In this modern age, surrounded by technology and manufacturing processes that seem to make everything so cheap, it seems at odds that we would consider re-using old clothes to make rugs.

But this process of re-using, recycling and upcycling has gathered pace in recent years, with attitudes changing from ‘why bother?’ to being a ‘must do’ and ‘on trend’ activity.

A change in attitude

From being the preserve of the flip-flop wearing environmental militant, recycling and reusing everyday items when they can no longer function in their original capacity, is now a ‘thing’ that many of us are doing.

At one time, it may have been a way of saving money. The ‘mend and make do’ movement prevalent during the war years from the mid-20th Century was something that had to happen. There was no surplus stock, material or goods; what was created and manufactured went into the war effort. The thought of adorning a home or personage in fine clothes and soft furnishings, at a time when the country loomed every closer to a Nazi invasion, was simply not done.

The war ended in victory, and the process of moving on from austere, grey days into the light of freedom started. And the movement grew in earnest. Technology grew. Hire purchase terms and loans were agreed and we prospered once more.

There was no need to save things; we simply discarded it, and started again, buying new in most cases.

Recessions and depressions

But need did return. In the form of economic recessions, in many cases. The need to save money meant that many things were re-used for very different things. From torn and won our clothes being dusting clothes, to yogurt pots being used to grow the first vegetable seedlings of the year.

Environmental awareness

But now, there is another need – no longer is reusing about saving money in the household budget. It is about saving the environment, the world and the planet. Landfill can longer contain all the rubbish we create, the majority of which is ripe for recycling.

And thus, many people are looking to keep alive the skills of yester-year, creating all kinds of beautiful new things, from items that are old, worn out or no longer needed.

Everyone owns t-shirts. They are a common every day item that never really falls out of fashion; in the summer, they keep us cool in an uncomplicated, yet stylish way. In winter, they form a well needed extra layer.

If you have so many of them hanging around, why not create your own rug?

Let the creation begin!

What you will need:

  • 10 – 15 old t-shirts in any colour, pattern, shade or size
  • Scissors
  • A crochet hook

Using clean t-shirts, start by cutting them into 1 inch wide strips, starting at the base of the t-shirt and cutting all the way up.

Repeat this process across each t-shirt.

With the strips, gather them altogether and decide the effect and mix of colours you want to create in your final masterpiece.

Next, teach yourself to crochet, using a strip of t-shirt and the crochet hook. There are many demonstrations online, as well as instructions on how to do it. Even better, why not find a local craft group, full of friendly people with skills in so many different crafts?

Creating the rug is easier than you think – take a look at how you can create a rug without the need for a crochet hook, using just your fingers by watching this great piece of film.

Why bother?

With time short, it can be easy to think ‘why bother?’ but there is something nostalgic, wonderful and satisfying about creating a rug out of something that was destined for the junk shop or recycling centre.

Many t-shirts are made from cotton or a cotton and synthetic mix and so tend to be robust, as well as brightly coloured or patterned. The item you create will be essential unique to you and can be used in many rooms across the house.

Even better, of course, is the fact that they can be washed too. So, the next time you need a bathmat for the bathroom, an outdoor rug for the kids to play on or something to cheer up a room and add colour, texture and layers, why not take an evening or two to create a rug from old t-shirt?

You can also use other materials. In fact, we predict that once you start, you won’t be able to stop…