If you’re in the midst of your spring cleaning and battling with the decision to part with your old, sentimental t-shirts, these unique and practical ideas + tutorials will help you cope! Upcycling is the process of converting waste products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Tell us how you upcycle your retired t-shirts in the comments!
Our local quilt shop regularly offers great sewing classes, some of which have nothing to do with quilting. Probably my favorite class was one taught by Karen West on how to make toothbrush rugs. Considering how little there is on-line about these rugs, let me explain here. A toothbrush rug is made with long strips of fabric kinda looped together with a tool made from an old toothbrush with its bristly head sawed off, a hole bored into one end, and the other end filed to a point. It looks like this. The looping technique reminds me a lot of crochet, though I haven’t crocheted anything since I was 5 and my mom taught me how to make a long chain. You can order rug patterns with instructions and toothbrush tools here. (Or perhaps a tutorial is in order here?)
I made the rug above from batiks and shot cottons. Robert Kaufman’s luminous chambray solids would work great, too, I bet. Ideally, you’ll use fabrics that are dyed on both sides because you do see both sides of the strips. (Did I mention that it’s reversible? Woo-hoo!) That said, these rugs use a LOT of fabric–around 8 yards or so for an oval measuring 2-1/2 by 3-1/2–so using fabric you have on hand that you otherwise can’t find a use for is a good idea, too. Stick with non-slippery fabrics of the same weight and yours should turn out great–heavy, hard-wearing, washable, and made up of the colors that you’ve handpicked for your room!