Sister started out with a great plan. For years, every t-shirt from every youth group and high school event went carefully into the closet, with the intention of one day making a memory-heavy t-shirt quilt. But last year as she made another move into another apartment, reality set in, and she realized that however great the dream, it wasn’t happening. So with a jr. high sleepover to plan, she called to see if we could come up with a great use for the shirts.
Some quick internet research yielded a fantastic project that although the jr. highers didn’t try (they were more interested in collecting all those “vintage” late 90’s shirts), I ended up with a fantastic necklace made out of my own collection of thriftstore-bound clothes. The best part of this versatile necklace is that in the winter it works like a scarf to keep your neck warm. In the summer you can get it wet and it will keep your neck cool!
- 1 or more t-shirts or other knit shirts. One shirt will be plenty, but its fun to have some color variation I think.
- Scissors, or better yet, a rotary cutter
- Beads, charms, old jewelry, pieces of chain, etc. (optional)
- 2″ O-ring (optional)
Starting at the bottom edge, cut the shirts into 3/4″-1″ strips. I don’t recommend cutting over printed areas of the shirt, as it will make sort of weird lumps in the necklace, and don’t cut much higher than the armpits. Cut as many strips as you’d like (I used about 25 strips, for reference) out of as many colors or patterns as you’d like. Some nice combanations involve multiple shades of the same color (like multiple shades of grey) or 2 solid colors with 2 coordinating stripes.
Once you have all your strips cut, take each one and stretch it out as far as you can without breaking it. When you let go, the strips will have lost their stretch and have curled in on themselves. Now its easier to see what they really look like, and you can start choosing the ones you’re going to use.
Now you start building the necklace. Start with one strip, and tie one end to the O-ring. Then tie the next and the next, squeezing each knot as close as possible to its neighbor. When you’ve filled up no more than half of the ring, stop and start tying the other sides of the strips onto the ring. Some things to keep in mind:
- You can cut the strips to the right length as you start to tie the second end on, but make sure that after each addition it still fits around your head!
- There’s lots of ways to get the strip from one side to the other – braid 3 strands together, weave one through a chain, slip a few beads on, tie a few knots along the way, loop it around the necklace “rope” that you’re making… Be creative, all these little things make a more interesting piece.
When you’re done, you can embellish a little more if you’d like, by tying a small piece of a strip around a couple of the strands, or adding a charm, or whatever you’d like. Its hard to go wrong on this project, if you “make a mistake” (hard to do here!) just untie and try again!