I thought I would write a short post about the way I am using old t-shirts in my weaving. With five people in this family, we have a fair amount of t- shirts. We usually have quite a few that are getting to the point that they can no longer be worn out of the house, but are still too good to be called rags. I like the t-shirts I am using for weaving to not have too many holes or bleach spots on them, but a few holes or bleach spots do not show up in the finished rug, and I use those.
First, I fold the t-shirt in half and cut off the hem. I don’t use the hem, because it is thicker than the rest of the t-shirt material, and makes a bulkier “stripe” if used with the other strips of material. In previous rugs, I have cut the material into 1.2 to 2 inch strips. Now, though, I am using strips about 3/4 of an inch wide.
The smaller stripes are just more appealing to me. I just cut clear across the bottom of the t-shirt, which gives me a loop, or circle, of material. I do this with all the t-shirts I plan to use for a rug. I cut strips like this all the way up to the arm pits,.Then I remove the hems from the sleeves, or start at the elbows on long sleeve t-shirts, and cut smaller loops. Once I get to the arm pits again, I stop. I don’t want to have to sew material together, so that is all of the shirt that I use at this point. It seems wasteful, but this is the most time efficient way for me to get the most done, for right now anyway.
After I have all my t-shirts done, I throw all the loops in a basket, and toss them together like a big salad. If you wanted a specific pattern, you could leave all the colors in individual piles and just pick them up in order of your pattern, but I like the mish-mashed look I get when I just pick up pieces at random. I pick up the first two, and loop them together like this:
I keep that up, picking up the pieces at random, until the ball of “Tarn” as t-shirt yarn is called, is about the size of a softball. I make balls of the strips until they are all gone. My only rule is that if I pick up a loop that is the same color as the one I just used, I have to pick another one. I don’t want two of the same color next to each other. This isn’t an original idea, lots of places sale sock loopers, which are material from the sock manufacturing process, for rugs. I’d rather not have to buy material though, and I like having control over how thick my loopers, and therefore, my rugs, are.
I’ve found that having a good mix of darks and lights, as well as having some black in the mix, makes for an attractive rag rug. It kind of reminds me of those scrappy quilts that I love so much. Lots of different colors, and not too planned out. Not to mention, inexpensive! The best thing, though in my opinion , is that once I have woven a holey t-shirt into a rug, it’s fairly certain said t- shirt won’t accidentally by pass my inspection process and end up out in public where it will make people question my parenting choices!!