You can create a custom rug from old T-shirts or knit sheets. Make a fluffy bathmat or a plush area rug in whatever color you’d like; the possibilities are endless!
- Rug canvas (JoAnn’s Fabric)
- Latch hook tool
- Rotary cutter or high-quality fabric scissors
- Jersey knit fabric (T-shirts, jersey sheets)
- Rit fabric dye (if desired)
Before you begin, you should know that although the latch hook technique is extremely simple, this is a time-consuming project. The rug I made is 3×5 feet and I’d estimate that I spent about 40 hours on it altogether. But it cost me a lot less than it would to buy one that size, and it’s exactly what my daughter wanted. Plus it’s extremely thick and durable. Just be prepared to spend a couple weeks’ worth of your free time on it.
I bought this rug canvas at JoAnn’s, and you can also purchase them online. You can expect to pay between $8-$12 on the canvas. You’ll also need a large latch hook tool. My Wal-Mart carries some with wooden handles for around $2, but I ordered this one with a soft handle for about $4 online. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this tool, so make sure you choose one that feels comfortable!
When it comes to selecting the materials to make your rug out of, pretty much anything will work as long as it’s a jersey knit. Old t-shirts, stretchy jersey sheets, or fabric off the bolt will work. I decided to incorporate all three of these into my rug so that I could give you my feedback on the different materials.
If you plan on dying your fabrics a custom color, you’ll want to do that first. For best results dye white fabric. I used Rit brand dye. You can use it in your washing machine. or in your sink. Just follow the directions on the bottle. If you’re making a multi colored rug like mine, you can save money by buying primary colors of dye and mixing your own custom colors.
I can’t notice a visible difference between the different materials I used in my rug. However, my personal recommendation would be to check second-hand stores for jersey sheets, as they take less time to cut into strips than the T-shirts do.
I cut all of the fabric into strips that were between 1 and 1 1/2 inches wide. You really don’t need to be precise about measuring, because the fabric will curl inward a bit anyways. The sheets and the bolted fabric had a little more stretch to them than the T-shirts, so I cut the sheets and fabric to about 4 inches in length and the T-shirt strips to about 5 inches in length. You can use a rotary cutter or fabric scissors. My dressmaker’s shears could cut through a huge stack of fabric at once, so the cutting went quickly.
I tried cutting the strips in both directions, and found it was easier to latch the fabric when the direction of stretch went vertically down the length of the strip.
Now it’s time to get started. You can purchase hem tape for the edges of your rug, but it’s cheaper and easier to just fold over the raw edge of the canvas about an inch and latch through two holes at once. This keeps the edges of the rug from unraveling.
The latch hook technique is very basic. Poke the end of the tool through the hole. With the hook open, place the middle of a fabric strip around the hook. As you pull the tool back through the hole, the hook will automatically close around the fabric. Pull the strip halfway through the hole. Then snag the top ends of the strip inside the hook and pull down through the loop. Then tug the two ends of the strip to tighten. I’m doing this very slowly so that you can follow along, but it only takes about 4 seconds once you get the hang of it.
I decided to add a knot to every other square. That is, I knot around one canvas seam, skip a canvas seam, and add a knot to the following one. Then I staggered the knots on the next row so that I was placing the next row of knots on the seams that were skipped on the previous row. I wanted to use lots of different colors on my rug, so I made borders that each had four rows of knots. However, you can do whatever pattern you’d like.
To help you get an idea of how much fabric you’ll need, one row of knots around the outermost perimeter of the rug took a yard of bolted fabric.