Rugs from Recycled T-Shirts

I have a fun book called Rags: Making a Little Something Out of Almost Nothing, written by sisters Linda and Stella Allison and published in 1979.

One of the best ideas in the book is making yarn out of old t-shirts. Here are the very simple instructions

I used the yarn from four t-shirts and a large t-shirt dress to knit this little rug. It’s a little worn, but has held up very well for several years.

Or, if you have a huge pile of t-shirts, you could make this groovy shag rug:

More knitting


~ by lolarusa on June 23, 2008.

30 Responses to “Rugs from Recycled T-Shirts”

  1. I love the rag rug. Going to have to give that one a try!! Thanks!

  2. How did you make the striped one at the top?

  3. Hi, Anna,

    I cut yarn from t-shirts as illustrated at the top of the post, then I knitted the rug, using garter stitch (so it would lay flat) on very large needles.

  4. So nice thank you for this wonderful post.

  5. This is fantastic. I am putting this on my ‘to do ‘ list

  6. Great idea! i have some of this yarn and im anxious to try it!!!!

  7. What size needles did you use and how many did you cast on? What size is this rug that you are showing? That gives us an idea of where to start! Very clever! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi Vicki,

    I made the rug years ago, so I don’t remember what needles I used. Very large needles. You would have to knit a swatch and find the size that works best. If you don’t have any large needles and are trying to decide what kind to buy, I suggest something about as big around as a wooden spoon handle. At a glance, it looks like there are 60 or 70 stitches. They’re large enough to count in the photo, if you care to.

    This rug’s about 2 feet by 3 feet (60 X 90 cm). Just a rectangle to throw on the floor. No need for tremendous precision.

  9. I can’t wait to try this. Always wanted to make a rag rug.

  10. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll start saving t shirts for this instead of using them for cleaning rags. White shirts would make a nice bath mat.


  12. This is great ! wgat a great way to recycle all of my old T-shirts

  13. How wide do you cut the t-shirt strips to make the yarn? What about t-shirts with iron ons? Do you include that part of the t-shirt or waste that part?

  14. Hi Vivian, You can vary the width of the strips for different effects, but a width of about one inch works well as a general rule. I haven’t tried using t-shirts with iron-ons, but go ahead and try it out and see how it looks. The knit fabric will probably be irregular in any case, since most t-shirts have seams that appear in the knitting as little tufts, as you can see in the photo of the rug. Happy knitting!

  15. no entiendo nada! esta todo en ingles!!! :/

  16. si podes mándame un e-mail explicándome pero en castellano ( español) por favor, me interesa mucho pero no lo entiendo.. Muchas Gracias

  17. Hola Micaela! Estas son las instrucciones para hacer alfombras con camisetas viejas. Solo tiene que cortar alrededor de la parte inferior a la parte superior de las camisas en una espiral para hacer hilo y tejer el hilo en una alfombra como la que yo hice (en el primero foto) o hacer una alfombra circular como en la segundo foto, la que está explicada en los dibujos. No sé español lo suficientemente bien para dar instrucciones más detalladas, pero tal vez las imagenes ayudaré.

  18. eI really am having a hard time understanding these directions can you make out a step by step tutorial? It would be so much easier, with all the sizes and what goes where it is hard for me to read your directions! Please help! Thank you so much! Much appreciated.

  19. This is wonderful. I can’t believe how clever that round rug is. Thank you so much for sharing this treasure with us!

  20. Will be making this. Thank ou kindly.

  21. T-shirts aplenty, would like to give this a try. Thanks for sharing with us.

  22. Awesome love this can’t wait to try this

  23. I love to coil. Can’t wait to make a rug following your instructions. To make the “coiled basket’s” I posted, I cut the tee shirt’s diagonally. It stretched & lay flat as I worked the circular pattern. Thanks for posting. Joanne

  24. Anybody know about how many t-shirts the round rug would take? I want to make about a rug about 2.5 – 3 feet in diameter.

  25. HI Sarah, The rug in the photo above is about 2 by 2.5, and it used a large t-shirt dress and four t-shirts. I would guess that the shag style rug pictured would take about twice as much.

  26. Please explain how the round rug cord is tied to the chairs,and do you cut and tie one end and then start the coil?help.

  27. Hello April, Just take the two-yard cord and tie it around the legs of two chairs that are heavy enough to be stable as you work. I don’t think there’s any “right” way to do this. The idea is just to find some way to stretch the cord tight to assist your work. Any stable furniture of fixture will do.

  28. Thank you so much I will definitely do this.

  29. do you think this can be done with leather strips and not t-shirts??? and so you think you can make a rectangle shape and not round??? thanks V

  30. Hello Valerie. I think you could use very soft leather, but tougher leather might be difficult to work tightly enough to form a useful rug. As far as making a rectangle instead of a circle, that would be more difficult, I can imagine easily making an oval shape, but perhaps not a rectangle.

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