I promised to share details of a DIY project for the nursery with you last week. And then life fell apart a little bit and I never did. Sorry! Please forgive me. 🙂 I’ll make up for it this week by giving you a little tutorial with photos on it today.
Rugs, especially larger round ones, can be very expensive so I knew off the bat I would need to do some brainstorming for a creative way to meet that need without the large expense. I considered a few options, including knitting a rug, quilting a rug, or even using a large blanket. Then I had a little conversation with an older relative, who mentioned the rag rugs her mother used to make from cast-offs and old sheets. PERFECT!
I picked her brain to see what she remembered of her mother’s technique and then did a little online research. This tutorial is my adaptation of that information… but I’m also going to include links at the end if you want to do more research into the different methods that are possible. Warning: this project requires a lot of eyeballing and figuring it out as you go along. This isn’t a project for someone who requires very specific directions because the need to adjust as you go along will drive you crazy.
So let’s get started!
Cotton, cotton flannel, or wool fabric (old curtains or sheets are good, in colors that you like)
large darning needle
heavy thread in a coordinating color (carpet thread is good)
1) Cut the fabric into 3″ wide strips. The longer the better, but preferably all the same length.
2) Divide the strips into three equal piles. Then, for each pile, sew the strips together end to end, until you have three long strips remaining (one for each pile). It’s very important that these three strips are the same length!
3) This step is for the anal people (if you’re not anal, skip ahead to #4). If you’re a type A personality, it probably will bother you to see all these raw edges hanging around. So this is the time for you to grab your iron and ironing board and make your strips nice and neat by folding the raw edges under, then folding your strips in half and ironing them. This keeps the raw edges out of sight. You quilters can probably do that with your fingers… you know, that finger ironing thing you do…I’m no good at it, so I used an iron for my samples.
4) Tack the top of the three strips together.
Place this tacked edge under something flat and heavy. This is important! Then begin braiding. You don’t have to braid very tightly, just aim at keeping the same tension throughout.
5) Depending on the length of your strips, you can either: braid until you have about a foot and a half of fabric unbraided and then begin to shape your rug, or braid until you have about a foot and a half of braided cord, then shape and sew the rug together as you go along. (I’d go the second route because I have to see a project coming together to keep myself motivated.)
6) Continue to cut strips and attach as needed to make your braid long enough to make the size rug you want.
7) Finish by tacking the end of the braid and then sewing it to the rug.
I only worked with a sample to create this tutorial (as you can see), so feel free to e-mail me if you have specific questions. And, as promised, the following are links to other tutorials that feature different techniques. I promise it won’t hurt my feelings if you decide one of their versions works better for you.
- Do you crochet? Then you’ll love this version of a rag rug by Vintage Chica.
- Want to be more authentic? Read these braided rag rug instructions from 1932. (The pictures on this scan are great!)
- Find all kind of in depth information about rag rugs at Rugmaker’s Homestead.
- Not real instructions, but a pretty picture of a finished rug over at yes, i MADE that, to encourage those of you who might be freaked out about a project that requires winging it