Make a braided rug from old t-shirt

I have been wanting to make my own braided rug from all the left over African fabrics i have accumulated from years of sewing but sadly i just haven’t gotten around to doing so (i still intend to though), so when i found Suzelac’s post on the instructables i just couldn’t contain my excitement. Thanks suzelac

Here she teaches how to make a braided rug using old t-shirts! This means that it cost nothing to make but time and you don’t have to finish it all at once, you can make it a gradual process (just in your spare time). It is a great way to put all of those colorful abandoned fabrics to great use if you do not want to donate them to charity.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– 5-10 old t-shirts, depending on how big you want this rug (she used 5.5 for a small bedside rug)
– a pair of scissors
– needle and thread
– sewing machine (optional)

Step 1: Cut it

Select a few old t-shirts from your closet, a thrift store or wherever else.  She used 5.5 t-shirts to make a rug that is approximately 18″ in diameter, but if you have more time and patience and want a bigger rug, you could use more shirts. Next step is to prepare the t-shirts by cutting them and turn them into yarn. 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. 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. 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 in the photos below.

IMAG0358.jpg IMAG0359.jpg

 IMAG0361.jpg IMAG0363.jpg

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 there are loads of YouTube videos explaining how to do this so feel free to search around if you need more coherent direction. 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.

Step 2: Braid it

After you have prepared all of your t-shirts and made them into yarn, it’s time to start your braid. You can use a sewing machine to start the braid, hand-sew them or just knot them for a more care-free look.

Start 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  the braid and as you start to braid, the stitches get covered. Keep braiding until you need to sew on another color, you can do this 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 break. It helps to keep the yarn all balled up while braiding so that it doesn’t become a big, tangly mess.

Step 3: 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.  She pre-coiled with the “bottom” side facing up, as that was the side she wanted the stitching to be on.


Step 4: Sew it

Start sewing your braid together. You could use variation of a blanket stitch and start in the middle, working your way around and out of the spiral. You may have to sew it by hand as it may be too think to sew with a machine. 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.


Step 5: Lay  it

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