Monday, February 11, 2013

rag rug from tshirts

As America waited for the ballots to roll in, my nervous jitters kicked in. As I said on my facebook status, "I hate election day! 12 hours waiting for everyone else to decide my fate."  So to focus my energies on something positive and keep a nervous stomach at bay I finally started the rag rug I've been talking about for over a year.

In my line of work we're not given bonuses or cash incentives, we're not even guaranteed a certain number of hours a week. We are, almost always, guaranteed an XL t-shirt in a horrible color proving we showed up to load-out the show and needed to be herded in a way helpful for the road crew. While, pregnant, one or two XL t-shirts were nice to have around. 25 was a bit too much. In the last 2 years, I have given away what I could, cut the logo out of the rest and was left with this pile.

I have made one other rag rug out of  an old sheet, torn pajamas bottoms and a undershirt. It turned out well, although it required way too much sewing for the amount of stress I needed to redirect. Sadly, I can no longer find the tutorial I used for it online. I am guessing it went to Pinterest, which I am avoiding for the time being for the sake of my already limited freetime and my addiction to the internet.

So, based on memory, I cut off the seams of the shirts and cut the rest into 1 inch strips. Some the pieces, mainly from the sleeves, were too small for using so I handed E a small pair of fabric scissors and these pieces so she could "help."
Next I grabbed my needle and thread and sewed the first three pieces together. Then I found a safety pin and pinned the beginning of the braid to my laundry basket and spent the night braiding an unknown length of t-shirt waste as CBS kept 'projecting' what the country would do. (Why do they do this? I only want the truth. Stop telling me that someone wins a state because 82% of votes are counted and one guy is up by 2%! its still so close!! What about that surprise touchdown in the final minute? Gah! Keep braiding...) When the length of fabric got near the end, I would snip a small hole near the bottom of the original piece and a small hole near the top of the new piece. Then laying the new piece ontop of the old piece so the holes overlap, sew the end of the new piece through the holes from the back. This should cause the ends to knot and lay flat, though mine didn't always want to blend seamlessly together.I believe it was due to some holes being snipped a little to large.
That's how big the braid got on election day. I started just after dinner and stopped when Obama started his speech, so the greater part of 5 hours I do believe. I have since (this was in November) added purple and am working on the final border. In the meantime, to get the border right, I have paused in braiding and am lacing it all together. Basically I am taking quilting thread and weaving the sides together. I am using quilting thread because that's what I had in the house. Carpet thread is the thread of choice if you don't plan on backing your rug, which I don't. I prefer the Spring wash-and-flip method of keeping the rug-wear to a minimum. Once I get near the end of my current length of braid, I will add a black and pale blue border only one stripe wide before tucking and sewing the end shut.

So, weaving the sides together? you ask. Well, the beginning is tricky to explain, but not to do... I'll try to explain. Taking a sail needle pass a length of thread between two pieces of the braid along the seam holding it all together. Tied the thread to itself in whatever kind of knot holds in together. I chose a bowlin knot with a half-hitch. Laying the braid on a flat surface start tightly coiling for a circle rug. take your threaded needle and pass it through the loop of braid across from the knot you just tied bringing the point back toward the beginning.

Then you weave the sides, careful not to roll or twist the braid, by binding the edges of the braid where they meet, forming little Vs.I do this by entering the braid from the center and pulling the thread back to the outside, hiding the thread along the inner edge of the fabric. Pulling the thread snug, but not tight, so the braid will fit close together without binding, curling or gapping. Depending on your relation to the center, you may need to take two loops from the outer edge for every one on the inner to minimize buckling. If you're like me and braided under stress, your braid will reflect that and not be braided with even tension.

And now, after two months of letting this post sit and stew, I have finished my t-shirt rug. It took a total of 13 XL t-shirts minus logos and is roughly a meter in diameter, possibly larger. It was immediately put to good use. It took awhile to finish due to strategic napping by certain small ones in my world, but it's done!! Just in time for my next project to arrive in the mail.

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