Rag Yarn: Making Yarn from Fabric

Crocheting with rag yarn made from fabric strips is a great way to upcycle worn clothing, thrift store finds, and bed linens that are too worn to donate . . . as well as fabric remnants (even if they’re just a couple of inches wide). It is also a great way to take advantage of amazing bargain-bin sales at fabric stores. Then crochet it up into something cool with the Rag Yarn Vase Cozy from Interweave Crochet Fall 2018.

Tips for Selecting Fabrics

  • When selecting recycled clothing for fabric yardage, it is recommended that you use 100 percent sheet-weight cotton (it is easy to rip).
  • Use a rotary cutter for fabric that doesn’t tear easily.
  • Avoid fabric that has too much contrast between the right and wrong side.
  • Choose a variety of patterns to see how they mix.
  • Wash all fabric before turning it into yarn so that it is clean, preshrunk, soft, and ready to crochet.

Making Fabric Strips


Fabric strips can be sewn together mitered or end to end. Even really badly sewn seams are perfectly good once you trim. This is not precision sewing. Fast and furious sloppy sewing works just fine. Seams should be about ¼” and, if needed, trimmed to ⅛” to reduce bulk.

Advantages: The join is practically invisible when crocheting. If you’re cutting up clothing where the strips are less than a yard long, sewn seams use less fabric than knotted joins.

Disadvantages: You need a sewing machine. If you don’t join all your strips at one time, you will need continuous access to a sewing machine.


Fold the end of the fabric strip back on itself ¾” and make a ¼” snip, which will create a ½” slit when unfolded. Repeat on the other end, then repeat with a second strip. Every fabric strip that gets joined will have a slit at both ends.

1. Thread second strip through slit in first strip.

Step 1 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

Step 1 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

2. Pull through and thread second strip through slit on first strip’s other end.

Step 2 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

Step 2 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

3. Keep pulling . . . (It helps to hold on to the second fabric strip end while pulling so you don’t risk tearing the slits in the fabric).

Step 3 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

Step 3 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

4. Carefully pull tight so that the two strips are locked and knotted.

Step 4 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

Step 4 | Photo Credit: Maria O’Keefe

Advantages: Your project is portable because you don’t need a sewing machine. And hey . . . no sewing machine!

Disadvantages: A knotted join can sometimes be hard to hide when crocheting. Sometimes the little tag ends will insist on sticking out of your project. The result is a more handmade or rustic look, but that’s not such a bad thing when it comes to rag yarn.

Extra Tip: When fabric strips are more than three yards long, they tend to tangle, and once the loose threads get going, the resulting mess is almost impossible to undo. To avoid this, roll long fabric strips into a ball. You can always cut this one long strip at any time to add a different fabric or wait till the end and add more. Alternatively, you can just keep adding more fabric as you need it, three or so yards at a time.

And that’s it! Now you have a limitless supply of yarn! Try it out in your favorite stitch pattern from Interweave Crochet.

MARIA O’KEEFE loves coffee and crochet and stomping her acreage in rural Kansas with her neighbor’s five dogs.

(Featured Image: Rag Yarn Vase Cozy from Interweave Crochet Fall 2018. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography)

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