Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tutorial for Efficiently Turning Old T-shirts into Rags

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I pulled out the rotary cutter yesterday. Why? I was feeling kind. Not that feeling kind is a rarity for me, but volunteering to do "domestic" tasks is definitely a rarity! :) Like a good blogger, I had my camera at the ready to capture my excitement over this mundane task.

Ron had a stack of t-shirts that he was planning to turn into garage rags. He has always handled this task himself, but I thought I'd surprise him by doing it for him! So, of course, my plan was to figure out the most efficient way to take care of the task. After all, just because I'm volunteering to do it doesn't mean the task has to last longer than necessary! I've seen my mom use her rotary cutter for cutting quilt squares, so I thought I'd see how it worked for this process. After a trial and error process, here's the most efficient way I came up with.


Fold the t-shirt in half (sleeve to sleeve) and make sure the outside edges are lined up evenly.
Line up the straight edge ruler parallel to the outside edges of the t-shirt and across the sleeve.
Leave about 1/4 inch of fabric between the edge of the straight edge and edge of the t-shirt.
Use the rotary cutter to cut from the middle of the t-shirt up through the sleeve.
Move the straight edge ruler down and cut the rest of the t-shirt to the bottom.

Rotate the t-shirt (still folded) 90 degrees.
Place the straight edge ruler about 1/4 inch below the collar,
keeping it 90 degrees to where the sleeve used to be.
Use the rotary cutter to cut away.

That will leave you with two squares of fabric.
The larger the t-shirt, the larger the squares will be.


For the main part of the shirt, follow the same instruction above for short-sleeved t-shirts. Then follow the instruction below for the long sleeves.

Stack one sleeve on top of the other and place them on the cutting mat as shown.
Align the straight edge ruler about 1/4 inch from the cuff seam.
Use the rotary cutter to cut the cuffs away.

Keeping the sleeves stacked, place the seemed edges of the sleeves to the right (if right-handed).
Align the straight edge ruler about 1/4 inch away from the seamed edges.
Trim with the rotary cutter.

That will give you good sized, but somewhat oddly shaped, rags.


From 11 shirts, I now have a total of 30 rags...22 large rags (made from the center parts of the shirts) and 8 smaller rags (made from the sleeves of 4 long-sleeve shirts). The scrap pile is on the right. The rags are now stacked in the garage awaiting the mopping up of oil, the cleaning up of paint, and/or the wiping down of anything grungy, dusty, or dirty. I hope Ron appreciates my small surprise. Small things can mean so much! :)

Do y'all make rags from old t-shirts? What's your system?


Here's what's coming up in the next post:

Any ideas?


  1. Well, I DO make them and I cut them basically the same way as you do! However, I was NOT smart enough to use a rotary cutter. I have always done it with scissors. Besides old diapers, TShirts make the greatest soft old rags, don't they? xo Diana

  2. Oh, yes...old t-shirt are the best, and the older the better because there is less lint. My method of madness is actually to start a cut then tear. It ends up being a pile of odd shaped rags but since they're one-time use, usually, I don't mind. I just ripped up a huge pile from my boys that were too worn for giving away.

    And I DO know what your next post item is!!! I have two. Do you want me to tell and ruin the surprise? How about I wait until your post and then I'll tell you where I found mine and what I used one of them for. :)

  3. I cut up everything that can be used. I quilt so rotary cutting is easiest! Flannel makes good rags for polishing. Next post maybe a sign or chalkboard?? Now following on linky follower.

  4. I do use old tees (yay for FREE!)...and I put old socks on my hands to dust. Works great as long as they're not too holey. ;)


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