet song. 
 
Here are some tips so you can build a birdhouse you will be proud of!
 

Materials:

  • An empty quart carton

  • A pair of scissors

  • A ruler or measuring tape

  • Decorating supplies (optional)

  • String or ribbon

 

Note: Have your grownup help you with the cutting and poking holes steps! These can be tricky.

Directions:

  • Rinse out your carton. Give those birds a fresh start!

  • About halfway up your carton, cut a hole about an inch wide. Quart cartons are about the right size for a wren – they like to have a small entryway so that bigger birds can’t invade their house.

cut-quart-carton-for-wren-birdhouse-diy
  • Poke some holes in the bottom of the carton to drain out rain.

  • Start decorating! Birds have color vision, so they can enjoy the same colors that you can!

decorate-your-upcycled-birdhouse
  • When you’re finished decorating, poke a hole in the top part of the carton.

  • Thread a piece of string, ribbon, or fabric scrap through the hole.

how-to-hang-your-diy-birdhouse
  • If you want to create a little perch for the birds, you can find a narrow twig, poke a hole through the sides of your birdhouse, and thread it through!

  • Hang your birdhouse up on a tree! The birdhouse should hang at least four feet off the ground.

build-birdhouse-to-hang-outside-with-orlando-science-center-activity

What will attract birds to the birdhouse you built?

 

Wrens eat insects, so it’s no big deal if you don’t have a bird feeder. You can help attract birds by putting some water out for them in a birdbath! You can use any shallow container, like a plastic food container, for this – it only needs to be a few inches deep.

 

If you want to get creative, wrens have been known to enjoy peanut butter! Try putting a dot on the tree near your birdhouse.

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Make Avocado Dye to Upcycle T-Shirts

Did you know that you could make avocado dye at home out of your guacamole scraps?

Avocados have a special tannin, an acid present in plants, that turns fabric to beautiful a beautiful pale pink or peach color. This tannin acts as a mordant, or fixative, that helps the dye to stick to the fabric fibers. Learn how to extract tannin from the pit and skin of avocados to make your own fabric dye!  

Materials you will need:

  • Skins and pits of two avocados
  • A large stainless steel pot
  • Heat safe container (bowl, basin, pot)
  • A strainer or sieve
  • A clean white t-shirt (you could also use a bandana, scarf, tank top, whatever you like – just make sure it’s a natural fabric for best results)
  • Optional: gloves for handling dyed fabric (you can also just wash your hands afterwards!)
Avocado skin and pit pieces on cutting board

Directions:

  • Rinse the avocado off your pits & stones. You don’t need to be too thorough with this - the strainer will take care of any avocado pieces that are left behind.
  • Heat water on low heat in your stainless steel pot, enough for your pits & skins to float in. Just heat – don't boil! Be very careful as boiling will turn your dye brown.
Rinsing Avocado Pit Piece
  • Drop the pits into the water. Tear up the skins & drop them in. Don’t forget to remove any stickers!
  • Cover & let the water simmer on low heat. Check on it frequently. If the water is starting to bubble, lower the heat.
Avocado Pieces In Pot
  • Check on the water for color. Because plants vary & tap water can have different minerals in it, the time you will need to extract the tannin will vary as well – somewhere between 30 & 60 minutes.

  • Once you’re happy with the color, strain the dye into a heat safe container.

Straining Avocado Pieces
  • Repeat steps 2 – 6 with the same avocado pieces to make another batch. Do this as many times as you need until you have enough dye to submerge your t-shirt.

Avocado Pieces Recooking
  • Submerge your white shirt into the dye. You can either put a lid on your container to keep it warm or leave it out in the sun.
Submerging T-shirt In Dye
  • Let it sit! Leave your shirt in the dye for at least an hour. You can leave it overnight if you want a deeper color.

Avocado Shirt Dyeing In Tub
  • Remove your shirt & rinse it in cold water. You can let it air dry or throw it in the dryer by itself.

Avocado Shirt Rinsing In Sink
  • Admire your handiwork! You now have a fabulous new shirt made with natural dye.

Dyed T-Shirt

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In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!