Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Make a Rag Rug

We're welcoming back our guest contributor Tessa from Krmbal, who is telling us about making a no-sew rag rug.

Our house has been on the cold side this winter and I’ve been looking for ways to help keep the heat in. Since we have all wood floors and a kind of half-basement, half-crawl-space being all cold under the house, I figured rugs would help keep something between the cold floor and the warm air.
Since there happens to be a lot of scrap textile waste at work, I decided to start saving up the scraps that we would otherwise throw away and learn how to make a rug instead of buying one.

There are a lot of tutorials for rugs out there, but a lot of them require sewing. I can sew, but I’m not great at it and with the moving all over the country, my sewing machine has gotten misplaced and I haven’t bought a new one yet. I’ve been able to borrow one when I have things I want to sew, but didn’t want to go through that trouble in this case. I was eventually able to find a tutorial that is no-sew, which also linked to another post, so I figured with two tutorials on the same technique, I’d be good. I think it’s explained pretty well, but apparently, I needed a bit more explanation because the first round didn’t go so well. For the second try, I made sure to go through and read the second post’s instructions as well.

I first used jersey strips and I wove how the first tutorial suggests, starting with 4 strips and weaving under, over, under and in. I think I went too tight a lot of the time and I didn’t bother to skip to add room, which made it really lumpy, especially in the curved areas.
It was pretty easy though and it didn’t seem like it was super important to have all the strips the same width, which was good for the scraps I was using, so I figured I’d try again. The second time I used fleece, which worked out well, but is strangely much lighter weight than the jersey, probably because it just doesn’t get as tight. I also decided to try a circular, rather than oval shape this time. That all worked out fine and has to do with how far you make your first line before you decide to turn it back on itself. I also discovered the second time that keeping it flat while you work is best. I did the first one on my lap the entire time and I think that added to the lumpy areas. This one I started on my lap, but finished stretched out on the floor when I realized it was starting to bunch up. I think it took me a while to find the right amount of tension too, on the first rug, I think I was weaving too tightly and I started out on the second one too loose, but finally got it to the right in-between tension.
Having it stretched out flat actually made it easier to see if your current strip fits neatly into the loop to tuck it into the existing part of the rug or if it’s going to be too much space next time. I skipped quite a bit of loops in this one, but never skipped tucking more than every other strand because I could see that it could leave a spot that gapes afterward, which isn’t a big problem for one strand, but could be if there was a lot of room for that hole. I also added quite a few more strands of width in this version instead of sticking with a low number. I think I stopped adding when I got to 8 wide though because since I had separated the colors, I wanted to try and make sure each color had plenty of length in the circle.

I had strips of varying width in both mats, from about an inch wide to very thin. If strips got too thin though, I couldn’t put the holes in each end that you use to hook the strips together. This method does seem to leave a fairly sizable knot though, which you can see in the rug in some cases, so I’m not sure if it’s more useful than just knotting them together, but maybe it will hold it together more securely if it goes through the wash. Also, an interesting difference between the two fabric types was that with the fleece, the underside looks different for a lot of colors, so weaving often had dark and lights of the same tone making cool patterns. With the jersey version, I kept the stripe pattern suggested in the first tutorial, which I think looks cool, but I used all strips of the same color for the second version, which made rings by transitioning from one color to the next. It is easier to keep track of your weaving order with the stripes though. I found I had to go back and fix a few times when I went out of order on the ringed version.

The jersey one turned out to be about the size of a doormat, but the fleece one turned out several feet wide. I currently have it underneath our coffee table. I’m not sure it’s great at keeping the heat in, but it’s likely better than nothing. Plus, it feels nice to walk on and I made it from stuff that would just be in a landfill otherwise!


  1. Good morning Melanie! Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday, Vintage Mama's Cottage, and joining the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. I love these rag rugs . . . . I have also been making all kinds of garments and home accessories from repurposed and upcycled materials, so this is of great interest to me. I was thinking that this year I would like to include a few more of the blog buttons from the bloggers where I visit, and ask if you would be interested in including my blog button here. I'll grab yours this morning, and if you are interested please let me know and I'll send you the code for my blog, too. Have a great weekend and I'll look forward to connecting with you again at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. Nina @ Vintage Mama's Cottage

  2. OOPS! Forgot to tell you that I'm your newest follower ;o) Nina


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