t-shirt shag rug tutorial

 
Here it is, finally! My shag rug is complete. I love how it feels under my feet, and if it starts to look a little flat, I pick it up, shake it, and it fluffs right back up! 
It took some time but I finished it and I’m glad I decided to make one. You can too, especially if you like to cut up t-shirts but never know what to do with the scraps afterwards. The scraps from my scarves are perfect candidates for making a rug. And this craft is very easy, even children can learn how to thread the rug with some assistance with cutting the scraps.
Feel free to message me with any questions. The idea and instructions for this rug came from the book Generation T, which is a great book to purchase if you like making eco-friendly t-shirt clothing and crafts. Please visit their website and check out their multitude of fantastic ideas.
How to Make a T-shirt Shag Rug

 
Supplies: 1 XL t-shirt, cloth scissors, and lots of small t-shirt scraps
the base with a few scraps threaded through
1. Make the base.
For the base of the rug, lay the X-L t-shirt flat and cut a large rectangle out of the shirt, as large as you would like the size of your rug to be. It’s possible to make a larger rug by sewing more t-shirts together- two to make a runner, four to make a large square, etc. You could also cut it into a circle shape for a circular rug.
a rotary board makes cutting easier
perfect sized scraps!
2. Make scraps.
If you are me, you have scraps of t-shirts all over your apartment. If you aren’t, you may need to go to the thrift store and purchase a lot of t-shirts to make into scraps. I would go for 10-12 to start, although I’m not positive exactly how many you will need. Go for more rather than less, and choose complimentary colors, or try to purchase t-shirts that are the same color for a monotone rug. 
Cut these t-shirts into strips that are approximately 5-6’’ long and 1-1 ½’’ wide. You can use scissors, or if you are lucky, a rotary cutter and board, which helps make things faster. Some t-shirt fabrics stretch and so you can pull them to make them longer. Others don’t.  Once you cut a few t-shirts you’ll begin to see what works. Also, don’t be afraid to use imperfect scraps-scraps that have odd edges, have a serged edge on them, are ruffly, etc. They add to the shaggy look of your rug.
holes before and after scraps are threaded through 
3. Cut holes into the base.
Starting 1’’ from the edge of the base, carefully poke or snip horizontal and vertical rows of small holes about 1/2 ’’ to 2/3’’ inches apart. It will look like a big Lite-Brite board without the little pegs! You can also do this as you go along while putting the rug together, as I did, or just go ahead and make all of the holes before you start to thread the scraps into the rug. If you want perfect rows, you can mark the holes first using a ruler to mark the spots. 
see how the scraps share each hole? 
4. Start threading scraps into the base.
Beginning at one corner, thread a strip down through the first hole and back up through the second. Take a second scrap and thread it through the second hole (the same hole you just pulled the first scrap up through) so that it shares this hole with the first scrap, and then pull it up through the third hole.
Continue doing this for a very, very long time… Do this while watching movies, television, when you have a really short moment of time and you don’t know what to do. It will take time, but it will be finished!
the back and top side of the rug- pretty on both sides!

5. Give your rug a haircut.
When you are finished, you can give your rag a little haircut to even out any longer scraps that look off, or you can leave your rug uneven for a shaggier look. But remember, these scraps don’t grow back!

The top side of the rug looks great, but so does the bottom side. Flip the rug over for a new look and feel! If a scrap falls out or gets uneven, simply put it back in or pull it until it is even. It’s very easy to maintain. If you would like to wash it, please use a lingerie bag and run it in a delicate cycle as it could fall apart in the wash. However, the fabric is not delicate itself, so if something were to happen, it can be cleaned.

Send me pictures of your own rugs, and I’ll post them here. Or, make one for a Christmas present this year. It’s not too early to start!

Critical Mass on the North Side of Chicago

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I attended the North Side Critical Mass today, and although it rained halfway through we were able to enjoy a fabulous karaoke bicycle for most of the ride. In honor of my first Critical Mass, I want to honor some fabulous bicycling blogs and websites to check out in order to inspire you to get out there and ride the nearest Mass near you!

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Photography by Bob Kastigar

Vote With Your Feet- Blog by John Greenfield
North Side Critical Mass- Website with great info on the Mass, specific to the North Side of Chicago
The Chainlink- A fantastic website for any Chicago bicyclist with forums, photos, and ways to connect
Chicago Bike Shop Database- Where to go to buy a bike, or fix one you already have
Thought You Knew- An organization to bring together women on bicycles!

These are just a few of the resources I enjoy as a Chicago bicyclist, and although I know much of this does not apply to those who do not live in Chicago, I do hope that it inspires you to connect with your own bicycle community, or start your own! I won’t forget singing “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” with a microphone on a bicycle with 70 plus other people around me supporting me as I rode. Totally awesome!

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Sean O’Connor Photography and The EYE!

 Photo by Sean O’Connor
Yup, I love photographers! This is the month of great photographers. I recently was lucky enough to work with the very talented Sean O’Connor, who you can find at www.seanoconnorphotography.com. I particularly love his work with motion photography. Too bad I can’t show you here, but that means you will have to go to his website to check them out.
Lately, I’ve been recovering from being very busy with sewing, work, and just remembering to eat and sleep! However, I was able to enjoy the day with my sister’s friend from high school, Lizzie, and her mother and sister-in-law. I grew up having Lizzie around, and it was wonderful to see her all grown up and going to college, like my own sister, in a few weeks. We had sushi, got ice cream, and went to visit the new art installation in downtown Chicago.
It’s a giant eyeball. Pretty cool, right?
It’s called The Eye, and it is a new instillation that will be sticking around for a while. It is located next to my favorite piece of architecture in Chicago, the Harold Washington Public Library, and so I love to go see both and ponder the meaning of a giant eyeball landing in a patch of grass in the south end of downtown Chicago…
I really can’t get over how the Public Library looks like a building out of Harry Potter. This picture does not do it justice…
There are owls guarding each top corner of the building. The first time I saw it, I was running from bus to bus to get to the Megabus travelling back to Minnesota. I couldn’t stop staring at those green owls, perched at the corners, spreading their wings as if they were about to fly.
I still love walking down State St. and coming upon those owls. 
Thanks again, Lizzie and family, for a great day downtown! I purchased the book Craft, Inc. while at the Blick Arts Supply store, and will be reading it in the next couple weeks, so expect a review soon!

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Temporarily Taking a Temporary "Holiday"

My fiance and I are going on a “holiday” of sorts.

Unfortunately, it is because we are having our apartment exterminated this Friday at noon. And our holiday unfortunately is sandwiched in a evening between two full days of work. What a holiday!

So, at the moment you will be seeing less of me, as I will be battling the beg bugs in our apartment until they are gone and I no longer receive bites of love which leave giant welts on my legs and back. I should post pictures. They are pretty awesome. One of them this morning even sprouted a bubble of fluid… ok, too much information.

At the moment, I feel as though I am taking it each moment at a time. I’ve never lived so in the moment in my life, I think. It is almost zen like, knowing that I am going somewhere but not concerning myself about anything but reading a lovely book while traveling on, one destination to the next.

So, here is to hoping to see you soon, bug free.
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M is for Meeting You in the Middle

Gorgeous image by Mel Kadel- Her website melkadel.com

This image doesn’t even show half of what she has to offer, so you must check her out yourself.

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Here I am, meeting you all in the middle of our A-Z challenge. It is a strange, seeing our letters merge at this point. Sooner than you think, it will be May, and we will merrily be on our way, but I know that I will have fond memories of meeting many wonderful people through my little blogging journey.
Of course, meeting in the middle is not just about the meeting itself. The middle is a place with which I am very familiar. The middle is a place of compromise, of promises kept and broken, and sometimes it leaves us with a feeling of both happiness that the meeting took place, and sadness that you might have had to leave something behind in order to meet at the middle.
I have been struggling with something lately, in my maddness of moving to a new city, and away from my home of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had and still long for something more.

I have never traveled abroad, except to Canada (and this does not sincerely count in my book, as I grew up in North Dakota, which is practically Canada by Canadian and American standards, no offense to any Canadians) and I have yearned to leave this country to experience at the very least flying over an ocean just to say that I did it! I saw my reflection, a mirror of myself in that giant body of water! I promised myself that after my graduation I would make this happen, but then I went ahead and moved myself and my fiance to Chicago, IL. It was my choice, and I don’t regret it, but I still can’t forget my promise to myself, and also to my fiance, to try to fulfill both what has now become our dream together of flying over the ocean.

However, I’ve made it a point today to meet in the middle with my fiance and to set aside whatever plans I have mulling in my mind to make this dream a reality. I got a little sidetracked, and I apologize to him and to myself for that, but I want to make this happen.

So, here’s to meeting in the middle. I know that whatever I set aside I can come back to again and pick up. I know that I need to stop diverting my energy in ten million directions and focus on one thing so that at least that one thing can happen in full, instead of lots of little things kind of happening because I put just enough energy into it to make it happen. My sewing machine will still be here waiting for me. My dreams of massage school can wait too. I want to fly, and so I will fly!

Well, maybe not with my own wings, but with wings purchased with the money that I will work to save to make it happen at least…

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T is for Thrifty- and Totally Freaked Out…

 Ummmm does anyone have any bedbug experiences to share? Because I think maaaybe I have them but I don’t know for sure.

That is why I am totally freaked out.

And this is a couple of days before my good friend comes to visit me. SO I want to be sure, and I don’t want to send her home with any unwelcome friends.

Toooootally freaked out by the little red bumps that have been appearing occasionally. Never a lot at a time, just a couple a day. Itchy. Annoying.

 OK. Just going to stop thinking about it for the moment…

On another note, I have discovered some great thrift stores in Chicago that I have been haunting lately. They’ve given me some great materials for my dance costumes and other designs. But now, I will certainly be washing everything I bring home in a hot washer to insure cleanliness before I do anything with them…

Oh yes, thrift stores. Unique Thrift store offers great discounts and has so much to choose from. Hard to walk out of there without a bagful of something. And the Village Discount Store is fab as well. Found a great J.Jill corduroy skirt and American Eagle patchwork skirt for less than $5 total. Awesome!

Thrifting. I recommend it. Why buy new when you can buy brand name and still have enough for dinner out that evening?

-Check out petitedancer25.etsy.com to purchase any of my items!-

Spring has Sprung in Chicago!

 

I’m obsessed with making these mini banners lately. My favorite- a litte banner that says “spring” in cute, bubble letters. I want to put it up in my kitchen, which could use a little bit of brightening, but this banner will be sent to my friend Lauren K. at the Catalpa Gift Shop at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley, MN.

This banner is super simple to make- anyone who can sew in a straight line on their machine can make the banner itself. The letters take a little more patience, but are the fun part! I’ve free-style embroidered the letter myself, onto a scrap of fabric pinned onto each banner. Then, I cut around my sewing job (that way, if I didn’t make a really straight line with my sewing, I can hide it with my cutting job- just kidding!). I’ve also made banners with different shapes and colors, and ones without decoration as well.

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On the note of spring, my mom sent me a recipe for Thai Noodle Lettuce Wraps- basically spring rolls without the roll, although a little different. I’ve also made a variation of them in my house. Although spring rolls are very simple to make, some people who do not live in the city like myself do not have access to all of the ingredients like I do. So, here is the recipe! They are yummy to take along to lunch, or for a light dinner.

Thai Noodle Lettuce wraps:

1 5.5 oz box rice noodles or rice vermicelli
12 butter lettuce leaves – rinse & dry
1 carrot– grated
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 lime
sweet chili sauce

1. Bring some water to boil in a pot. Remove from heat & add noodles – let sit 10 min till tender or until you feel they are done, it may not take even 10 min!
2. Drain noodles well.
3. Spread lettuce on tray & fill with noodles- not too full though! Top with carrot & little cilantro. Squeeze lime juice over. Serve with the sweet chili dipping sauce.

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Post-holiday detox. Must take a break from break…

“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, by use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”

In other words, balance you say?

What a world to balance in, between work and home and loved ones and finally, your passion. To dance? To sing? To sew? To write? To speak? To dream?

And to pay the rent?

I often think that sometimes it would have been nice to live in the era of Jane Eyre or Emma Woodhouse. They have their box to live in, which limits their choices for better or for worse. But in this world your box is what you make it, which is difficult when you can never see the edges of the box to begin with until they hit you in the nose.

But, alas, I must leave you again for another day. To dance for this evening is my choice, and dance I must. Dance dance dance! To sew is tomorrow, and tomorrow is to sew. For another day will pass before I pay the rent, and to pay the rent, it is to dream.

-Check out ragsbysockmonkey.etsy.com to purchase any of my items!-

So, the holiday season has begun. Thanksgiving was spent with my fiance at the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago, where I tap danced down State St. with 200 dance students after it had rained all morning. Then, we made gluten-free vegan chili and shrimp with pineapple, washed down with TGIF Mudslides and coconut-flavored rum. What a Thanksgiving dinner!

I must say that I have enjoyed this weekend immensely as it has allowed me to prepare for the Crafty Crafter’s show at Lenny & Me. Brandon made me a wonderful sign that says “Rags by Sock Monkey” out of letters cut out of magazines (yes, an old standby technique that hails back to my days in art class, when I just couldn’t seem to draw cool bubble letters like my friends, causing my art teacher to nickname me her “flower child”). It looks fabulous in a silver frame I bought at my new favorite thrift store, The Brown Elephant. It is very colorful and eco-chic, just right for my colorful, eco-chic clothing line!

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The following recipe is from Delight Magazine, on delightgfmagazine.com. I made it with the intention of bringing it to a potluck, but I never did make it, so now I have tons of leftovers in my freezer! I’ll let you all know if freezing it was the right idea when I decide to thaw one! However, the small batch I did not freeze was very good. I’m on a coconut-frenzy lately, and will share a recipe for gf coconut macaroons that are baking in my oven as we speak…

Coconut Rice Pudding

Makes 8 servings

2 cups rice, uncooked
4 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups skim milk (or 2% milk)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded coconut
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, boil 4 cups water and add rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes until most liquid is absorbed.

2. Pour coconut milk, skim milk, sugar and salt over ice and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until most liquid is absorbed and a creamy texture forms, about 20 minutes.

3. Add 1 cup of shredded coconut, beaten eggs, butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional five minutes until the coconut is soft.

4. Remove the pudding from the heat and pour into a glass bowl. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until chilled.

5. Heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 cup of shredded coconut and toast, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.

6. Spoon pudding into serving dishes and top each with toasted coconut.

7. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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