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Earth Day Craft– T-Shirt Weaving

By Ellen Luckett Baker

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Earth Day is April 22, so help your kids celebrate with an upcycled weaving project using old t-shirts. My six-year-old was fascinated to watch me cut up clothing (not for the first time) and we thought of many more uses for these cast-off shirts.

I’m certain that you have some old t-shirts lying around the house, but if you get them at the thrift store, look for extra large shirts with no seams on the sides to make the longest strips. We used string for the base (called warp strings) because I found it easier for little hands to work with, but you could also use more t-shirt strips, creating a denser weave and a fully recycled project. And if you don’t have a loom, don’t go buy one — you can use a cardboard box by following the instructions here.
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You can make all kinds of things with your weaving. I sewed this one into a little pillow filled with rice and essential oils to be warmed in the microwave for soothing tired eyes. I’m thinking this will make a nice Mother’s Day gift. You can turn your weaving into a dollhouse rug, wall hanging, hot pad, or any number of things. With a little sewing, you can make a fragrant sachet or a pouch to hold eyeglasses, cell phone or camera.

Supplies

-peg loom
-old t-shirts
-string (optional)
-masking tape
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All done! You can tuck in the knots on the sides to make your weaving look neater, but since we were sewing ours, we didn’t bother with this step. I’m going to make some of these on my own to use as dishcloths.

Published April 16, 2009. Last updated April 24, 2017.
About the Author

Ellen Luckett Baker

Ellen Luckett Baker is the author of the long thread, a blog about handmade goods. She has always enjoyed making things, but the flexibility of staying a...

Ellen Luckett Baker is the author of the long thread, a blog about handmade goods. She has always enjoyed making things, but the flexibility of staying at home with her two daughters along with the creative inspiration they provide has led her to craft on a daily basis. Combining her love of graphic design and sewing, she has created an Etsy shop selling machine embroidery designs and sewing patterns.

Ellen lives in Atlanta with her husband and two young daughters. She holds a B.A. in Art History and a Master’s of Public Administration with a focus in Non-Profit Management.

Ellen recently wrote 1, 2, 3 Sew: Build Your Skills with 33 Simple Sewing Projects her crafting book. She is crazy talented!

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Comments

23 Comments
  • laura

    April 16, 2009 at 10:24 am

    What a great idea! Love the pillow.

  • bernadette Noll

    April 16, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I love this project! And your photos are a perfect accompaniment. THanks for the inspiration. We may try this in our Future Craft Collective classes next week.

  • zakka life

    April 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Love the idea of using t-shirts for weaving. Reminds me of my red pot holder loom from childhood, ah.. memories.

  • Rebecca

    April 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    That pillow is definitely fabulous – neat idea!

  • Libby

    April 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    What a lovely idea. I’m doing a redo-a-tee booth at an Earth Day Fair and this fits right in!
    thank you…

  • SkylarKD

    April 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Great idea! I’ll be looking for some brightly coloured T-shirts the next time I visit the Salvation Army store. And thanks for the cardboard box instructions for those of us who are loom-less! 🙂
    By the way, I’ve posted an Earth Day Challenge on my blog, so if anyone is interested in joining, come on over and post your plans for celebrating Earth Day with your family! I have a toddler, but all ages are welcome!
    http://paintingpinkpajamas.blogspot.com/2009/04/celebrating-earth-day-with-toddler.html

  • oki

    April 16, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Ooooh… I remember… I don’t even know. I remember strips of stuff. Long ago. *looks into the distance*
    I want to touch that pillow thing.

  • Jenet

    April 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

    What a Grand Idea! I always say Recoup, Recycle, Reuse.
    Reminds me of my summer camp days.

  • ginger

    April 17, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    What a wonderful idea for kids to do .love this idea making the pillows.
    hugs ginger

  • iris mishly

    April 18, 2009 at 3:07 am

    amazing! i think i will make a laptop case out of this!

  • Debbie

    April 18, 2009 at 9:56 am

    OOOOOOO If I make it a little bigger this will make great, durable rugs for the dogs at the local animal shelter! THANK YOU!

  • Kimara

    April 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Awesome recycling project. This will even hide the yucky stains that most t-shirts seem to acquire. Thanks!

  • [email protected]

    April 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    what a great idea!! I love all these earth day crafts!! I have been highlighting ones I have done at my blog this week and it’s been really fun!! I will have to add this to my projects to try!
    Onna

  • Clair

    April 23, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Such a cool and unique idea. Great tutorial and pictures as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • joy

    June 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Stumbled Upon this page, that’s a very nice idea. I want to test that pillow. =)

  • resalikescolors

    July 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve been really into weaving recycled materials lately. this looks great! I’ve been weaving hand spun junk mail myself 🙂

  • Heather

    August 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    What a fun idea. Love it!

  • Norma Westmoreland

    October 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I love your ideas and would like to make this weaving project with my 6 year old grand daughter. However, I don’t want to print out the entire page with all the contents. Can you just have a place where you click on print and we just get the instructions?

  • eleonor

    October 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    very good idea and very nice tutorial!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • michelle

    November 1, 2009 at 11:43 am

    just stumbled upon this blog today– so happy i found it! I can’t wait to try this!! I knew there was a good reason I’ve been hoarding all those old t-shirts!

  • pink and green mama MaryLea

    December 21, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Such a great idea! I used to make giant whole-class weavings on a big loom in my art classroom with all of the second grade classes every year. We would turn them into giant rag rugs. I think my daughters would really enjoy this and I love the dish towel idea!
    So glad I found your blog : )
    fondly,
    pink and green mama
    marylea

  • Emma

    March 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    I love this! I taught a group of 5 year olds how to weave recently but as I’m totally new to weaving myself, I struggled to make it imaginative. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Jennifer

    February 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I was curious, did you hand stitch or machine stitch to make it into a pillow? What type of material did you use for the back? I’m trying to get an idea because I had my 3rd/4th graders do a cereal box loom and weave T-shirts strips and now we’re ready to finish them. I saw your post and thought that it would be great to have something somewhat useful instead of just having a silly little potholder or “tapestry” hanging. 

    Thanks in advance!!