This Lil Piglet

DIY Upcycled T-Shirt Scarf Tutorial

I was going through some laundry this weekend and found some shirts that I was just going to toss when I got to thinking, why not recycle them into something fun.  I thought my burgundy t-shirt which happened to have a splash of paint on it would go nicely with the grey, green, white and burgundy striped shirt my son had grown out of and the perfect DIY project for a Valentine’s Day treat to myself and a little treat to the environment too.


Materials Needed:

2 old t-shirts  (soft cotton or jersey knit are best, they roll better)

Embellishments (optional)

Fabric scissors

Thread and Needle (Optional)


Cut your t-shirts  on both sides into strips of 1.5 inches wide lengthwise from bottom to the neckline, cutting the strip from the neck of the shirt and snip off the hemmed end.  Cut off the sleeve cuffs to use later as a finishing piece (optional, see below).


Once you have all of your strips cut, grab the ends of each piece and give them a quick tug; this creates that natural rolled effect.  Now the fun part; get creative and come up with your own design.  What I did was grab sets of 3 in each colour, and another set of 6 (for variety) and tied the striped bunch to the end of the solid colour bunch.  This was to make it longer because I used smaller sized t-shirts, the strips weren’t as long and would’ve been too tight around my neck.  Then I braided the set of 6, using 2 strips for each braid strand, to make it a thicker looking braid.  On the other side I braided with a group of 3 for a thinner effect.  Next I tied more bunches of the solid colour to the end that I already tied the striped material to so I could weave it under and over in stands, some strings I individually tied so that they would drape across the neckline nicer, tying it all back around at the end of the circle once I achieved the look I wanted.  I saved the embellishments for last.  Hubs had some old nuts and washers hanging around that I thought might add to the upcycled look.  I found the easiest way to place these embellishments where I wanted them to lay on my neck was to tie the ends of the single stands (the ones I wanted to drape), leaving the other ends free, and putting the scarf on.  From there I would tie a tight knot in the single string where I wanted the embellishment to start, then I slid a washer, 2 nuts and another washer over the string before tying a tight knot on the other end tight against the embellishments, holding them securely in place.  The next thing I did was tie the end of this embellished string up with the rest but loose enough to drape across my neck and still be able to get the scarf over my neck.  I continued adding embellishments this way until I was satisfied with the look.  There is no limit to the way you can arrange your scarf, braid, twist, over/under, bunch together or single strand, play around with your scarf until you are happy with it.


If you are looking for a more “finished” look, this is where you would use the sleeve ends I mentioned to cut off and set aside earlier.  Using these sleeve pieces, fold over the sides to hide any cut ends, and cover over the tied ends of your scarf. Using a thread and needle stitch this sleeve covering in place.  Personally, I didn’t bother with this step because with the nuts and washers, the ragged look went nicely with the finished look.


Tips:  Anything thicker than a light cotton or jersey knit material will make it impossible to tie and will become too bulky.  If you want a fuller look, consider cutting the strips a little wider, maybe even using a bigger t-shirt for more material, and using more strips.  You can use anything, or nothing, as embellishments; tie bigger beads or sew a button onto your scarf; the looks are endless.


Have fun with it; I’d love to see your finished projects!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.