Saturday, January 06, 2007

Make a Rug from Old T Shirts

I love being able to re-use material from old clothes. It makes my frugal heart happy. One of my favorite re-dos is using old T shirts to crochet rag rugs.

I think everyone wears T shirts sometimes. So, most of us have old T shirts that either developed a mysterious stain, shrunk, or came out of the wash with a hole (I guess that's a sign that the T shirt has been worn out).

If you don't have any old T shirts, check your local thrift store. They usually sell them really cheap. We have a Habitat for Humanity store nearby and that is where I shop (for all kinds of things). Habitat's prices are much more reasonable than Goodwill, and I can get T shirts there for $1.19 each.

Anyway, this is how I make rag rugs from T shirts:
  1. Make sure the T shirts you are using do Not have side seams.
  2. Cut off the top of the T shirt containing the armholes (sleeves) and neck.
  3. Cut off the hem.
  4. Begin cutting around the T shirt, allowing a width of at least 1/2 inch.
  5. Continue cutting around and around, creating a long "yarn" to crochet.
  6. Roll the T shirt yarn into a ball.
You don't want side seams in the T shirts because once you cut across the seams they will come apart. This means you will have to sew them all together again. Sewn seams can be used in crocheting rag rugs (you will be sewing ends of several T shirts together to make the rug big enough), but it is much less time consuming if you have one continuous piece of "yarn" from each T shirt.

You can use the material from the top of the T shirt, but you will have to cut back and forth once you remove the sleeves and neckline. Cutting back and forth creates an extra flap of material at each end that will have to be rolled around itself as you are crocheting.

This flap may cause a "bump" in your finished rug, and it is not always possible to get the flap rolled tightly so it sticks out. If you don't mind it, then cut out the sleeves and neckline, then cut back and forth to use all of the material in the chest and upper back area of the T shirt, as well.

You will need approximately 10 large T shirts to make a 28" X 20" rug. If you buy the T shirts (from the thrift store) to make your rug, you can plan the design and colors to compliment your decor. If you just use what you have, take a little time to think about which colors look best together, and crochet in that order.

Once you have the T shirt material cut and rolled into balls you can begin crocheting.
  • Chain 20 stitches
  • Single crochet in each chain
  • Single crochet twice in last chain stitch
  • Work down the opposite side of the chain and single crochet in the bottom of each chain stitch
  • Single crochet twice in the end stitch
  • By the second or third round you will inc twice at each end to keep the rug from curling up
  • Continue sc around the rug, increasing twice on each end
  • As you finish a roll of T shirt yarn, sew or tie a new roll to the end and continue crocheting
  • To finish, slip stitch into 2-3 sc then pull the strip to the back of the rug
  • Sew the end under a stitch in the back to hide it

These rugs are great to use in the bathroom because you can throw them in the wash each week without having to worry about a rubber backing like you do with store-bought rugs.

A few Tips about crocheting with T shirt material:

If your T shirts have those rubber designs, pictures, or logos, this will create an added non-slip texture to the rug. If you don't want the rubber to show you can fold the strip as you crochet it so that the rubber is on the inside.

Decagon shaped rug illustrates rubber designs incorporated into rug

The wider you cut the T shirt "yarn" the thicker your rug will be. I wouldn't recommend cutting it wider than 1 inch, though. The wider it is, the more difficult it is to crochet unless you fold it before rolling into balls.

You can cut the ends on a diagonal before sewing them together if you want to make a near-invisible seam. Overlap the end of the last roll with the beginning of the next one and cut diagonally. Line up the diagonal cuts (this will create a 90 degree angle when the ends are held together) and sew them with matching thread. Roll this seam inward when you crochet it.


~Dawn said...

Very cool! Would love to see a pic of the end result of one of yours.

Angie said...

I tried to upload a pic of one of my rugs, but blogger wouldn't load it. I will try again.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

When you cut the material do you cut one continous strip or do you cut in strips across the shirt.
Do you have any other ideas for using the material?

Angie said...

Cut the material into one continuous strip.

Other uses:

Cut up into dusting/cleaning rags (I always save the sleeves from rug projects to use as cleaning rags).

Make pet clothes, beds, blankets, toys, etc.

Cut and hem for napkins.

Make a pillow case using contrasting or complimenting colors.

Sew up sleeves and neckline then stuff to make a pillow.

I am always looking for new ideas for recycling old clothes. Do a search on Google for more ideas.

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artistmama said...

When you say "increase twice" on each end, where exactly do you increase? Do you do two single crochets in every hole going around the end, or just one hole on the end?