T-Shirt Hooked Rugs

What is a t-shirt hooked rug, you ask? It is the newest twist on the age-old craft of rug hooking. Using cut strips of 100% cotton t-shirts on a monk’s cloth backing, you can create delightful hooked rugs that are (are you sitting down?) MACHINE WASHABLE!

t shirt turtle for web

T-Shirt Turtle, 15.5″x16.75″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

There is a neat story about how this style of rug hooking came about. When rug hooking teacher, writer and artist Mary Anne Wise and Jody Slocum, textile artist and volunteer with Farmer to Farmer (a non-profit coffee company) visited Guatemala in 2006, they were inspired by the multi-colored artwork, clothing and landscape of the country. But in contrast, there was also grinding poverty, and they wanted to do something about it.

A few years later, they returned to Guatemala, and began to teach women to hook rugs, using recycled clothing, which was plentiful and inexpensive. Later, those students taught other women to hook, and an artist cooperative was created. To learn more about this inspiring project, visit Multicolores.

To make my T-Shirt Turtle, I first tried cutting the t-shirts in 1/2″ strips, but I found those too hard to pull through the monk’s cloth. 3/8″ worked much better for me. I also discovered that it was much easier to cut the strips using a hand-held rotary cutter and mat (used in quilting), with a yardstick lined up on the edge as a guide. After you cut the strips, you tug on them, so they curl up.

The technique for hooking the t-shirt strips is exactly like hooking with yarn. You don’t have to worry about splitting the yarn on your hook, but I did notice that it was helpful to keep my hook on the strip as I pulled the loop down. I don’t recommend this when hooking with yarn, partly because it would slow me down, but also because it can be difficult, especially for a beginner, to prevent pulling out the last loop if you leave the hook in place as you pull the loop down. But with the t-shirt strips, I noticed that when I pulled down on the loop, sometimes both sides of the strip pulled down, leaving a loop on the back instead of pulling it tight. Leaving my hook in the loop a little longer prevented that.

I had learned from Multicolores that these rugs are washable, so I pre-washed my monk’s cloth before I started. I also pre-washed the cotton cording we use to bind the edges. Even though the T-Shirt Turtle is a small project, I bound the edges just like I would do with a floor rug, except that whip-stitched the edge with an acryllic yarn that would not shrink. Then I crossed my fingers and put the finished project in the washing machine. It came out perfect. It didn’t shrink, or unravel, the colors remained perfectly bright. Mind blown.

I will be teaching a class on this fun craft on October 28 at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in The Dalles, Oregon. Registration for the class starts on July 12. You can register here. I will also be teaching a class on hooking with yarn and wool fabric strips on the 27th at CGFF.

And on Oct. 29, the Rockwood Library in Portland is hosting a FREE beginning rug hooking class. Space in this special event is limited to 16, and I believe they open up the registration two weeks prior to the class, so stay tuned. You can register at https://multcolib.org/events/beginning-rug-hooking/77600.

This month’s featured rug was inspired by a Scotland sunrise over heather covered hills.

lyle gowing celtic table runner for web

Celtic Table Runner, 13″x36″ Designed by Judy Taylor Hooked by Lyle Gowing

Remember that for every $50 you spend between now and November 25, 2017, you will be entered to win this Whale Rug, hooked with handspun Jacob wool from my own farm (a $450 value!).


Whale Rug 35″x26.5″ Designed and hooked with handspun Jacob wool by Judy Taylor

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor



3 thoughts on “T-Shirt Hooked Rugs

  1. Pingback: More Hooking with T-Shirts! | Hooking With Yarn

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