How to Make Beautiful Rag Rug {& DIY T-shirt Yarn}

Detailed tutorial on how to make beautiful rag rug with easy DIY t-shirt yarn, & weave farmhouse boho rag rugs on a cardboard or hula hoop loom!

I have wanted to make a rag rug from t-shirt yarn, for like, ever!
But I had many excuses to procrastinate important questions about making rag rugs: How much fabric do I need to make t-shirt yarn? How do I make a rag rug with a nice mix of colors?

Detailed tutorial on how to make beautiful rag rug with easy DIY t-shirt yarn & weave boho farmhouse rag rugs on cardboard or hula hoop loom!

If you have similar doubts, fear not! I will answer all these questions in this tutorial! I was surprised by how quickly the DIY rug 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!

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

Materials and tools to make a rag rug from t-shirt yarn:

thrift store t-shirt to make a rug

( 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!
  • scissors
  • 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!
large hula hoop

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!

How to build a simple adjustable rug loom and weave a beautiful t-shirt rug or other up-cycled fabric rugs. Detailed tutorial and step by step photos! - A Piece Of Rainbow
Make t-shirt rug and a DIY loom!

Step 1: choosing fabric colors for your DIY rag rug

How much fabric do I need to make t-shirt yarn? To weave a 30″ diameter rug, we need about 6-7 x-large (women’s) t-shirts.

On my first trip to Salvation Army to get fabrics 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!

choosing fabric colors for DIY rag rug

See, colors are like musical notes, the more isn’t the better. It’s really about harmony!

After a color study using my favorite colors – hot pink, yellow, and blue-turquoise, I returned to Salvation Army with a list of colors, much more focus, and great efficiency! πŸ™‚

Tip: I couldn’t find the exact pale pink fabric, 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

how to make t-shirt yarn

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.

how to make continuous t-shirt yarn for weaving and crochet

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.

Then cut the lines cross the body, you can use  this great rotary cutter which really speeds up the t-shirt yarn making process, on  a cutting mat, or use scissors.

Because the fabric stretches in the direction of the cut, we can pull it to form  curled fabric yarn, as in the photo below.

DIY t-shirt yarn for weaving and crochet

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.

how to make continuous t-shirt yarn and connect two pieces

Step 3: make a cardboard loom, or hula hoop loom

If you don’t have a hula hoop, you can make a rug on a cardboard loom of any size 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, you can skip the cardboard and just use the hula hoop for bigger rugs! =)

make a cardboard loom for weaving and crafts

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.

yarn weaving through cardboard loom

Step 4: weaving the rag rug

yarn weaving through cardboard loom

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.

rag rug weaving diagram

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.

t-shirt yarn rug weaving

When I transferred the piece (started the cardboard) to the hula hoop, I just extended the yarn, and doubled each thread which is optional.

Our reader Kerry asked me to explain this step a bit more. So here’s how to extend AND double the warp: take a piece of yarn, thread it through the end of a warp on the cardboard, center this long yarn in the middle, tie a knot there to the old warp. Now you will have a “V” that extends out to the hula hoop, and you can tie the 2 V ends to the hoop.

making t-shirt yarn rag rug on hula hoop

You can use this method to double you warp at any point. I kind of made this method up and it worked. But if anyone knows of other methods, please let me know in comments, and I will add to the article! πŸ™‚

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. (Remember I was testing on cardboard, and later decided to make a larger rug? )

how to make t-shirt yarn rag rug on hula hoop

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.

colorful boho farmhouse Anthropologie style t-shirt yarn rag rug on hula hoop

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.

DIY t-shirt rug

The outer edge may seem like it’s curling up. No worries, once all the knots are tied, it will stay flat again.

Make_t_shirt_rag-_rug_apieceofrainbowblog (23)

Make some tassels by splitting the ends of a piece of yarn and tie a knot in the center with 1 or 2 pieces.

DIY t-shirt yarn anthropologie boho farmhouse rag rugs

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.

use a hula hoop to make colorful boho farmhouse Anthropologie style t-shirt yarn rag rug

FAQ and helpful tips on making a rag rug: 

1. My rag rug won’t lay flat!

rug won't lay flat

That happened to me! 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 2 images below.

make rug lay flat

Isn’t it great that this rug is so forgiving? You can even add and remove certain color yarns using the same method!

2. How to clean a rag rug.

Hand wash or machine wash in gentle cycle, and hang it in a well ventilated spot to dry.

 how to make beautiful colorful bohemian farmhouse rag rug using hula hoop

Comfy and soft, pretty and happy, can you believe it’s made from a pile of old t-shirts?

More up-cycled DIY home decor you may love –>>

Make an unique and gorgeous Burlap Coffee Bag Ottoman from only one coffee bean bag! Triple functions: seating, side table, and storage all in one! | A Piece Of Rainbow
Make a coffee bean bag ottoman.
How to build a simple adjustable rug loom and weave a beautiful t-shirt rug or other up-cycled fabric rugs. Detailed tutorial and step by step photos! - A Piece Of Rainbow
Make a rectangle t-shirt rug with a DIY loom!
Build a stunning tropical outdoor room with pallets- A Renters Remodel! | A Piece Of Rainbow
Stenciled pallet floor / door mat

Happy creating! See you next week!

69 Comments

  1. Hi-your rug is beautiful-I love the colors and your weaving style. I recently tried my first hula hoop rug and found the weft to be too loose around the outer diameter-I suspect I need to add more warp strings. With that said, could you provide any extra detail on how you added your warp strings when you transitioned to the hula hoop? Thank you!

    • thank you Kerry! πŸ™‚ we are still using the rugs in our home! if you look at the 4th or 5th photo in Step 4, you can see how to extend AND double the warp: take a piece of yarn, thread it through the end of a warp on the cardboard, center this long yarn in the middle, tie a knot there to the old warp. Now you will have a “V” that extends out to the hula hoop, and you can tie the 2 V ends to the hoop.
      you can use this method to double you warp at any point. I kind of made this method up and it worked. But if I can find other methods in future, i will add them to the artice! πŸ™‚

  2. Hack: on any rug/wallhanging I make I use the backing for hook rugs. For ins: on this one once done I would cut a piece the same size, use the same yarn and needle and secure in several places it keeps the shape & makes it slide proof!

  3. If your yarn is already woven into the rug, how are you supposed to attach another yarn strand to it? You would have to have access to the ends of both pieces if you were to do it as shown in the pictures. Excuse theyvthread through each other. Maybe I’m not seeing it correctly.

    • Hi Charity! I am not sure if I understand your question clearly. The cut holes at the both ends of each piece of yarn allows you to keep adding new pieces as you weave. πŸ™‚

  4. HI I tried to do this rug but when i switched from yarn to t shirt I could see the yarn that i used to make the loom with so i was wondering if you could help me . Also I dont understand how you ended up with one strand of t-shirt when you switched colors.

    • hi! if you go to the 3rd or 4th photo in Step 4, you will see how the double strands wrap around the yarn to make it invisible. not sure about “one strand of t-shirt when you switched colors”, pretty sure it’s double strands all the way. πŸ™‚

  5. Hi! Love this! Can you make this bigger? I would love to make a really big one for my bedroom. How would I do this?
    Thank you

  6. This is so great! I can’t wait to try this DIY! This weekend I will clean up my closet and use all the old T-shirt on this. Thank you for sharing the tutorial!!

  7. Just bookmarked this lovely post of yours. The bright popping colors are perfect for summers. What a wonderful diy you have suggested. Thanks for the steps and procedure to craft it.

  8. This is so fun!!! Wonderful job and very good tutorial… My problem is that I am a visual learner. I either need a photo for every step or a video would be amazing. Lovely!!

  9. I am trying to determine, how many strands (weft?) cross the hula hoop in total? It seems to me that if you used 80 (forty individual pieces tied at each side of the hula hoop and tied together in the center, they would keep the whole structure more sturdy. You could start the circles weaving over four at first, then three, then two, as you get further out toward the edge, and then finally one closer to the outer edge. Would that work? solve the problem with the weakened area in the center where more weft were added?

    What type of material was used to make the weft? Tee shirt yarn or regular yarn. I would think the t-shirt yarn but the pictures look like regular yarn. How well does that hold up over time?

    Next question, when you get completely done adding rows and want to remove it from the hoop, how did you tie off the end of the weft so that the whole thing didn’t slide off the end. What did you tie it to? I think, if the string/weft where used to attach the tassels around the outer edge that might work. But I would be afraid if something tore the tassel off (I have kids and dogs who are demolition experts) the whole thing would come apart.

    I am currently stripping and tie dying all my old tee shirts to get ready to make my grandson a rug. I look forward to hearing from you for answers before I start.

    Thank you,

    • hi wendy, i used yarn, but you can certainly use Tee shirt yarn to make the weft. yes it has held up well!
      when i cut the end of the yarn that wrapped onto the hula hoop , i just re-tied the each of the cut ends with a good knot. then you can add tassels or not. hope that helps!

  10. Hi!

    I would love to make one of these over the summer.

    I have a few questions though:

    1-How did you start start your weaving? It seems that you weave with 2 strands. Did you cut an arbitrary lentgh of leftover pink yarn and start weaving from the middle of that pink yarn so you would run out of it around the same time? Making the switch to tshirt yarn easier?

    2-How did you make the switch from regular pink yarn to tshirt yarn since the thickness is different? Did you make a thick knot connecting the pink yarn to the tshirt yarn?

    3- Did you use tape to secure each weft to the hula hoop to make sure none of it would move while you weave.

    Love the look of it! I also second the request for a video tutorial.

    • hi gina! great questions and suggestions πŸ™‚ thank you!
      here are answers to each question-
      1. yes. the pink yarn is just a start, and it can be any length, as long as it has securely gone around a few times
      2. tie a knot with the pink yarn to the t-shirt yarn, the knot will not be as thick
      3. yes i did. i will add this to the post

  11. I have wanted to make a rag rug for a long time, but I don’t crochet so seeing your hulahoop idea has inspired me to make a rectangular larger rug using PVC pipe. Just do the traditional weave like we used to do with those potholder kit things back in the 60’s and 70’s. Thanks for the idea brain bump!

  12. Beautiful colors! Love it! At least one of the best explanations Ï have ever found in Pinterest…
    Thanks for share

  13. what i dont understand is you say a continuous ball but how do you twirl it around the yarn? makes no sense at all.

    • thank you erin for pointing that out! i will edit that- just long strands of yarn organized into a ball. connect the strands as you weave! =)

  14. Hello, I’ve done the rag rug two times with your tutorial πŸ™‚ One, a circle like this one, and another one in an oval shape…I don’t know how to add photos to the message though. The circle one I did with double piece of normal yarn and the oval one with t-shirt yarn. After the rug is done, it looks awesome, however where the extra piece of yarn is added about half way through, it seems to be weak and the weave moves up and down…and I’m afraid it might come apart. Also, it looks weird, not continuous. Have you had this problem or do you have any tips on how to overcome this weak spot in the rug?

    • hi cheree,
      great question =) i don’t think it would fall apart at all, but i did end up adding an extra round of yarn at that spot if that makes sense. the rug is easy to add/subtract yarns and my rug went through a little tweaking here and there since it’s my first try! =)

      • I can see how adding a round or two there can help. I hadn’t thought about that!! Thanks ?. How many rugs like this have you made?

  15. finally! I found these on your blog. Last year I got confuse how to make rag from old t-shirts, because of minimum information from Pinterest. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Great idea! I like the idea of the hula hoop. I do not understand from the pictures how you join the ends of the t-shirt yarn? It would appear you have to take the whole ball through one of the little hoops. I’m sure that’s not right, but I don’t “see” it in the picture. Can you please explain? Thanks for such a beautiful idea!

    • hi alicia! if you find the picture with the 2 pieces of yarn each with a hole on the ends, the yarns are joined through the 2 holes.
      they are joined as you weave, because it’s too hard to take the whole ball through the little hoops. the ball is to organize pieces in the same color. =)

  17. Most salvation army stores have bags of rags you can purchase and they are less cost than buying individual clothing items plus the bonus here is MOST of the shirts in those bags are T shirts and sleeveless tops that are cotton! NOTE: Most thrift stores or used clothing stores have bags filled with a bunch of stuff they will not sell on the racks.

  18. Thank you never even wanted to weave until now you inspir me the dollar tree has hula hoops for a dollar cheap investment

  19. This is a really great tutorial … I’ve added this to my always expanding list of DIYs to attempt! Love your site too. thanks!

  20. Love your rug! I’ve been researching different ways to do a rag rug. I’m not much of a knitter or crocheter so I’ve been focusing on weaving & braiding. Not much of a seamstress either so I have been playing around with the “Braid-In’ method, no sewing required. Have not actually done anything with the woven rugs yet. While searching for tutorials on weaving, I have always skipped the Hula Hoop method because I don’t like how the weft gets wider the further out you go, which in my opinion, makes for a messy looking weave. That is, until I found your post. As far as I’ve found, you are the only one who adds more weft so you don’t end up with the wide weave stitches near the end. But I do have a few questions…….
    You talk about using card board OR a hula hoop but what I’m seeing here looks like you have to start with the card board, then add that to the hula hoop in order to add the extra weft. Is that correct?
    Then I’m unclear on the transfer – I get how you added the extra weft strings. But I’m not sure how you get the card board out of the rug. When you string the card board, do you run the sting thru the slit and across the back to come up on the opposite side? Or do you go thru the slit and go side ways to come up at the next slit beside where you went down? I’m thinking you go across the back which would explain the picture you show with all the strings cut loose at the center?? If that’s the case, what do you do with those loose strings? And is that how you get the card board out of the rug?
    Would love it if you did a Video Tutorial!! (hint, hint….lol)
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • hi lisa! you can start with hula hoop, i did both because i was not sure if i would like it or continue! =) the wefts go through the back of the cardboard, and when i decided to expand it, i cut the wefts and tied more yarn to each! great idea, i will consider a video! =) xx

  21. thanks so much for this great tutorial, i tried this once, well actually I got one of my kids to try it using their balls of finger knitting, only it didn’t go well because i didn’t realize that you weave two pieces at one time as you’ve shown, a big ah ha moment, thanks again!

  22. How do you tie it? Is the middle tied together then on the hula hoop? Or is it a straight line from one side to the other?

    I love this and I’m going to try it this week. πŸ™‚

  23. I will have to give this a try. Been wanting to make one for the bathroom. Thanks for great instructions.

  24. I love the rug and particularly the detailed instructions. For a change, weaving instead of crocheting! At one time, I had seen instructions for cutting the t-shirts in a continuous manner, not short strips. I realize that longer rope/yarn would result in a lot less joining throughout a crocheting procedure, it could get cumbersome with a weaving technique. Had you considered or tried the longer strands? Great project and another to add to my endless ‘to-do’ list. Thanks for posting.

    • I love this idea! I am begging you to post a tutorial when you do! I can just imagine how thick and cozy this quilt would be! (Reminds me of spending the nights at Grandma’s house as a small child when the bedcovers were so heavy you couldn’t move beneath them and although ALWAYS cold when climbing in, throughout the night it was so toasty warm and comfy!)

  25. This rug is so totally awesome! What a glorious and colorful design. Plus, I admire your tenacity to make it. Thank you for the great instructions, too. Cheers, Ardith

  26. That is sooooo cute! I really like it. Though I think I’d leave off the little pompoms. I just love the look of it when it’s smooth and soft.

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