Zombie T-Shirt Rug Tutorial

September and October flew in and out with the ferocious winds of fall.  We are squirreling away canned goods and root vegetables, as well as our traditional bushel or two of crisp tart apples. And we keep starting new projects that end one season and welcome the next.  This autumnal and looking towards winter time of year, has me thinking about crafting, for all the birthdays and holidays to come.  This is one of my favorite creative outlets.  Now, I am attempting one I have never done before…bringing old t-shirts back from the dead, to a new undead form. ZOMBIE RUG! (OK, Happy Halloween folks!)


(Disclaimer: Lots of t-shirts have been harmed in the making of this post but they were not alive, or really dead, just repurposed and given new life in the form of feet warmth vs. corporeal warmth)

We need a rug. We probably could use 2 full size room floor rugs upon the hardwood floors. They will keep our toes warmer, give the littlest one a soft place to crawl around, and it will really bring the room together.  What better way to create something from my own hands and reusing what I have filling closets and drawers.  Reviving the old buried t-shirts into a new form! Being a frugal homesteader, I still couldn’t imagine paying hundreds of dollars for one item.  “Can’t you make a rug? You’re crafty!” Brian said one evening. So, there I went, diving into closets, in a mama cleaning frenzy.  It started as a necessity, we needed our warmer fall and winter clothes, and then the zombie t-shirts emerged.  First one old Cape Cod shirt, then another student organization free shirt from college days, then they just kept coming (not unlike the zombie apocalypses?) More than the recipe called for, more than I can even imagine were hiding. The aged, colorful t-shirts from years ago.  Bands we used to follow.  Emblems of many trips and locations. All taking up space in the drawers and in piles in the bottom of everyone’s closet.  Here goes an attempt and turning something old new again and making do with what we got – homesteading rocks!

one coffin/box of t-shirts to emerge new again in the undead form of scraps and then RUG!

Zombie Rug tutorial

1. Begin by collecting old t-shirts and clothes that you no longer wear and Cut your into 1.5″wide strips .  I did not have a rotary cutter and I will dream about one appearing in my stocking…Sharp fabric scissors work, but set aside a bunch of time on a quiet rainy day or some evenings to just cut t-shirts up.


2. Gather three strips lining them up and tie a knot at the top and begin to braid.


3. Stop braiding when the braid is about 4-5 inches long.

4. Start to wind the braid upon itself, keep in mind “FLAT RUG.” We DO NOT want these zombie pieces of t-shirt unearthing themselves and starting a whole new apocalypse. Which is to say, no bumps and lumps in your repurposed rug.


5. Continue braiding and if you have ever french braided, imagine picking up loose strands THROUGH THE COIL.  For those who don’t french braid regularly, when you are braiding after the coil, slip the t-shirt thread closest to the coil under the pass it under and through one of oops in the braid you coiled.



This is how you will attach the braid to the coil and keep building without sewing!

6. Now keep going!  Pass the strand closest to the coil you have going every few inches or create a pattern for yourself of every 7 twists of the braid or something you can remember.  I was doing one color whenever the purple strand came back to the center and closest, I would tuck it under and through, under and through, under and through.  If you have to put the rug down and make dinner, or chase zombies away from your family, then clip the braid or tuck it into a safe place.

7. When you get to the end of a strand of t-shirt thread, a less bulky knot tying system I found is to cut a slit in the end of the fabric you are using and the one you are ready to attach.


8. Line up the two slits, NOT stacking in the same direction, but overlapping (as if they are shaking hands).


shaking zombie t-shirt hands!

Then take the tail end of the one you are adding and thread it through the slits from the bottom through both holes. Pull strands of thread tightly.



This is a tight knot that helps you keep going and keep braiding until the rug reaches the size you like.

9.  The rug will inevitably bunch up and those zombies will return (just like every zombie movie/tv show- they never die! THEY ALWAYS COME BACK! LIKE T-SHIRTS!) Keep flattening it and use a spray water bottle and use your hands to push it back into shape, when it is complete. Place heavy objects on it to hold shape when you are braiding too.


Happy zombie t-shirt hunting!