Braid-A-Long 2012 Day 4 – Finishing The Rug!

Hi Everyone!

As promised I told you I’d be back later in the week to wrap this Braid-A-Long up and show you the finish.

Just remember, you can join the  Sewingforlife! Project Group  anytime to share with everyone your own braided rug.  I’d love to see your work!

Finishing the braid is rather simple.  All you need to do is weave in the three strands of yarn  and then sew back and forth with your zig-zag stitch until you’ve locked in these loose ends.DSCF0927DSCF0931 DSCF0933

Trim the yarns and thread and YOU ARE FINISHED!!!

Stand back and admire your new rug!  Congrats!DSCF0944

Till later!


Braid-A-Long 2012 Day 3 – Attaching A New Color

HI Braiders!!!

Did you finish your practice starter braids yet?  Are you ready to braid in some new colors?

I sure hope so!

Already we’ve had some questions about how to change colors so the timing is really perfect to show you how.DSCF0832

The first thing I want you to remember is that the WRONG side of the t-shirt (the side that is next to your skin, the underside if you will) is the RIGHT side (what is exposed) when the yarn is curled, like in the picture above.  So when I say Right Sides Together I actually mean the underside of a t-shirt or the wrong side of a t-shirt knit.  Does that makes sense everyone?  I hope so.

So what we are going to do is sew these two yarns together on a bias, or 45 degree angle.  Start by positioning the yarn coming off of the rug horizontally to yourself (it is the blue yarn below).  Then take your new color (in this photo it is the yellow yarn) and with Right Sides Together line up the new yarn perpendicular to the other yarn…DSCF0835

Then line up your yarns so you’ll be sewing from the upper left corner down to the lower right corner (the 45 degree angle)…DSCF0836

Like so…DSCF0838

Trim about 1/4” away from the sewing line…DSCF0840

Pull the two yarns to curl the edges and you are ready to continue braiding!DSCF0841 So for our starter braid here is what I want you to do.  With TWO of the yarns go ahead and attach two LONG strands of yarn, it could be a whole yarn ball you’ve made from one of the t-shirts if you want.  With the third strand I want you to attach a SHORT ER strand of yarn, no more than 6 feet in length.

The reason why I want you to have one of these strands shorter than the other two will become clear as you begin braiding with these full lengths of yarn.  If you have already tried this you would have discovered by now that the yarns get tangled up in a mess rather quickly!  The secret is to have one of the yarns much shorter than the other two.  By having one of the lengths shorter will ensure that your yarns won’t become tangled!DSCF0844 How so?

As you braid, let’s say you are able to braid 6 or 7 full over/under repeats before you notice a counter braid occurring at your feet.  With every motion you are doing with your hands, the yarns are doing a counter motion all on their own (see the example of that counter braid in the photo above).

To resolve this, every so often pull through this counter braid the shorter yarn.DSCF0846 In the photo above I am pulling the blue yarn through that counter braid.

When you do this your counter braid will immediate de-tangle itself and you can continue to braid! DSCF0847 DSCF0849

One last thing I want to mention before I leave you and let you go on and braid your hearts out is the use of a clip.  You can see that clip I’m using in the photos above and also here…DSCF0827

I like to use this clip as an aid in holding the braid together but to also anchor the braid to my sewing machine (or the couch as I’ve been known to do on occasion!).  You can use what works for you but see if you can’t find something to help you with this.  The braiding will go much faster if you can anchor your braid to something…DSCF0843 In the photo above I have the braid anchored to the extension table of my machine.  I can braid and braid and braid, roll my chair back, braid some more until I’m practically out of my sewing room!  Then I’ll readjust and continue on.

So I’m going to let you all work on your project here for a few days and I’ll post the finish this Friday!  Just keep braiding, sew together in the round with your zig-zag, attach more yarn, braid and continue on!

Good luck and have fun!

Link to the Sewingforlife! Projects Group


Braid-A-Long 2012 Day 2 – Starting A Braid

Hi Braid-A-Longers and Freinds,

It’s day 2 on our Braid-A-Long and I bet you are all getting super antsy to start braiding that t-shirt yarn you’ve cut up aren’t you?

So today’s lesson is all how to START the braid, and here’s what I want you to do.  We are going to practice.  Yes, practice.  We are going to start SEVERAL, as in a minimum of 3, braids.  What???

The reason why I want you all to practice this initial step is to get a good starter center of the braided rug.  This is important!  For the success of the rest of the rug your center needs to be completely FLAT and not buckle in any way.  It is a little tricky because these t-shirts stretch and are prone to act in a way that is entirely not how you intend.  So we are going to practice and may the best center win!!!

So go grab your yarn and let’s begin.

With TWO pieces of yarn, one that is about 1 yard in length and another that is about 18 inches in length…DSCF0809

Stitch the shorter length into the longer length in a T formation like so…DSCF0810 DSCF0816 Clip your threads and let the yarn roll back onto itself again.  Now start the braid by taking the RIGHT yarn OVER the CENTER yarn…DSCF0820 And then the LEFT yarn OVER the yarn you just passed into the center position…DSCF0821 Then again with the new RIGHT yarn over the new CENTER and continue this…DSCF0822 until you have used up all but 6-8 inches of your length of yarns…DSCF0824 This is your starter braid.

Now go make up at least 3 of these!

And when you are ready we are going to move over to the machine and sew the braid together…

Position your braid so it makes a shepherds crook to the LEFT.  The bent over portion is about 2 inches…DSCF0880 Position this under your pressure foot and set your stitch to a zig-zag stitch as wide as it will go and a medium length.  Now begin zig zagging…DSCF0881 Continue going around and around, pushing the two edges together until you have a disc about the size of a coaster…DSCF0909 Be sure to keep the Feeder braid (what is being fed into the machine) loose, you almost have to give it a slight (very slight) push forward as you press the two edges together.  You don’t want to stretch it too much or you’ll end up with a cup instead of a coaster!  Slight cupping is normal, but just slight!  Your goal, my fearless braiders, is to get your practice braids FLAT!DSCF0911

Now go and practice…leave a little bit of a tail at the end to add on another yarn, which I’ll show you that tomorrow!DSCF0918

Have fun!!

And I want to see your braids!  So don’t forget to go to Flickr and join the Sewingforlife! Project Group okay?!

Be back tomorrow with more braiding fun!


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Braid-A-Long 2012 Day 1 – Prepare Your T-Shirt Yarn

Hi all you crafters and up-cyclers out there!  Today is Day 1 of Braid-A-Long 2012 and I hope you are ready to take on this really fun little project!DSCF0903

If you haven’t gathered your supplies just yet don’t worry, you can do that as we go along.  For a full list of what you’ll need see this post.  Obviously, the first thing we need to do is transform all of our t-shirts we are going to use into t-shirt yarn.

You can do a few at a time or do them all at once, it is entirely up to you!  For me, I am in the camp of doing a few at a time, probably more so because I only have an hour or two every day to spend on my creative projects and I like to do a lot of different things.  So I’ll cut up a few t-shirts, braid them, sew them, see how they look and then go back to cutting.  It’s up to you, but as you know we can’t braid until we make the yarn!

To Make the T-Shirt Yarn:

STEP 1: Make the T-Shirt Yarn.  Each t-shirt can make a continuous piece of yarn that is 2″ wide by 20 or more feet long!

Start by laying the t-shirt flat on a cutting mat.  Then cut off the shirt just under the armpit.  We’ll deal with that top portion a little bit later…DSCF0856 Now, fold this bottom half of the shirt back onto itself leaving the folded portion about 4 inches from the edge…DSCF0858 Next, what I like to do is use a ruler that I can see a 2” marker and start from the left side (the underarm) and work my way down to the hem.  This is slightly different from my first post about t-shirt yarn way back last year.  Trial and error I guess, but this method works really great for me and is just a bit faster.  So start at the left edge and line up the 2” mark on the ruler and slice through the 4 layers of shirt all the  way up from one edge BUT NOT THROUGH the other edge!DSCF0861 Next, open up the un-cut side.  You’ll then start at one end and slice the beginning on a diagonal…DSCF0862

DSCF0867 Then continue the diagonal cut to eventually yield one long continuous piece of 2″ wide material!DSCF0868 Now, here’s the cool part.  Start stretching!  Really stretch the fabric.  It will lengthen and curl the raw edge into itself!DSCF0869Roll up this length of yarn into a ball and now let’s work on the top portion.  But before I begin that part I want you all to know that this top portion is optional.  You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to as it will have sort of a different feel in your hands while you braid because it will include the shoulder and sleeve seams, something that not everybody wants.  If you are a hard core up-cylcer and want to use it ALL then this is definitely is for you.  For the braided rug that I’m going to be showing you this time I did use THE WHOLE T-SHIRT.

So for the top of the t-shirt…DSCF0870 Slice through the underarms to open it up…DSCF0871 Now remove the neckband, just cut it out…DSCF0872 I am just setting these aside until I get a number of them.  I’m thinking these might be a good edge trimming for some kind of cardi/sweater creation I have in mind but you can do whatever you want with these.  I can’t say if they will work in the braid just yet as I haven’t done that but I don’t see why they wouldn’t if they are sewn together and trimmed…

Anyhoo….for this green shirt I just trimmed off the rough edges, the sleeve hems and cut into 2” strips…DSCF0873 And you end up with these…


Which are perfect to add little splashes of color as you braid but are also good for starting the braid!

To join the Braid-A-Long visit the Sewingforlife! Flickr group and upload your pictures of your braid.  I’d love to see what you all are working on.  Here is the link….  Sewingforlife! Projects Group on Flickr

That’s going to be next! Until tomorrow!


Who Wants To Do a Braid-A-Long?


I have been getting a lot of traffic lately and questions about that t-shirt braided rug I did last year (see the sidebar) and thought now might be a good time to do a fun sew-a-long (Braid-A-Long) with a braided rug as our feature!  So who’s in?

And what better timing to get rid of some MORE t-shirts!!! It snowed today so I’m all for  staying inside and braiding in front of the television, maybe catch up on a few episodes of the new Project Runway All-Stars!

This sew-a-long will begin NEXT Friday (the 24th of February), which should give you enough time to gather all those old t-shirts you’re not wearing and want to get rid of!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. 15-20 t-shirts (this will give us enough rope to braid a rug about 30-36” in diameter)
2. A sewing machine (you can do this by hand if you really need to)
3. All Purpose Sewing Thread
4. Scissors
5. Rotary Cutter Mat
6. Rotary Cutter and ruler (or straight edge, something at least 2 inches wide and 20″ long)
7. A new sewing needle, Universal (#80, or #12)
8. A clamp

That should be about it.  So pull out those old running shirts, those soccer shirts, those knit scraps, that volunteer shirt you got from way back when and let’s braid!

So who’s in?


2nd T-Shirt Rug is Done!

I finished the t-shirt rug this afternoon.  I had three blue t-shirts to round off the end of it.  The rug is a little bit bigger than the last one I did, but still small enough to fit in the bathroom or in the hallway.t-shirt rugI really, really LOVE the colors in this one, but that’s just me because I really, really love greens and blues with splashes of yellow.  Einstein took a likeing to the new rug.  He thought it was his new pad!C’mon Einstein!  You are such a knucklehead!

This project was really super easy, much easier than the 1st one I did by hand.  I highly recommend turning your t-shirts into one of these rugs!

Next up, I need to look over some of the other projects that got started that I need to finish up.  Still can’t get to the couch slipcover due to not being able to bend my left knee so I’ll leave that project on the back burner for now.  But I know I’ve got a quilt top, a poncho, and a pair of pants that need to get finished!


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!


The Rug Is Done!

The braided t-shirt rug is all finished!  I put the last stitch in this afternoon.  I decided I wasn’t going to go an extra round of three more t-shirts as my hand was beginning to hurt from all the hand stitching.  It was really becoming a nuisance, with some sharp pain,  so I stopped.

As for the hand stitching I started out using a carpet thread and stab stitching.

You can see the carpet thread to the right in the above photo.  Later on I decided to switch to a smaller diameter of thread so ended up using a quilting thread.  Both were challenging but I do find that the carpet thread portion appears to be holding a little better.  I was probably the way I sewed it and not necessarily the thread.

In the beginning…you can see how much of my stitching shows up on the right side.  I was stab stitching the braid from the right side.  After a few rounds you can also see my progress…eventually getting it to be a little hidden.

For the change in thread I found it faster to sew from the wrong side and basically whip stitch the braid at every turn of the braid. You can see a little bit of that here.  To end the rug I wove the three ropes back into the loops, cut and whip stitched in place. I think next time I make one of these rugs I’m going to try and figure out how I can sew the braids together by machine.  Always the researcher that I am I found this little movie on Youtube…look at how fast these rugs are made and LOOK at the sewing being done to put the rug together.  This is Thorndike Mills and make sure you watch to the end and see the HUGE sewing tables.  WOW!

I am so there!

~Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


How about some Irish Colors for my rug?

Oh Heya!

Seeing that I missed Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday to inspire me with some color combinations, I’m taking my next cue for the rug from St. Patrick’s Day!

Three more t-shirts got cut up last night and the rug is getting bigger…

For the braiding, I’ve been sitting in front of the TV and wrapping the long cord around my feet.  I’ll have to get a photo of that…it is quite ingenious of me if I do say so!  Ha ha!

I did have a bit of an issue though.  You see, when I started my coil I was just doing it in my lap.  Now that the coil is getting bigger I’ve moved to the table.  It’s a good thing because keeping it on the table I’m able to see if the rug will lie flat.  Well…my middle that I started kept popping up and out of shape.  It just wasn’t going to work.  So guess what?

Yes…I had to rip and remove about 6 inches!

Amazing just how much this was off.

So Step 2: Sew the coil on a FLAT surface!

I’ll keep coiling.  Tomorrow I’ll try and show you all my foot braid holder technique and how I’m actually sewing this together.  It’s seriously nothing fancy but you might want to know!



More Stash Bustin! Making A Rug With All Those T-Shirts!

They just keep coming. Even though I give plenty of them away, the closets just keep getting stuffed with those t-shirts!
Here’s a whole bunch of them pulled right from the drawers.

Even though there’s still more to give away I’m tempted to see if I can’t make use of some of these and turn them into something else.

Let’s stick with something easy.  Let’s try a braided t-shirt rug!  From what I can tell from youtube and etsy it looks like it might be super duper easy!

This will be my very first attempt so I’ll try and post this how-to as I go…you’ll learn as I learn!

STEP 1: Make the T-Shirt Yarn.  Each t-shirt can make a continuous piece of yarn the is 2″ wide by 20 or more feet long!

Start by laying the t-shirt flat on a cutting mat.

Then cut off the hem at the bottom and score strips from one edge BUT NOT THROUGH the other edge 2″ apart.

Go all the way up the shirt until you can’t go anymore — usually just under the armpit.  Here you can see that I was able to score 7 strips.  Not bad!

Next, open up the un-cut side.  You’ll then start at one end and slice the beginning on a diagonal.

Then continue the diagonal cut to eventually yield one long continuous piece of 2″ wide material!

Now, here’s the cool part.  Start stretching!  Really stretch the fabric.  It will lengthen and curl the raw edge into itself!

Now braid some strands together and swirl them into a circle.

Stitch together the braids and you’ll have the start of a rug!

This is as far as I got yesterday.  So far this represents 4 t-shirts!  I have so many to cut up and can’t wait to see how this comes out!

Isn’t this cool?