Introduction: T-shirt Rug

Picture of T-shirt Rug

About a week ago I moved into a brand spanking new and completely unfinished artist studio. After painting the walls a nice shiny white, I turned my eye towards the floor. At first, I considered leaving it as plywood, but then I realized unfinished plywood floors were going to become very noisy and a nuisance to all those around me. I began to consider what would look good on the floor, absorb the noise and, most importantly, what would be cheap. I resolved upon a rug, but didn't really feel like shelling out for one. Instead, I began to consider cheap ways to make a nice and unique rug. This particular idea just kind of leaped out at me. Everyone was skeptical of my t-shirt rug at first, but I think I am beginning to win the battle of hearts and minds.

Keep in mind, as the t-shirts are layered, this rug results in a somewhat uneven floor surface and is not well-suited for people that are accident prone or generally have trouble walking.

Step 1: The Idea

Picture of The Idea

The idea is simple. The rug will consist in a whole bunch of colorful t-shirts laid out on the floor in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

(I drew this diagram to sell my very skeptical girlfriend on the idea)

Step 2: Collect T-shirts

Picture of Collect T-shirts

Gather up all of the t-shirts that you will never, ever, wear. Ask your friends to do that same and donate them to you.

If you still don't have enough shirts, you may want to see if the regional Goodwill Store has a "last chance" outlet. The shirts found at the Goodwill "last chance" processing depot will be remarkably cheap and are usually moments short of making their way into a dumpster. You may as well put these shirts to use.

And so you ask, "How many shirts will I need?"

My space was 9 x 12. I used roughly 20 - 30 t-shirts.

Step 3: Start Laying Them Out

Picture of Start Laying Them Out

To begin with, arrange 5 or 6 t-shirts in the center of your floor. Keep moving them around until you get an arrangement that you are happy with.

Step 4: Pin Them Together

Picture of Pin Them Together

Pin the shirts together to create a temporary seam for sewing.

Remember to leave a little bit of space at the ends so that should later your want to slide one shirt under another, it is not sewn down.

Step 5: Sew!

Picture of Sew!

Once the first few shirts are pinned down, sew them together using white cotton thread and a straight stitch. From my experience doing this, I caution against using a polyester thread (or mix).

Remember not to sew entirely to all of the outside edges in case later you want to slide one shirt in-between two other shirts.

Other tips:

It helps to start from the outside edges and move towards the center. Any which way you do it, if you're making a sizable rug, sooner or later it will turn into a seemingly unmanageable mess of fabric.

Don't forget to sew down the neck holes on the shirts or people could trip and hurt themselves!

Step 6: Lay Down More Shirts

Picture of Lay Down More Shirts

Once you have sewn the center of your rug, start laying down more shirts around it. Repeat the process of pinning and sewing.

Continue this until you have enough shirts covering the entirety of the area you are looking to cover.

If you are happy with an unkempt t-shirt in every direction look, then you are obviously done adding shirts. You just have a little more work laid out ahead of you.

Step 7: Finishing Touches.

Picture of Finishing Touches.

The last thing you are going to want to do is to hand-sew all of the visible neck holes shut. This will keep people from tripping and rolling chairs from getting caught. When doing this, try to match the thread to the shirt.

Also, trim any excess thread hanging off the shirt if you haven't done so already.

You might consider vacuuming your rug to pick up any loose threads or other schmutz. I have yet to try to send it through the washing machine, but that should be fine as well (I hope).


Daisytikityke (author)2016-10-25

Sew the necks closed before you start. Then you can use the sewing machine..zigzag stitch. Much faster than hand sewing. And instead of just sewing the tshirts to each other, sew them to a backer piece, an old sheet or blanket. It will be more solid, less stretchy, and easier to handle.

curious youth (author)2011-10-22

using this idea but only using tshirts with memories. so not sewing up the neck holes but. they shall be my money stash :D

nikolardo (author)2010-03-07

I tried to wipe that hair in the picture off of my computer screen.

Nuonaton (author)nikolardo2011-07-26

LOL. I noticed it too, and being a photographer immediately set to cleaning my screen.... Then I noticed your comment.... Oops.

BrianJewett (author)2011-05-29

Slip some batting inside each shirt first and you'll have a quilt.

puddingpuff (author)2011-01-02

i think i would just end up using this as a blanket...maybe for summertime. and if you leave the necks open, you get pockets! secret memos, candy bar wrappers, the cheat codes to the game your one would ever know.

neffk (author)2010-11-30

Clever, but it makes your room look permanently messy. Still, most other techniques seem to be a lot more work---this method looks easy.

sandesigns (author)2010-09-08

who is ralph wiggum?

randofo (author)sandesigns2010-09-08

He is a character from the Simpsons. He is on the shirt that says "SPECIAL".

ruthy nov (author)2010-07-15

What a great way to use old stuff. But - add an old blanket under the shirts, saw them together and it will feel much softer to step on. And for safety - add a velcro strip around the carpet and on the floor to prevent sliding!!!

blueyedaddy (author)2010-02-16

Love the rug - but I'm loving the water bottle storage bins along the wall.  I think I'll steal that idea first...

Pinky212 (author)blueyedaddy2010-02-23

Hey, me too!  I noticed the storage right away (I'm looking at making cardboard box shelves now so anything "storage" catches by eye.).  I just didn't realize they are water bottles.  Are these the kind that brought to one's home and need a cooler?  If not, could you tell me where theycan be purchased?

randofo (author)blueyedaddy2010-02-16

blueyedaddy (author)randofo2010-02-19


FreshPineSent (author)2008-04-19

Hmm, I think it makes the room look kind of cluttered. Perhaps if you used just white and black shirts, it would look better.

randofo (author)FreshPineSent2008-04-20

I like cluttered. I was going for a rainbow throwing up on the floor.

Pinky212 (author)randofo2010-02-23

ROFLMAO!!  I love how your mind works!  "A rainbow throwing up on the floor" is not something I would have thought of in a million years.  It's VERY descriptive!!!  Do you write books, too?  Just curious. 

Lithium Rain (author)randofo2008-04-20


FreshPineSent (author)randofo2008-04-20

Yeah, thats cool. It just wouldn't really compliment the rest of my furniture.

shooby (author)2009-01-27

I'd thought of using t-shirts to make a carpet, but just using the material, so that it's be more like a quilt. This is a really successful design I think. One potential improvement I'd make if I were to do this, would be to create it in smaller units, four parts for example, with button or snap attachments between them. That way individual parts could be cleaned with the laundry, and the rug could be used in a smaller room at some point.

Pinky212 (author)shooby2010-02-23

That is a fantastic idea!  It seems like parts of a rug ALWAYS get dirtier than others.

kyler13 (author)2008-07-09

I wonder what would happen if you just use the pins and don't sew it together so that way you could change it any time you like..........I might try this tomorrow or today

ricardjorg (author)kyler132009-01-08

pins on the floor doesn't look like like a good idea to me.. pins hate your feet

Pryo Chain (author)ricardjorg2010-02-14

 Safety pins ftw

JKibs95 (author)ricardjorg2009-05-19

I got a sewing needle stuck in the base of my thumb one time... The entire needle was in my hand.

ricardjorg (author)JKibs952009-05-19


JessG516 (author)2009-03-30

I like it, but I think I'd feel like the room is dirty all the time.

Rossiroller (author)JessG5162009-05-19

You could do this in your bedroom, and then never pick up! just tell people its part of the rug.

komecake (author)Rossiroller2009-11-16

  LOL. If only that would actually work. *sigh*

Brackinese (author)JessG5162009-09-05

I feel the same way; I think if it was done in a pattern other than random, I'd really like it! Maybe spiral them out, or arrange the shirts in a color gradient.

randofo (author)JessG5162009-03-30

I need to send mine through the washing machine.

sflinn (author)2009-05-29

A question and a comment. First off I love this! I'm thinking about doing this for my son's room. My question is, how well does it hold up? My comment is...I can't believe you used a Ralph Wiggum t-shirt! Blasphemy I say!

avkrisnik (author)sflinn2009-10-29

No kidding!  I was thinking the same thing.  Awesome Ralph t shirt.  I would have paid good money for that Ralph Wiggum shirt!  Cool design though.  The easiest thing is that you can wash it in a big washing machine.

aiml0u (author)2009-10-09

looks good if all the t-shirts are quite new. I hate waste and have to recycle everything. To make a more durable rug that can make use of torn or shirts with marks on (I donate all clothes which are not marked and have use left in them) first cut into long strips and knot into ropes. ( If you know how to crochet/french knit is the best way). To make a round rug simply coil and stitch together. using a thick wool or string adds another interesting texture.

mslaynie (author)2009-10-02

Wow! This is really a creative solution to a problem! I bet if someone liked the idea but wanted it to look more rug-like and less t-shirts-on-the-floor-like, you could cut the shirts into large squares/rectangles. Then you could make a floor quilt! This would eliminate the need for sewing the neck holes shut. Still, good job. This is lots of fun!

nafango22 (author)2008-04-28

needs moar red

jeffconnelly (author)nafango222009-09-10

well, you need spell check.

DigiDiskette (author)2009-05-20

Hey, I just joined yesterday and found this by typing in "shirt" into the search! I work at an apparel decorating company and I just wanted to say I've ordered a whole bunch of blue and aqua child-sized shirts and I'm going to use this technique to make a tablecloth for conventions and in the store! Thanks for the idea~<3 After the prototype, I'm hoping to be able to talk my boss into letting me make several to interchange for each season-- Like red and green for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween, ect. You have my thanks, friend!

randofo (author)DigiDiskette2009-05-21

Cool! If you make one let me know how it goes. Post pictures!

mynameisjonas (author)2009-01-27

excellent! how is it holding up for wear?

Soupraok (author)2008-07-09

HA HA, it looks like my Bedroom floor! "Mom, thats not dirty laundry, its a t-shirt rug!" HA HA HA

ricardjorg (author)Soupraok2009-01-08

looool =D

ddquest (author)2008-11-30

I just had a fab idea about this project! I will try it out and re-post if it works...... EXCITING!

randofo (author)ddquest2008-12-01

please do

cvxdes (author)2008-04-19

do your chair wheels snag on them?

randofo (author)cvxdes2008-04-19

Nope, so far it lays pretty flat.

Lindie (author)randofo2008-08-11

So COOL! You should have thought of doing this 10 years ago! Love, "The Mother"

dulciquilt (author)2008-07-20

years ago I planned to make throw rugs for kids rooms and dorms by using misc article of clothing sewn to a foundation, but just never had the time or energy to do it. I thought it would look perfectly at home in a teenagers room... hehehe Very nice job. Nice thing about using T's is not having to worry about buttons, zippers or thick seams on jeans that would hurt bare feet.

brooklynverni (author)2008-04-23

Nice work. Some people might want to use something like Stitch Witchery or another iron on webbing product. You can find them almost anywhere that sells sewing supplies. They come in rolls that are about 3/4" wide or sheets that you put in between the 2 fabrics you want to bond & iron it. I think the narrow rolls would be sufficient around the perimeter. If you put a shirt down & then don't like where you put it, you can just heat it up again with the iron and move it.

budman0312 (author)2008-04-21

this idea is awesome. but i think if i made one, i would use only black and white, and use a specific pattern. thats just me, i like organization. but its still really awesome

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Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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