Give a darn about t-shirt yarn.

By: Laura Kraus, Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

One of the first memories I had of visiting my grandparents in California were the amazing t-shirt rugs made by my great grandmother. Spiraled up and tightly braided, they were multicolored, cushy things perfect for digging your bare toes into as you noted all the work that went into them. Of course, at the time I didn’t pay attention to the work. It was only years later, when I actually attempted to make one that I fully appreciated what goes into a braided t-shirt rug. And I’m not just talking about the braiding and sewing together of the t-shirt yarn! Have you ever stopped and thought about what goes into making a plain old t-shirt?

It takes about 400 – 600 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a t-shirt. This really surprised me, as well as scared me, considering how abundant t-shirts are in our society. That’s a lot of water. According to an article in the Economist, making 1kg of fabric of any kind generates 23kg of greenhouse gases on average. Further research on the website Mental Floss led to this surprising information about how a t-shirt is made and where all it has to travel to become the t-shirt that you see in a store: After the cotton is grown on a farm in one part of the world, a process that requires large amounts of water and pesticides, it needs to be treated, woven, and dyed at a facility, sometimes in a totally separate country.

Yes, this is depressing, but we can do something about it, and as a matter of fact, there are people who already are, like Alex Eaves, who made a business out of reusing old t-shirts. He even made a documentary called, “Reuse! Because you can’t recycle the planet” and Spare Parts is featured in it. Eaves prints his message on old t-shirts and sells them to help fund his cause.

What can you personally do about it? Refuse fast fashion. Reuse once you wear out your favorite t-shirt by making it into t-shirt yarn, using one of the tutorials in the links below. Tell your friends. Be social and get the word out on the “interwebs.” We can make a difference together. And don’t forget to tag Spare Parts on social media with a photo of your own reuse creation! #reusegotmethinking #reusesanantonio

Resources on how to make T-Shirt yarn
The Spruce – How to Make T-Shirt Yarn
Instructables T-Shirt Yarn


How to make T-Shirt Yarn

Save the Arts with Spare Parts: It’s about time we get a permanent space!


Over the past six years, Spare Parts has emerged in San Antonio as the leading resource for all things creatively reused or repurposed. Spare Parts activities extend from educational workshops & activities to innovative projects such as the MINI ART MUSEUM and Moving Painting, an artistic expression for Luminaria 2015. Spare Parts & the MINI ART MUSEUM has been in demand at city-wide events, schools & a collaborator in a plethora of projects addressing the environment, education & the art of creative reuse.

It’s time to make Spare Parts a full-time effort in San Antonio & we need your financial support TODAY. 

What We Need & What You Get

  • Our goal is to raise $6,000 by December 31, 2016 to kick off a campaign to create a community retail & education center that serves teachers, artists, creative families & supporters of reuse year round.
  • This campaign brings you special thank-you gifts from a hand-crafted note to your name  emblazoned on one of our Spare Parts workshop tables we’ll use to educate & inspire others to reuse through the arts. Check out our perks!
  • What if we don’t raise $6,000? We will continue to fundraise for 6 months rent & expenses to open a permanent space ($40,000 total).


#REUSEsanantonio #GetYourReuseOn