Frugal Living

Project DIY: Upcycled Braided T-shirt Rug

I was converting a den into a bedroom on a budget and needed two bigger ticket items: a rug and an armoire. The armoire post will be coming at a later date! I had several criteria for a floor covering:

1) Fun and colourful
2) Easy to clean
3) Less than $50
4) No synthetic materials

Did you know that synthetic carpet and rugs are made of plastic? This has implications for your health as well as the environment. According to this article in the New York Times: ‘The E.P.A. estimates that every year, about 5 billion pounds of carpeting go into landfills. That’s 1 to 2 percent of the total U.S. landfill contribution, or 17 pounds of carpeting per person‘ which then takes ‘hundreds of years‘ to degrade. Additionally, the dyes, adhesives and coatings emit volatile organic compounds that can cause adverse health effects. As such I was set on a rug with natural fibers.

I stumbled upon t-shirt rugs on Pinterest and decided that the price was right! Additionally I could use cotton t-shirts which are not synthetic and would biodegrade; I used this tutorial to create my rug. I was able to source some of my t-shirts from family and friends who were clearing their closets – a win-win!

DIY T-Shirt Rug Project

Tools and Materials

  • 12-14 t-shirts (look through your own closet, ask family and friends if they have old t-shirts to donate and if all else fails buy some from a secondhand store)
  • Sewing machine with thread in your desired colour
  • Non-slip pad for rug

Process

  • Create t-shirt yarn: (see here for a tutorial)
  • Braid t-shirt yarn: braid contrasting colours together for a speckled look or similar colours for a flat look. I found that it was easiest to braid loosely quickly and then go back to tighten the braid it as it is somewhat cumbersome to braid with balls of the t-shirt yarn. I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and complete something from start to finish, so this took a REALLY long time!
  • Sew rug: see the tutorial for the direction to sew – it’s important to start with the bulk of the rug on your left and the braided yarn that you’re stitching to the rug on the right so that the bulk of the rug is on the outside of the sewing machine. This also took me a REALLY long time!
  • Use with a non-slip mat under it so the rug doesn’t slip as I found the tshirt material quite slippery on my floors.

What was easy, difficult, surprising?

  1. It was surprisingly easy and fast to make the t-shirt yarn
  2. It was very difficult to start sewing the rug – see my pictures – I have a mountain in the middle of mine! I will need to go back and fix it as it’s a tripping hazard at this point.
  3. It was surprising how amazing it looks! It looks better than I thought it would, though I was hoping that it would be a bit bigger!

Inspired to try something similar? Please share your projects here or on any of our social media platforms!

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