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Written by Rishi Das   
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Tuesday, 04 February 2014

How to Make a Rug

Why make rugs when you can buy them? Because it's easy and fun! The concept of rug making perhaps spans as far back as the earliest of civilizations, where early hominids made use of animal hides to create sleeping and walking surfaces in cave-like shelters. Of course, early civilizations also started becoming very creative with their rugs with designed rugs being found more than 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt.1 As a result, the rug has become an object of familiarity and comfort, embedded in our lifestyle as a personalized symbol of utility and safety. The rug also weaves very well into our modernist culture. Making "Rag Rugs"2 became particularly popular from 1890 to 1910 especially among women in the country or frontier. Instructions are often passed orally through family generations. Rugs are a great decoration that add color to boring rooms, and warm up the floor during cold winter months.

Rag Rug3

The process of creating your own rug from everyday materials encourages the use of recycling in our daily life. One can make use of old clothes, towels, or really any cloth you no longer have use for. Not only does this skill create a great piece of custom decoration, but represents a great way to becoming more resourceful towards various aspects of living. Perhaps from making rugs, one becomes an expert at brewing homemade biodiesel. Therefore as a whole, rug making not only fosters creation of an environmentally friendly item but environmentally friendly behaviors.

You can keep treasured old clothing! Have an old piece of clothing with a great design you just love? Weren't you heartbroken when you found it no longer fit you? If you make the clothing into a rug, you will forever be able to enjoy the design/color/fabric on your hardwood floors. You can design your own rug just the way you want it! Making your own rug ensures that you have control over the style, shape and size. You can choose from styles such as braided, hooked, crocheted, etc. You can even make your own rug design and choose the colors you like. Moreover, there is the added bonus of an ego boost from presenting a well made, creative item as something that you created and something that enhances the urban environment.

Cost: Low
Of course, your old clothes are free, and chances are you have scissors and measuring utensils already lying around. So all you really have to buy are sewing utensils. The cheapest hooks are around $0.46 each,4 but if you get really into it, you can also buy specialized ones that are over $50! If you want more guidance, you can buy rug-making kits. Prices on kits range from $14-$400 and even higher.5

Time and effort: Low to Moderate
You do not need to be a master at crocheting to make beautiful rugs! This guide will teach you some of the basic stitches needed to make a rug. The most time-consuming part of making a crochet rag rug is cutting all of the strips. The stitches are rather simple and should only take around an hour. Experience in sewing is definitely an added bonus and perhaps the maestros in this art can finish the products at light speed. Even as someone relatively inexperienced, nowadays there are countless photo blogs6 and videos7 available on the internet that can give you a good idea of how the product will appear at different intermediate stages.

Crocheted Rag Rugs
This guide will focus on the creation of a type of rag known as the Crocheted Rag Rug. Crocheted Rag Rugs are simple to make, composed of numerous fabric strips sewn together to make brilliant shapes and patterns. They are simple and can be made in a variety of shapes and patterns.


Lots of old worn clothes (anything from blue jeans to pajama bottoms will do, to make a whole crocheted rug, you may need a few t-shirts)
Large crochet hook (Q size is best)

Basic crocheting9 stitches

Chain: Start with a loop on the hook. Loop a fabric strip over the hook, and pull through. Looks like a V.
Slip stitch: Insert the hook into the foundation chain or stitch, and loop the fabric strip over. Pull through both the chain or stitch and the loop on the hook.
Single crochet: Insert the hook into the foundation chain or stitch, then loop the fabric strip over, and pull through the chain or stitch (two loops on the hook). Loop the fabric strip over, and pull through both loops.

Simple crocheted rug:
  1. Start by tearing the old piece of clothing into strips 0.5-1.5 inches wide. The best width varies according to the thickness of the fabric of your clothing. The thicker the fabric, the smaller your strips should be. Trust your judgment on this one, after all, this is for you! Also make sure that the strips are long!
  2. Once you are done cutting strips, make another cut down the middle of each strip leaving one inch of the fabric still attached at the top. Cutting the strips should be the most time-consuming part of this process.
  3. Make a slip knot10 with a strip by making a loop and pulling the long end through.
  4. Make 6 Chain stitches and then form a circle with your first strip by making a slip stitch. This will be the center of your rug.
  5. Make a chain of 2 stitches and crochet two additional stitches into each one. There should be 12 stitches now.
  6. Keep on adding stitches in the same way, this time taking the thickness of the material into consideration. If the rug gets wavy, you can skip stitches or take them out as needed. If the rug curls up, you will need to make extra stitches. The ultimate goal is to make the rug flat by feel.
  7. When you get to the end of your ball of fabric strips, you can tie it onto the next strip. When you are stitching near a knot, get as close as you can, leave it on the back side and continue stitching.
More technical instructions for making an oval rug:
  1. Make a slip knot as directed above.
  2. Chain 20 stitches.
  3. Single crochet in each chain.
  4. Single crochet twice in the last chain stitch. Work down the opposite side of the starting chain, and single crochet in each stitch.
  5. Increase at the end of the row by single crocheting twice in each end stitch. By increasing at each end of the rug, you'll ensure that it lies flat.
  6. ontinue working around the rug, single crocheting in each stitch and increasing at the ends. As the rug becomes larger, space the increases evenly around the end stitches to accommodate the size. You must increase the same number of stitches at each end of the rug to keep a symmetrical oval shape. Slip-stitch11 in the first stitch of the previous round.
  7. Finish the rug by pulling the fabric strip to the back side, cutting a slit in the strip lengthwise and tying the two ends of the slit in a knot. Use this method to join strips of fabric as well.
These instructions should help you get started on making your own rugs. There are many different styles and materials that can be used, so feel free to continue researching other methods if you liked this guide. It is highly recommended that you keep learning about the art of crocheting, braiding, etc if this process interests you. There are many books out there to help you learn how to crochet. Look up books at your local library or bookstore! The following communities are dedicated to rug-making:
  • Rug Makers Live Journal12
  • Flickr Rag Rugs Group13
  • Rag Rugs DIY : Pinterest14
  • Rosemary's Rag Rugs : Facebook15

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 February 2014 )