I have wanted to make a rag rug from t-shirt yarn, for like, ever!
But I had all these
excuses to procrastinate important questions about making rag rugs:
How many t-shirts do I need to make t-shirt yarn?
How do I make a rag rug with pretty color choices?
Will my DIY rag rug hold up or fall apart after all the work? …
If you have similar doubts, fear not! I was actually surprised by how quickly the whole piece came together, and how fun and enjoyable the whole process was! Since I have never done any weaving, crochet, or knitting, this is truly a“if-I-can-do-it-so-can-anyone” project!
Is it a lot of work? Well, no more than building a simple piece of furniture… Will I do it again? Absolutely!!
Materials and tools to make a rag rug from t-shirt yarn:
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
- old T-shirts: field trip to Salvation Army, woohoo! I chose mostly cotton, but other fabrics will work too. To weave a 30″ diameter rug, we need about 6-7 x-large (women’s) t-shirts
- hula hoop or cardboard: I started with cardboard because as a total newbie, I was just going to do a quick test first. But I loved the “test” so much that I transferred it to a bigger 30″ diameter hula hoop! You will see more details about both methods!
- optional but very helpful: this great rotary cutter really speeds up the t-shirt yarn making process, and here’s a cutting mat to use with the cutter!
This book Twist and Twine: 18 Ideas for Rag Rugs and Home Decor is AMAZING if you want to expand on this hobby! =)
Update: below is another rag rug I made after this one, here’s the tutorial on how to weave a boho t-shirt rug with a simple DIY loom!
Step 1: Planning your DIY rag rug (choosing colors, etc )
On my first trip to Salvation Army to get materials to make our rag rug, I ended up with a pile of t-shirts the size of an elephant… Realizing I was totally lost in all the colors, I put them all back except for 3 pieces!!
See, colors are like musical notes, the more isn’t the better. It’s really about harmony!
So I came home with 3 colors I know I want to use for sure : hot pink, yellow, and blue-turquoise. After a quick color study from these 3 “notes” plus clothing I already have, I returned to Salvation Army with samples of colors, much more focus, and great efficiency!
Tip: I couldn’t find the exact pale pink, so I got a few extra white T-shirts, and dyed them pink, using this method here.
Step 2: how to make continuous t-shirt yarn for weaving a rag rug
IMPORTANT: keep the yarn in shorter lengths in this step, and organized the same color piece into a “yarn ball” . If the length is too long it would be hard to weave them through in next step.
The trick here is to adjust the width of your t-shirt strips: cut the strips wider for thin fabrics, narrower for thick fabrics, so the finished t-shirt yarn stays at a consistent thickness.
For most common t-shirts, 1.5″ to 2″ wide t-shirt strips works great for t-shirt yarn. Follow the diagram below, first cut off the sleeves and open up the t-shirt.
Because the fabric stretches in the direction of the cut, we can pull it to form curled fabric yarn, as in the photo below.
Roll pieces of each color t-shirt yarn into a ball for use later.
IMPORTANT: keep the yarn in shorter lengths in this step, and organized the same color piece into a “yarn ball” .
As you weave, you will need to join the yarn. Cut an opening on each end, and pull it through as shown in the diagram below.
Step 3: make a cardboard loom, or hula hoop loom
If you don’t have a hula hoop, you can make a large rug on a cardboard loom by joining several pieces of cardboard together with glue and tape.
I started small as a test, so I ended up using both types of looms, lucky you get to see two methods! =)
To make a cardboard loom, first draw a big circle using a circular object as a guide. Divide the circle into equal parts, here I used a protractor and divided the circle into 10 degree segments.
Cut the circle but leave 1″ to 2″ of cardboard around the circle, make slits so the yarn can be held in place as shown in #3 and #4. If you start with a hula hoop as loom, you will need some tape or clips to secure the yarn at the beginning, so it does not shift too much.
Step 4: weaving the rag rug
I started with some scrap yarn then covered it with a yellow pompom (more on pompoms later). You can also start with t-shirt yarn and use narrower strips for the beginning.
Choose a direction, either clockwise or counter clockwise, weave over and under every two weft (the crosswise yarns) for the first few rounds, then every weft for the rest.
When I transferred the piece (started the cardboard) to the hula hoop, I just extended the yarn, and doubled each thread which is optional.
You can remove the cardboard at any time in the phase. As I mentioned earlier, you can start from the beginning on a hula hoop loom and skip the cardboard loom. (I was testing on cardboard, and decided to make a larger rug.) Continue to add t-shirt yarn, connect them as shown in step #1.
Try to complete each color t-shirt yarn as whole circles, this will help keep a circular shape as we weave.
Step 5: Finishing touches
Once we get to the end of the last circle of weave, just tie a knot or stitch the last two ends to stop any unraveling. Cut the weft and tie a secure knot with every two pieces.
The outer edge may seem like it’s curling up. No worries, once all the knots are tied, it will stay flat again.
Make some tassels by splitting the ends of a piece of yarn and tie a knot in the center with 1 or 2 pieces.
The pompoms are made with thin strips of t-shirt yarn. Here’s a tutorial on how to make pom poms super fast in big batches!
To attach the pompoms and tassels, just tie them through any part of the rug, they will be easy to replace too.
FAQ and helpful tips on making a rag rug:
1. My rag rug won’t lay flat!
Somehow, there was uneven tension while I was weaving in my newbie style, that caused part of the rug to bulge. So remember not to pull the yarns too tight when you weave!
If this happens, just take out 1 or 2 rounds of yarn, tie a knot where you cut the yarn, and tuck it to the back, as shown in the 3 images below.
Isn’t it great that this rug is so forgiving?
2. I want to change one of the colors!
Use the same method as above, we can change out any portions of the rug.
3. How to clean a rag rug
Hand wash or machine wash gentle cycle, and hang it in a well ventilated spot to dry.
Comfy and soft, pretty and happy, can you believe it’s made from a pile of old t-shirts?
More up-cycled magic you may love –>>
Happy creating! See you next week!