Saturday, September 11, 2010

Making a crocheted rug

Do you have any old t-shirts lying around? Wondering what to do with them? Read on...

I made a crocheted rug out of old clothes as a present for my sister last Christmas, but I never got a very good photo of it.  It was such a satisfying project on so many levels; I feel like many of the "crafty" things I get around to doing aren't producing anything very functional, and there is something so nice about creating something that looks good and is useful.  I initially started by thinking that I would cut up several of my niece's old dresses and shirts that Ani has outgrown as hand-me-downs, but then I realized that my sister might not have need of a very very pink rug in her home.  So I went to my next pile of old clothes waiting their reincarnation - t-shirts.  I have seen people use old sheets for this project, but they tend to fray and leave lots of little threads everywhere.  T-shirts roll nicely, hiding their edges, and feel nice and plump under your feet when you're done...

Eliza and I are embarking on making a couple of rugs this fall - one for her room and one for an undisclosed recipient who reads this blog...(ahem)  I at first thought she would help me prep the material and then do a stitch or two as she felt like it, but she caught on right away just by watching me and I don't know that I'll get to do another stitch!  Here is a basic how-to...

Talk your family members into donating their old t-shirts for your cause.  If you can't assemble enough, or wish to have a wider variety of color, head to the thrift store - ours sells cotton t-shirts for 50 cents a piece (hint: look for the XXL).  I will also include a few shirts in prints because they look nice.  Cut your shirts starting at the bottom, and spiraling up all the way to the arm-pits (and through the sleeves if you wish).  You are aiming for about an inch and a half width, but it does not have to be exact.
Even this is a step that both of my kids enjoyed and wanted to help with. (Eliza is wearing Dan's old Phish shirt that he donated...we'll have to see if I get it back)
This step is not absolutely necessary, but it is nice to plan a bit ahead and have several shirts cut up before you begin.  Rolling the long piece of shirt is a coveted job apparently - during our evening story time the girls take turns helping me roll the pieces while Dan reads.
And here is just a close-up of the hair-do Eliza recently invented.
She is so darn cool.
Here is our current stash of material, ready to be crocheted.  We started working on it tonight, while listening to Dragon Rider (we're almost done).
Ani is rolling while Eliza crochets. You want to use the largest crochet hook you can find - I believe this one is a 15mm hook, available at any craft store.  The movement of working with this size of material and hook is really large and physical, which might be what appeals to Eliza.
It also goes quickly, producing a good size for standing on at the kitchen sink, or next to your bed, or in the bathroom, in just a few sittings.  I would love to make a braided rug like the ones my grandparents always had in their homes (we also  have one, handed down from a friend).  They actually made several themselves out of thrifted woolens, which I would like to try some day maybe with help from the girls when they're older.  This rug is a project that is within my realm of ability and time right now.
the rug for Eliza's room
close-up of the other rug (you can see where we are using something 
other than a t-shirt; sometimes sentimentality wins out over a little bit of fraying!)


Anonymous said...

LOVE this. This is exactly what I've been wanting to do. Thanks for the idea...and yes, E's hair-do is REALLY cool.

Reba said...

I'm SO glad you posted this! I have been thinking about learning to crochet ever since you mentioned this project and I am thinking of planning it into my day somehow! Thanks!

Kerry said...

This is a great idea. I wish we hadn't cut up all of j's tees into impossible-to-sew- quilting squares. I suppose I could still cut them into short strips and crochet those. I wonder.

slim pickins said...

I'm so glad, everyone - this is a really satisfying project, and I love that Eliza can and wants to do it.

Kerry - it might just be frustrating with smaller strips - I should have also shown how we connect the strips; I found something nifty online - maybe you could use some of the cooler images from J's shirts to embellish a new shirt or bag????