S+S x Refinery 29: DIY Braided T-Shirt Necklace

Today I’m excited to share a fun little project I worked on with Refinery 29.  I was really inspired by these jersey necklaces by Necklush… and what better way to upcycle old t-shirts into something that I actually really want to wear?  The project may look a bit intimidating, but I swear… it’s actually pretty easy.  The most time consuming part is cutting up your old shirts!  (I want to thank Stefan for allowing me to cut up a few of his…  this project works best on a guys tee that has no seams on the side.)

{I made three in just a few hours.  For a fun twist, try cutting up an old striped tee, as I did with the yellow version.}

Materials:  One old t-shirt, cut into 12 strips, each about 1” wide // One large lobster clasp // Two large jump rings

1 .  Separate your strips of cotton into two bundles of six strips.  Form a loop (as illustrated above).  This is the first step in creating a sailors knot.  // 2.  Take your second bundle of strips and arrange it as shown above. // 3.  Weave the second bundle of strips over and under the first as illustrated above. // 4.  Weave over / under one more time… you’ve now completed the sailor knot.  (If you get tripped up on steps 1-4, I highly recommend this sailors knot tutorial.) // 5.  Pull your knot tightly from both sides (ensuring that you have the same amount of material left on each side,)  and your knot will look like this.  You have successfully formed the center of the necklace.  // 6. Once your knot is in good shape, flip it to the side and separate the strands into four little bundles of three strands, as shown above.  Begin a flat braid.

7.  Take the far right bundle of strands and cross it over, bringing it to the left side.  Repeat this on the left side, taking the far left bundle and crossing it over to the right side.  You are essentially forming a fishtail braid.  Continue to criss-cross.  A pattern will emerge. // 8.  Continue the criss-cross braid until you’ve reached the end of the fabric/your desired length.  // 9.  Take one of the strands, wrap it around the braid, and firmly knot. // 10.  Take another one of the strands, and slide on a jump ring.

 11.  Firmly cross this strand over and tie another knot, so that the jump ring is now on a loop of cotton. // 12.  Cut all of the ends off, leaving just one strand.  // 13.  Wrap the one strand of cotton around and around, covering up the cut ends and knots from steps eleven and steps thirteen.  // 14.  Tuck the ends of this last strand back through the braid.

15.  Repeat steps six-sixteen over on the opposite side of the knot.

16.  Add a clasp to one side, and your necklace is complete!

Leave a Comment


  1. Nurayc says 8.6.12

    so beatuiful!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      Thank you, Nuray!!

  2. The Avg Girl Guide says 8.6.12

    Really adore with the stripes! What a fun project and congrats not the amazing collab.

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      Thanks Alyson! x

  3. I could definitely handle the braiding portion of this DIY. MAYBE even the jump ring part…maybe. 

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      You could do it!!! (or just have AJ do it. He’s so crafty, I hear.)

  4. Viviana Carmona says 8.6.12

    SO awesome!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      thanks, Viv!

  5. Funniest Thing says 8.6.12

    wow! such a cute and inspiring DIY! thanks for sharing!!
    Un beso from Barcelona!!Marta2ndfunniestthing.blogspot.comDIY & unique pieces

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      You’re welcome, so happy you liked it!

  6. Alexa C Evans says 8.6.12

    Oooh so so cute. Loving the colors too Grace!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      Thank you Alexa! xx

  7. Elizabeth Schneider says 8.6.12

    Seriously amazing, Grace!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      aw, thank you so much Liz!

  8. Ashley Gale says 8.6.12

    congrats girl! and i see you are still practicing writing on photos!! my boyfriend got me a drawing/writing tablet for christmas and 7 months later it is still difficult to write on it! I want to be able to do it as well as Elsie from a beautiful mess!! haha. goals. 

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      YES! Me too. I have been practicing for a little bit every day. We will get there!! xox

  9. Amazing!!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      Thank you so much!

  10. kim says 8.6.12

    adorable!!!! can you go a bracelet version too?!

    • kim says 8.6.12

      woops, *do not go 🙂 

      • graceatwood says 8.6.12

        I knew what you meant!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      I bet you totally could!!! Love the idea of doing it as a bracelet… would be so chunky + fun.

  11. Erica says 8.6.12

    SO GOOD! Can’t wait to try this! xx

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      thanks lady! this wkend!! xoxox

  12. cute!!! the striped is my favorite!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      Thanks Jordan! I could totally see you rocking it…

  13. BrandeeRN says 8.6.12

    How long should each strip be?

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      It varies but each strip should be at least 3-4 feet long!

  14. Mornin_storie says 8.6.12

    Hi! I’m a new reader of yours and I suppose I joined the bandwagon at just the right time because I recently fell head over heels for the necklush version of this DIY, but for the life of me I could not find a single tutorial. And just a couple days after my initial search I found yours!! Thank you 🙂

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      Aw, yay – so happy you found my site!  Thank YOU for stopping by, and for your sweet comment!

    • graceatwood says 8.6.12

      PS – if you do end up making it, please be sure to email me a photo ([email protected]…)  I’d love to feature it on the S+S Facebook page! x

  15. Karissa says 8.6.12

    I love this DIY (congrats on the R29 collab)! What a fun, simple project. I may need to give this a try! 


    • graceatwood says 8.7.12

      I really hope you try it, Karissa!

  16. Beauty Palette says 8.6.12

    The yellow striped tee necklace is STUNNING. I’m obsessed! Did you use a regular cotton tee or jersey? (or does it not even matter…)

    • graceatwood says 8.7.12

      To be honest I don’t think it matters, but I used a regular cotton tee.

  17. anastasia jasmin says 8.9.12

    That was such an easy tutorial and they are soo cute ! 

    • graceatwood says 8.9.12

      Thanks, Anastasia! I hope you try making the necklace!!

  18. mags says 8.9.12

    This is such a great diy! Simple and easy to do. 


    • graceatwood says 8.9.12

      Thanks! If you do it, please email me a photo – would love to feature on S+S’s Facebook!

  19. mlg12geg says 9.8.12

    I love this. I am going to try it right now. I think my teenage granddaughter will love it.

    • graceatwood says 9.11.12

      Yay! I hope she loves it. Would love to see how yours turns out!!

  20. Lauren says 12.10.12

    This is probably a lame question on an old post, but: would it be possible to use a kids’ size t-shirt for this? Like a kids’ XL? Thanks!!

    • Grace Atwood says 12.10.12

      You could, but the longer the better… so I usually use a mens’ tee shirt!

      • Lauren says 12.11.12

        Thanks so much for letting me know! Happy holidays. 🙂

  21. Nate B. says 2.1.13

    I would really like to learn how to make this but the directions seem really confusing to me. I know how to braid. The pretzel thing at the beginning seems confusing. Do you have a video on this?

  22. Liz says 4.23.13

    Just FYI two of the most important images for this tutorial don’t seem to be working anymore, the second and third. Would love to see how to do those steps!


  23. Sna says 10.5.13

    Agree with Liz, would love to be able to try this tutorial, anyway the photos could be restored??

  24. chloe says 3.28.14

    hey i can’t see the first 2 photos, would be great if you can fix the link! much love x

  25. Rita Talks says 9.4.14

    I’ll try to do this beautiful necklace. Thanks for this tutorial and, if you want check my blog! xoxo Rita Talks

  26. Josie says 7.25.16

    How did you get the middle part to be wider?