Make beautiful rugs from old T-shirts

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Braided T-Shirt Rug

Do you have any old t-shirts that you don’t wear anymore but don’t want to give away? Why not turn them into a cute bedside rug for yourself! It’s a beautiful project you can do, especially if your shirts are in rich and vibrant colours!

OK – this project will require a bit of patience because it would take quite some time to make. BUT the process is really fun more so if you are into this kind of craft. You will even want to make another one once you see your first finished product!

People who’ve tried it already are actually more concerned about its tendency to curl up like a bowl. To prevent this from happening, use shirts that are 100% cotton. A cotton/poly blend would work as well. Basically you simply need to avoid using fabric that stretch.

Also, do not braid your t-shirt yarn too tightly and make sure the tension is even all throughout. You will know that you are braiding it with the right tension when it stays flat as you coil it.

Further guidelines on how to make a t-shirt rug successfully is in the step-by-step tutorial below. So gather your old t-shirts now and start learning how to make your own braided t-shirt rug!

Do you know anyone who would also like to try this project?

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Materials:

  • 5-10 Old T-Shirts (5 shirts make a small bedside rug)
  • Needle and Thread

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine (optional)

Steps:

Braided T-Shirt Rug

Cut it: Select a few old t-shirts from your closet, a thrift store, or your Aunt Marcy’s NASCAR t-shirt collection. I used 5.5 t-shirts to make a rug that is approximately 18″ in diameter, but if you have more time and patience than I do or if you want a bigger rug, you could use more shirts. Next step is to prepare the t-shirts by cutting them and turning them into yarn. I used a method that I found on YouTube but I took some photos of this step for here.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

You will want to flatten the shirt out in front of you, but face it sideways so that one sleeve points toward you and the other points away from you. Next, measure out every 2 inches from the bottom seam of the shirt (which is on the left or right side now), all the way to under the sleeves of the shirt. Mark with chalk or something that won’t be obnoxiously permanent. You will want to start cutting on each mark or line you made, but leave 3-4 inches of the shirt still intact on the far side. Do this up to the sleeves, where you should cut all the way to the other seam.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

After you cut all of these lines, you can pick up the shirt and arrange it so it looks like a ribcage in front of you as shown.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

See that bit of fabric that you didn’t cut? Now you’re going to cut it diagonally so that you will end up creating one long piece of fabric from your t-shirt. This is really hard to explain, but as aforementioned, there are a crap load of YouTube videos explaining how to do this so feel free to search around if you need more coherent direction.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

You should end up with a really long strip of fabric from your t-shirt. Stretch this out really, really well and wind it up into a ball so it is more manageable. Repeat for your other shirts.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

Braid it: After you have prepared all of your t-shirts and made them into yarn, it’s time to start your braid. I used a sewing machine to start the braid and for all of my transitions, but it was only because I was so pumped to have just gotten the sewing machine that I “had” to use it. You could totally hand-sew all of these or knot them for a more care-free look.

I started by sewing the end of one yarn strip to the middle of a different colored strip to create a “T” shape. Those were the 3 pieces of the beginning of my braid and when I began to braid, it covered up the stitches (awesome!). Keep braiding until you need to sew on another color. I added a new color by sewing diagonally with the fabric placed right side to right side at a 90 degree angle, and trimming off the tiny corner. This way, when you stretch it out, the strand smoothly transitions from one color to the next. This kind of seam is used for binding in quilts also.

Keep braiding until you have added all of your shirts. You can use an office clip or a chip clip to keep the braid from unraveling if you get tired and want to take a (2 week) break like I did. It helps to keep the yarn all balled up while braiding so that it doesn’t become a big, tangly mess.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

Coil it: Start pre-coiling your rug. Coil it somewhat gently so it doesn’t pucker up into a braided t-shirt bowl (LOL). But try not to let any gaps show from one ring to the next. Pre-coiling this braid will help you stay organized while you are sewing and will also give you an idea of how big your rug is going to be/if you need to add or remove shirts. I was meticulous (read: OCD) about my braid and made sure there was a distinct “top” side and “bottom” side while braiding, so it may be worth mentioning that I pre-coiled with the “bottom” side facing up, as that was the side I wanted the stitching to be on.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

Sew it: Start sewing your braid together. I used a variation of a blanket stitch and started in the middle, working my way around and out of the spiral. This is the part that took FOREVER. Seriously. I was anticipating sewing this on the machine, but lo and behold, the dang braid was too thick to even think about squeezing under the presser foot. So, hand sew I did.

When you get to the end of your blanket, weave in the ends of your braid into the previous ring and sew to secure it.

Braided T-Shirt Rug

Lay it: If you got through all of those steps, throw that rug down and relish in your own awesomeness! Whew.

Thanks to suzelac for this great project!