Saturday, October 17, 2009

Recycling Tshirts into rugs

My wonderful fiance Ben is a clothes horse.  His closet puts my own to shame.  It is packed full of Tshirts many of which I've never seen him actually wear.  So after a lot of prodding and a little help, we finally went through his collection.  We saved some special ones for a Tshirt quilt and any that were stained or too thread bare to be donated to the thrift store became new recycle material for me.

I've had this project in mind for a while now.  A friend of mine here on the Island makes absolutely gorgeous rugs from old bed sheets.  When I was visiting one day, I noticed that she was using the same crochet hook that I use for my mesh bags to hook the rugs and my imagination started working on what other items could be recycled into rugs and I settled on Tshirts but the same concept could be used with lots of materials.

These little 2-3 foot area rugs are great for bathroom mats or as a desk rug in front of the computer chair.  It would be easy to adapt this for larger area rugs as well.  I think the best thing about this project is how quickly they come together, making it a great project for a quick but thoughtful handmade gift. 

Ok, so here's how you can make your own recycled Tshirt rug.  You will need:
  • 6 to 9 old tshirts.  Use plain tshirts or those with little printing
  • Sharp scissors
  • 1 size Q crochet hook
  • 3 to 4 hours to spare

Lay your Tshirt out on a flat work surface.  Fold it in half sleeve to sleeve.

Cut a straight line across the Tshirt from armpit to the fold.

Cut another straight line across the hem of Tshirt.

Save the sleeve area for a future project and dispose of the hem line.  Now you're left with a folded tube.  Fold it again from edge to edge, but not quite in half.  You can see in this photo I've left about an inch at the top edge. 

Using sharp scissors, begin cutting 1/2-3/4" strips in your Tshirt tube, but don't cut it completely through.  Stop before cutting through last inch like this:

Continue cutting until you've cut the whole tube of the Tshirt.

Open the tube up.  You will see it's still connected at 2 of the folds.  Starting on 1 side you will cut one end and begin to unravel it into 1 long strip.  At the folds, on one side cut straight across, and then at the next fold you'll cut it at an angle to make 1 continuous strip.

When finished cutting, you should have 1 long strip of fabric like this:

Starting on one end of your strip, begin stretching the fabric.  It will form itself into a tube as you do and your finished yarn will look something like this:

You're Tshirt yarn is now ready to use in any crochet pattern.  Roll it up into a ball and start on your next Tshirt:

To make rug:

Choose yarn ball for your center color.  Using your Q crochet hook, chain 4.  Connect to first loop in chain with a slip stitch.  This will form a ring of stitches.

Single crochet 8 stitches through the center of your ring.  Slip stitch the 8th stitch to your first stitch.  Now you have your first round.

Chain 1 then Single crochet through the first stitch from the last row.  Single crochet 2 stitches through the second stitch of your last row.  Continue around this row with every other stitch getting 1 single crochet and evey second stitch getting 2 single crochets.  When you've worked all the way around, slip stitch the last stitch into the first stitch.  You've completed your second round.

Chain 1 then single crochet 1 in the first stitch of the second round, single crochet in the second stitch then single crochet 2 stitches in the 3rd stitch of the last round.  Repeat around the row.  When you get to the last stitch in the row, slip stitch to the first stitch completing your round.

Chain 1 then single crochet in the first 4 stitches with 2 single crochets in the 5th stitch.  Continue this all the way around and slip stitch the last stitch in this row to the first stitch. 

Chain 1 then single crochet in the first 9 stitches.  In the 10th stitch put 2 single crochets.  Continue this pattern all the way around to then slip stitch to connect last stitch to the first stitch.

Chain 1 and continue the pattern from the last round.  Keep going until the rug is the size you want.  Knot the end and work in the tails.

At any time, change colors or add on tshirt yarn by simply tying a square knot to connect the 2 ends.  Leave the tails and either clip or weave into your work at the end.

That's it!  So easy and so pretty too.  Here's the first 3 rugs that I've made

There's still plenty of time to make these as your christmas gifts, so get in your closets and pull out all those old Tshirts that you never wear.  Your handmade rug could be a double gift, by recycling you are giving a gift for your friend and for the planet. 

*****UPDATE: 1/24/10******
So what do you do with those sleeves and Tshirt Tops?  Find out how to make reusable produce bags and stop collecting needless plastic bag waste!  To find out how, check out Kristy's post over to Textiles4You


  1. What an excellent idea, I love the clever way you showed to cut the shirts into one continuos strip.

  2. Thanks for sharing my blog post! I love how you illustrated how to cut the t-shirt. Thats a tough thing to teach.

  3. The t-shirt industry is ever so competitive and offering its buyers a vast variety of designs, fabrics and styles of t-shirts to beat the cut throat competition. Cool T-Shirts

  4. I love the clever way you showed to cut the shirts into one continuos strip.

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  5. I love the clever way you showed to cut the shirts into one continuous strip.

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  6. I love your rugs,nice collection pictures ..get more beautiful and gorgeous rugs as i got.

  7. Hey this post is very informative and i like your rugs. really nice collection. good work keep it up!!! :)

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  8. Thanks for sharing nice information. i like it. welcome to visit my site Mens black blazer :) thanks again

  9. Thats very cute Christi. A t-shirt can be recycled into many things, options are limitless. In the past I have made bermudas out of them, made tote bags, many things can be done. Thanks for sharing those awesome ideas.

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Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear what you think!


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