The making of old fashioned rag rugs dates back centuries as scraps and remnants of fabrics were made useful by braiding the strips together and then spiraling the braid into a rug. While there are a variety of braided rugs manufactured for purchase, you can carry on tradition by making your own rag rug by hand, whether you have excess amounts of fabric around or have selected specific fabrics to be used for the rag rug project.
Things You'll Need
Cotton or wool fabric
Hand sewing needle
Cut your fabric into 2-inch wide strips 1 foot to 3 feet long. You can choose to cut all of your fabric at once or cut it out as you need more. Generally you will need 100 yards of strips to make even a small rug.
Select three strips to start with and overlap them at one end. Stick a safety pin through the ends of the fabric. Place a second safety pin approximately one inch away. Braid the three strips beginning at the second pin and working until you are about 10 inches to a foot away from your starting point.
Attach a clothespin to your braid at this point to hold your progress in place. Keep braiding the three strips and move the clothespin each time you've braiding nearly a foot of length. Continue until your shortest strip has only 5 inches left on it.
Move your clothespin to your stopping point. Select the next cut strip of fabric you want to use and pair one of its ends with the end of your short strip. Overlap the two by an inch and sew across them to join.
Resume braiding and repeat adding new strips as often as needed, chasing your braid the entire time with the clothespin. Continue until you run out of strips or you have as much length as you want. Sew across the three strips to secure the braid if you are finished and cut the tails to 2 inches long.
Create your rug spiral by sewing across the beginning of your braid between the safety pins. Remove the safety pins and tuck the tails of the braid under the braid itself. Start spiraling the braid tightly around the end of the braid on a flat surface. Use safety pins to secure the spiraled portions.
Sew between the braided coils starting at the innermost point of the rug using a tapestry needle and upholstery thread in a tight zigzag pattern. Work a few inches at a time until the entire rug is sewn. Tuck the tails at the end of your braid before pinning the end of the braid and sewing down to complete the rug.
Keep in mind that the larger the rug you want, the longer it will take to make and the more fabric will be required. To create color patterns with your rug, work with two or three strips of the same colored fabric in your braid for 20 feet or more. When the braid is spiraled, the pattern should appear.
Avoid using silks or sheer fabrics as they won’t have as much body as other materials and can make the rug feel loose rather than tightly wound.