I fell in love with weaving as a small child making looper potholders on a black metal potholder loom. Even though the nylon loopers from the local craft store were difficult to stretch and came in colors that didn’t excite me, I really loved the act of weaving. I still do.
After years of potholder making, I still enjoy the process and love popping my latest project off the loom. But you won’t catch me weaving with ugly nylon loopers anymore. These days I weave almost exclusively with recycled fabrics, the brighter the better. While I enjoy weaving with vintage sheets, nothing beats the vibrant color palette you can create with thrifted t-shirts.
So dust off your potholder loom, folks, and let’s get to work on an eco-friendly, patchwork rug.
(finished measurements will be about 18”x24.”)
* One potholder loom (I used my 13-peg wooden CraftSanity loom, but the traditional metal or plastic looms sold in craft stores will work, too.)
* 12 t-shirts in a variety of colors (use size medium or larger to make sure you have enough fabric to make 26 loopers for each square for the CraftSanity loom and 36 per square for the metal loom.
* Sewing scissors
* Yarn needle
* Small ball of scrap yarn
* Size “G” 4.25 mm crochet hook
* Cutting mat, rotary cutter, plastic cutting template (These are optional tools, but really speed up the process)
Use a traditional potholder loom or a wooden CraftSanity peg loom to complete this project.
Design Your Rug: Before you start cutting up the T-shirts, wad them up and arrange them on the floor so you can see how the colors will look next to each other. If you have your camera handy, take a quick photo so you can remember where all the colors go.
Step 1: Cuting T-shirt Loopers
Use your sewing scissors to cut off the sleeves, neckline and bottom hem of the first t-shirt. (fig. 1, 2 & 3) Fold the t-shirt in half and cut 2-inch strips parallel to the bottom of the shirt. (fig. 4 & 5) Next pile up these 2-inch strips and cut them into 6-inch lengths. You will need 26 to 36 rectangles to weave each square, depending on the loom you’re working on. Fold these rectangles in half and round off the corners. Cut up on the fold until you get about a half-inch from the edge. Unfold the looper and stretch it across your loom. (fig. 6) Now repeat this process to prepare loopers in the remaining 11 colors.
(*NOTE: As a rule of thumb the loopers should measure about an inch shorter than the distance across your loom before stretching. You may have to adjust the length to compensate for overly stretchy fabrics. If you’re not sure, cut one looper and stretch it across your loom to make sure you’re happy with the fit before you cut more. Once you cut up a few t-shirts this will all be second nature.)
Step 2: Weave 12 Squares
Once the loopers are ready, weave solid colored squares one at a time using a basic over-under weave structure.
Instead of finishing the edges using the traditional method of looping the loops one through the other around the perimeter of the loom, use a yarn needle to thread scrap yarn loosely through the loops on each of the four sides of the square.
Use one piece of yarn for each side and tie loosely to secure. Remove the square from the loom and set aside. Repeat this process to complete 11 more squares.
Step 3: Piecing It Together
Lay out all the woven squares according to your design plan. Started with a corner square, loop one loop into the other around the outside corner edge. To connect two neighboring squares, loop one loop from each square alternately along the seam to create a braided effect. Continue this process until all squares are connected. Cut and knot any remaining loops to secure. Remove all the scrap yarn.
Now take off your shoes and try out your new rug.
NOTE: If you want to avoid threading scrap yarn through the loops to hold the pieces together before they’re connected, you can finish each square by looping one loop through the next all the way around the edge. Then you can use waxed linen thread or a strong yarn to whip stitch the squares together.
Happy weaving, everyone!
Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood is the producer of the CraftSanity podcast. She blogs and publishes craft tutorials at CraftSanity.com. She writes a weekly art and craft column for a West Michigan newspaper and does regular craft segments on a local morning TV show. Last summer she expanded the CraftSanity brand to include a line of wooden peg weaving looms in a variety of sizes that she sells online at etsy.