It can be done!
On Saturday, some strange urge built inside me to use up my old unused t-shirts for good instead of evil (err, or instead of giving them to Goodwill, but let’s face it, no one wants an old promotional Shoppers Drug Mart t-shirt from the Optimum card’s 10-year anniversary, and if they do, I won’t be party to it).
Upon searching Pinterest, it became apparent that there are about a million ways to recycle old shirts. I love this age we live in. Recycling, upcycling, whatever you want to call it, is the coolest thing there is, especially since today everything we buy is either disposable or regarded to be.
There are a billion rug tutorials but since I’m only good at sewing horribly, I chose a no-sew option.
Before you begin, if you do choose to begin, a word of warning:
You wouldn’t think weaving old lady rugs is dangerous to your body, but if you have even the slightest weakness in your back and you plan for this rug to have no lumps or bumps, you’ll need to lay it flat on a table or floor. Even sitting on a dining room chair at the table was incredibly painful to my back, twisting it up real well. The first night (yes, this is a craft that will probably take you more than one night to complete, unless you’re a born weaver), I couldn’t sleep for two hours. Eventually I found my hot water bottle and after about a half hour of lying on it, I got some sleep. The next day, I had to actually work with the hot water bottle propped between the chair and my back if I didn’t want to cry out in pain every few seconds.
This weaving stuff is serious business. You really begin to feel for those Chinese workers who get paid about half a cent per Kathy Lee Gifford shirt or whatever the hell. I am not exaggerating, I thought I would need a doctor’s visit, and I’ve never known the true miracle of a hot water bottle until I tried weaving. Maybe work on your core muscles for a year before giving it a whirl.
So before learning of the pain that would befall me, I had to make t-shirt yarn. What, you might ask, the hell is t-shirt yarn? It’s strips of t-shirts, about 1-3 inches wide and stretched out like crazy then balled up like yarn so that your cat doesn’t play with the mess of string resulting. You use this recycled yarn to weave your old lady rag rug.
Luckily, the love of my life (aw) had gotten me some crafting supplies for Christmas, so making t-shirt yarn was simple.
I used a rotary cutter, a giant self-healing cutting mat, and the giant ruler that came with the mat, but that’s not necessary.
Rather than duplicate someone else’s content, here is the tutorial I followed to make the yarn. It’s awesome.
Note: You can also use sleeves if you start to run out of a colour you like and you have long sleeves. I used short sleeves as well, and it gave me a fair amount, just make sure you’re cutting at a 90 degree angle to the crease for it to work.
Then I followed this wicked good tutorial to make my rug from the yarn. I’m so thankful to people who make instructional posts like this. It was much easier than it initially looked, although it did require some concentration and re-weaving at times.
When all was said and done (a day and a half and a lot of dedication later, interrupted many times over by laundry and puppy training), I had an ugly old lady rug that I now love.
Here are some glamour shots:
For ugliness sans-dirt purposes only. Wipe your feet on this rug and I will cry.
It looks great and it feels great. Like everything you ever wanted in a recycled t-shirt rug.
And it really works too! (Demonstrated in B&W because when these rugs were popular, this is how your grandmother would have shown it off on Instagram. They only had B&W filters then, and they weren’t even called Willow and Inkwell yet.)
So there you have it. Although it temporarily destroyed my back to make, maybe some Wii Fit will cure what ails me and I can crank out some more again soon.
Have you made one of these or anything similar? I’d love to see it.
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