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How to Ranger Roll Shirts (with illustrations and video)

The ranger roll is the most space-saving way to fold your shirts. Over the last 7 years I’ve used this extensively while traveling, and today I’ll teach you how to do it properly whether you want to use it for your drawers, or your suitcase.

How to Fold T-Shirts to SAVE SPACE: Ranger-roll step-by-step

1. Lay the shirt with the front facing upward

To start ranger rolling a shirt, we start by laying the shirt out flat on a preferably even surface. Since it is easiest to perform the fold with the front of the shirt facing up, we will do it this way.

front up t-shirt laying flat

2. Flatten out uneven fabric to avoid wrinkles

Since the ranger roll is a tight fold, it can easily wrinkle your shirts unless we even it out properly before we start folding. Taking a second or two to make sure everything is nice and straightened before we start will pay off when you decide to wear the shirt later on.

remove large creases from your shirt

3. Make a pocket at the bottom of the shirt

Fold the bottom of the shirt inside out. For a regular-sized shirt, you will need to fold the bottom out 2-3 inches (or 5-7 cm).

You want to make sure that the pocket is even on both the front and the backside, otherwise, the fold won’t hold later on.

create a 3 inch pocket at the bottom of the shirt

4. Fold both arms in

Fold both arms in. If you have a t-shirt you can fold the arms in so they face towards each other. If you have a long-sleeved shirt, fold in one arm first so that it meets the other side, then fold the other arm over the top of the other arm.

demonstration of length of sleeves and what to fold in

For sleeveless shirts, you can obviously skip this step.

5. Fold from both left and right side one-third of the width of the shirt

Here comes your first real option for how you want your ranger roll to be formed.

We are going to fold both sides into the middle.

Option 1: If you want a long and thin roll, you can fold both sides one-third of the way so that one side overlaps the other all the way.

Option 2: if you want a thicker and shorter roll. you can fold both sides one-fourth of the way inward on both sides so that the folds meet in the middle of the shirt

Both options work great, in the end, it just depends on how your drawer or bag is formed. In general, I go with the first option for t-shirts and other thin shirts, and with the second option for thicker shirts like sweaters and the like.

folding in the sides of the shirt

Pro-tip: The first option will easier stand vertically on its own in your drawer. I talk more about this in my folding course

6. Tightly roll from the neck down to the pocket

With both hands start rolling the shirt from the neck down all the way to the end of the pocket we created in step 3. The tighter you roll here, the more space you will save. But also know that you also increase the risk of creasing the shirt if there are uneven areas of fabric on your shirt.

I usually roll it at a happy medium, which is when you feel a very slight tug on the fabric at the back of your roll, but you can experiment with what you prefer.

As you roll you want to press down on the roll a little. See the video if you want some more references than the illustration.

rolling a folded in shirt from the bottom

7. Grab the whole roll with one hand

Scoop up the entire roll with one hand. You want to hold the roll slightly over the middle point while holding on to the entire bottom so it doesn’t unravel. We are going to work with the top of the roll first.

lifting up the rolled shirt with one hand

8. Fold the pocket over the roll with your free hand

With your free hand, you can now flip the pocket (inside out part of the bottom shirt) that we created in step 3 back over the rest of the roll. This will result in the shirt being turned the correct way again and locking the part of the roll.

folding in the top side of the ranger rolled shirt

This is the most tricky part of the fold, so don’t be discouraged if it is hard the first few times you try. It is even harder when folding shorts!

9. Grab the whole roll on the folded side with your now free hand and turn the roll around

Grab hold of the part you just folded over with your free hand in the same way you’re currently holding the roll with your occupied hand. Now turn the roll around so that the part with the pocket folded over faces down, and the unfolded part of the pocket faces up.

turn the half-pocketed roll around

10. Fold over the lose pocket with your new free hand

Now you essentially repeat the same process as you did in step 8. Fold the rest pocket over the roll. This side is usually a lot easier to fold over the other side we already did but make sure to take your time the first few times you do this roll.

fold the other side of the pocket around too

11. Make adjustments with your thumbs

Now you have the roll locked securely in the pocket. We are going to make some minor adjustments, as you get experienced with the roll you can often skip this step, but for now, follow along. Stick your thumbs or index fingers inside the pocket, while holding the roll. Gently even out the roll so that it looks neat and uniform. I usually move my fingers back and forth a few times and make sure the edges of the roll sit nice and secure over the roll.

adjusting the inside of the ranger roll with thumbs

12. Place in dresser or bag

You can stack these horizontally in your drawer if you wish, or just let them rest on the long side. I made a whole guide on organizing your clothes with ranger rolls and similar rolls. Feel free to check that out next.

They hold together really nicely in a bag or briefcase too. Here’s how to do the fold on underwear.

adding the ranger roll to my organizing system

Here is a simplified free cheat sheet for ranger rolling shirts that you can print out if you want.

Here are some more details on folding t-shirts if you haven’t had enough yet!

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