Posts Tagged ‘No sew’

Yes, I have a clothes line, and I’d love to have it fit better into my life.  But right now, it doesn’t.  I rarely make it out to hang clothes early enough, and when I do, I forget to get them off in time at night.  Then they stay out overnight, I have to wait till part way through the next day to get the dampness from overnight off, and then, they’re full of spiders!  Yuck!  On ambitious, good drying days, I still get some stuff hung.  But kids clothes and diapers take a lot more work to hang up (all those little socks and pieces!), so it’s usually blankets, towels, T shirts, and pants.  Consequently, my dryer gets a lot of use, even in the summer.

Back in the spring, my sister saw some “fluffalumps” over here (when she was searching for something else) and thought I might be interested.  This is what they look like.

They’re dryer balls.  The basic idea is that the balls allow lifting and better air flow around the clothing in the dryer.  They’re supposed to be good for keeping cloth diapers fluffy, too.  I haven’t paid attention yet to see if it REALLY takes less time and energy to dry the clothes, but others have and say it works.  For the minimal cost and effort it takes to make these, I’m game.

I found another tutorial to make dryer balls here.

But wanted a simpler no-sew version (or at least very low sew).  Partially to make them quicker and partially because I saw potential for a MOPS activity, and I know many don’t have any interest or ability in sewing.  I don’t know if we’ll ever make them at MOPS or not, but here’s the no sew version, either way.

I tried this tutorial mostly as instructed.  “Felt” the sweaters by washing in hot water and then drying.  Cut into sections- I used a sleeve or half of a front or back per ball.  They end up about the size of a softball.  Some go for tennis ball size or variety. I have half a dozen in my dryer, but some say use a dozen.  You pick, I guess.

My change was instead of cutting strips and sewing them back together, I just cut one long strip.  You can go back and forth, or you can spiral around, it doesn’t really matter which way.  (Note, this one has been wound once, then set back in the original shape, so it looks stretched.)

When you wrap them, you do want to wrap very snuggly.  Since my strips change directions, I change direction in my winding.  I hold the end securely in place while I wrap the other direction,  Then I wrap overtop of the place where direction was changed, make sure it’s snug, and continue until I’m done winding.  Then pin the end and whip stitch it


I had several unravel immediately, despite wrapping very tightly.  If I was going to do it that way again, I’d stitch the top layer of winding in several spots around the ball.  But that takes more time than I wanted to spend.


So I tried a few other ideas.  One I put the toe of an old sock over and secured with some yarn.  It works fine, but the cotton sock fabric “sticks” to the clothes and makes its way out of the dryer and into the clothes basket a lot more frequently.  (A problem when you may not get that basket of laundry fully put away for a week or more…)

One I did a quick wrap, NOT in a ball shape.  It may perform it’s function, I’m not sure.  But it gets stuck in the clothes a lot as well, and doesn’t look as nice, so I don’t suggest it.

I did a quick finish ball using safety pins (3 pins, but really didn’t matter much).  A few safety pins worked their way off in the dryer.  Others held fine, but after a week or two, they ball found a way to unravel, just like with the ones I’d stitched closed at the end.

After letting the unraveled ones pile up on my dryer for a few weeks, I finally didn’t have any left in the dryer (unraveled or hidden in the clothes baskets…).  So I wrapped them back up into nice tight balls, used one safety pin to secure (the cheap ones from the dollar store work fine for this) and put it in an old pair of panty hose.  I made a string of them before cutting apart to make the knots more easily with less waste.  Make a knot, put the ball in, stretch tight, twist, and make another knot.  I’d make two knots for each end, just for added security to keep the nylon on the ball.

These have worked much better,  They don’t really stick to the clothing (except for velcro) and they can’t unravel.  I think I’d still recommend breaking out a needle and thread to sew the end (pin in place so it stays tight while you sew).  The head of the safety pin will work it’s way out of the nylon, but I think that even with a run in the encasing layer, it will still hold the ball tightly together to prevent unraveling.   Hooray!  No more rats nest ex-dryer balls in my dryer!  Update:  I started to write this up back in July, but I’ve had a busy summer and fall.  Now I can report on how these really held up.

Here’s what mine look like after living in my dryer for 3 1/2 months.  The one to the far left has lost it’s pin and made a bunch more trips in the dryer since.  It is the most exposed.  I’ll have to stitch it soon, but it’s still hanging in there!

Conclusions:  I’d really skip the safety pins and just stitch the end, or use some liquid stitch (or other fabric glue) to secure the ends.  (Pin it while the glue dries, though.)  And if you have a selection of nylons to choose from, go thicker.  The big damage on my dryer balls came from the safety pins working through the nylons.   They still are completely functional and haven’t unraveled, I’m just unsure of how long they’ll still hold up, and I have lost some more safety pins as they work their way out.  They do still come out of the dryer if they’re inside of something big, like a sheet or blanket, but they don’t stick to the laundry and come out hidden that way.

Bottom line, I’m still pleased, and I’d still make more.


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Colder weather is here, and scarves are gaining some appeal to me.  Here’s a collection of 8 variations of T-shirt scarves, all are NO SEW for those of you that don’t get along with sewing machines!  Some are tutorials I found and tried, others are tutorials I made up for you.  The pictures below include my trial of the scarf as well as a picture from the source for each.  Enjoy!

ETA- HERE  is my collection of no sew T-shirt flowers to go with your scarf!

Note:  Most of these work best with a seamless T-shirt tube.  Look to see if there is a seam between the armpit and the bottom of the shirt at the side.  You want the kind without that seam.  The others can work, but you need to monkey a little more to hide the seam or it doesn’t look as good.  The best way I’ve found to hide the seam is to glue the two exposed edges together making the seam hide inside the tube.  THis works okay for the braids and the big loops, but anything requiring a bunch of skinny loops is going to take a lot of fussing to do it this way.

I tried the first 5 from tutorials found elsewhere (click on links for more details):

Variation 1:  plate swirl- so quick and easy, and cute!  The tutorial I followed is here, the picture below is hers.  I walked into our MOPS steering meeting with mine on and found our “not crafty” fearless leader showing some of our other steering members the one she had made- no phone calls to coordinate it!  I used a smaller plate and wished it had been a bigger one.  Mine was also only 6 circles.  A few more look nicer to me, but it’s personal preference.  ETA- I tried the longer length and surprised myself my NOT liking it as well.  I salvaged the longer strips with my updated option below, which also allows you to use a smaller shirt.


My only modification was a band to hold all the spiral strips together in the back.  Just a 4×6 or so scrap of T-shirt.  Begin to wrap the scrap around the strips.  Use a fabric glue or glue gun to start securing it.  Roll the scrap the rest of the way around.  Glue 1 more time while wrapping, then secure the edge of the scrap with a final bit of glue.

ETA:  Here’s a few more pictures of the process.  It was brought to my attention that it might be difficult to understand some of the steps in the tutorial above for some people.

You put a plate on the shirt and trace around it.  Then you cut the circle out and cut the circle into a spiral.  I drew lines on this circle with chalk so you could see.  You don’t have to draw the line on, but if it helps you, do it!


My salvage/smaller shirt option: This scarf used only one ladies size large casual T-shirt.  It is 3 plate circles that were thinly spiraled and cut in half (equals 6 spiral strips total).  More ideally, I would have used 4-6 smaller plates cut out and spiraled.  Rather than wrapping all the strips around my neck and tying, I made a collar strip from the T-shirt.  It was about 4″ wide and as long as the T-shirt from side seam to side seam.  I glued the two short ends together and knotted the spiral strips over this glued seam to cover it.  


Variation 2:  Simple loop with flower.  The tutorial, including how to ombre dye it is here.  Super simple.  Just a chunk of T-shirt- the portion between the armpits and the bottom seam.  Take that big loop and stretch it.  The more you can stretch, the longer it gets.  I stretched an XL and thought it was too long, so I had to pull the fabric the other way a bit to take out some of the length.  A flower makes this one cute.  I’ll try to get a post up soon of the T-shirt flowers I tried.


Variation 3:  infinity ringlets- easy, but a bit more time consuming.  The tutorial and pics of several other versions is here.  Using that tube section between the armpits and the bottom seam, cut long, skinny loops.  Stretch them to make the fabric edges curl, then loop them around your hand several times.  The more you loop, the shorter and “chunkier” the scarf links will be.  Mine are looped 6 times, and I used 16 loops.  You set the loops aside neatly (and separated, don’t try to stack them, or you’ll get a confused jumble of loops!)  use some scrap of the shirt you have left to cut little ties.  Roughly 1/2″ wide and 4 inches long, and stretch.  Tie the ringlets together with a square not (right over left, left over right).  If you use a granny knot, it will pull apart under stress.  You can use different colors and leave the end open or connect them all.  There’s pics of lots of variations at the site I found this, including the next one.  I thought I could get away with some printing on the fabric, but I was wrong.  If you have a print, make sure you’re okay with it showing- not a class T-shirt from the next town over with names you don’t know.


Variation 4:  “mane” version- has a chain of ringlets like above, but then has extra strips added. The description is here.  My color combo is a bit bizarre- it’s what scraps I had to work with at the time.  My husband also said he would NOT be seen in public with me if I wore it, and it was something that should be given to our girls for dress up.  However, if you’ve got a more daring sense of fashion, it could be neat.


Variation 5:  fringe- get that chunk between the armpit and the bottom seam again, and cut the bottom half or so into fringe.  The idea came from here.  Choose a shirt size that you will like the total length if it will be one ring, or plan to tie off part of it (with an odd, overgrown rolled flower that looks like a lollipop…).  Again, odd color shirt, and that fringe look, and hubby said he wouldn’t be seen with me in it 😛


I made up the next two based on pictures.  The braid and loop has a few tutorials, including the one here and here, but they require sewing, and I wanted a no-sew version for my lovely MOPS ladies to try (most of them are, I think, deathly afraid of a sewing machine, and not very interested in a needle and thread, either)

Variation 6:  Braids and big loop


This is done in 3 parts.  You will likely need at least 2 shirts, maybe 3, or at least some scraps from another shirt.  Try to make sure they are similar sizes.  There is some stretch forgiveness, and there is some shortening that occurs with the braiding.  You just don’t want to start out with drastically different sized shirts!  Same colors or mix them up, your choice.

Part 1:  On the first shirt:  cut the tube between the armpit and the bottom seam.  stretch. This is your loop section of the scarf.

Part 2:  On a second shirt:  Cut the tube section  below the armpit, then cut the tube into 3 even sized loops.  Stretch.  Put the loops together, step on one end of the loops with your foot.

Then hold the other 3 in your hands, stretching the loops.  Braid- the loops sit on your hands and you pass them back and forth.  It causes both sides of the loops to braid together at the same time.

Don’t worry that the bottom isn’t a tight braid, but do pull the loops out to the sides as you go to snug up the braids.

Continue until your braids meet at your hands.

Slip a scrap from the t-shirt between the loops- 2 loops above the scrap, 1 below.

Tie the scrap around the 2 loops with a square knot (right over left, left over right) so it won’t slip.

Weave the ends of the scrap into the braid so it’s hidden.  Can you see where it’s tied off?  More noticeable is the big bumps from my “fixed” seams, since I didn’t use a seamless T-shirt.  The tie off and weave in is to the right of the big bumps.

Switch the loop/braid around so that you step on the scrap you just put in.  Finish the braid on the now top side and repeat the scrap to tie off the braid and weave in the ends.  Section 2 done!  Whew!

Part 3:  from a 3rd shirt, or scraps from the above shirts, cut 3 narrower loops and repeat the braiding from part 2 for a slender braid.

Now, gather all 3 parts, cut another scrap of T-shirt, approx. 4″x6″.  Begin to wrap the scrap around the 3 parts.  Put in a line of glue to hold the scrap on.  Continue to wrap around, tightly, to secure all 3 together with a smooth band.  Glue 1-2 more times to get it to lay flat as you wrap and secure the end.

It’s long.  There will likely be a bit of variation in the lengths of your 3 loops/braids.  It’s okay, as long as it’s not drastic.  Now just wrap to wear.

ETA:  I realized in searching for many T-shirts for a group project that it’s hard to come up with large quantities of XL or larger T-shirts that don’t have side seams.  I did run across a bunch that where Mediums and Smalls.  So here’s a picture of one I made that is a single loop and is worn a bit longer,  made from the medium size shirts in the same method as the one above.  It still could double around my neck, but felt about like a snug turtleneck (too tight for me, but some might like it).  Of course, you could make it even shorter using size small our youth size t-shirts, and if you want it to be chunkier, you can add some more layers of braids or loops.  

Variation 7:  Half braid with loops.  I saw it on pinterest, (no tutorial, it was on Etsy and now it’s gone), and wanted to make a no sew version.  Like Part 2 of the braid and loop above- cut the tube into 3 even sections.  Repeat the braid, but only on one side- don’t flip it over to complete the braid.  Tie off where the braid meets and weave in the ends.  TIghten your braid to desired look, secure the end with another small scrap and weave in the ends. You can cut one, two, or all three of the unbraided section into smaller loops.  I cut two of them into 7 strands each. Stretch to curl the edges.  Cut carefully.  They could be cut at the beginning, but then you have to braid with all those little strands.  Pick your poison.


And this one’s my own creation- at least I haven’t knowingly seen anything like it out there yet.

Variation 8:  Faux braids:  This looks a lot like a braid, but is a series of slits cut and connected to each other in a chain stitch.

It reminds me of crochet, and if you have a crochet hook, it will help make small chains go quicker and easier.  Bigger chains are made by using wider spaced slits.  Just be aware that wider spaced slits also gather the fabric more quickly.  So that size large T-shirt loop ends up fitting closely around your neck.  To keep it looser, either pick a bigger T-shirt loop or make smaller chains.  THe length of the slit also affects how much the chain gathers.  You need it long enough to complete the chain pull through process, but if they’re too long, you get gaping holes.  I cut a few on the short side and see how they work, then adjust larger as necessary.  You can also lengthen after the chain is done if necessary, but it’s a little more difficult.  I did this with the top chain since it was a bit too snug, and it loosened just enough to be comfortable.

(Somehow I overlooked adding the pics of the steps below before, so here they are now.)

So, I cut wide placed slits (approx 1 1/2-2 inches apart, same slot length) in my tube.  I repeated this step in 2 rows- one was centered, the other was at the top edge.  Start with one “tab”.  Pull it over the next tab.  lift the next tab from under the first tab.  Now pull it overtop of the first tab and over the 3rd tab in line.  Pull the 3rd tab over the second tab.  Repeat all the way around the tube.


The last tab is snipped in the center (pic 1) and only one half of the tab goes through the first tab (pic 2).  Tie the two halves in a square knot- right over left, left over right- so it won’t slip out (pic 3).  Repeat for the other large chain.  Check your fit as you progress to see if you need to cut slits longer to loosen the chain or lengthen the finished product a bit.


The bottom edge I did small slits closely placed (approx. 3/8″ wide with 3/4″ slit length).  I did an asymmetrical edge.  You could do a simple straight bottom edge.  This is where the crochet hook comes in especially handy.   Repeat what was done for the large chains, but use the hook for lifting the tabs.

We’ll be making scarves from these options for our next MOPS meeting, so any of my MOPS moms, enjoy the sneak peak!

And for those of you wondering about my model, she’s my double, made with a close friend and some sticky back packing tape.  Here’s directions on how to make your own.

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