How to Crochet with Fabric

comments (12) July 9th, 2008     

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LindaPermann Linda Permann, contributor
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To get started, cut across your fabric piece from selvedge (or edge) to selvedge, leaving 1 or 2 inches uncut at either edge.
You may find it easier to tear your fabric into strips.
Heres the difference between a ball of torn fabric (left) and cut fabric (right). The torn fabric will shred a little bit and have fringed edges.
To get started, cut across your fabric piece from selvedge (or edge) to selvedge, leaving 1 or 2 inches uncut at either edge.

To get started, cut across your fabric piece from selvedge (or edge) to selvedge, leaving 1 or 2 inches uncut at either edge.

Photo: Linda Permann
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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 get started, cut across your fabric piece from selvedge (or edge) to selvedge, leaving 1 or 2 inches uncut at either edge.

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.

crochet Get more crochet projects:

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Crochet Autumn Leaves to Decorate Your Table
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How to Crochet the Bobble Stitch


  You may find it easier to tear your fabric into strips.

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.

  Here's the difference between a ball of torn fabric (left) and cut fabric (right). The torn fabric will shred a little bit and have fringed edges.



Crochet with the fabric as you would any other yarn.

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.

  To add a new strand of fabric yarn, just tie it in a knot with the old yarn.

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.

  Continue crocheting until your rug reaches the desired size.

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!

See more of my projects on my personal blog, and look for my new book, Crochet Adorned, in stores August 11, 2009.


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posted in: fabric, houseware, recycle

Comments (12)

Ohnoarn writes: Love this idea, and wondering if it's possible to crochet scarf,or other clothes items using fabric. It seems in the late 80's there was a pattern for crocheting a pullover blouse.
Thank you for great information,looking forward to trying these.

Posted: 8:24 am on July 1st
Ceeaybee writes: Can you crochet light weight berets/hats using fabric strips? My niece has been crocheting since she started Uni a year ago to earn extra pennies and I was going to ask her to make me one. I suffer from alopecia and don't want another summer of caps!! Thanks.

Posted: 6:07 am on April 4th
Vicki007 writes: I was so inspired by this! I've been wanting to make bedside rugs for my boys but didn't want to Spenser the money on thick yarn. So I went to my linen closet and got out all the old fabric. I'll post after I'm done. Thank u so much for posting instructions!
Posted: 2:37 pm on February 20th
NanaBhk writes: Silly me. Wouldn't you know I have at least two yards of hat fabric. Of course, shouldn't be a surprise when you hav a millenial supply of fabric. I have plenty of choices to crochet with fabric. Thanks for the idea and tutorial.
Posted: 8:36 am on July 28th
NanaBhk writes: Linda Permann: Can't wait to use up some of the ugly fabrics. One question. I nearly died to see you cut up that retro printed fabric. I am into aprons and would love to have a piece of that. One women's scrap is another women's treasure.
Posted: 9:34 am on February 9th
sewingcats writes: I have crocheted with fabric strips too and made some great rugs and a really beautiful tote bag. Then I thought what can I do with all those plastic bags from the grocery store and the big "chain store"? Well,first I cut those plastic bag handles off, then I cut strips of plastic just like the fabric strips....rolled them into balls and started crocheting! Guess what, plastic bags can be crocheted into ANYTHING that fabric can! Rugs, placemats, totes, costers,sunhats, you name it! I DO NOT recommend making clothing though....not too stable and the plastic tends to stick to your body! Try crocheting with those plactic bags that the stores give you FREE! It's fun and you'll be amazed at how they turn out....especially if you use different colors of plastic bags!!!!!!!
Posted: 5:11 pm on January 3rd
kygirl writes: i use to make rag rugs out of damaged shoe laces from michellace (make shoe laces by the yards) that my aunts use to get. it is hard on the fingers but it is worth it in the end. these rugs would last forever.
Posted: 12:29 pm on September 10th
barbaracrafts writes: thanks for explaining how to cut the fabric. I have made a purse from strips of sheer fabric, turned out so cute.
Posted: 1:04 am on August 27th
StatGirl writes: Thanks for the tutorial. I've also seen people use old t-shirts.
Posted: 4:36 pm on July 9th
LindaPermann writes: Yay- it makes me feel less bad about the fabric that just hangs around. You can tear it into strips while you're watching tv and have a basket of fabric yarn ready to go.
Posted: 2:01 pm on July 9th
Sister_Diane writes: Awesome tutorial! I can't wait to give this a try.
Posted: 10:52 am on July 9th
lilly_n_tucker writes: what a great idea! I now have a use for all of that left over fabric! Thanks!:)
Posted: 9:06 am on July 9th
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