Friday, July 18, 2014

Crochet To the Max A Tutorial For Recycling T-shirts

A while back, I saw something about using t-shirts to make a usable "yarn" that you can then crochet or knit into something else.  I glanced at the tutorial but it seemed really hard, so I stopped thinking about it.

Recently, k-ster decided to get rid of a few t-shirts, some that weren't really worn much, and I thought about the whole idea of recycling t-shirts again.  I googled it and found a GREAT tutorial that makes cutting the strips a breeze.

I had some unworn shirts from the days when I did alcohol promotions, and then I scrounged around for a few others that k-ster didn't want anymore.

This is what I came up with:

It's a 14.5" x 22" rug that feels so cool underfoot.  Sadly, it doesn't go with anything in my house, but these were the materials I had available, so I went with them.  I put it on my etsy for sale.

I love how the crocheting looks when it's so fat!

I have to say, it was a full body workout.  Using a fat crochet hook is hard on the hand and those first few rows were hard to figure out.  I had to change the way I hold the yarn because otherwise, it was way too tight and was impossible.  Laying in my hammock was the best position to wrangle this thing!

Ok, so how did I cut the t-shirts?  First of all, I wouldn't do this unless I had XL t-shirts.  Anything smaller would make it really irritating to deal with.  And, if you can use t-shirts that don't have side seams, it's even better.  The less seaming you have, the smoother it all looks.

I apologize that my lighting is not great for some of these.  

1.  Lay the t-shirt on your cutting surface so that neck is to your left and the bottom is to your right.  If you're left handed, then you can do everything here in the other direction.

Pretend that you're going to clear a really open space for yourself so you can think straight, but really, just push things out of the way just enough so you don't run them over.

Wonder if you accidentally are cutting something else every time you make a cut.

2.  Fold the shirt almost in half, with the part closest to you going up toward the top, but don't bring it right to the top edge.  Leave about 2 inches.
3.  Smooth everything as best you can, and when you've folded it, make the armpits on the same line so you know it's all as even as it can be.

4.  Using a rotary cutter and a ruler, cut off the bottom hem, cut it all the way through, right to the top.

5.  Make the slits 1.5 inches apart and when you cut, DO NOT cut through to the top edge.  You do go through the bottom edge and the lower part of what you folded up, but then you stop before the edge.  My finger is pointing to the edge you cut through but don't go much higher than that.

This is what you'll have when you're done cutting.
6.  Unfold the folded edge so you can see that your cuts went through.
The top edge and the bottom edge are unsliced.  You want to cut through the top but not the bottom, and you'll get one continuous strand of material.

7.  Slide your non-cutting hand in through the top edge that is still connected.  Slide it all the way through.
8.  Make the first cut.  You cut from the outer edge to the corner of the first slit you made.

9.  Now cut the rest on the diagonals.
When you get to the last one, cut on the diagonal like you did with the first one.

10.  Now you're left with a very long line of shirt, like this.

11.  Find one end and give a tug and you'll get it to curl in like this.
It doesn't always curl in perfectly, but I suppose if you worked at it, you could the edges to all roll in perfectly.  I wasn't going for perfect.  This also lengthens the material A LOT and gives it some stability.

12.  Roll it up into a ball and get to work!
When I made my rug, I took all of the shirts in one color and sewed the end of one to the beginning of the next so that I could just keep right on crocheting and have fewer ends to weave in.  Then, I rolled it all into one large ball.  It was much faster than my first method which was to keep each shirt separate and add on the new piece when the old one ran out.  I think sewing them together makes it more durable.

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