If you are looking for a fun and unique way to decorate your home, you should consider making a rag rug! Rag rugs are easy to make and can add a touch of personality to any room.
This blog post will discuss what rag rugs are, how to make them, and the benefits of using them in your home décor.
Rag Rug Tutorial | How To Make a Rug
Do you have many old clothes or fabrics and don’t know what to do? Why not make a rag rug! Rag rugs are a great way to recycle old materials, and they are really easy to make. So gather up your old clothes and get ready to create something new!
What Is a Rag Rug
What is a rag rug? Rag rugs are fabric scraps, so they are a great way to use up old clothes and fabrics that you might not want anymore. Rag rugs are a popular DIY project, and you can make them in any shape or size.
Make a rag rug out of your leftover fabric scraps or old tarnished clothes and rags! It’s a great and fun way to recycle and repurpose. You’ll fall in love with this old homesteading tradition.
How To Make Old-fashioned Rag Rugs
Step 1: Tear the Strips
Gather old textiles. Easily tear the strips by snipping a few inches into the fabric with scissors and then rip it across.
Step 2: Sew the Strips
Sew the strips end to end with a single straight stitch, choosing the next piece by whim or art.
Step 3: Roll the Cloth Into Balls
Roll it up around and around your fingers. Once it’s big enough to hold its shape, you can wrap it around and hold it.
Step 4: Make the Rug
After making the rag rug yarn, you can weave the rug together in several ways. First, weave it on a loom. Then, knit it or crochet it! There are no rules!
How To Make a Braided Rug
- Tear the fabric scraps into long strips.
- Braid the strips together into one long braid.
- Sew the wide braid into a large circle using a heavy-duty needle and a straight stitch. Be careful to keep the rug flat as you go wider and wider. Finally, lock in the tail with a zigzag stitch.
The Story Behind My Journey
It is highly practical for everyone to recycle. It’s just a smarter way of living, not to mention the dwindling landfill space and non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels like gas that we use daily in vehicles.
However, recycling is not a new concept. I remember practicing recycling in my home when I was a kid, too, only I was not aware that it was known as recycling. I always flattened tin cans and bundled newspapers at home during my childhood. Then, every Saturday, my mom would put on a pot of soup from the week’s leftovers as if routine. Nothing ever went to waste in our home.
My parents are phenomenal. They survived the Great Depression and knew how to stretch a buck. My mom never disposed of anything if she could find another use for it.
Why Recycling Is My Favorite
I would dare not toss it away when a towel wore out or a sock was widowed. So instead, it became a rag for cleaning.
Undershirts with holes make good dust rags, and thin old bed linens can be torn and used for many things. For example, we converted them into paint rags or tie-ups for our tomato plants and kite tails.
My favorite memory of recycling as a child involved the rag bag.
There was one summer in kindergarten when I outgrew my favorite gray and yellow plaid dress. So my mother and I tore it into strips for the rugs.
- We removed its hem and some of its seams.
- Then we pulled out the gathers at the waist.
- We removed the buttons and saved them in the button box; we did not dispose of them.
- My mom started to make little snips, about two inches apart along the edge of the fabric.
- And then we tore it.
When my mom tore my dress up, she placed the strips of fabric from my dress into a big brown paper bag.
It was jumbled together with blue flowered apron strips, brown and white striped shirt strips, pink blouse strips, and red flannel nightgown strips. The result amazed me. My old dress was still good for something.
But this was not the end of the project. There were some mysterious pieces of cloth that I’d never seen before in the pile of clothes that my mom tore up earlier that day.
She stored all of the rag bags in the attic. I can still remember opening the door at the foot of the creaky wooden attic stairs where we battled our way through the cobwebs with a rolled newspaper, wielded as swords to enter safely.
The attic was as hot as a sauna as it always was every summer. The sun slanted through the dirty window, filled with dancing dust mites.
After shaking and blowing layers of dust from the rag bags, my mom opened the bag and immersed her hands, sifting her fingers through the cloth strips.
She would collect the rag cloths in bunches, by evidence of the quantity and array of colors in her hand. I can envision her doing this with the smell of cotton, dye, and soap that surrounded her.
My mother would smirk in accomplishment after they passed her examination, and we brought them all downstairs where the real magic could begin.
Sewing the Strips
I watched her sew the strips from end to end, choosing the next piece by whim or art. Sometimes the color trails shaded from dark to light, and sometimes they abruptly changed from yellow to black to green to red.
You had to sew one strip to the next with a single straight stitch. It was very simple and very mesmerizing. The long, exotic fabric snakes coiled on the floor behind the sewing machine as she worked.
Some years later, the old black and gold Singer treadle she owned was eventually converted into an electric portable.
But, I cannot imagine my mom sewing in any other way but with her right foot resting on the treadle and the left cocked so that only the toes could brush each other.
She would hit the flywheel with her right hand to start the needle driving up and down. She set a rhythm with her feet while working and would often start and stop as she added in new scraps of color. She did not break a sweat.
Rolling the Cloth Strips Into Balls
The next step in the project was rolling the cloth strips into balls. My father and I got to help with this one. Again, pieces of my dress showed up in each of the balls.
When finished, my mom packed the product into May Company Department Store bags that had handles and carried them to Mrs. Rodecker, who owned the store.
Mrs. Rodecker was a widow who supported herself by doing needlework for neighbors and also weaved rag rugs.
The last I saw of my gray and yellow plaid kindergarten dress was part of three different cloth rugs and other scraps of our lives.
The remnants were woven with bulky white threads and fringed at the ends. Each rug was a kaleidoscope of memories that could last for years for an individual.
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
You could buy a rag rug for just a few bucks at the store. But it won’t be the same. You may even opt for a cotton rag rug or even a braided rag rug, but that may cost you more.
If you want a budget-friendly rag rug, I recommend recycling your fabrics and making your own rather than purchasing one. If you must purchase one, get it from a sustainable source and ensure the fabric is from repurposed cloth strips.
Have you ever made a traditional rag rug before? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below!