The Other Braided T-Shirt Rug Zig Zag Experiment!


Remember my 2nd attempt at a little braided t-shirt rug I was working on?  Yes…that one.  Okay, okay.  So I got up to the top of the stairs today and I didn’t feel like coming down because it hurts, so I decided to sit at the sewing machine instead and psyche myself up to go ahead and zig zag this new batch of braid that’s been sitting up in the sewing room since March.  Well beyond the due date!  All couch and chair slipcover aside!

So look!  Isn’t it beautiful?

I did stop and start a few times as it does take a little practice to make sure you squeeze the two edges together in the middle of the pressure foot.

The zig zag stitch is set to the widest it will go and I’m using a longer stitch length.  I’m going slow, squeezing the two edges together and rotating the whole rug around and around.

My machine is not in a cabinet so I was a little worried about not having a completely flat surface but it did work!  A flat surface would be the best for this situation but I just wanted you all to know that you CAN do this just with your machine on a table top like mine.  I do however have my extension table attached that came with the machine.

One of those bigger acrylic extension tables would probably work even better but I’ve just never ordered one.  I know they can get pricey but it would be something to look into.

I love how this rug is coming out.  I have a total of 10-12 t-shirts in all shades of blues and greens that I want to use in this.  I’m about half way.  Friends…my spirits are looking up!


23 thoughts on “The Other Braided T-Shirt Rug Zig Zag Experiment!”

  1. Hi, I work for an organization that teaches women to sew in Haiti. For a long time we’ve made purses. I’m trying new ideas to teach to our ladies. I’ve been working on a t-shirt rug all day. It seems like I just can’t get the middle section of the rug to lay down flat. My rug seems to want to curl up around the edges…as in, I could easily make a braided nest out of this rug! Ha! Any suggestions? If it’s easier to email me, please do.

    1. I know exactly what you mean here. The center is very tricky. If you swirl too tightly the braided circle will begin to form a cylinder. That’s okay if you want to make a purse or tote but the flat rug needs to have the coil be relaxed. Don’t try to line up the edges one for one, give it some room.

      What you could try is on a flat surface, use the palm of your hand to swirl the coil around about 5 or 6 times. Take some safety pins and pin together. Stitch that down and check to see if it lays flat.

      Hope that helps!!!


  2. About that acrylic table…I took the small extension table that came with my sewing machine to a glass shop to use as a template. The glass shop cut out an area (the same size as the cut out of my small extension table) of a very large piece of plexiglass. I brought that home, and hubby screwed on some dowel legs and I not only have a big extension table, but it also serves as a light table. The cost is way less (or was several years ago when I did this) than a store-bought table. And I could make it large (to accomodate machine quilting) because I have my machine sitting on a banquet table.

    1. My eyes have gone wide with excitement!!!! What an awesome idea. I wonder if my hubby might be able to do that for me with all his tools he has in the basement. I think you might laugh at my styrofoam extension system. It works but this plexi-glass idea is fabulous! OMG!!!!!

      1. Glad to be able to offer a tip. :O) My table has been a tremendous blessing to me over the years. Hubby painted the dowel legs black and add black rubber tips to them. It looks quite nice. And I’ve got twice the size table for half the cost of a small store-bought acrylic one. My Ott lite opens flat and slides right under it when I want to use it as a light table. Very convenient.

  3. That’s great. I would be interested in making a couple of oval ones. Does anyone know how I would start out?

    1. How do you mean Kathy? To start braiding or to start the oval? To start an oval, instead of swirling like the circle here, you would need to determine your length and width of the finished size you wished to make. Factor in the width of your braid to determine the length of your center strip of braid before turning…

  4. They look beautiful! When you get to then end of a length of T-shirt, how do you attach the next strand of shirt to the first?

  5. What do you use to make these t shirt rugs? How do you get started? Do you have a step by step tutorial from beginning to end that you can email me? I love these and have so many leftover shirts I could use. Thank you

    1. Dear Karen,
      I’m sorry that I do not have a download for me to email to you how these rugs are made from beginning to end. However, I do link to posts that show my progress. An easier way is to just type T-shirt rug in the search bar at the top right of the screen. I show how I made the yarn, and then how I first hand sewed the first rug together.
      I will admit that I have had a lot of questions about this project, as experimental as it was for me, it might be a nice thing to do a braid-a-long so we can all learn together.

      I have the start of a braid-a-long in the works coming soon (in the next week or so..) so that might be a fun opportunity to learn how this whole rug gets created!
      Thanks for commenting!

      1. Thank you for your response.I love your rugs! I have t shirts in hand and I’m going to start as soon as possible. Please keep me posted on any ideas you might add. These look so easy to make but I’m sure they are not. I love crafts and try to learn new ones as often as I can.

  6. Would like to know the measurements of the strips used for braiding.
    Love this idea. Thanks, Reba

  7. I love your rug! I’m wondering what kind of thread and needle you used to zigzag on your machine. My stitches keep skipping and/or breaking. Help!

    1. Hi Veronica,
      I think I used a heavy needle, size 14 but you can use an even heavier one such as a denim needle. Regular sewing thread such as coats and clark. What is your machine? I used a Bernina so I know it works with that. If it makes you feel any better I did have ‘some’ skipped stitches but not many, but my thread did not break. Check your tension too. Let me know how it goes. Love to help!

  8. About to start this project using your instructions! Thanks for all the terrific tips! In the end, did you prefer the one-long-braid method or the sew-together-as-you-go method? And do you have any tips for keeping the machine pressure steady so that the rug does not curl up, or is it just trial and error? Did you use a particularly strong kind of needle, or a walking foot or other item on the machine that helped?

    1. Hi Dory. I prefer the braid and sew as you go method only because I like to see how the pattern is forming on the rug. An oval shape will be easier than a round shape but both will have their issues. The round may cup in the center, just the nature of the beast, you can try inserting clothesline inside one of the yarns for the beginning rounds, I had a reader try it but have not heard back if that helped. The oval won’t cup in the center but may be sorta wavy side to side. My best advice is to just be loose and let it relax around the corners as you sew. I made this on a Bernina and used regular sewing thread and a 12 or 14 needle. Some people say the braid is too thick, do a tester first to make sure yours will go under your pressure foot. If it is too fat then cut your stips 1-1/2″ instead of 2″ wide and see if that helps. There are a lot of variables but it should go quickly! Have fun!

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