Tag Archives: recycled t-shirts

Making a rug out of old t-shirts

Making a rug out of old t-shirts

A couple of weeks ago, John and I did a sort of our closets, and we ended up donating a few bags of stuff to the drop box. But when I saw the lovely selection of various shades of blue t-shirts he was getting rid of, I just had to pull them from the donate pile…really I am not a hoarder, I just have a bit of a problem getting rid of old stuff that can be used to make cool new stuff.
So I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make, but I had to justify my hoarding like tendencies to John, so I had to make something ASAP.
I thought that I would start by making the t-shirts into some yarn, and I would figure out the rest as I went along. I started by cutting the t-shirt apart right under the arm pits, and cut the bottom hem off.

Next I cut through the t-shirt from one side into strips about an inch wide. Be careful not to cut right through to the other side, stop cutting about 3 inches away from the other seam.


Now. readjust the shirt so that the uncut part is facing up and you have opened up the fold. You can put a piece of cardboard or paper in between the layers to make sure you don’t cut through.

Cut in from the side at an angle so you cut apart the first strip

Then cut the next strip parallel to the first strip…


When you get to the last strip, you will end up with an upside down Y like this…

Cut down the middle of the Y to taper off the end of your yarn…

Now, like magic, you have one big pile of yarn!

The funnest part about making t-shirt yarn is stretching the yarn. The material that t-shirts are made of is knit, so it doesn’t unravel when you cut it, but if you stretch it, it curls up. The convenient thing about the way it curls (if you happen to be cutting up t-shirts to make recycled yarn) is that it curls so the t-shirt is right side in. Why is that convenient, you ask? Because most of the stuff that is printed or written on the front of the t-shirt won’t show. Anyways, all you have to do is take a small section at a time and pull it apart, it stretches to about three times the size. It is fun to do, and the kids love helping with this part.
You can see in the photo that I have stretched the pile on the right.

So from here, you could make a whole bunch of things…..a rug, baskets, a recycled bag, stuffed animals… you could make whatever you could crochet. However, this batch of yarn ended up pretty thick, so I decided to make a rug.
I started by trying to make a rectangular rug..

But, when I ran out of tshirts, it didn’t look finished, it was a little out of proportion. This rug you see in the picture took about 7 tsirts. So, I ripped it out and made an oval design. I used a single crochet for the whole thing.
I ended up “finding” 5 extra t-shirts (sssssshhhhh, John will never know) And here is what about 12 t-shirts made:

I think after I sort out Sam’s closet, I will try to make a pink one!
Can’t wait to show everyone photos of our new family room!

T-shirt Teddy


My 96 year old grandfather passed away last month, and my mom and aunt saved me some of his clothes. I have been thinking about what to do with them, and I came up with the idea to make a teddy. I thought it would be nice for his children, grandchildren, and grandchildren to have something special to remember him by.
So, here are the pile of t-shirts I started with…


I looked for a teddy bear pattern, but couldn’t find something i liked, so i decided to try out a design of my own. I started by sketching a teddy bear on newspaper…

Then I cut apart all of the pieces…

Then, I added about 1/4 inch seam allowance to all of the pieces by cutting a new piece, and leaving space around each side for the seams. Notice, I only cut one ear, arm and leg, as I will just cut 2 the same.

To start sewing, I started with the ears, I tried a few things, but I ended up making them by sewing two ear centers together right sides in, then I turned them inside out and stitched them onto the outer ear.


Then, I turned it right side out and stitched around the edge of the ear.

Then, I cut out the rest of the pieces. I decided to stick with a few of his grey t-shirts. So, I just picked different shades for different pieces.

I sewed the snout the same way as the ears, but first I sewed around the perimeter of a black piece of polar fleece, then, I sewed the right sides of the snout together, then turned them right sides out, pinned it on the face, and sewed it down. If I make this pattern again, I will try to make the snout a little three dimensional, so it is not so flat.

Then, I added the eyes and nose that I bought from the dollar store. They both come in two pieces, the back just snaps on to the front. I and pinned the ears, and sewed across the neck to attach the body and pinned the head and bodies together. I also cut out a pocket from one of the shirts and sewed it on the bear’s belly. If you knew my grandfather, you would know that he never wore a shirt without a pocket. He spent his career working with wood and always needed a pencil or something to put in his pocket, so even after decades of retirement, it was non-negotiable that his shirts have a pocket. So, I thought it was appropriate that his teddy has a pocket too.

The next step was to sew the arms and legs. So, right sides together, I sewed the perimeter of the arms and legs, leaving the ends open. Then I trimmed the seams, turned them right side out, and stuffed them.


So, I would say the most challenging part was to put the whole thing together. I put the head and body right sides together, then pinned the arms and legs towards the center. Because they were already stuffed, it was tough…but I used lots of pins and sewed around the outside, and left it open at the side seam so that I could turn it right side out again.


I clipped the seams , then turned it right side out. Don’t forget to clip at all of the curves and corners, this makes a big difference and makes all of the curves smoother.

Then stuffed him and hand stitched the side seam closed…

And here is Grampy Bear, all done!


I still have lots of his shirts left, so stay tuned!