Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Recycling Worn Out T-Shirts Into A Beautiful Braided Basket

I've been sorting through the kids' closets over the last couple of weeks, thinning out the summer clothes, and making lists of what will be needed for fall. I discovered in the process, that we've collected quite a supply of worn out t-shirts. They are too small for their current owners, and too shabby to be passed down, but too beloved to be tossed out (at least if the children have anything to say about it).

Thinking back to my high school days, I remembered making rag rug coasters, out of old clothes, and figured I could probably still manage a project like that. We aren't really in need of coasters though, so I figured I'd try for some place mats, a rug. Or if those turned out to be too labor intensive for my schedule, maybe I'd just make a jump rope, or a tiny basket. As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I ended up with a basket.

The process was a little time consuming, but by sticking with a smaller project, it was not overwhelming. And, the children were pretty happy to be able to keep, at least in some form, a few of their favorite old shirts.

I started by cutting the shirts into strips, one long continuous strip per shirt. I only cut the bottom portion of the shirts, so I didn't get into the parts with writing on them.

Then, when I had cut three shirts worth of strips, I overlapped them at one end, hand stitched them together, and braided them into a long rope. From the bottom portion of three, medium sized boys shirts, I ended up with about a ten foot long braid.

I rolled about six feet of the braid in a circular pattern, stitching as I went. This was a little tricky. It always seemed to be trying to come apart as I stitched, especially when I began layering on the sides. To keep the coils in place as I rolled, I used three needles, a few inches apart, so I could pass thread through the sides, in more than one spot, as I went around.

When I had the sides as high as I wanted, I looped the braid across the top of the basket, and tucked the end in, on the opposite side, securing it with a number of stitches.

Then, I began stitching up and down the sides, and across the bottom of the basket. This part was more tedious, than it was difficult.

But, with a bit perseverance, a few hours worth of time, and a great deal of stitching, I ended up with a pretty sturdy little basket, ready to hold car keys, spare change, or...

...a litter of tiny knit kittens.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Argh! Those kittens are so cute! I love your basket, I'll be linking.

Crafty Mom said...

I love this idea! How simple! I'm on a T-shirt recycling kick and I'll add this technique to my list! Thanks for sharing :)

Amy said...

So cute and I can always use another basket. I love repurposed things :-)

april said...

Thanks for the great idea with such clear instructions and photos! I am going to try this with old plastic bags that have holes and cannot be otherwise used!