The lazy crafters' guide to making a T-shirt rug

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Wednesday

T-shirt rug for lazy craftersThis project is quite easy, and it's also immensely rewarding. It let me keep old (unwearable) clothes without cluttering my drawers. It gave them a new, useful and pretty life.

It's easy and quick enough to get actually finished in a few days. It leaves behind minimal craftermath. And my favorite part — since it seems I'm getting old and lazy — for the most part it can be done while sitting on the sofa, watching reruns of Grey's Anatomy.

Want to make your very own t-shirt rug? Gather your supplies:

  • old t-shirts — For this project I used about 30 pieces — some were big men's t-shirts, some smaller women's tank tops, I even threw in a couple pajama pants.
  • sharp scissors
  • a crochet hook — I started with a (metric) 7/(US) K hook, but it was too small and it broke, so I continued with a (metric) 9/(US) N hook.

First of all, make your t-shirt yarn. This method is fantastic and quick for men's t-shirts without side seams. I found however that the material of most of my women's t-shirts would not curl, and stretched the wrong way if cut that like that, so I just cut long strips top to bottom and joined them like this…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They didn't curl anyway, but the material stayed thick and strong. My strips were about 1.5-2cm wide — they don't need to be perfectly even.

For the first rows I alternated small strips of different colors, and kept the last rows monochromatic.

Once you have your yarn balls ready, sit comfortably on the sofa with your favourite show and start a chain stitch…

Then start building on it single crochet stitches…

Don't be discouraged if you've never attempted a chain or single stitch — they're very easy and you don't really have to think about it once you start. You're basically working in a spiral, turning the work clockwise and adding single stitches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Your rug size and proportions will depend on the length of that first chain stitch. I made a mistake here because mine was too long, so I when I finished my original yarn I had a sad narrow thing that did not look like the bathroom rug I had envisioned. Fortunately, I had more t-shirts to sacrifice and even my mom donated a few to the cause. That's how I ended up with a bedroom rug. It's about 1.5m by 65cm (4.9 by 2.1 feet) and my chain was 85cm (2.7 feet). So basically your rug will be as wide as you make it and (width + chain length) long.

When you're finished, secure the yarn end tying it informally in a knot (I have no idea if there's a proper way to do it).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This project is great for a beginner (like me – it was my first crochet project) because it's not meant to look perfect, and t-shirt yarn is very forgiving. You just have to be careful not to make your stitches too tight or you'll end up with a giant bowl instead of a rug that lays flat. (Note to self: I have to try making t-shirt bowls next time!)

  1. This is cool! I have so many t-shirts I never wear, so if I ever decide I can cut them up I am definitely referring back to this post. You got such nice results!

    • Thanks Jackie! Deciding to cut up all of those t-shirts is probably the most difficult part. But it's worth it, I promise!

  2. Ooooh pretty!

    Did you add stitches for the curves, or just made it looser? I just ask as when I crochet blankets in spirals, I add stitches to avoid bowl, or gaps.

    • Than you! Yes, I did add stitches on the curves. Not on every chain, just when I saw there was too much of a gap, especially when the yarn had significant differences in thickness from the previous row.

  3. Oooh! I love this idea! I usually ignore all DIY projects because I'm untalented and lazy, and I know nothing about how to crochet, but I have plenty of old t-shirts and I need a rug so I totally want to do this!

    • This was exactly my goal – convincing people who think they can't craft to give it a try. Please do it, and show us the results!

  4. Great lazy DIY, wednesday! 🙂

    This also works really well with strips made from duvet covers and bedsheets. I buy cheap, ugly ones from charity shops (especially if they are threadbare or have small stains), tear them into strips, and make yarn using the joining method illustrated by wednesday in this post. The cotton sheet material produces a bulkier yarn than t-shirts, so a larger hook is needed (P/15mm or Q/16mm). Here's a photo of my latest rug in the big awkward landing at the top of our stairs… Multi-coloured rug "moment". It's about 4 ft/1.2 metres in diameter and took me a season of Elementary to make. I've also made an oval one like wednesday's and am collecting material for a new oval one in autumn colours. My partner absolutely loves them because of the chaos of colours and the wizardry of duvets becoming rugs!

    • That's cool and you got great results, thanks for sharing!
      For my next one I plan to be a bit more intentional with the colors as well. With this I just used everything i had on hand. I'd love one in rainbow colors, and another all white.
      I love Elementary, too, by the way!

  5. I'm in the process of making tshirt rugs right now myself! I got a ton of tshirts on Freecycle, and have some of my own to cut up. I'm also making reusable shopping bags out of a lot of them. Yarn from the sleeves and collars, bags from the bodies. I have so much yarn now ….
    At some goodwill centers, you can buy tshirts (and other goods) by the pound! Craigslist and garage sales are other good places to get tshirts to make into yarn. 🙂

  6. I absolutely love your solution to the t-shirt yarn not curling. I had the same problem, and so I gave up. But, I still have lots of old shirts that I hate to throw away and are just mildly stained (in my case) or getting holes (the boy's case). I can't wait to give this new method a try! This has renewed my interest in this project 🙂

    • I'm happy you'll give it a try! in the close-up picture, the red bit of yarn is one of the pieces that were cut that way. see, no big difference with the rest.

  7. Oh man. This is not my idea of lazy. It is my idea of a great DIY project (I've made a rag rug with an old sheet), but it does take a good amount of time and effort. If you don't know how to crochet already, doubly so.

    The knotting thing was useful though, thanks! Now I can avoid painful little tension knots in my kitchen rug I plan to make :] :] :]

  8. Most important question is Do you stretch the t-shirt yarn? That would make a big difference in the finished project.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.