Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pinterest Project - Cutting a Rug

The makings of this Pinterest Project go way back to last summer when I first pinned this DIY shag rug. I added it to my list of goals for the year, and in January decided to finally get started on it. The tutorial warned of the time commitment involved, and while I believed her I still thought I would be able to knock it out in a few weeks.
Well, make that two months and you might be on to something!

The timing of this pinterest project's completion couldn't be better, considering Young House Love and Bower Power just announced another Pinterest Challenge!
In the same way that I am a good cook because I can follow a recipe to a tee, I could not have made a successful rug without the detailed tutorial on Xoelle. She even dyed her rug the same color I planned on making, so it really is a basic clone.

Here are the supplies:
  • 1 latch-hook rug canvas (30" x 60") - bought from Amazon - $15
  • latch-hook tools (4) - I bought 2 at Jo-Ann Fabrics to start and broke them both about half-way through, I think I pulled too aggressively! - $10
  • Rit dye in Pearl Gray (4 boxes) - also from Jo-Ann Fabrics - $15
  • @28 white t-shirts - I used as many old t-shirts that Bob had lying around the house as I could, but the logos on some of them wasted some good real estate. I found a great deal at Target that rivaled the local thrift stores and meant I didn't have to scrounge for old shirts - a pack of 9 XL white crew neck tees for $16. Picking up 2 packs of those I had enough on hand to get started. - $32
  • Rug binding fabric - $5 - Michaels (though it was technically free with a gift card)
First off, I perfected the art of cutting t-shirts into 4" x 1" strips. By the end I was knocking them out pretty quickly. Using my self healing mat as the cutting surface helped me keep up with the correct measurements. I found I could get about 300 strips to a shirt if I maximized every inch. With 286 squares on the canvas and 25 strips to each square, my aim was to get to about 8,000 strips. The tutorial I followed mentions using a rotary cutting tool, but I just used normal scissors and it worked out fine, although I ended up with a couple blisters to show for it.
I didn't know if it would make a difference, but many of the strips were stuck together because of the stacked layers I created in the cutting process. I didn't want them to stay stuck together in the washing machine and not fully dye themselves, so we took the length of a Law & Order to seperate all of them. Sonny jumped in the laundry basket and allowed himself to get basically buried underneath the t-shirt strips!
I followed the directions on the Rit dye box, though I was nervous how true a color I would get considering each box said "good for 1 lb of fabric" and I had about 8 lbs. Call me cheap, but I didn't want to buy 8 boxes of dye. So I halved it and hoped for the best. In the end, I wasn't disappointed.

I did have a near disaster with the washing machine - It was filled with the dyed water and I suppose I took too long to put all of the strips in machine. Suddenly it started draining itself and I could see visions of wasted dye! I ran back to get the rest of my strips, slipping and wiping out on some water that I had spilled by the washing machine! Lesson learned - if you see a puddle of water on the floor and say, "I should probably wipe that up now" - you should do it then.
Ahh well, crisis averted and wash one cycle later I had some lovely gray strips on hand. They even did what the tutorial's photos promised and curled up nicely. I like this curled up look more than the flat strip look that some people take with their DIY rugs.
So the hard part was over, and the monotonous part was about to begin. Youtube taught me how to latch-hook properly and after a few attempts I started to get on a roll. I had previosly decided to add 25 strips to every square, so that 1/4 of the little squares were used. The tutorial I followed used double this amount, but she even admits that hers is very thick rug and halving it would not be an issue. Now, by the end of the rug, I was able to cut my time by more than half, but after the first couple hours I realized it took me 20 minutes to finish 1 square. At this rate, I wasn't going to finish the rug until summer. Yikes.

Bob was very encouraging throughout the process, even with just a couple rows done you could see how the rug would turn out. Here are two other little men who loved the whole process. About every two seconds I had one of them jumping in my lap and positioning themselves completely on the square I was working on!
I pressed on, watching a lot of Downton Abbey and the entire 7 Up documentary series in the process. I gaurantee I spent about 60 hours on this bad boy - but again, most nights I would have just been sitting at home watching TV, so we might as well put something in my hands to multi-task. I did encounter some delays, including breaking both my latch-hook tools and a couple out of town weekends, so this step took about 4 weeks to complete.
As I neared completion, I realized I was going to be a little short. What can I say, math was never my strong suit. I made sure I didn't leave half a row hanging, and in the end only missed out on 1 last row of squares. The last step includes binding the back of the rug to make sure that the ends do not fray. Even just the act of folding the edges underneath the rug really helped complete the look!
Here she is in her $70 glory. Keep in mind our fireplace/library area is not yet complete, we still want to find the perfect 2 chairs and a small table to create a sitting area. This IKEA chair is in its temporary place, mostly to keep the rug from being pushed around the room by those cats. Look closely and you'll also see a sneak peek of Bob's almost finished painting.  He has started to add the black which has not only given her eyes, but I must say looks amazing!
I am so happy with the result, and it feels great underneath the feet! Cross this Pinterest Project off the list! Next up, DIY Pottery Barn Bedford Project Table. . .this one has been calling my name for at least a year. . .


  1. Nice job! I love how your rug turned out. I attempted one of those, but basically gave up. It was almost *too* daunting. But yours looks great!

  2. Thats amazing, I am so impressed. I agree with megeletto that it seems very daunting, but yours turned out lovely!!

  3. This turned out fantastic! Looks like soooo much work though. Maybe one day I'll tackle something like this. I've made latch hook rugs before but just with yarn. This is a great switch up!

  4. Great job, and congrats on undertaking something so time consuming! This turned out beautifully!

  5. Thanks all for the comments. It was time consuming, but now I know how to latch hook!

  6. Wow! That's quite an undertaking, but you did an awesome job! Thanks for linking up with the Winter Pinterest Challenge!

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

  7. Psst... I featured you on my Pinterest Challenge round-up today! :-)

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

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