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Make Something from Nothing - How to Make a Crochet T-Shirt Rug

Updated on July 29, 2016
This is a photo of my first T-shirt rug.  I used 8 t-shirts for this rug.
This is a photo of my first T-shirt rug. I used 8 t-shirts for this rug. | Source

Recycle T-shirts into beautiful crocheted rugs

When I first saw these T-shirt rugs, I was intrigued by the idea of making a beautiful rug from worn out and outgrown T-shirts. It satisfied my penny-pinching nature to recycle rags into something useful and beautiful without spending a dime. The T-shirt rugs remind me of the braided and crocheted rag rugs that my grandmother used to make. Depending on the size of your T-shirts, it will take from 4 to 10 adult sized T-shirts to make a rug.


Learn How to Crochet Video

Suitable for Beginning Crocheters


T-shirt rugs are a suitable project for beginning crocheters as the whole project is done in single crochet. If you have not crocheted before or need a quick refresher course on how to get started, you will find the step-by-step video at right helpful.

Tools You'll Need

You'll need a rotary cutter or scissors, a cutting mat, crochet hook and scissors.
You'll need a rotary cutter or scissors, a cutting mat, crochet hook and scissors. | Source
Close up of rotary cutting tool.  Be careful! The blade is razor sharp!
Close up of rotary cutting tool. Be careful! The blade is razor sharp! | Source

Supplies Needed to Make a T-shirt Rug

One of the beauties of crocheting is that the supplies needed are so simple.

For a T-shirt rug, you will need the following items:

  • 4 or 8 T-shirts. The number of T-shirts you need will depend on the size of the shirts as well as the size of your finished rug. (For the 36" X 24" rug in the top photograph, I used 8 T-shirts cut into 1/2" strips.) The T-shirts you use can be faded, worn or have printing and designs. Even stained T-shirts are fine as most stains will not show once the strips are crocheted. Although rubbery decals make crocheting the strips a little stiffer, it's fine to use shirts with decals that are flaking off. 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 good sharp pair of scissors will work just fine for cutting the T-shirt into strips.
  • Cutting Mat. If you use a rotary cutter, you'll need a cutting mat. If you use scissors, you just need table or counter top for laying out the shirt.
  • Size N Crochet Hook. A size N aluminum works best for me, but you can go up or down a size depending on how thick you cut your strips. The thicker you cut your strips, the larger the hook you will need.

Cutting the T Shirt

Fold T Shirt in half with sleeves together.
Fold T Shirt in half with sleeves together. | Source
Cut off the top portion just under the sleeve and cut off the hem just above the stitching.
Cut off the top portion just under the sleeve and cut off the hem just above the stitching. | Source
Begin to cut 3/4 inch slits in the fabric but stop short of cutting the strips completely off the shirt.
Begin to cut 3/4 inch slits in the fabric but stop short of cutting the strips completely off the shirt. | Source

I use a Rotatry Cutter with Cutting Mat

How to spiral cut a T-Shirt

By cutting the T-shirt into the longest strips of fabric possible, you will have a smoother finished rug. If cut properly, each T-shirt will make one long strip of fabric "yarn." Follow these steps for cutting the T-shirt:

  1. Start your project by folding your T-shirt in half lengthwise so that the sleeves are together.
  2. Cut off the top of the T-shirt just under the armholes. (I save this piece of shirt to use for dusting.)
  3. Cut off the bottom hem of the T-shirt and discard.
  4. Now you will have the trunk part of the shirt left to work with, a tube shaped piece of fabric. Turn the fabric so that the cut edges are facing to the sides.
  5. Now fold the bottom edge up to within about 1.5 inches of the top. The top 1.5 inches will be 2 layers thick while the rest of the fabric is 4 layers thick. A rotary cutter should cut 4 layers easily, but if you are cutting with scissors, you may not want to fold the fabric.
  6. Starting about a 1/2" to 3/4" from one edge, cut a strip from the bottom up to within 1 inch of the top. If the fabric is folded, you will cut through the 4 layers all the way through the fold and then stop before cutting the strip all the way off the shirt.
  7. Continue to cut strips 1/2 inches wide, each time stopping short of cutting the strip completely off the main fabric piece.

Final cutting

When the T shirt is cut into strips, slide your hand into the tube to separate it.
When the T shirt is cut into strips, slide your hand into the tube to separate it. | Source
Make a diagonal cut from the right outer edge to the back of the first long cut.
Make a diagonal cut from the right outer edge to the back of the first long cut. | Source
Then make a diagonal cut from the next cut to the third back cut.  Continue until you have one long strip.
Then make a diagonal cut from the next cut to the third back cut. Continue until you have one long strip. | Source

Final Cutting


If these final steps in cutting the shirt are done properly (see tip below), you will have one long strip of fabric from each T-shirt.

  1. Pick up the tube with the cuts in it and slide your hand into the tube separating the two layers of fabric.
  2. All the raw edges of fabric will make lots of lint. Before cutting further, take your cut tube outdoors and shake out as much lint as you can. It's best to do this before the final cutting as trying to shake out one long strip will result in many tangles that are difficult to undo.
  3. With scissors, make the first cut from the edge closest to your fingers diagonally into the top of the first cut. This will be the end of your strip, and the strip will drop down and hang free.
  4. Continue cutting diagonally from each front cut to the next back cut. If you do this correctly, you will be able to pull one long, continuous strip of fabric away from the tube as you go along.

[Tip: If you are unsure about cutting the shirt, try a practice run on a plastic grocery bag. Cut off the bottom edge and the handles and then practice the remaining cutting.]

Don't worry if your strips are not exactly the same size, or if you have little jogs in the cuts. The stretchy knit fabric of T-shirts will cover a multitude of cutting flaws, and you will never see them in your finished product.

You should have one continuous strip from each T-shirt.
You should have one continuous strip from each T-shirt. | Source
Wind strips into a ball to keep from tangling.
Wind strips into a ball to keep from tangling. | Source
Begin your project.
Begin your project. | Source

Wind "Yarn" into a Ball

Once you have completed the cutting, wind the strip of "yarn" into a ball to keep it from getting tangled. I like to cut at least two shirts and roll the strips into balls before I start crocheting.

If you are using different colored T-shirts, think about which colors you want next to each other. My first rug was made from pastel T-shirts, and I found the color combination quite pleasing. The rug pictured will be red, white and blue.


Crocheting Instructions for T-shirt Rug

Abbreviations: ch=chain; sc= single crochet

Rnd 1: Chain 15 (or desired length). 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch down the side, 3 sc in end ch and sc up the other side. I skip the join at the end of each round and keep working in a spiral, but it is helpful to mark the end of the round with a piece of contrasting yarn or plastic. (Alternate to spiral: join with a slip stitch at the end of each round. Chain 1, work as below.)


Rnd 2: 2 sc in each of the 3 end sc. Sc in each sc down the side. 2 sc in each of 3 end sc, sc in each sc up the other side.


Rnd 3: sc around increasing approximately 3 evenly spaced sc at each "end". It's important to have the increases evenly spaced because otherwise your rug will grow lopsided.


Rnd 4- desired length: continue in spiral until rug is desired size.


Last Round: Work in sc around with no increases. This will make for a firm edge. End with a slip stitch. Work in loose ends.


Review of steps for cutting T-shirt to make the "yarn"

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Photo of T-Shirt Rug

This rug is going to be red, blue and shades of gray. I've used 4 T-shirts so far.
This rug is going to be red, blue and shades of gray. I've used 4 T-shirts so far. | Source

Make Your Own Unique T-shirt Rug

Make your own unique T-shirt rug by changing the shape and size of your rug. While the rugs shown are oval, you can easily make them in round or rectangular shapes depending on where you plan to use them. You can make your rug thicker or thinner by cutting the strips wider or narrower.

The best part of this project is that you are recycling your old T-shirts into a fresh, pretty and durable handmade rug. Have fun!





Crochet T-shirt rug project

Do you think you would try this crochet t-shirt rug project?

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Rotary Fabric Cutters for Craft Projects

Various sized bags crocheted from recycled plastic grocery bags make a great bag for the beach.
Various sized bags crocheted from recycled plastic grocery bags make a great bag for the beach. | Source

Like the t-shirt rugs? Try the Beach Bag project, too!


Check out the crochet Beach Bag project using recycled plastic grocery bags -- sounds odd, but they're really cute! These bags are great to take to the beach or on a picnic. Use different colors for variety. Click here for instructions: Crochet Beach Bag Project.

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Copyright ©2011 Stephanie Henkel

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    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 5 years ago from West Coast, United States

      This is a cool article on crocheting rugs out of

      t-shirts. This is a good hobby to do for anyone. It's relaxing to crochet. And it helps with going green. :)

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I like the idea of using t-shirts to make rugs. I just wish I had the patience to crochet. Maybe someday I'll give it a try again. Nice hub!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for your comments, Workingmom and Brinafr3sh. I've been more conscious of living green, and reusing T-shirts this way is one fun move in that direction.

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      I never thought of anything being croched from materials other than the usual cotton/wool. Wonder what else you could use? All sorts of fabric, string, reeds??

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

      I love to crochet, but I've never thought of crocheting fabric before. What a great idea! Thanks for this.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Les and Amanda, My grandmother used to crochet large rugs from strips of wool fabric recycled from old coats. The rugs were super durable and beautiful. I hadn't thought of reeds, though they might work if they were soft and flexible. I have done some projects using recycled plastic shopping bags -- watch for my hub coming soon! Thank you both for stopping by and commenting!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      That's the best method for cutting the Tee's that I've seen for this great project. Thanks for sharing.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      RTalloni, I have seen people cut the T-shirt into individual strips and sew them together, but I really like having one long piece of fabric yarn — and it's so easy once you get the hang of it! Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and to comment!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Stephanie,

      Great way to use old t-shirts that have seen better days. Painters also love to use old cotton t-shirts for their painting projects. I like the idea of recycling things for one reason or another and your making something from nothing is spot on! Useful and up rating!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Peggy, Cotton t-shirts do make great dust cloths and paint wipers. I've also seen some great sewing projects using recycled tees. Thanks for your comment and rating!

    • Tina Julich profile image

      Tina Julich 5 years ago from Pink

      This is a great hub. I wonder if the t-shirts could be cut into thinner pieces and then made into a crocheted shopping bag?

    • Ashantina profile image

      Ashantina 5 years ago

      What a creatively fantastic idea!! Im going to dust off my crochet hook and get started on this first of the week.

      Bookmarked. Up/awesome.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Tina, Yes, you can cut the t-shirt fabric into 1/2 inch strips if you wish. I also use this method to cut plastic shopping bags into strips and crochet them. You can make great shopping or beach bags from them. I'll be posting a hub on this tomorrow - watch for it!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Ashantina,

      I'm glad you like the idea and hope you have lots of fun with it. I had some very favorite t-shirts that were so worn out, but I didn't want to give them up — now they're part of a throw rug that I still see every day, and that makes me smile. I love recycling! Thanks for stopping by my hub!

    • Tina Julich profile image

      Tina Julich 5 years ago from Pink

      Stephanie, I really enjoyed your hub. I love to crochet but never seem to finish anything... I usually cut up my t-shirts and use them in my studio to polish, dust and clean. They're great for that. I've also seen directions (somewhere?) to cut out the arms and enlarge the neck a bit, sew across the bottom and you have a shopping bag that is the same shape as a plastic shopping bag. I would guess you would need to hem the cut edges to make them stronger.

      I'm looking forward to your hub on the shopping bags.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Tina, I also have unfinished projects that I put aside for a while, then pick up again to work on when the mood strikes. I have seen the T-shirt shopping bags that you mentioned. The ones I saw did not have finished edges, but the knit fabric doesn't ravel, so they seemed to be sturdy enough. I think they would be better made from smaller tees as the larger sizes might be unwieldy.

      I just posted hub on crocheted beach bags which can also be used as shopping bags — hope you like it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my hub!

    • Michelle Barton profile image

      Michelle Barton 5 years ago from Springfield, IL

      Definitely have to try this one! Great idea!

    • Cross stitch 5 years ago

      this is a very clever and original idea, thank you very much!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for stopping in Cross Stitch! It is a fun way to recycle.

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 5 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      I never thought of using T shirts. I have made a few rag rugs in the past. Good idea!

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