How to Crochet with Fabriccomments (10) July 9th, 2008
In addition to crocheting, I love to sew. I also love to buy fabric. I try to keep it in check (I pride myself on doing a decent job on that front) but I still end up with fabrics that I just don't see myself using--from gifts, swaps, or leftover projects. Now, I convert these scraps (and old clothing) into bath or kitchen rugs via crochet, and you can too! All you'll need to do is cut the fabric into strips and roll it into a ball so you can crochet with it as you would any other yarn. It's easiest to work with large pieces like sheets, duvet covers and yardage, but you can also cut up old shirts and tees to use as yarn.
To prevent having a lot of knots in your "yarn", cut the fabric in a zig zag. Start at the left side and cut about 3/4" to 1" up from the bottom across the length of the fabric, stopping short of the edge. Next, make a cut 1" up from your previous cut starting at the right side and continuing to the left edge. Continue to cut your fabric in this manner. You can start winding it as you go so that the strips wont' get tangled. If you're cutting up a tee or other cylindrical objects, just make a cut perpendicular to the hem and cut in a spiral from the bottom up.
If you have a large piece of fabric, you can also try tearing it into strips. This is the method I generally use (it's faster, less work for the hands, and cheaper than therapy!). Just start with a small snip with your scissors on the grain line of the fabric and tear it across till you almost reach the other side. Then make another snip about 1" away, paralell to your first tear and tear it in the other direction (creating the same zig zag as the cutting photo illustrates in the first step). The fabric should tear easily--if it doesn't, you might be off grain. Tearing won't work for knit fabrics (like t-shirts), and some fabrics will shred more than others, making them more ideal for cutting. You will have to pull out all of the tangled threads that happen when you tear the fabric-- if that bothers you, stick with cutting your fabric.
To make a simple mat, chain a length of stitches that's about as wide as you'd like your mat to be. Work the chain with a large plastic hook and single crochet stitches. The fabric doesn't stretch as easily as yarn, but you will get the hang of it.
Change to new balls of "yarn" as you run out, or change in a systematic way (say, every 6 rows) if you want to plan out a striped pattern.
You may also want to check out this tutorial for a 'no join' method of cutting strips from a pillowcase.
You can crochet nearly any shape you want. Check out this oval bathmat I made a few months ago. You can also make a bag, little bowls or baskets for around the house, or coasters and trivets. If you sew, you might want to start collecting your selvedge strips to crochet with, too. Have fun!