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Behind the scenes: Making t-shirt yarn

A look into the process of creating t-shirt yarn

If you're familiar with our t-shirt yarn, you will have heard that it's recycled from the off-cuts of t-shirt manufacturing, that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.  We thought that you might enjoy a little insight into the behind the scenes process of turning fabric off-cuts into beautiful t-shirt yarn, on a commercial scale.  

The first step is for the yarn producer to receive off-cuts fashion dyeing factories.  Then the fabric is sorted into bags of the same colour. 

Bale of fabric from a fashion dyeing warehouse  

A bale of fabric from a fashion manufacturer

Fabric waiting to be sorted into colours

Fabric waiting to be sorted into colours

The fabric is then ripped into strips, ready to be knotted or sewn together, ready to be rolled into rolls/balls/bobbins (depending on your chosen term!) of t-shirt yarn.

Bags of strips, separated into colours

Bags of fabric, separated into colours

Knotted yarns, ready to roll

Knotted yarns, ready to roll

The next step is to load the knotted strips onto the rolling machine (it is also good to note that not all of our yarns are knotted, some of them are sewn together).  The rolling machine is not automatic, so a staff member is standing by, watching the rolling process for each roll of yarn.  While they do aim for consistency, there is often some variation in the weight and yarn length of different rolls, depending on the kind of fabric used, and how tightly it is wound.  Each roll is set to end up at a finished size of 14cm x 14cm.

The yarn rolling machine in action

The yarn rolling machine in action

From there the yarn is stored in the warehouse, waiting to go to yarn stores all over the world. 

T-shirt yarn warehouse

 T-shirt yarn warehouse

The process of ordering t-shirt yarn from a supplier is almost worth another whole blog post by itself, but here are the basic steps.

  • Find some suppliers and order some samples
  • Weigh up costs and qualities
  • Place your minimum order quantity (often between 1000-3000kg of yarn)
  • Give them your colour requests (which may or may not be filled, depending on the reliability of the supplier, and what they currently have in stock - we ended up with about 500 different individual kinds of colours/prints from our first supplier!)
  • Organise shipping with your customs agent
  • Wait at least 50 days for the sea freight to arrive
  • Take delivery of your epic new stash of t-shirt yarn, and dive in to discover just what you've actually purchased!

Stock room of t-shirt yarn

Stock room of t-shirt yarn, waiting to be purchased

So there you have it!  The bare bones of commercial t-shirt yarn manufacturing. 

T-shirt yarn is a fantastic, eco-friendly way to make beautiful use quality fabrics that would otherwise be sent to rot in a landfill.  Your imagination (and skills) are really the only limit to the amazing things that you can create with this textile.  We are super proud to be a part of bringing this beautiful yarn to the Australia market.   

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