1-2 hours
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T-Shirt Yarn Knotted Headband

1-2 hours

Novice

Ages 8+

What Will You Learn?

If you ask people to name their favorite piece of clothing, chances are it will be a t-shirt. T-shirts are soft and comfy. They can be plain or colorful, and they can have words or pictures that tell the world about you. You can play in them, sleep in them, and in some places even work in them. They may not be fancy, but they’re always fun to wear. And when you’re done wearing them, they’re great to upcycle! 

Like wool sweaters, t-shirts are made from knitted fabric, which gives them their stretchiness. But instead of animal hair, t-shirts are usually made from cotton, a type of plant fiber. Sometimes it is combined with an artificial fiber like polyester, which is actually a kind of plastic. Because they are knit, t-shirts won’t unravel easily when you cut them, which makes them easy to work with. 

Even better, one type of t-shirt fabric, known as jersey, has a special property: when you cut it, the edges roll up. You can use this characteristic to add an interesting fringe to the unfinished bottom of a shirt. Or if you cut the t-shirt in long strips, you get soft, springy “yarn” that you can use just like any other kind of thick yarn or cord—for knitting, weaving, or knotting projects.

Measure the Length of the Headband

You only have to make short strips of yarn for this headband. The strips are held together using a type of a sailor’s knot called the Carrick Bend.

Step 1

Take a scrap piece of yarn and wrap it around your head like a headband.

Step 2

Mark the place where the ends overlap. This will be the final length of your headband.

Cut Your T-Shirt

Step 3

Cut off the bottom hem of your t-shirt and lay it out flat, making sure the bottom edges are even.

Step 4

Make a tiny mark along the side of the shirt about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide above the bottom edge. If you need a guide, make another mark along the other side of the shirt and very lightly draw a line between them with a piece of chalk.

Step 5

Cut the strip. Repeat until you have six pieces of t-shirt yarn for each headband you are making.

Step 6

Cut your pieces of t-shirt yarn open and stretch them until the sides roll in and the strips are longer and thinner.

Step 7

Lay the strips out flat. Make sure the strips are at least the length of your finished headband plus about 8 inches (20 cm). If your shirt has sewn side seams, cut one of the seams right off. Try to position the remaining seam so it is at the back of the headband.

Divide and Knot Your T-Shirt Yarn

Step 8

Divide the six pieces of t-shirt yarn into two strands with three pieces each.

Step 9

Take the first strand and twist it into a loop with the ends facing you.

Step 10

Take the second strand and lay it over the ends of the loop in a large U.

Step 11

Bring the right leg of the loop over the U.

Step 12

Bring the upper left end of the U under the loop.

Step 13

Take the upper right end of the U and thread it over-under-over the three strands at the top.

Step 14

Lay the headband out flat and smooth out the ends. Trim the ends so the entire piece is the length you measured for your headband.

Close the Headband

Step 15

Cut a rectangle out of t-shirt fabric about 4 inches (10 cm) by 5 inches (12 cm).

Step 16

Fold in about 1/4 inch (7.5 mm) of the edges. (If you are using fabric or hot glue, glue them flat.)

Step 17

With the rectangle in front of you the long way, lay one end of the headband in the center of the rectangle. Bring the other end of the headband around so the ends are just touching. (If you are using glue, glue the ends of the headband to each other.)

Step 18

Wrap the top and bottom of the rectangle around the ends to make a tight tube.

Step 19

Glue the rectangle closed or sew around the sides of the rectangle to hold it closed and to hold the ends of the headband in place.

What's Next?

Create a wristband the same way, but make it thinner by using only four pieces of yarn.

Check out the other recycled t-shirt crafts in Kathy’s book Fabric Inventions.

About the Book

Enjoy this project? T-Shirt Yarn Knotted Headband is just one example of fun and innovative projects you can find in the book Fabric Inventions by Kathy Ceceri. Fully illustrated with easy step-by-step projects, this fun book starts with the basics of sewing and knitting before moving on to more complicated topics such as silkscreen and electronic circuits in your wardrobe. By completing the projects, you’ll soon be able to create your own amazing fabric and fiber inventions!

Kathy Ceceri June 4, 2021
Kathy Ceceri is a STEAM educator and the author of over a dozen books of hands-on learning activities with a focus on science, technology, history, and art. She has taught live online workshops for Maker Camp, written beginner-level tutorials for companies including Adafruit Industries, and worked with the Girl Scouts of the USA to develop robotics badges and a cybersecurity challenge. Formerly a top contributor to Wired.com's GeekDad blog, a founding editor of the GeekMom blog, and the Homeschooling Expert for About.com (now ThoughtCo), Kathy teaches enrichment workshops through schools and libraries, and offers classes directly to families through SEA Homeschoolers.   Check out Kathy's books in MakerShed and on Kathy's site. Follow Kathy's works-in-progress and interesting links on Twitter and Facebook and in the group DIY Homeschool. Watch the trailer for her online classes here!
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