How to Make a Hula-Hoop Rug: We Tried It!

Rug 6Ok, let’s try out a new feature. I always see fun crafts I want to try on the interwebs, but then I worry that the professionals who test and photograph the crafts don’t understand that I’m all thumbs. On the other hand, if it’s fun, who cares if it turns out all loving-hands-at-home?

Well, not me, but you might. So I’m trying out various crafts (almost always with the assistance of my trusty sidekick, my 10-year-old stepson Eli) so you can gauge the real-world possibilities behind Martha Stewart-type projects.

This week’s project: The hula-hoop t-shirt rug, as seen in Family Fun Magazine.


DIY Hula-Hoop RugAs seen in the magazine, this little rug is gorgeous, colorful, and free. In real life, well, it depends on your T-shirts. I wouldn't let Eli bust out his too-small shirts because I'm saving them to hand down to Penny and Abby, which means we were stuck with my T-shirts, which exist in a much, much more limited color palette of blacks, grays, blues, and similar. Sad, really. But I thought, eh, it's a rug. You want it to be dark colors.

So we started out, as directed, with a hula hoop I got at Scrap, a place near me where people donate their leftover craft supplies, for $5 (along with a bunch of other stuff, like some wooden frames and fake fur -- I know, so great, right?). The best part about this was that when we got out of the car after, Penny said, "Whaddaabout the rula coop?" and ran around to bang on the trunk of the car, and it took me way too long to figure out what a "rula coop" was.

Rug 1

By the way, Penny is a big fan of rula coops.

Rula Coop

Anyway, the next step was to cut the bottom of a t-shirt into strips. The original author was using a boys' size M, but that seemed so tiny to me! Her hoop was 33", though, and mine might have been bigger -- I can't find my tape measure. Anyway, I used my husband's busted-up XL shirt for this, and managed to get all the strips out of one shirt by going ahead and using the hem. Rebellious.

Rug 2

Hmm, you can totally see which one is the hem, and/but I don't care. I pulled two of these wefts together so there was an odd number of "spokes," and we got started with the weaving. This is where you see why you're using T-shirts: they're super-handy, because there's no knot-tying -- you just neatly loop the T-shirt through itself and pull it taut, then loop the next T-shirt into the previous one. This led Eli to create a magical world in which the T-shirts were snakes devouring themselves, which is just ... yeah.

Rug 3

And then Eli took over the weaving while I cut up more T-shirts. He had strict rules about the order and pattern of the colors, but I could see it looking nice if you did one color at a time, too. White was probably a mistake.


Rug 5

I almost missed the next part -- Eli noticed that as we got further out from the center, each "stitch" started looking big and unwieldy. I re-read the directions (as a friend's dad used to say, "When all else fails, fish the instruction manual out of the trash!") and changed the weaving process so we now used both loops of each spoke -- creating twice as many spokes. Everything started looking a lot better almost immediately.

Rug 4

And then we were done. I had been warned not to make things too tight, and this was why. Kinda like the right eye of Homer Simpson when he's just been electrocuted.

Rug 6

The next thing to do was to cut each loop off the hula hoop and double-knot each one onto the rug itself. We did a few triple-knots just because knots are fun. And voila! We had a rug!

Rug 7

What I didn't like about it, at this point, was the fringe. It looked a little too much like a dream-catcher. I trimmed the fringe (rather than weaving it into the rug as directed, because uugughgh no more weaving). Oh, and the outermost, last-used T-shirt strips were all hems, because I thought that'd give the rug a stronger outer ring. Upshot: I love my rug! And we had a fun afternoon doing this! And it'd be even better if we had gone to the thrift store and gotten a bunch of bright, ugly t-shirts, but that much actually up the cost of the rug to stupid levels.

But this is a great, easy craft that you can do without feeling like you want to poke Martha Stewart in the eye.

And now, a moment of silence for my deceased, ill-fitting T-shirts. You served me well. I hope to use the rest of you in a future project.



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