Make a charming, braided rag rug from free and nearly free fabrics—scraps, upholstery samples, and remnants. You may want to make a memory rag rug from clothing that you need to recycle, such as t-shirts commemorating running events. Or, you could use the fabric from the old clothing, bedspreads, and draperies sold at garage sales and thrift stores. Medium to heavy-weight fabrics works best.
Assemble your tools and supplies:
- Scrap fabric
- Measuring tape
- Sewing machine
- Large safety pin
- Masking tape
- Carpet thread
- Hand-sewing needle
Braided Rag Rug Instructions
- Cut the fabric into long, 1 1/2-inch wide strips.
- Machine stitch the strips together at their ends to make extra-long strips. Sew them with right sides together, and use a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Make three of the extra-long strips. The total strip length needed depends on the size of the rug you want to make; you'll need longer strips for larger rugs. You can always add more strips to the length later if you haven't made them long enough.
- Fold one short end of each strip under 1/2 inch, wrong sides together. Stitch the fold into place on your sewing machine.
- Fold the long sides of each strip 1/4 inch toward the center, wrong sides together. Press the folds into place with a warm iron. Fold the fabric strips in half lengthwise, and press into place. You'll end up with 1/2-inch wide folded strips with no raw edges showing.
- Stack the stitched ends of the strips on top of each other, with the sides and end perfectly aligned. Sew the strips together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
- Braid the three fabric strips together, just as you'd braid hair. Braid them all the way to the end, and secure the end of the braid with a large safety pin.
- For a round rug, simply coil the braid into a spiral, starting at the sewn end. Hold the coils together with strips of masking tape on one side of the rug.
For an oval rug, subtract the desired finished width of the desired finished length, in feet. Multiply the total by two for your starting length. Measure the starting length from the sewn end of the braid. Fold the starting length in half. Tape the two halves together, side by side, with a strip of masking tape. Coil the rest of the braid around the taped together end. Tape the coils in place with masking tape strips.
- Thread a bodkin—a large, blunt-tipped needle—with carpet thread. Starting at the sewn end of the braid at the rug's center, knot the thread around one of the braid loops. Pass the bodkin under and then back over the loop opposite the one you knotted. Skip the next loop on the first side of the braid, and slip the bodkin under and back over the one after that. Continue with every other loop on each side of the braid until you reach the end. Knot the thread on the final loop when you reach the end.
- Turn the rug over, remove the tape, and repeat the process from step eight—this time looping the thread over the loops skipped on the other side.
- Remove the safety pin from the end of the braid. Turn the ends of the three strand under, and hand-sew them to the braid next to the end.
- If you reach the end of your braid before your rug reaches the desired size, unbraid the final few inches. Stitch additional folded fabric strips to each of the three strip ends, right sides together. Braid the extended strips, and resume coiling your rug.
- For a more textured, rustic look, skip steps two and five. Knot the strip ends together instead of sewing them.