Wednesday, August 10, 2011

T-Shirt Rag Rug

Another neat DIY project that I have seen floating around is the T-Shirt Rag Rug. I especially like that this project is made out of recycled/up-cycled old t-shirts. I ALWAYS have a pile of t-shirt laying around that are holey, unloved, or just don't fit anymore. I can never bring myself to throw them out. I have a bad case of the "fix'n to do's." I am always "fix'n" to do something with all of my old clothes, random containers, papers, and well.... you get the idea. On occasion I have to make myself go through my "fix'n to do" project piles and throw everything out that I wont realistically get to in the next month or so. When I got to my pile of old t-shirts I realized that I was not likely to use up all of my t-shirts on singleton projects (like toddler knit shorts/gauchos- I'll try to do a post on this sometime). I figured that if I didn't want to trash them, then I had better find a way to use them all. Faced with throwing them out, I found a project.

I will keep the directions for this one short, sweet, and to the point.

For a rug about 3ft in diameter, you will need;

20 t-shirts in whichever colors you choose.
scissors and/or rottery cutter
coordinating thread (at least one spool)
a safety pin, or small clip
sewing machine

1.) Start by cutting all of your t-shirts into 1 1/2 to 2 inch strips. (I chose to make mine 1 1/2 inch because I like the look of a thinner braid.) You can choose to cut straight across the body of the shirt, or you can be fancy and cut in from alternating sides so that the shirt becomes one long strip. That is up to you. (I choose to cut mine straight across the shirt and then cut open each resulting "circle" that it made.)

2.) Once you have all of your t-shirts cut, (or enough to start braiding - you can always add more as you go) begin braiding then pieces together. I found that it was easiest to tie three strips of t-shirt together, and then clip it to the table top that I was working on. I think you could also safety pin it to your sock "friendship bracelet" style too. Once you have braided as far as you can with the strips you have, you need to add more strips. You can add more to the end by sewing on, braiding them in (my least suggested method), or adding with a couple of little cuts. I can show you the cuts best with a couple of pieces of paper. Once you have made the cuts, feed the new strip through the cut of the old strip and then feed the new strip through itself.

3.) Continue braiding all of your t-shirts together until you have a giant ball/mound of t-shirt braiding.

4.) Now you are ready to create your rug! (I know that some people hand stitch their rugs together...that sounds infinitely tedious to me. I decided to use my sewing machine instead.) Set your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch, on a wide stitch setting. Take your t-shirt braiding and create a little coil with the starting end. Kind of like a play-dough coil you made back in the day! Use your sewing machine to zig zag the coil together being sure to catch each side of the braid in it as you go. If you don't catch each side, you will end up with a hole in your rug, and will have to go back and fix it later. (I had many of these and had to go back to fix them in the end.)

5.) Continue sewing the coil larger and lager. Be sure to watch your machine tension as you go. If your tension is too tight, your rug will begin to cup and will look more like a bowl than a rug. If you have this problem (which I did) try feeding in more of the braiding, while keeping the rug snug and taught. (I found that I was constantly adjusting and checking my work.)

6.) Finishing the rug. When you get to the end of your braiding, cut your ends at an angle tapering towards the rug. Then, as you sew the last of the braid on, be sure to tuck the pieces tightly up against the side of the rug. Also be sure to back stitch a bit to make it more secure. (I had a little bit of cupping in my rug so, I got it wet, and let it dry in the sun. Once dry, the cupping was gone.) Voila! You have just made a T-shirt Rag Rug! Aren't you spiffy! :-)


  1. Hey Ashley! I love this rug! It will be featured tomorrow (8/27) on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks!

  2. Saw you on RRU blog, totally LOVE this rug. I've seen tshirt rugs before, and I always say I gotta try that, but seriously, I HAVE to try this already. You made it even easier by using the sewing machine, LOVE that, he he.

    Turned out really cool girl. Well done!!

    p.s. If you get a chance I'm inviting you over to my blog, I'm kinda having a HUGE giveaway going on, and you MIGHT like it, (or LOVE it). I'd be so happy to have your support!
    Hugs, Bella :)
    **$5 for every LIKE giveaway** @ Bella Before and After
    **$200 SHOP till you DROP giveaway** @ Bella Before and After.

  3. Looks very soft, I'd like to make one for our master bath. Thanks for sharing.


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