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Butchering T-shirts to make a pillow case

Butchering T-shirts to make a pillow case

Last year, I happened on some tutorial videos to make t-shirt yarn. I just didn’t have any old t-shirts to destroy, nor the time to embark  on such a craft quest. This year is different, I’ve got the time and two old t-shirts ready for ragdom.

I picked to do a pillow cover because knitting a rectangle is relatively easy (for my novice skills). We have a little sofa pillow that has been running naked for way to long.

This was a fairly easy quest, but it did require a few swatch samples to gauge how many stitches I needed and the needle size. I chose to use my largest needles, 10mm. If you want a more lacey finish, then bigger needles would be great (I was too stingy to go out and buy bigger needles). If you want a close knit finish try a 7mm needle, keep in mind that you’ll probably need one more t-shirt as you’ll need more yarn.

As you’ll see by the photos below, I probably should have knitted it longer than 44cm in total length. I overestimated the stretch factor, the second t-shirt’s yarn wasn’t as stretchy.

You’ll also see knots poking up throughout the knitting in my pictures, this is because I had to tie all the cut strips together. Trying to do what the tutorial videos showed, to cut the t-shirt into one continuous strip, was too mind boggling. I kept cutting right to the end of the strip!. Hey, I think the knots look cute so I pushed all the knots to show on the right side of the knitting.

Beware – there will be lots of micro fluff and balls from cutting and working with the t-shirt yarn. Have your vacuum handy and try not to breath in this micro fluff, when i blew my itchy nose I blew out t-shirt fluffy – yuck!

The below knitting recipe is for a 32 x 32cm pillow. Pictures at the end.


  • 2 medium sized t-shirts
  • 7 big buttons
  • 10mm knitting needles
  • Darning needle
  • Sewing needle
  • Fabric scissors

Making the t-shirt yarn:

  • Cut thee t-shirt into strips of 1.5 to 2cm wide
  • Pull along strip length to get the edges to curl in
  • Join strips together by tying the ends together

Making the pillow case:

  • Cast on 30 stitches, in longtail method (creates a firm, tidy edgy). Leave a 80cm tail to sew close one side of the pillow.
  • knit in stockinette until 44cm or longer depending on the stretchiness of your yarn
  • Cast off stitches. Leave a 80cm tail to sew close the other side of the pillow.
  • Overlap the cast on and off edges a little, on the right side, pin these together. Turn knitting inside out and sew sides together with the extra long tails.
  • Carefully unpin the cast on edges and turn knitting inside out to the right side. Place and sew the 7 buttons along the cast on (or off) edge. The buttons should easily slip through the knitting to close the opening.

If you try this, let me know how you go 🙂

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