I’m back! In 17 days, we visited 22 different states, drove from coast to coast and back, ate amazing food, ate a little terrible food, saw several lightning storms, visited the place my husband was born, spent some time with his sister’s family, camped on our property in Montana, and spent a week with our boy in his new home. It was a crazy, amazing, whirlwind of a trip.
I didn’t just sit idly by in the passenger seat the whole time though. I made stuff! One of the things is for my incoming granddaughter’s baby shower next weekend, so I can’t show that yet. Another is not quite finished, but will be next week.
The last is this rug. It started because I was cleaning out my closet before I left. I had a stack of t-shirts that all had a hole (or multiple holes) in the same spot. It’s where I lean against the counter in my studio, and also where the button is on my pants. I can’t donate those, and I don’t need any more rags, so I started trying to think of something I could make from them.
I decided I’d cut them up and then pick a project. I used this tutorial from My Poppet to cut 6 of the shirts into 2” wide continuous strips. Some of my shirts had side seams, others didn’t, and they varied a little in thickness, but ultimately none of that mattered much.
As soon as I saw these colors together I thought they’d make a great rug. I wasn’t sure what size it would make at that point, but it wouldn’t be the first time I started a project with no idea what I’d end up with.
This is the point where it moved to the truck. To start, I picked three colors and tied the ends into a knot.
It’s always difficult to start a braid when the end is loose, so this is where I felt like a genius. I stuck the knot inside the glove box and closed it.
After that, I could braid the strands easily!
After I’d been at it for a while, my husband asked me what it was going to look like when it was finished. I walked into our next airbnb, looked down at the floor and said “Just like that!” 😄
I braided off and on throughout the trip. When one of my strands ran out, I just tied another onto the end. There are smoother ways to join ends, but not really from the inside of a truck. It turned out fine. I stopped when one of my strands ran out. That gave me 41 feet of braid. I felt like that wasn’t going to be enough to make anything usable, but I was already rolling at that point. Oh, and I was wrong.
I considered sewing this together by hand, so I could finish it as a road trip project. The only thing that stopped me was that I wasn’t sure that would be strong enough to actually use it as a rug. It’s hard to compete with the security of machine-sewn. So I brought it back to my sewing room.
Because I wanted an oval rug, I measured down 8” and bent the end to the left. The direction is very important. By starting this way, my rug built to the left, rather than to the right on the throat of my sewing machine.
I started sewing at that bend on the right in the photo above, using a zigzag stitch and a denim needle. I just continually pushed the two strands together as I stitched. The hardest part was the first couple of bends, but the curves got easier as they grew.
As you might imagine, this caused some eye twitching as I remembered my jelly roll rug experience, but I found this much easier. I was afraid the stretchy fabric would be harder to control, but I actually found it came together more smoothly for me.
I almost stopped after I’d sewn on this second color because it made two perfect rows, but decided to continue. It wasn’t really big enough for anything yet anyway.
I made sure the side that was up while I braided remained right side up while I stitched. There’s definitely a wrong side to this, where the edges are a little messier.
I wish I’d had just 3 inches more braid, because I could have ended it a little more smoothly. But, I didn’t, so I just tucked the end under a little and stitched it.
When I held it up, I realized I had one spot where I didn’t catch both sides.
I just slid it back under the needle and stitched the hole closed.
After all the sewing was finished, I gave it a good pressing. It’s so flat!
Happily for me, the rug came out to about 17 x 24”. It’s the perfect size to put in front of the door. Pure luck!
I’m already trying to think of other things I can make while I tell my husband not to drive so fast from the passenger seat! 😆