The creative process has always been an important part of my life. Here I share some basics to help you along the road to creativity.
Recycle T-Shirts Into Crocheted Rugs
When I first saw these T-shirt rugs, I was intrigued by the idea of making beautiful rugs from worn-out shirts. Upcycling rags into something useful satisfies my penny-pinching nature. They remind me of the braided and crocheted rag rugs my grandmother used to make. Depending on the size of your shirts, it can take 4–8 adult-sized tops to create a rug.
If you're a crochet beginner, fear not! T-shirt rugs are simple because the entire project is done in single crochet. If you haven't crocheted before or need a quick refresher course, you'll find a step-by-step video at the end of the article.
What You'll Need
One of the beauties of crocheting is that you only need a few supplies!
- 4–8 T-Shirts: The number of shirts you need depends on the shirt size and the finished rug size you want. For the 36" X 24" rug in the top photograph, I used eight tops cut into 1/2" strips. You can use any type of shirt: faded, worn, printed, plain, stained, clean. Most stains won't show once the strips are crocheted. Although rubbery decals make crocheting the strips a little harder, it's fine to use shirts with them. Just raid the family's closet for the worst-looking T-shirts!
- Rotary Cutter or Scissors: A rotary cutter is easier on your hands, but a sharp pair of scissors will work just fine for cutting the T-shirts into strips. I was thrilled when I discovered that I could use my rotary cutter to quickly cut my T-shirts into strips. The ergonomic handle and razor-sharp blade make cutting through several fabric layers super easy. I have some arthritis in my hands, and I found that this tool is so much easier on my hands than scissors. You will also need a self-healing cutting mat.
- Self-Healing Cutting Mat: If you use a rotary cutter, you'll need a cutting mat. If you use scissors, you just need a table or countertop to lay out the shirt. If you've never used an OLFA cutting mat, you are in for a treat! You can place several layers of fabric on it and zip through them with your cutter without ever leaving a mark on the mat. Like magic, your mat heals itself! The handy grid helps you to cut even lines in your fabric and makes cutting multiple T-shirts into strips an easy project.
- Size N Crochet Hook: A size N aluminum hook works best for me, but you can go up or down a size depending on how thick you cut the strips. The thicker you cut your strips, the larger the hook you will need.
1. Cut a Continuous Strip
Cutting T-shirts into the longest strips of fabric possible yields a smoother, more finished rug. If cut properly, each T-shirt can make one long strip of fabric "yarn." Follow these steps for the best results!
- Fold the top in half (lengthwise) so that the sleeves are together.
- Cut the top of the T-shirt off just under the armholes so you end up with a rectangular shape. I save the part with the sleeves as a rag to dust.
- Snip off the bottom hem and discard it.
- Now you have the trunk of the shirt left, which is a tube-shaped piece of fabric. Turn it so that the cut edges are facing the sides and are perpendicular to you.
- Fold the bottom edge up to within ~1.5" from the top. The top 1.5" will be two layers thick and the rest of the fabric will be four layers thick. A rotary cutter should cut four layers easily. If you use scissors, however, you may not want to fold the fabric.
- Starting about 1/2" to 3/4" from one edge, cut a strip from the bottom up to 1" from the top. If the fabric is folded, you will cut through the 4 layers all the way through the fold. Stop before you reach the top so it's still attached to the rest of the shirt.
- Continue to cut 1/2" strips, stopping short of cutting the strip off the main body each time.