How to Make Your Own Shag Rug Out of Old T-Shirts


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Shag rugs were hugely popular in the 1960’s. Next time you watch an old movie, be sure to pay close attention to the room sets—you’re sure to spot a shag rug or two.

They started making a comeback a few years ago, but with lots of improvements. Weaving techniques and fiber content have changed. You no longer need a carpet rake to get the fibers fluffed up! Today’s wall-to-wall shag carpeting is commonly called “frieze.” However, if you’re not ready to replace your old carpeting, try making my version of a retro shag area rug. It’s perfect for the bath or kitchen. No sewing necessary!


The only supplies you need are:

  • Cotton t-shirts
  • Rug mat
  • Rotary cutter (or fabric scissors) and cutting board
  • Chop stick (I’ll explain!)
  • Shop

    I went to Goodwill and bought two dozen pink t-shirts. The most interesting rug will feature a variety of shades of one color and even a few prints. You are only limited by your imagination and the décor of the room you plan to use it in.


    The rug mat is sold at fabric stores by the yard. You would normally use it under an area rug to keep it from slipping. It’s soft and has large holes, so it’s easy to work with.


    If you are a quilter, you’ll be familiar with a rotary cutter and cutting board. They make cutting a lot of strips fast and easy. However, don’t go out and buy one—you can mark off 1″ on the shirt with a straight edge ruler and cut the strips with fabric scissors. But first, cut off the hem and discard. Continue cutting 1″ strips from each shirt. I used every bit of fabric, including the sleeves and shoulders. Finally cut each strip into 4″ long pieces.


    Step One: Start 2-3 inches from the edge of the mat. Working on the back side, gently push a piece through one of the holes in the mat with a stick. I have a painted chop stick that works perfectly. Use whatever you have on hand—just make sure the tip is rounded. Then push the other end into the next hole, skipping one. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you get the size rug you want.


    Step Two: Flip the mat over and tie the ends together with a basic single knot. You will want to alternate each knot: left-over-right, then right-over-left, You don’t want all the knots to “lean” to one side.


    Step Three: Choose each piece randomly as you work on your rug. Mix up the colors and patterns. Don’t think too much about the color design or you’ll drive yourself crazy!


    Step Four: For a nice, neat finish, fold the excess mat edge toward the back of the rug and hold in place with duct tape.


    This is an easy but labor-intensive project. The results are worth it! If you’re not up to the task, check out Krrb for shag rugs of all styles.

    Merri Cvetan is an interior designer and DIY crafter who writes about her projects for Home Depot. Her DIY no-sew shag rug is an upcycler's delight. You can view Home Depot's selection of area rugs online here.

    • Lisa Nottoli

      Love this idea!!