Turn a pile of old t-shirts into a DIY dog toy your pup will love. We'll show you how to make your own t-shirt yarn for this project, and how to turn it into a durable tug-of-war toy for your dog. 

By BH&G Crafts Editors and Kim Hutchison
Updated June 04, 2020
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small dog tugging on braided tshirt toy

T-shirt yarn is a great way to recycle old shirts that aren't being worn, and it's the ideal texture for DIY dog toys. The material is stretchy enough for a good game of tug-of-war, and when the yarn is braided, it's durable enough for even the largest of dogs to sink their teeth into. And, since it's made from t-shirt material, it's easy to throw in the washing machine! We'll show you how to cut and stretch old shirts to form a continuous ball of yarn, and our easy braiding technique makes this homemade dog toy a quick and easy project.

  • Working time 1 hr
  • Start to finish 1 hr
  • Difficulty Kind of Easy

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

cutting t-shirt yarn dog toy for diy dog toy
rolling jersey knit yarn into ball
Step 1

Make T-Shirt Yarn

Before you can start braiding the toy, you'll need to make a few balls of t-shirt yarn. Grab a couple solid-color shirts (we chose neon colors for this project) and place the shirt on a cutting mat. Follow our DIY t-shirt yarn instructions to make one ball of yarn per shirt (we used seven different shirts to form seven colors of yarn). Once you've prepped all the yarn, you can start assembling the braids. 

Step 2

Make the Braid

To create the braided dog toy, you'll braid all four of the smaller braids together. We found it is helpful to think of each strand as a direction. When the strands are laid out in two perpendicular lines, assign each strand a direction following the north, south, east, west pattern. Place the north braid to the south, making a small loop. Place the south braid to the north, making another small loop. Then weave the east braid over and under to the west and weave the west braid over and under to the east. Tighten the strands and repeat this pattern until the length of your DIY dog toy is complete. When you reach the end, tie all of the strands together to form one big knot like the one at the original end of the toy. Make sure the knots are pulled tight and engage your dog in a game of tug-of-war!

Step 3

Assemble the Yarn

Cut 12 pieces of 60-inch strips of t-shirt yarn and knot the pieces together at the top. Separate the yarn into four bunches with three strands each, and braid each three-strand section. When each section is braided, hold the knot in one hand and adjust braids to be opposite of one another in perpendicular lines. 

keep braiding strips outward from knot
knotting and wrapping fabric strips
Step 4

continue looping and knotting pieces to end
Step 5


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