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T-Shirt Rope Toy DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic

Don’t throw away those old t-shirts until you read this!

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T-Shirt Rope Toy Tutorial from Functional Rustic.

Chewing on things appears to be our rescue dog’s favorite thing to do. And oh boy can she chew. She was given at least six dog toys at her first Christmas and by Valentines Day they were all destroyed. Maintaining her chewing habit was going to cost us a fortune! Unable to find a rope toy that could stand up to her mighty mouth I decided to make my own.

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Use T-Shirts to make toys for your dog or cat.

Using only t-shirts and scissors I created handmade toys for my animals.

Rope Toy made from T-Shirts.

I grabbed a pair of scissors and a t-shirt from the good will donation pile and was on my way. My first attempt took longer than I care to admit but by the second I was a pro. Everyone got handmade dog toys that year!
You can create your own handmade gift for the animal in your life. Making a durable rope toy is not only easy but practically FREE! Keep reading and/or watch the video at the bottom to learn how I did it.
T-Shirt Rope Toy Tutorial from Functional Rustic
Old T-Shirt
Approx. 15 minutes to complete
Step One:
Laying T-Shirt on a flat surface, use the scissors to cut from the bottom corner of the shirt up the seam to the sleeves. Do this on both sides of the shirt.

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Cut from the bottom corner of the shirt up to the sleeve.

Step Two:
Cut along the seams of each sleeve to remove the sleeves from the shirt.

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Cut along the seams of each sleeve.

Step Three:
Cut along the seam on the shoulder. At this point you should have two sleeves, a front and a back.

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Remove sleeves but cutting along the seams.

Step Four:
Set the sleeves aside. Cut the front and the back of the shirt into strips. Start at the shoulder and cut down to the bottom of the shirt. The strips should be at least an inch wide but could be as large as one third of the front or back of a shirt. I wanted to make several toys so I made my strips smaller.

Cut the T-Shirt into strips.

Step Five:
Choose three of the fabric strips you just cut and tie the ends together.

Select the 3 pieces of fabric you want to use.

Tie the ends of two strips together with a double knot and then tie the third strip to the knot. At this point there should be a lot of fabric hanging down one side and only three small pieces at the top. Continue to tie the small pieces to one another so you have a couple double knots on the top.

Tie two pieces of fabric together at the ends.
Tie the third piece of fabric to the first two.

Tie everything as TIGHT as you can. With each knot, tug on all the fabric strips. Tug the way your dog would to ensure it is secure. If your short ends are too short to make many double knots it’s no problem, your original knots connecting the three strips together should be strong enough.

Tip: To ensure a tight start to the braid, wrap one of the strips around your toe (or another small secure item) before you start the braid. Watch the video for more information.

Step Six:
Braid the strips of fabric together. Braid them TIGHT! The braid should be so tight that it becomes stiff. In addition to the tight braid you will also need to add a few more knots. Every two or three inches you will want to tie some more knots. (Ex. tie strip A to strip B then tie strip C to strip A then tie strip C to strip B. How you tie the strips together is less important as the knot securing the braid above it.)

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Braid the strips together.
Tie knots every few inches.
Leave the ends long to make tassels.

Step Seven:
You should still have quite a bit of fabric hanging down.

Continue to braid and tie knots every few inches.

Continue to tightly braid the strips and add knots as needed for stability. Once you get toward the end of the fabric you will want to save some fabric so you can tie several more knots.

Adding knots in the braid helps to keep it secure.

The knots at the end keep the braid in place and provide a hand/mouth hold.

Rope toy made from repurposed t-shirts.
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Valencia Merble the Dog loves her rope toy.

Step Eight: (optional)
Add a handle for your dog rope to make it even more unique. Remember that small gap that was created when you wrapped the fabric piece around something small but secure? Well, using the discarded shirt sleeves and that hole you can add handle.

Adding a handle keeps your hand safe from teeth and drool.
Adding a handle keeps you from having to bend over to play with your furry friend.

Take the seam of one of the sleeves and push it through the little hole. This will be tough because the hole should not be very big. Once the seam is all the way through you should have one part of the sleeve hole on each side of the toy. Grab one of the sleeve ends and pull it through the hole on the other side. Once you pull it tight it should form a secure handle that looks like the sleeve.

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Thread one of the sleeves through the “toe hole”.
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Use the t-shirt sleeve as a handle.

If you are willing to sacrifice a few t-shirts you can make some very colorful chew toys for your furry friend. Although these toys are durable they are also very light. Makes for a great cat toy too!

Watch the T-Shirt Rope Toy Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic

Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Originally Published at

Written by Sarah Palmer, Owner – Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just Tutorials? Find out what others already know by shopping in the Functional Rustic Store.

Below are just a few of the handcrafted items available.


“Happy Holidays” Wooden Ornament

“Happy Holidays” Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.




3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Black

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.


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