Old shirts of all types can be made into scarves that can be worn for decoration or for keeping warm. This article will explain first the simple process of making scarves from the shirt, then look at different types of shirts and how to make scarves from them.
To make the scarf, cut off the bottom hem of the shirt if it is scrunchy or unsightly. Then cut a strip off the shirt parallel to the bottom hem. Make the strip the preferred width of the scarf for thicker materials. From shirts of thinner material, make the scarf twice as wide and fold it over. For shirts with zippers, use that as the ends. For other shirts, cut along a side seam if there is one, or anywhere, to open the tube of cloth to make the strip. Cut the fringe on both ends of the strip by cutting the first six inches of each end into strips. Make strips between half an inch and an inch long. Make one strip and test it first to see how it handles when stretched. Some material stretches and only needs to be cut a little to make a good fringe. Some material curls over and can be cut slightly uneven and be all right. Other material holds its form and needs to be cut neatly.
T-shirt material is lightweight so cut double and fold over. You can leave the bottom hem if desired. T-shirt cloth curls naturally and does not need to be hemmed. As it stretches a little, cut the fringes about four inches long and relatively straight, then gently tug on them to make them curl over. A good distance is one cut every inch while making the fringe. A-shirt “wife-beater” material handles slightly different than T-shirt material so cut a strip and tug it to get a feel for how it behaves. Thinner strips sometimes behave differently than thicker ones, allowing for an interesting fringe.
Turtleneck material does not curl over. The material is of moderate thickness so cut double, and if desired split into two scarves. For the fringe, the material does not fray but may stretch or sometimes curl if cut thinly, depending on the type of cloth. Experiment with a few fringes to determine how deep and thin to cut.
Sweatshirt material does not fray or curl. Because sweater material is thick, cut to the desired width of the scarf rather than double. Cut the fringe neatly and make fringes as thin or thick as desired. Between a quarter and half an inch usually works well for sweatshirt cloth. Sometimes, sweatshirt cloth will stretch if cut thin and tugged. Experiment first to see how it responds and go from there.
Sweater material makes great scarves, and varies greatly in behavior. If the material frays, the end of the scarf may need to be hemmed. Fringes may behave in a number of ways, from stretching minimally to unraveling or stretching into excellent fringe. Experiment with how the cloth handles and cut and stretch accordingly.
Dress shirt material frays similar to how denim frays. Scarves from dress shirts should be double in thickness and the cut end can be sewn to the hemmed end or sewed together if hem is removed, or left to fray. Fringes should be cut an inch apart. Wash the scarf to allow the fringes to fray for the finished look.
This is how to make scarves from different types of shirts, and how to expect the cloth to handle. A good shirt makes two scarves or a folded over scarf. Recycle the rest of the shirt as a dickey or use in other crafts, and harvest the sleeves to reuse in many different crafts to minimize waste. You now have a great homemade scarf at the cost of only an old and no longer useful shirt.