Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pioneer Skills: make a rag rug

There is all sorts of information online regarding how to braid a rag rug, so I've distilled down the easiest way of making one in, hopefully, an easy to understand set of instructions.

The instructions that follow are for making a braided rug using three strands. If you know how to braid using 4 or more strands, by all means, go to town. You would just need to create that many long strands for your project.

A quick note about the width of the strips: if you are using heavier fabric, you'll want a thinner width (close to 1" wide); if you are using a thinner fabric (like old t-shirts), a width of 3" will be more ideal. Just be consistent and keep the same width throughout, unless you want a lumpy rug.

Strips of rags cut into 2" wide lengths (the longer the better)
Sturdy thread (quilting or carpet thread is ideal)
Thick needle or curved upholstery needle

Prepare the Strips
There are several methods to joining the strips of rags together. You can sew them together (on the diagonal) or you can knot them together. Basically what you want to achieve is three very long strips of cloth. If you knot them, the knots may be visible in the rug, so if you are using thicker cloth, sewing may be the way to go.

The longer your three strips end up being, the larger the rug. But you can always clip your work and sew more strips on later if braiding with really long pieces is driving you nuts. Anything over 8 or 9 feet is difficult to braid. So, add on as you go.

Get Braiding
To start, sew or knot the three strips together. You can attach the start to something heavy or have someone hold the end for you while you braid. This can be fun for kids since they get to help out and watch the process while they are at it. Once you've braided far enough down where it doesn't twist, you won't need your helper. When you reach the end of your braid, sew or knot the loose ends together.

Sew it Up
Coil your braided rope on the floor, starting at the center for a circle. If you prefer an oval shape, start with one foot length and coil around that. As you coil (or when you are done if you want to check the shape), sew the rows of coil to each other, lacing them as shown in the picture on the right. When the coils are secured tightly, fasten off.

A small or medium size rug is ideal, because you can clean it in a washing machine without too much of an issue. I'm planning on making some bath rugs for the kids with a bag of old clothes!

If you are a more visual person, here's a video instruction of basically the same method:

Braided rug making instructions
Rugmaker's Homestead
A brief history of rag rugs
How to make a flat braided rug


Aimee said...

thanks for this! I've been saving old towels, worn out clothes and sheets, and baby clothes, thinking I'd make a rug or two. Now I can get started! (well, after I muck out the barn, clean the bathroom, milk the goats, bake some bread, pay the bills, take the kids to karate....)

Robj98168 said...

I've seen these made out of those pesky grocery bags as well. cool.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I have always wanted to make one of these. I have tons of scrap fabric lying around (I think I am going to have to make one out of the jean legs - Green Tween wants to turn the Butts into purses)

knittingwoman said...

my oldest son's partner crochets rag rugs. We were gifted with one of her rugs in december. It included strips from a worn out sheet that I had given her:)

Laura said...

I was just looking for a pattern for one of these yesterday! First I have to buckle down and go through all the old t-shirts and make strips, though...

swiggett said...

Thanks! I have so many old t-shirts that I can't bring myself to throw away and are not suitable for donation. I look forward to trying this!

The Mom said...

When I finish cutting up all my old t shirts for the bathroom, I'll have to cut up everything else for this!

kelly said...

always wanted to do this, thanks!!

Eco Yogini said...

oh i loved my grandmere's rag rugs.... they were so HER. sigh.

totally am going to make one with old scraps we have.... :)

Unknown said...

Ages ago I took a class on making braided rugs out of worn wool. The tricks is while you're braiding, to also keep turning under the fabric of each strip so that the two ragged edges meet underneath the braid and the top is the smooth middle of each piece of fabric. Your work will be so much easier if you jerry-rig a table top clamp to hold your work. I learned from this lady

Miss Sub said...

Deanna, out of the corner of my eye the Crunchy Chicken TV thing looks like a Luna Pad with your face on it. Am I the only one?

Sadie from said...

Awesome! I so want to do this!!

From the lion's mouth said...

I've made one like this, it takes ages (mostly because I had to keep sewing strips together)

However, I then discovered you can crochet them - there are good instructions with pics here which is much faster than sewing, and also (I think) more sturdy.