Here is a simple tutorial, which uses old fabric to make a rag rug. Only a few supplies are needed and it’s an easy craft to make in any size or colour to suit you.
What you’ll need
- fabric in three different colours/patterns (two of mine were 1m long and one was 2m long)
- heavier weight backing fabric (I used some old velvet for a bit of extra grip)
- tape measure
- safety pin
- sewing machine with zig zag stitch
- 250m reel of matching sewing machine thread
On the cut edge of your three fabrics measure and make little snips with your scissors at 2 inch intervals but don’t include the selvedge edges as you’ll need to remove those. At each 2 inch “snip” mark you will be able to grab either side of the cut and rip your fabric the whole length so that you are just left with a 2 inch strip of fabric like the picture above.
Ripping the fabric into strips is the most satisfying part of this project. I love the sound of the ripping fabric and can release a bit of stress when I rip it all up.
Keep ripping until all three of your fabrics are now just strips. Don’t worry if they are different lengths as we will be joining them all together with a clever technique and it is actually best if the lengths are different so that the joins will be at different points to reduce the bulk in the same spot.
Start with a strip of each fabric, and knot them all together to start. This is where a safety pin comes in handy. Find a handle or something you can pin your fabric to so that it is easier to plait your fabric. You could ask a family member however they will probably get bored of holding the end for you after a while.
Now start plaiting the fabric just as you would hair. If your fabric is printed and only has one “right” or good side, fold the fabric strip in half so that you can see the design instead of just the white back of the fabric. Of course, if the fabric you choose is double sided (like the hot pink one shown) you don’t need to fuss over where the fabric naturally folds whilst plaiting it.
When you come to the end of a strip use some scissors to cut a little “button hole” type slit in the end of the fabric and do the same with a new strip of fabric in the same colour.
With the new strip on top place the two cut slits on top of each other with the longer ends going off in different directions.
Next grab the other end of the new fabric and push it up and through the two slits from the back.
Then, if you tug gently, the two pieces will be magically joined without a big bulky knot.
Keep plaiting your fabric and adding/joining new strips as you go. A peg can come in handy to keep your plait together if you have to leave it for a while, or for when you need to adjust the safety pin on the handle when it gets too long.
Keep plaiting until you have a nice big ball of plaited fabric yarn.
Use some stiffer/thicker fabric for the backing to give your finished rug a good base. Thread your sewing machine with matching thread and set it to your widest zig zag stitch.
You will start from the centre and work out so make sure you start sewing your plaited fabric onto your backing fabric, which should be right side down, in the middle of your piece of backing fabric.
Remove the beginning knot and position your fabric so that it covers the start of the plait. That way you won’t have a big lumpy knot and you won’t be able to see where the start is.
I made an oval rug, however you could just as easily go around in a circle to make a circular rug if that is something you’d prefer.
Attach the plaited fabric to the backing with a zig zag stitch half over the edge of one plait and the other half of the zig zag stitch will be over the edge of the new round of plaited fabric.
Continue sewing the plaited fabric around and around until you only have enough fabric left to do one more round and stop sewing there for a minute.
Remove the rug from the sewing machine and place it on a flat surface, then wind the last round of rug in place to know where it will finish. Using some scissors now cut out the backing fabric at the point that the rug will end once it is sewn down.
Finish the edge of the backing fabric so that it doesn’t fray, I overlocked mine.
Then place the rug back on your sewing machine and finish doing your zig zag stitch around the last row to finish attaching it to your cut out backing fabric. Don’t forget to tuck in the end back under the last round neatly so that you can’t see it.
This finished oval rag rug measures 20 inches wide by 23 inches long and is a really nice size to sit beside my daughter’s bed and the pinks and purples co-ordinate well with her bedroom. A rag rug is the kind of project that looks even better the more washed and loved it becomes.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start ripping up some old fabric, or even some old sheets, and plaiting metres of strips to make your own rag rug.