How to Make Rag Rugs from Recycled Clothes
by Shannon Brady Follow

The tradition and popularity of rag rugs have not diminished over time. They carry with them the essence of rubbish recycling and the history of waste clearance as one is able to re-use those old articles of clothing that would otherwise be thrown out. The rag rug can be made a number of different ways and many times older relatives pass down how they created them instead of throwing over-worn clothing into the rubbish disposal bin. Making a rug from a pile of junk collection of old clothing will add cosiness to your home and allow you to keep some of those favourite pieces of clothing from finding their way into your waste clearance pile.

What you will need

To begin creating your rug, gather discarded clothing that is about the same fabric weight. Lacing cord will be needed that can be found in most craft stores, as well as some hand-quilting thread, a heavy-duty needle with a blunt tip and large eye, and a darning needle.

Gathering the items

If you don't have a pile of unused garments on hand, it may take you awhile to collect enough to create a rug of substantial size. As you gather them, separate them into piles of similar colour, shade, and patterns. Cut the fabric into strips about two inches in width and as long as the fabric allows. To sew them together, place two strips together and sew with a 5/8" seam. You will then roll the strips much like a ball of yarn. Continue to cut and sew strips together until you've wound a ball of them into a six-inch ball or more in diameter. You should make at least three balls.

Prepare the strips for braiding

When you have collected enough clothing items to create three balls of wound strips you are ready to prepare the strips for braiding. Start with two raw edges of strips by folding them in toward the wrong side of the fabric with about 1/4" on each side. Continue to do this with the entire ball of strips and repeat with other two balls.

Take one end from each of the three balls and loop them together to make a loose knot. Place this on a doorknob or hook. You are now ready to begin braiding.

Braiding and coiling

The braiding process is the standard three-strand braid and you perform this until you have about a ten-inch long braid. You can now begin to coil the braid. Remove the one end from the doorknob or hook, make the knot tight, and cut any excess strands in front of the knot.

Make a tight spiral with the braid and keep it in place and tight by lacing the braids. Use the lacing cord and the heavy-duty needle to weave the needle and cord from one strand of the braid to another on the opposite side of the coil that it is connected to. Continue this process by braiding a few feet and then coiling it and lacing it together. This can be done on your lap to start but will eventually get to big so you may need to move to a table top or the floor. It will be up to you how big the rug gets, you can make one for your daughter's doll house all the way up a room-size rug for your living room.

Finishing your rug

When you get the size of rug you want you will finish it by trimming the three strands to the same length and folding them over to about 1/2" to cover the raw edge. Lay this piece against the rug flat to complete the lacing. To make the end of the rug secure, use heavyweight thread and a darning needle to secure it. Leave the rest of the leftovers for junk clearance and the rubbish collectors will take care of them.

You will now have a rug that not only serves a purpose but can be an incredible hand-me-down as it will include some of your family's favourite clothing pieces. As you can see, miracles can be made even without resorting to rubbish clearance.

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