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T-Shirt Scarf Tutorial

Your favorite old t-shirts can find new life as a fun scarf.

Your favorite old t-shirts can find new life as a fun scarf.

Give New Life to Old T-Shirts!

Do you have some favorite old t-shirts that are too worn to wear but you're keeping for their sentimental value? You know, all those great old concert t-shirts and souvenirs from fun trips that you can't bear to give or throw away? We all have them. Give your favorite old t-shirts new life by turning them into a cozy, funky patchwork scarf. Here is everything you need to know for this easy and fun project.

What You'll Need

For this project, you will need:

  • 7-14 old, adult-sized t-shirts (lightweight sweatshirts also work)
  • Plastic quilter's ruler
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat (if using a rotary cutter)
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needle for hand-sewing

Getting Started

First, gather the required number of t-shirts. To make a scarf that is 10-inches wide and 70-inches long, you will need 7 to 14 t-shirts or lightweight sweatshirts. If you will be using the front and backs of all t-shirts, you will need seven, to make 14 squares. For an 80-inch-long scarf, you will need a minimum of eight t-shirts, front and back, to make 16 squares. Some t-shirts may be large enough to cut two squares from each side.

Selecting the T-Shirts

One of the great things about this project besides its ease is its versatility. You can use those old t-shirts that have special sentimental value and make a memory scarf. You can shop at the thrift store for t-shirts that have fun prints or a common color scheme or that fit a particular theme. You can make a tailgating scarf using t-shirts with your favorite team’s logos and colors. You can make a scarf with a holiday theme or vacation theme. The possibilities are endless.

Tip: I recommend using a combination of t-shirt fronts and backs, prints and solids. If the printing on the t-shirts is stiff and scratchy, you will want to use the softer fabric from the unprinted side of the t-shirt for the part of the scarf that will wrap around the nape of your neck.

Launder and dry all t-shirts before continuing.

Cutting the Squares

Cut the desired number of 11-inch squares from whatever parts of the t-shirts you want to use.

The easiest way to cut squares from the t-shirts is using a quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter. If using a rotary cutter, you also will need a rotary mat to protect your work surface. (See "Tools for Making Your T-Shirt Scarf" below.)

A quilter’s ruler is a square plastic template. Because the ruler is see-through, you can position it over exactly that portion of the t-shirt print that you would like to use. Once the template is positioned, simply cut around it using the rotary cutter.

Tools for Making Your T-Shirt Scarf

Using a Quilter's Ruler and Rotary Cutter:

recycled-and-repourposed-how-to-make-a-scarf-out-of-old-t-shirts


If you don't have a rotary cutter and mat, another option is to position the quilter's ruler on the t-shirt and then trace around it with a pencil. Using the pencil marking as a guide, cut out the square with a sharp scissors. This method works best for lighter-colored t-shirts because it may be difficult to see the pencil markings on dark fabric. For dark fabrics, use white chalk.

Using a Quilter's Ruler and Pencil:

recycled-and-repourposed-how-to-make-a-scarf-out-of-old-t-shirts


If you do not have a quilter's ruler, you can make your own square template using cardboard or paper. If using paper as a template, it may be easiest to pin the paper to the t-shirt to avoid having the paper slip as you cut around it.


Arranging the Squares

On a large work surface or the floor, lay out the squares in two parallel columns of seven (or eight) two-square rows. One column will form the front side of the scarf and the other will form the back side of the scarf. Switch direction of the squares after the halfway point of the two columns so the prints are oriented correctly when both ends of the finished scarf are hanging down around your neck (as shown in the pictures below).

Arrange the squares into a pleasing pattern. You may want to avoid using two squares with thick, heavy prints in the same row as the double thickness may cause the finished scarf to be too stiff.

Here are two examples:


recycled-and-repourposed-how-to-make-a-scarf-out-of-old-t-shirts

Scarf 1

For this scarf, I used a total of 10 t-shirts. I used mostly the printed sides of the shirts, including a Bruce Springsteen 1993 World Tour t-shirt, which was printed on both sides, but included a couple of solid squares at the neck.. The teal Steamboat t-shirt was large enough for three 11-inch squares.

recycled-and-repourposed-how-to-make-a-scarf-out-of-old-t-shirts

Scarf 2

For my Iowa Hawkeye tailgating scarf, I used two lightweight sweatshirts (fronts and backs) and seven t-shirts, including two solid black shirts. (Iowa's school colors are black and gold.) For two of the t-shirts, I used the printed side only. The plain backs of those shirts will find new life as dust clothes.






Sewing the Scarf

Working one column at a time, pin the top of the bottom square (Square 1) to the bottom of the next square (Square 2), right sides together. Using a sewing machine (see video below for tips and how-to), sew across the width of the squares, leaving a one-half inch seam allowance.

recycled-and-repourposed-how-to-make-a-scarf-out-of-old-t-shirts


Next, pin the top of Square 2 to the bottom of Square 3, again with right sides together, and sew together with a one-half inch seam allowance. Repeat with the remaining squares of the first column. To reverse the pattern at the half-way point, pin the squares together at the tops and sew, then pin bottom to top for the remaining squares. Always make sure you are sewing with right sides together.

Repeat this process with the second column.

When you have completed both columns, use an iron to press open all seam allowances.

You now will have two panels that are each 70-inches long. Pin the panels together with right sides facing in. Sew around all sides, leaving a half-inch seam allowance and a three-inch opening on one end of the scarf.

Turn the scarf right-side out through the opening at the end. Use a needle and thread to slipstitch the opening closed.

Enjoy your new scarf!

recycled-and-repourposed-how-to-make-a-scarf-out-of-old-t-shirts

Sewing Machine Basics

Not sure how to operate a sewing machine? This helpful video will show you how.

Comments

Jack Smith on December 15, 2016:

nice idea I like it

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 29, 2015:

Love these ideas Deborah. Clever ones for any holiday or special occasion. What a smart idea! Voted up for awesome. Congrats on Editor's Choice from last year.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 09, 2015:

What a clever way to turn an old favorite tshirt into a keepsake. I know if someone gave me one, it would be a piece of art I would hang from a coatrack or somewhere to display it so it would not wear out :D

Love this idea.

Voted up shared pinned g+ twitter

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 08, 2015:

Thanks to you all for reading and commenting. I hope I have given you some ideas for repurposing your old T-shirts!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on December 18, 2014:

Awesome!!! Love the fact that they can be made into themes that include wonderful lifetime memories.

Thanks for sharing.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on December 18, 2014:

What a smart idea to reuse those old t-shirt we do not wear.

Those would be nice warm scarves. Useful hub!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on December 18, 2014:

I'm one of those people who rarely throws out an old t-shirt. Love, love, love the idea of recycling my favorites into a great scarf! Your instructions and photos for this project are great!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 18, 2014:

wow, you really can turn old shirts into a beautiful scraf

Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 18, 2014:

I love this idea! I have so many T shirts I have kept over the years because they were very special. I have made pillow tops for some of them, but I only use one shirt. A scarf would utilize many shirts!

Voted UP, etc. and shared.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on December 17, 2014:

This is a great idea, never thought about making scarves out of T-Shirts. Unique and creative, thank you for sharing.

John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on November 28, 2014:

You outdid yourself with good instructions and great ideas. My wife makes throw blankets out of old T shirts and has just finished one with Harley Davidson theme for her brother. I am forwarding this to her. Good hub.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 27, 2014:

Thanks, DealForALiving. Glad you found it to be helpful.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 27, 2014:

Thanks, Audrey. The beauty of this project is that it takes minimal sewing skills. And I mean the bare minimum! If I can make three of them, I am confident you can make one. Best of luck to you. Thanks for sharing!

Nick Deal from Earth on August 27, 2014:

Wow, great hub! Really detailed and helpful!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on August 27, 2014:

This is such a creative and amazing idea! If only I could sew. I'm gonna watch the video and see what I can learn. I would just love to be able to make a scarf like this. I certainly have enough t-shirts :) Thanks and voted up ++++ and sharing along with pinning.

Happy thoughts to you Deborah - Audrey

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 10, 2014:

Thank you for reading and voting, Vellur. I made two of these scarves for myself and donated the third to a charity auction. And I have even more t-shirts saved to make another one!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 25, 2014:

This is a great idea and I would love to have colorful scarves. Thank you for sharing this creative lens. Voted up.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 24, 2014:

Thanks for reading, Rozalyn.

Rozalyn Winters on June 10, 2014:

What an awesome idea! :-)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 26, 2014:

Thank you, Eddy. I had tons of fun with this project. The third scarf I made (not pictured here) will be part of a silent auction for a school fundraiser this Saturday. I used t-shirts with the school's logo and colors, and the scarf turned out really cute. I can't wait to see how much it goes for!

Eiddwen from Wales on March 20, 2014:

What a wonderful and original hub.

Voted up and thanks for sharing.

Eddy.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 11, 2014:

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, kerlund. It's a fun project; I'm currently working on my third one, which I am donating to a silent auction fundraiser for the local school.

kerlund74 from Sweden on March 11, 2014:

Awesome, the result seams great:) Really creative, thx for sharing!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 27, 2014:

Thank you for for coming back to reread, VVanNess.

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 26, 2014:

I think I've already read this hub, but I still love it. Very creative!!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 25, 2014:

Thanks for reading and sharing, Faith Reaper. Hope you give my project a try.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 25, 2014:

Wow, what a creative idea for old tee shirts! Thanks for the great instructions. I will start gathering all my old tee shirts and what I can come up with for sure.

Up and more and sharing

Blessings,

Faith Reaper

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2014:

Thanks for reading and commenting, DDE. I'm glad you like my idea.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 21, 2014:

Recycled and repurposed: How to make a scarf out of old t-shirts has a great idea.

Jennifer from Canada on February 11, 2014:

This is awesome! I love wearing scarves! Pretty neat way to make a scarf I have to say!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 04, 2014:

Thanks for reading and commenting. I get a lot of compliments on my scarf whenever I wear it.

moonlake from America on February 03, 2014:

I love this hub such a good idea. I would thank teens would really like this. Voted up and shared.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 30, 2014:

I think tie-dye shirts would work great for this project, FreezeFrame. Thanks for reading and commenting.

FreezeFrame34 from Charleston SC on January 30, 2014:

Love this idea! Can't wait to try it with an old tye-dyed shirt!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 30, 2014:

Thanks, Eddy. Glad you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful evening.

Eiddwen from Wales on January 30, 2014:

What a great hub and one for me to vote up plus save.

Enjoy your day.

Eddy.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 28, 2014:

Thanks for commenting and pinning, FlourishAnyway. T-shirts do seem to have a way of accumulating on you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 28, 2014:

Nice job recycling and repurposing. Many of us have too many t-shirts anyhow. Pinning this!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2014:

Thanks for reading and commenting, thebiologyofleah. I hope you give it a go. Yes, t-shirts make a great scarf. Comfortable and the perfect weight.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2014:

Six months of cold and snow is about right, VVanNess. Not sure where you are, but we had wind chills of -30 to -40 today. Thank goodness for my scarf. Hope you make one of your own.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2014:

Appreciate the comment, pin and shares, tillsontitan. Hope I've given you an idea you can use someday.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2014:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Ms. Dora.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2014:

Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan. I really have enjoyed your recycled denim hubs so I'm glad you liked mine!

Leah Kennedy-Jangraw from Massachusetts on January 27, 2014:

Like some other commenters I wish I kept more of my old t-shirts so I could put this great idea to use! What a great conversation piece of clothing and I bet having the old, worn in cotton against your neck is great.

Thanks for sharing this great idea and the how-to along with it!

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on January 27, 2014:

This is such a creative project. And being someone who regularly uses scarves to keep warm during the 6 months of cold and snow here, this is really going to come in handy!

Mary Craig from New York on January 27, 2014:

Well, I hate to repeat what others have already said but, this is a great idea. I fairly simple project and one we can all do .... certainly the tee shirt part, the rest will come with practice. Nothing like making those old tee shirts new again ;)

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, shared and pinned.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 27, 2014:

Great creativity and a way to keep using the old T-shirts you used to love. Thank you for sharing.

Claudia Mitchell on January 27, 2014:

Love this project and I always have loads of tshirts around. Nice hub!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks, purl! Yes, the scarf is soft and lightweight, too. I can see myself wearing it well into the spring.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks, Chitrangada. I love finding new uses for old things instead of throwing them out. And I have to say I was pretty pleased with how this project turned out!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks for sharing, Anamika!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Hi Kathryn. There are a lot of great uses for old t-shirts. I hope you give my project or one of the others a try. Thanks for sharing and pinning!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks, vespawoolf. Start saving up those t-shirts again. (And the thing about old t-shirts is that even when you give a stack away, there always seems to be more!)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks you, Rebecca, for reading, sharing and pinning. Glad you like the idea.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks, Dolores. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my little project.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks, teaches. I hope you give it a go with your old t-shirts!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks for reading, KoffeeKlatch Gals. I hope you are inspired to give it a try!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks, randomcreative. I really enjoyed your t-shirt hub, too. It gave me lots more ideas!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 26, 2014:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Cynthianne. Glad you like the idea.

Donna Herron from USA on January 26, 2014:

I've seen similar scarves for sale, but had no idea how I could make my own. This is such a great project - I love your photos and instructions. I bet t-shirts make a really soft and comfy scarf. Must try this!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 26, 2014:

Very useful and interesting hub!

It's a great idea to recycle or repurpose old clothes. And this looks attractive too.

Thanks for sharing!

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on January 25, 2014:

This is awesome! Interesting DIY project. I am sharing this.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on January 25, 2014:

What a great idea! I love the idea of repurposing, and have been meaning to save some of my older shirts for projects such as this.

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great weekend.

Voted up, sharing and pinning.

~ Kathryn

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 25, 2014:

What a clever and fun project! I wish I'd read this before donating a stack of old t-shirts to charity. I really like the colorful look of your DIY scarf!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 25, 2014:

What an awesome idea to use all those memorabilia t shirts! I love it Shared, shared, pinned!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 25, 2014:

What a great idea! Your scarf looks so pretty and your instructions are great.

Dianna Mendez on January 25, 2014:

This is an excellent way to recyle all those old t's that just get tossed out. I have a few that may make quite an interesting scarf to go with my casual attire.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on January 25, 2014:

This is an interesting idea. I love that you have included directions.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 25, 2014:

I love the concept for these scarves! So creative. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

Cynthianne Neighbors on January 25, 2014:

What a neat idea! :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 25, 2014:

Thanks, oldiesmusic. I have an old tie-died t-shirt from college (when I was going through my hippie phase) that I was going to use in my scarf. The colors would have worked perfectly with the other shirts. But I just couldn't bring myself to cut it up. But I do think a scarf made from different tie-dyed shirts would be really cool. Maybe I will have to look for some at a thrift store. Thanks for commenting.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 25, 2014:

Eric, I'm sure you can cut a few extra squares out of your XXL shirts. : ) And the parts of the shirt you don't use will make great dust clothes. Thanks for reading and sharing. Have a great day.

oldiesmusic from United States on January 24, 2014:

This hub is exact... I have various tye-dyed shits. They're excellent for scarves! Thanks for sharing your very clever ideas. :)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 24, 2014:

Great stuff. I really liked this and shared it. But honey lady, your numbers are off a bit around here. I am XXL and so be my shirts. My wife and daughter are petite and pp petite. So we will adjust to just cut out the fun stuff and leave the rest on the sewing room floor.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 24, 2014:

Thanks, Nell! I really love my scarf. It looks really cute over a simple sweater with jeans and boots.

Nell Rose from England on January 24, 2014:

What a great idea! Now I will be foraging around for old t shirts to give this a go! I love the idea of making your own, wonderful!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 24, 2014:

I knew you'd approve of my recycling, Bill. Just send me your old Huskies t-shirts and I will be happy to make you a scarf. :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 24, 2014:

Love the pun, Uninvited Writer. I found a lot of different uses for old t-shirts. Would still like to make a quilt someday but that will really be pushing my capabilities as a sewer. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 24, 2014:

Wonderful idea, Deb. I'm all for anything recycled. Bravo! Now if you could make a Washington Husky scarf, please, I will wear it proudly. :)

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on January 24, 2014:

I can't sew worth a darn (see what I did there?) Anyway, I wish I had kept my old 80s concert t-shirts. I have also seen them stretched over canvases and framed. Great idea.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 24, 2014:

Trust me, I can't figure it out. I'm still old school...needle and thread :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 24, 2014:

I love the idea of a country music scarf, Linda! I can't wait to wear my Hawkeye scarf to an Iowa football tailgater next fall. I bet Dave would love an FSU one. And if I can figure out a sewing machine, I'm sure you can, too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 24, 2014:

I could make a country music scarf with all my tshirts! Dave has a bunch of FSU tshirts and they would make a nice scarf, now if I could only figure out how to use a sewing machine without jamming up the thread. One day. Thanks for the video :)