Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How To Turn 5 T-Shirts Into a Rug

While researching ideas of what to do with old t-shirts, I came across several websites suggesting rag rugs. I combined a few methods to try to come up with the easiest (not necessarily the prettiest) way to make one. In italics is what I learned through trial and error with my first rug.

1. Cut a t-shirt under one arm and cut off the sleeves and collar.

2. Tear t-shirts into 2-4 inch strips. You can use the sleeves for shorter pieces if you want. You may also want to cut around the print on the front of the t-shirt. I didn't and you can see the color difference in a few places, but I mixed gray and white t-shirts so it blends in for the most part. Consistency helps with making a less lumpy rug. The thicker the strips, the sloppier it looks, thicker the rug, and quicker it is to get done.

3. Knot (or sew for a neater look) three strips together and anchor somehow. (I shut that part in the coffee table drawer to hold it. The rug weighs the braid down later. It helps if the three pieces are different lengths.)

4. Begin braiding. When you have about 5 inches left of t-shirt, lay in another piece of t-shirt. T-shirt material, when ripped, will curl into a tube naturally. When braided together the next piece of t-shirt will hold itself in place. This is why the three pieces need to be different lengths, so you don't try to start three new pieces at the same time. Another option would be to sew the ends of the strips together (about 3 at a time) to keep ends from sticking up here and there.

5. After a few yards are braided you can start sewing the rug together. I used a large blunt yarn needle so the needle would thread through the braid and not through the fabric. I also used two layers of crochet thread. I would recommend something stronger if it were going to be in a main living area.

6. Lay out the braid and then fold over the end to make a sharper corner, then sew together. I started off sewing it to loosely, then went back and pulled everything and got it too tight. It takes a little experimenting to get the rug to lay flat.

7. Continue to fold over the edges until the braid will lay flat when curved around the edges. It is important to lay the rug flat on the floor or table while sewing it together so you can tell if it is truly laying flat.

8. Continue tearing, braiding, adding strips of fabric, and sewing onto the rug until it is the size you want. I could only add one or two yards of thread at a time so it wouldn't be too difficult to manage.

9. When your rug is the size you want, weave the ends into the pattern and sew around it. Tie the string off on the back. I found a loose loop and tied it off onto it so it wouldn't show on the top.

10. All done! It fits perfectly below the sink in Josh's bathroom where it seems to always be wet when I want to brush my teeth. I hope it washes well. It didn't up laying as flat as I'd like, but it is good enough for our bathroom. We really need to redo our bathroom cabinets.

There are certain ways to sew it where it could be reversible. Mine is definitely not. There are strings and knots across the back and places where I doubled back and redid sections. In future rugs, I might try one that is reversible, but I was pleased with a rug that looked satisfactory from at least one side. I also think the higher contrasting gray looks better than the light gray I started with, but it's not bad for a first try.

Ben is truly back to his old self. He needed a little Tylenol today but without the scar there is no way you would guess he had brain surgery less than a week ago.


  1. oh these pictures are so funny!! Who knew josh was such a baby!

  2. Very creative! I will make my own also. Thanks!