Braided rugs date back to the culture of Colonial America. Traditionally made with scraps of fabric hoarded by early American women, these handmade rugs are durable, warming and economical to make. If you are saving bits and pieces of wool or cotton fabric for your braided rug how will you know when you have enough? These instructions explain how to collect fabric and prepare it for braiding and how much fabric you need to make your braided rug. You don’t need to wait until you have all the fabric. You can get started today.
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Old clothing, blankets and used coats can all be salvaged to make a braided rug. Traditionally braided rugs were made out of wool because it resists moisture and dirt and are very warm. You can make a braided rug out of whatever fabric you choose, like cotton or even a synthetic blend. Clean out your closets and rummage through garage sales and thrift stores. Ask your friends and family to give you their old castoffs. Wash the materials you choose for making your braided rug (even pure wool can go through the washing machine), remove buttons and zipper, and open the seams. Cut up the fabric into 3” X 12” strips. You will be amazed at how much fabric can be salvaged from used clothes.
A 2-by-3-foot rug will require 3 pounds of prepared ball. A 3-by-4-foot rug will require 6 pounds of prepared ball. A 6-by-9-foot rug will require 26 pounds of prepared ball. A 9-by-12-foot rug will require 53 pounds of prepared ball.
Preparing a Ball
Make a cutting pattern out of a piece of cardboard 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. Place the pattern on fabric that is laid out flat on a hard surface. Using a marker or chalk, draw lines for a cutting guide on the fabric and cut on the lines. To join strands of cut fabric, overlap two strands, with right sides together, at a right angle. Sew by machine or by hand diagonally across the corner and trim away the excess fabric. Open the seam and press it flat using your fingers. Repeat these steps and join strands until you have created a long strand of fabric.
Begin the folding and balling process at one end by folding in each side of the strand 1/2 inch, then folding it again in the middle and pinning to hold the folds in place. Continue folding the strand and start rolling the folded strand into a tight ball until the entire strand has been folded and balled. The tightly wound ball will press the folds into place in preparation for braiding.
The center braid of your rug will always be the difference between the length and width of the finished rug size. For example, if your rug size will be 4 by 6 feet, your center braid will be 2 feet long. This rule applies to any size rug you are making.