T-shirt Rug




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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.

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).



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    73 Discussions


    2 years ago

    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.


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


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

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


    7 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Step 7

    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 playing...no one would ever know.


    8 years ago on Step 7

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

    ruthy nov

    8 years ago on Introduction

    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!!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

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

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    11 years ago on Introduction

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

    4 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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. 


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.