T-Shirt Yarn Tunic



Have a dozen old t-shirts and time to knit?! Make this phat and delicious knitted tunic with up-cycled t-shirt yarn from our 2014 stitchery collective collection!
A thousand thanks to the amazing Christine Bulley (amazing stitchery mum-extroadinare) both for knitting this gorgeous number and for writing the instructions to share with you! Happy knitting 🙂

Phat Knit Dress Instructions:



Cut t shirts into 1.5 cm wide strips. Follow the lengthwise grain.

To even out colour variations, mix up the cut strips from the various shirts in a random order when joining them to form a continuous yarn.

Drop the feed dogs on your machine and use a moderate width zigzag stitch to sew the strips together. Trim away extra threads.

The strips will have a tendency to curl up. Add each new length to the outside so it wraps around the previous strip. This will give a more neat overall appearance to the finished garment.




10 mm circular or straight needles.

Circular needles are convenient to use as they are more compact to work with, it is impossible to misplace one of your needles, they hold a large number of stitches… and you can knit in circles or straight rows.

You will need approximately 4 balls of yarn that are the size of a softball.

For a more accurate estimate measure the length of yarn required to knit up a sample swatch.



A sample swatch is needed to determine the number of stitches and rows you will need to knit the garment and how much yarn will be required.

Different stitch patterns will knit up to a different size so your swatch must be in the stitch pattern you will be using for the garment.

Tensions vary between knitters. A tight knitter will need more stitches and rows to cover the same area as someone who is a loose knitter.

Using the correct stitch pattern, knit up a swatch that is at least 20 stitches wide and 20 rows long.

When doing calculations, ignore the first and last stitches as they may knit up differently. Similarly ignore the cast on and cast off rows when determining length.

By counting the number of stitches to the centimetre and measuring the desired width of your garment you can easily work out how many stitches you need to cast on.

Take note of the length of yarn needed to knit the swatch to work out the number of metres of yarn needed to complete the garment.

The bigger the swatch the more accurate your calculations will be.




Draw out on paper the actual size and shape you would like your finished garment to be. This will allow you to lay your knitting over the pattern shape and help you achieve the desired shape as your knitting progresses.

The sample pattern is 28 cm wide at the hem and 75cm from shoulder to hem. The weight of the knitted fabric will cause the garment to “grow” in length so measure the knitting when it is hanging vertically, under the force of gravity.



The front and the back of this garment are the same, so make note of the number of rows and stitches used in the front and repeat for the back.

Using the Longtail * method, cast on 36 stitches
(or the number of stitches determined by your swatch calculations).

This garment is knitted in Purse stitch *, which requires an even number of stitches. Continue in Purse stitch until your garment measures 56 cms.
Cast on 10 stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows to form the sleeves.
Continue knitting in purse stitch until garment measures 68 cm.

With the right side of the garment facing, locate the centre of the next row of stitches. (28 stitches on each side of the centre)

When the tail of the cast on thread is located at the bottom left of your knitting, the right side of your knitting will be facing you. Although purse stitch looks the same from both sides, the cast on edge is a little different.

Because Stocking Stitch * has a tendency to roll over on itself along the edge, the plan is to knit a section of stocking stitch at the neckline. This will roll over and can be stitched down to form the shaping for the neck. Balance the stocking stitches evenly either side of the midway point in each row.

The next few rows shape the neckline.

Row 1. Continue to knit purse stitch for 26 stitches, knit next 4 stitches, purse stitch next 26 stitches.

Row 2. Purse stitch 24 stitches, pearl next 8 stitches, purse stitch remaining 24 stitches. Row 3. Purse stitch 22 stitches, knit 12 stitches, purse stitch remaining 22 stitches. Row 4. Purse stitch 20 stitches, knit 16 stitches, purse stitch remaining 20 stitches.

Row 5. Purse stitch 18 stitches, knit 20 stitches, purse stitch remaining 18 stitches. Row 6. Pearl across the entire row
Row 7. Plain the entire row
Row 8. Pearl 18 stitches, bind off 20 stitches, pearl 18 stitches.

Loose bind off http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYMFEYvCBRE&autoplay=1
Leave remaining stitches on a stitch holder or spare needle in preparation for joining

the front and the back using Kitchener stitch.

* If you prefer a more simple method of joining the shoulders, change row 8 to bind off ( cast off) all stitches and whip stitch the back and front shoulder sections together.



Work with an even number of stitches. This is a one row repeat.

Row one: Knit one, *yarn over, purl two together. Repeat from * to the last stitch, knit one.


Making a yarn over is a simple way to increase stitches. Using a yarn over makes a hole in the knitting and is popularly combined with a decrease such as knit (or purl) two together to keep the number of stitches the same across the row.

To make a yarn over between two stitches, just wrap the yarn around the right- hand needle from back to front counterclockwise before knitting the next stitch. Then just work the next stitch as normal. When you get to the yarn over on the next row, treat it as a regular stitch.

Working a yarn over is the same whether you’re knitting or purling the next stitch. When knitting you wrap the yarn around the needle and leave it in the back; when purling, wrap it all the way around the needle so the yarn is back in front where it needs to be to purl.

This garment is knitted from the bottom up.

The long-tail cast on gives a neat edge with a suitable amount of stretch.


Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Repeat these two rows for pattern. This is used to shape the neckline.


Kitchener stitch is used to get a seamless finish on a knitted garment. It is often used to finish the toes of socks as it does not leave a bump.

This is a little bit tricky but it is worth the extra effort Kitchener Stitch can be knitted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S9v-pEiu-M&app=desktop or sewn



This is used to join the side seams together. Place the 2 knitted pieces side by side and pick up one knobble from each side. Alternate from one side to the other, work your way up from the bottom. These stitches should be gently looped. Be careful not to draw the two sides together too tightly as you proceed as this would cause the sides to pull up and prevent the garment from draping correctly.

This can also be used to hold the rolled neckline in place.