Picture of Make a braided t-shirt rug
In this instructable, I'll teach you how to make a really cool rug, like the one pictured, from your old t-shirts! For me, this rug didn't cost any money because I used stuff I already had at my disposal. This project is a great way to put all of those colorful junior high track/soccer/rugby/quidditch shirts to use if you don't want to donate them.

Here's what you'll need:
- 5-10 old t-shirts, depending on how big you want this rug (I used 5.5 for a small bedside rug)
- a pair of scissors
- needle and thread
- sewing machine (optional)

The hardest part about this was how long it took to make, but it turned out cool enough that I wouldn't mind making another one. Keep reading to find out how I did it!
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Step 1: Cut it

Picture of Cut it
Select a few old t-shirts from your closet, a thrift store, or your Aunt Marcy's NASCAR t-shirt collection. I used 5.5 t-shirts to make a rug that is approximately 18" in diameter, but if you have more time and patience than I do or if you want a bigger rug, you could use more shirts. Next step is to prepare the t-shirts by cutting them and turn them into yarn. I used a method that I found on YouTube but I took some photos of this step for here. 

You will want to flatten the shirt out in front of you, but face it sideways so that one sleeve points toward you and the other points away from you. Next, measure out every 2 inches from the bottom seam of the shirt (which is on the left or right side now), all the way to under the sleeves of the shirt. Mark with chalk or something that won't be obnoxiously permanent. You will want to start cutting on each mark or line you made, but leave 3-4 inches of the shirt still intact on the far side. Do this up to the sleeves, where you should cut all the way to the other seam. After you cut all of these lines, you can pick up the shirt and arrange it so it looks like a ribcage in front of you, as shown in the photos above. See that bit of fabric that you didn't cut? Now you're going to cut it diagonally so that you will end up creating one long piece of fabric from your t-shirt. This is really hard to explain, but as aforementioned, there are a crapload of YouTube videos explaining how to do this so feel free to search around if you need more coherent direction. 

You should end up with a really long strip of fabric from your t-shirt. Stretch this out really, really well and wind it up into a ball so it is more manageable. Repeat for your other shirts. 
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I coiled too tightly and really did end up with a t-shirt bowl. It was super fun and easy, though, so I'm going to try again.

peleela8 months ago

Also, at one point while I was sewing the braid flipped, which meant the strands in the braid were going from the outside-in. All of suzelac's photos show the strands going from the inside-out, but I didn't realize that and ended up sewing a long section the wrong way. Eventually, the feet of the machine started catching the strands.

And here's what I've done so far. Thanks for the inspiration and great instructable!!

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What kind of needle were you using on your rug? Did you also bottom stitch, or just use only a top stitch? Thanks.

I love your rug!

You can also use old sheets!
gail.oehling2 months ago

thank you so much for this tutorial! It is very well explained, and funny at times:) I def plan on trying it!

I was just wondering this morning of how my mother and I used to make braided and crouched rugs from bread wrappers cut into strips. This is it! Thank you for this excellent instruction!
cherbearam3 months ago

You can also use this method with fabric strips and make coasters!

kathleen.tega3 months ago

Thank you for these instructions, I will be cleaning my closet and making this with the results :-)

Norahbelle made it!9 months ago

Great inspiration.. Thanks!
I was able to sew the braids together using my sewing machine but making it flat is a challenge.



Susan Schik4 months ago

Thankyou for this instructable, it was really helpful and I seriously enjoy your sense of humor! Thankyou!

honeycat1555 months ago

love it

luna14926 months ago

I made this with my mom and sister, but we used old blue jeans.(we still did not finish it)

luna1492 luna14926 months ago

and we made it a little difrent

Passion Make6 months ago

Wow amazing :)

CementTruck6 months ago

Nice color combinations. Cool instructable.

GillyJames6 months ago

Beautiful and inspirational project. Love the colors.

ecowaters1 year ago
That doesn't look like it would hold long. How have rag braid rugs been sewn before?
nbrewer4 ecowaters10 months ago

You use a heavy thread and a blunt needle to go under one of the strips on your braid and across to go under one of the strips on the coil. It is done on the inside of the coil, alternating back and forth. This way, none of the sewing shows and the rug is reversible. Here's a link for a 4-strip method which doesn't use any sewing at all:

It's called lacing. Much better result that sewing by hand. There are special needles for lacing, too.

BLR_RAVI6 months ago
very creative and nice project...can be made from unused stuffs too...great color selection

And here's what I've done so far. Thanks for the inspiration and great instructable!!

tinaciousz6 months ago

I'm making this! Great colors and nice stiching :)

peleela8 months ago

These instructions were great! I'm still finishing up with the sewing, but I've learned a few things that I'd like to share for others:

My rug is going to be somewhere between 5 and 6 feet, so coiling the entire project while braiding wasn't an option. I ended up wrapping it up into a ball. After the fact, I realized that I needed to wrap it flat. I didn't, and the braid was coming off the ball with terrible twists in it (see photos). You want it to lay flat, with the "top" always on top of the ball.

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lhelton110 months ago

I have a suggestion for the cutting! I've often seen where if you cut strips to within a few inches of the opposite seam you can get one long piece of t-shirt yarn! It might help for larger projects of this type. :)

lhelton1 lhelton110 months ago

This is also done without cutting the's done in a sort of zig-zag pattern.

RRS221 year ago
how do i keep my ends from curling? ive started and have only gone a little ways but my ends keep curling and flipping up.
nice idea
cmurray111 year ago
I agree, I have already cut my shirts into my long strips, but I don't understand this part. Could you use some scrap/strips and show how and when to lay them down? Oh, and how will I know when the time is right to add a new one? This is where I am stumped.
The intent is to not have all 3 strips run out at the same time. If the original T shape is a little off-center, all the better; hold the joining point and let all 3 ends hang down. Begin braiding those 3 strips. When one strip gets too short to keep going, sew on another strip to it.
Msbhavn2641 year ago
when you add more strips, do you make each one you add in the "T" shape ? can you knot the strips to join them together ? I don't know if it's the wording or that I'm just not picturing it in my mind. How, exactly, do you join new strips together ? I am such a visual person. I learn very quickly by watching, but if there are written directions, it seems to take me forever.l please help !! I really want to do this. I have such a love for braided rugs. I guess it's from childhood memories. They are so expensive to purchase, so, now, here's my chance to have one or twelve. LOL thank you :)
Usually, the T shape is just where you start braiding. Two strands, usually different colors, joined end to end, with the third strand attached at the join to form the vertical section of the "T". Then you just add to the strips as you run out of length to braid.
cjraabe1 year ago
Clearly written and illustrated tutorial! Thanks for posting. A great way to use old t-shirts. What was the finished diameter of your rug?
platdujour1 year ago
This vid shows the t-shirt cutting -
I have been looking for a good tutorial for this for quite some time. Thanks for posting it. I already kind of figured out how it was done, but needed a push from someone who has done it; So thank you for that. I want to do an oval "Rag Rug".
smileee21 year ago
I think I would've used something a little thicker than thread, and whipstitched the edges of the braids together with a long yarn needle or crochet hook....maybe using it as a contrasting color? I love the colors, upcycled materials, and concept, though. Looks easy enough - thanks for the tutorial!
Najwahamid1 year ago
Very nice ...
bethcdh1 year ago
Could you do the same thing with old blue jeans? Or is the knit fabric better?
suzelac (author)  bethcdh1 year ago
You could certainly do it with blue jeans! I would just cut it into smaller strips width-wise because denim doesn't curl up like t-shirt fabric. :)
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