Recycling T-shirts for our Kids Programming 

Some of you may have joined us, recently, at the 65th Delmarva Chicken Festival, where we were hosting some free activities, for children. One of our projects was a particular hit with the crowd, and attracted the attention of the young and old alike: woven sit-upons, which we plan to use for floor mats, for children attending events at our gallery. I received several requests for the instructions, and I am more than happy to share.

This project has two major components that you will need to prep, before starting to create. First, is the loom, and unfortunately this is something you will have to make for yourself.  The good news is that you can make one in any size that you want.  I wanted our final products to be 24” squares, and so had the loom built for those dimensions.  However, such looms have been made as large as 8ft by 10ft, for area rug weaving.  The frame is a simple structure, made with 1”x2” wooden sides, square wooden corner reinforcements,  and screws installed at 1” intervals, along all four sides, to put the strips on.  Add the aforementioned corner reinforcements, to help alleviate the stress, and you should be all set.

Your second component will be cotton t-shirts.  Look for bright colors and strong seams.  Our t-shirts were donated to us, for the purpose of this project, by the Hospices of Queen Anne’s and Caroline Counties.  You, however, can easily find t-shirts at thrift shops, yard sales, and your own closets. We spent a number of hours cutting the torsos of the t-shirts into 2 inch strips, horizontally, from the armpits down to the hem lines.  This should result in 6 to 8 strips, that are perfect circles, and can be made quicker, with a cutting board and rotary cutter.  Check out future FACES outreach projects, to see what we do with the tops and hemlines.

sit upon 10Once you have a healthy pile of t-shirt rounds, you can start weaving.  This is your chance to think about color combinations, or maybe not think at all, and just go for a nice random look.  Whichever you choose, you will need to start stringing all the strips in one direction.  Then comes the best part: the weaving!  Just take this part one step at a time, working from one end to the other.  It is a simple over/under pattern, so to check your progress, just review what you did on the last row, and do the opposite.  Once you get this method down, you may want to experiment with twills and herringbones, but that is another level of experience.

Once you have everything woven, you will need to take your creation off of the frame. Start in one corner, and remove a loop from the frame, and pull it through the adjacent loop. Then repeat the process, continuing around the frame.  You will end with one last loop, that can be knotted to the first loop.

That is all there is, to this simple-but-fun project!  You now have your very own custom sit-upon.  The pad is machine-washable, and very durable, when made with cotton t-shirts. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with other materials. If you want something water proof, you can try plastic bags, or maybe if you want a warm spot for Fido, felted sweaters might be a great option.  If you do make your own, please let us know!