Bathroom rug – recycling old toddler clothes

Since we have our two kiddos quite close in age, lots of toddler clothes have been worn by both and are in no shape to be passed over even to a charity. However, growing up in rigid Soviet times, I feel bad throwing them away, so I have a suitcase where I put away everything that becomes too small or shabby. The thought that I could do something useful with the stuff has been on my mind for a while. It all came together a couple of weeks ago, when I became frustrated about the fact that one bathroom floor mat is clearly not enough for our messy household. I had this pinned on Pinterest for a while(my username is leilalieva, if you want to look what else I pin), and I decided to try. For the second time I take part to a crafting event aligned with the Olympic games (last time, I took part to Ravellenics, this year I opted for a small event, hosted by one group on Ravelry). In 2012 I wanted to try out as many new techniques as possible, and had a blasting great time. This year, I’m taking it a bit easier, but I still wanted to follow my steps, and try something new. This bathroom rug is the result of everything above :) and I love it ♥

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I did fight with it almost all the way through (until the last green section approximately), the main challenge was to make the thing lay flat. It’s still not perfectly flat, partly because I was too lazy to go  back (to Round 0) and start again knowing what works. But then, I like it as it is, and it’s not obnoxiously frilly, and doesn’t look like a bowl either. It’s just a happy living thing that has some curls and twists :) But for my future reference and for anyone out there who would like to make something similar, here’s my tutorial with a bit more of explanations than original.

You will need some old t-shirt – like clothes. Note, that they should be circular items : t-shirts, pajamas, leggings, etc. I have a lot baby clothes that I thought I’d recycle this way, but I can’t, as they have buttons and are not round. So you cannot cut then into long continuous stripes. You need to cut them up spirally, pulling lightly on the stripe to make it curl. I tried to make my stripes about 2,5cm/1″ wide. I’m horrible at this kind of stuff, and I can tell you -the neater your stripes are, the easier it’ll be to make the rug flat. I total, I used 1,5 toddler pajama pants, a toddler pair of leggins and a toddler t-shirt to make this rug, that measures about 50 cm/20″ in diameter. I also noted that the stripes curl so that the inside of the garment is showing. And some t-shirts have a very pretty pattern on the right side, and a very boring wrong side…

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I also used about 3 balls of 100% mercerized cotton – California by Grignasco ( DK weight, 120 yds/110 m in 50g/1.76 oz). So it’s not pure recycling project. But I like the look of it, it’s smoother, and the yarn brings all the different stripes together.

To start, you make a knot with the cloth stripe. Try to keep the hole small, so that you don’t end up with a bagel shape :)

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Join the yarn straight after the point where the rest of stripe links to the knot.

Make as many sc’s into the circle, as you will be making increases per round. This is the tricky part which took me almost whole project to figure out: how many increases per round, and which hook to use. Traditionally, you’d make 6 increases per round with sc fabric to make it flat. But now your stitches are taller, as you “fill” them with t-shirt stripes, so you’ll need more increases per round. In the end my best try was 7 increases per round with 4,5mm hook. So if I were to start again, I’d make 7 sc’s for the first round. It’s probably good to mark the first stitch of the round so that you know where’s the start.

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You then place the stripe in between your hook and the previous round of stitches, and go on in spirals increasing in the same spots.

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More pictures at later stages:

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If you start getting frills, it means that your rate of increase it too fast. First try a smaller hook size, to make narrower stitches. If that doesn’t help, make less increases per round. If your rug starts to curl up like a bowl it means that your increase rate is too slow. First try a larger hook, if that doesn’t help, try more increases per round.

The spots are where the fabric is cut across a seam:

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2014-02-13 15.56.27This is how I joined the fabric stripes:

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All in all, this has been fun, challenging, irritating project that led to a wonderful result. I might do it again. Maybe.

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8 Comments

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  1. 1
    Karen Kupka

    That’s very pretty. Thanks for the tip about increasing too quickly. I make circular rag rugs using a different method, and my friend Rebecca calls one of them “the doily” because of the frill. I couldn’t figure out where I’d gone wrong, so I just gave up on it.

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