I have a confession to make. It’s costing me money, cluttering up my life, and making me question my validity as a homemaker. Here it is: I’m a spiller. You give me a new shirt, and I will find a way to immediately make a good-sized stain on it. I’m also an equal-opportunity spiller: Chocolate, strawberries, the dribblings out the back side of a taco or burger. I like to mix it up. And this leads me to another confession: I’m not that good at laundry. I mean, I know how to turn the washing machine on and occasionally even choose an appropriate water temperature, but honestly? I don’t know what to do for ketchup or grease or blueberries, and I apparently don’t care enough to find out. There are only so many battles one person can wage, am I right?
This personal dysfunction has led to a dilemma in my closet, namely, a stack of stained T-shirts that have been washed, dried, and washed again (because that works sometimes… so I hear… okay, it never works, but I still do it religiously), then folded and placed back in my T-shirt pile (because if you lovingly fold a stained shirt and let it rest a while amongst more well-behaved garments you can shame the stain away? I have a problem.).
One day I confessed this conundrum to a dear friend of mine. She’s the kind of friend that seems to have all the answers, is a little too cute perhaps, annoyingly pulled together, and crafty as all get out, but the kind that makes me dream big dreams for my morbidly obese closets and scary laundry room: Pinterest. On this pin-happy evening, I came across some fabulous ways to repurpose my badly-behaved T-shirts including a quick and inexpensive solution known as the T-shirt scarf. Not only was this project fun and easy, it was also therapeutic. Cutting that frustrating pile of laundering failures into strips somehow made me feel like the stains didn’t win after all.
You only need three things for this project:
- A T-shirt – stretchy materials work best
- Your sharpest scissors
- Masking tape
No old or stained T-shirts at home? First, picture me staring at you for a moment in wonder and a bit of jealousy. Okay, now head to a local thrift store and score a few polyester/spandex blends for cheap. Solids, stripes, or patterns are all good choices.
Start by lining up the seams of your T-shirt on a flat surface. First, cut off the bottom seam all the way across the shirt. Then cut a straight line underneath the armpits all the way across. Save the top part of the shirt, though, because you’ll need it later. It should look like this:
Next, turn the T-shirt sideways so the side seams are on the bottom and top. Attach a piece of masking tape across the entire top inch of your material, up to the seam. This guide will help keep your cuts even at the top and keep you from cutting your strips too far. Use more masking tape to secure the top and right side of your rectangle to your work surface. This will make cutting the strips easier.
Okay, revenge time! Starting at the bottom, cut strips all the way up to your tape line. One to two inches in width is fine, just eyeball it. Perfection is not required here nor are straight lines. Muttering, “Take that, grease spot!” under your breath is optional but encouraged. Next, give each loop a good stretch to about twice its original length. This will cause the strips to narrow out and curl up at the edges, creating T-shirt “yarn.” Remove the top strip of masking tape.
Now take the top part of the shirt you set aside earlier and cut three 2-inch-wide strips off just the back side of the T-shirt. Stretch them into yarn and knot them together on one side. Braid all the way down, finishing with a knot on the other end.
Time to finish off our scarf! Gather the edge of your T-shirt loops that had been protected by the masking tape and wrap your braid tightly around to completely hide that seam. Tuck the knots of your braided piece under the wrapped portion, and you are done!
These are basic instructions for the T-shirt scarf, but there are many variations you could try as well. Visit my good friend Pinterest for lots of ideas, and don’t forget to follow Bridging the Gap (mnbtg) while you’re there! Oh, and if you come across any creative solutions for chronic spillers like myself (homemade adult-size bib, perhaps?), send them my way.