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!

W is for Water Around the World

Just decided to check out some of the UN’s statistics about water. After reading Summer’s Blog at “and this time, concentrate!” about drinking a lot of water for detox, I though it would be interesting to take a different perspective about water around the world.

Here’s what I found out by visiting UN Water:

1. Only 2.5% of the world’s water is freshwater.
2. However, less than 1% of this supply of freshwater is useable for ecosystems and humans.

3. About 70% of freshwater use is for irrigation. Only 8% is used domestically.
4. By 2025, 1,800 million people will be living in regions or countries with severe water scarcity.

5. Globally, diarrhea is the number one cause of death and illness, because of lack of sanitation and inadequate water supply for consumption and hygiene. Simply washing your hands can reduce the risk of diarrhoeal diseases by 47%
6. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation.

 Click here to read an article by Paula Bronstein in the NY Times about what they are doing in Bangladesh to combat this.

7.  Half of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900.
8. Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are dumped into water courses.

These are just a few statistics. There are plenty to go around.

To think in a more subjective way, water is not only in our bodies, it is also what connects us to all other beings. Everyone needs water to survive. Water weighs our bodies down so that we do not go floating out to outer space. Water grounds us. Water flows with gravity. Water is essential for life.

Let’s be grateful for the water than we have, and find ways to make a bigger difference in the ways that we use water.

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Swiffers vs. The Dust Bowl

My mother gave me a Swiffer to clean my apartment with. However, I have never had the heart nor the money to purchase those silly Swiffer refills. Swiffers are great little tools, except for the icky disposable cleaning pad idea. As if we did not have enough paper towels, tissues, disposable diapers, and on and on and on going into our landfills. Now we can’t even use a good old rag anymore, for fear of a few specks of dust.

As my friend pointed out yesterday, dust is simply composed of your own skin cells, so what are you afraid of? And why are we allergic to dust anyways, isn’t it just an allergy to our own skin?

Maybe we dust for fear of a return of the Dust Bowl. I once interviewed my grandmother about the Depression about how the farmers were struggling because the topsoil of America was being picked up by the wind and blown away. Can you imagine being engulfed by a giant cloud of dust, the feel of grit in your eyes, nose, ears, never feeling clean?

I don’t believe that I can imagine it. We live in a culture of very,very clean people, clean houses, clean hospitals, clean streets, clean stores. We fear those teeny tiny specks of dirt and skin cells and dust mites. And so we make Swiffer socks to pick up those unseens specks of mystery…

Back to the Swiffer. My mother suggested clipping damp rags onto my Swiffer to use as a mop. I did try this a few times, but it didn’t seem to be picking up everything and didn’t really clean the floor, so I went back to cleaning on my hands and knees.

And then I saw this post on Craftzine.com’s blog by Linda Permann, author of Crochet Adorned. I instantly thought, this is something my grandma would do. Make a slip-on cover for her Swiffer. Hooray! No more skin cells on my floors!

Here is a link to the post so that you can make one yourself- Crocheted Reversible Swiffer Sock

I haven’t made one yet, but I really really want to use it as a project to brush up on my crochet skills. Not that I am afraid of dust or anything, you see, just something to use to keep up the crocheting ;). So, once I do try it out, I will let you know with a post.

My faith in the Swiffer has been renewed through this subversive way of having your Swiffer and cleaning well with it too. Way to rebel against the consumerist disposable paper system, Linda. And way to think like my Grandma.


OH. About those bagged lunches.

Lately I have been very, very bad about not packing a lunch. I’ve come to realize that it is harder when we have a higher ratio of fresh fruits and veggies to pack something substantial because you have to cook/prepare something. So, tip of the week for those bagged lunches that I really hope people consider before going out to lunch:

Always cut up extra veggies when preparing foods. If you have a little container of them in the fridge before you leave the house in the morning, you’ll more likely take it with you to lunch. Simple, yet takes a little forethought.

For the audience out there, what steps have you taken lately to make yourself a better bagged lunch? Do you find it hard to think that far in advance? Or do you enjoy bringing something to work instead of buying lunch somewhere?

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Grandma’s Sock Monkey

Going waste-free. Sounds very new-agey. Not so when I think about my grandparent’s farm.

Old milk carton= container for food scraps to be composted
Old sock= rag used for cleaning greasy car parts
Carrot tops= yummy soup garnish
Chicken feet= soup broth

Yes, some of these things kind of make you squirm, but nothing went to waste during the Depression. Everything had a purpose.

While thinking about why I made my business and blog, I realized that I wasn’t sure what the purpose of it all was anymore. And then I remembered the afternoon I spent with grandma making sock monkeys.

My cousins and I gathered in the utility room in her house and crowded onto a folding table spread with red-toed socks, needles, thread, and buttons. Grandma buzzed about with a piece of sock in her hand, making sure that we had drinks, treats and supplies. The room adjacent to us was filled with craft stuff, from fabric to hot glue guns, jars of buttons, lace, cabinets of magazines, lights hung with strings of beads, clothing bursting from a closet door that would no longer close because it was crammed with bridesmaid’s dresses, grandpa’s shirts, and our aunt’s sewing projects from high school.

That room was paradise. In fact, there was no other place that I would rather be than in Grandma’s basement making something out of nothing, turing old socks into sock monkeys, pieces of tissue paper into beautiful decoupaged frames, taking a rag and turning it into a quilt.

That was at least 6-7 years ago, probably longer. Grandma never finished her sock monkey, as she wanted to make sure that we all finished ours before we left and ended up sewing my younger cousin’s monkeys before she touched hers.

Grandpa passed away in November 2008, and since then, Grandma’s house is a lot emptier. The house was sold in January, and it has taken my family over a month to clear it of Grandma and Grandpa in order to make room for the new family moving in this March.

It is strange to think of the craft room emptying of its treasures. I have not been home to help in the process, and hope that each item has found a new home, as Grandma would like, instead of filling a landfill. The half-finished sock monkey unfortunately may have been thrown out with other half-finished project- not that my Grandma was one for not finishing what she started, she simply wanted to make use of everything in her home so that it would not be thrown in the trash. In fact, she saw beauty in every tiny scrap of fabric, which never went to waste.

Which brings me back to my business, my blog, and my renewed focus.

In an age where convenience is a way of life, I challenge first myself and then others to take a second to think before you walk into your favorite cafe to get a cup of coffee to go, or purchase food at the grocery store that has lots of packaging, or before you throw away a shirt that has a little tear in it. Maybe there is a better way, a way that will not only help the environment by creating less waste, but also help your pocketbook, and your sense of awareness about the world around you.

Because, really, it is all about the kind of world that you want to live in. We may say we do it for our children and grandchildren, but it doesn’t even have to be that far in the future. It can be about right here and right now.

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