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How To Make Beautiful Rugs Out Of Old Clothes

No matter how much you repair and mend your clothes, at some point they will be beyond wearing.  You may also have children who outgrow their clothes.  If you would like to find a way to repurpose those items, consider using them to make rugs.

I remember my mother making rugs from old clothes from the time I was a small child.  Every piece of clothing she found that couldn’t be worn was saved for use in those rugs.  She even managed to get other family members and friends to contribute.  Here are some guidelines if you would like to find a new way to use old clothing.

Kinds Of Material To Use

Your preference will be for material that tears easily, such as cotton.  However, almost any material can be used.  I would avoid heavy material such as wool or thin material like nylon.  You want your rug to weigh about the same throughout.

Soft materials are the ideal choice for the center of the rug, which is where you will start.  If you use heavy, bulky material for the center, you may have issues getting it to lay flat.  Choose a lightweight fabric for your center and then add heavier materials as you go along.

First Step: Create Fabric Strips

The first thing you will need to do is to cut your clothing into one-to-two-inch strips.  Heavier material can be cut thinner, while very lightweight fabric needs to be wider.  Cut along the longest part of the clothing.  For instance, you would cut down the length of a shirt or dress to get longer strips.  Once you make a cut, you should be able to tear it the rest of the way.  However, some material will require you to cut the entire length.

This will get easier as you go along, and soon it will only take you a few minutes to tear up an entire piece of clothing.  One small item of clothing will make one or two rounds on the rug when you begin making it.  As the rug gets bigger, you will only get a single round out of a shirt or pants.  If you use children’s clothing, plan for it to be put on the rug the first few rounds or it won’t make it all the way to the end.

After tearing up your clothing, put it in a bag or box until you can put it together.  My mom used to tear up all of the clothes before she began sewing the strips together.  Once you are ready to sew the fabric into strips, you simply sew two strips together until you have used up all of the material of that one color.

Second Step: Assemble The Rug

You will need a large crochet hook to put your rug together.  My mom always used a size K.  Any bigger and the rug would have too many holes, while a smaller hook would not pull the fabric through the loops.

If you know how to crochet, the rest of this project will be easy.  However, if you don’t know how to crochet, this is still an easy project for you to work on.  It uses single crochet, the easiest stitch to learn and one of the foundation stitches for many projects.

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You determine the size of the rug by how long you make the first row.  The simplest design to start with is an oval that will fit in front of a chair.  If you start with one too small, you will have a harder time getting it to lie flat; one that is too big will be harder to work with and require more material.  A medium rug is the best choice for your first attempt.

Styles Of Rag Rugs

My mom often made oval rugs because they cover an area the best.  However, you can also make round ones that are perfect for in front of a chair or under a table.  You determine the size by ending the rug when it is the length and width you want.  Just remember that as the rug gets bigger, you will have a harder time finding clothing big enough to crochet around it.  For really big projects, my mom would use old sheets to do the final rounds.

A unique style that my mom tried after she had become an expert at the usual ones was the pinwheel rug.  With this style, you make 9 small round rugs about sixteen inches in diameter.  When you are finished, you sew three of them together in a length.  Then on each side, you sew two more and then one until you have two pyramids.  While this type of rug doesn’t cover your floor completely, it is a beautiful and unique design.

Benefits Of Rag Rugs

The great thing about any of these rugs is that you can easily throw them in the laundry when they get dirty.  Another benefit is that they work great in a high traffic area to protect the floor underneath.  Because the fabric is woven in with the crochet stitch, hardly any dirt gets through.

Rag rugs are also very long lasting.  My aunt recently gave me a couple of rugs my mom made for her thirty years ago, and they still look the same as they did back then.

Here are a few tips to make your rag rugs a success:

  • Do not use clothing that has worn thin.  You can use the good part, but discard the area that you can see through.
  • Use heavy-duty thread to sew the strips together so it will stand up to heavy traffic and being washed often.
  • If the rug starts to turn up after a few rounds, rip out the stitches and start over with a looser stitch.  If you keep going, the problem will only get worse.  My first attempt looked more like a bird’s nest than a rug!

No fancy rugs I’ve seen in stores look as nice to me as the ones my mother used to make.  She blended colors to create a unique design or to match the color scheme in a room.  Rag rugs are beautiful, long lasting, simple to make and care for, and a great way to use up fabrics that have no other purpose.  They are also a unique way to preserve special clothing that has memories attached to it.  If you want to add a different look to a room with absolutely no cost involved, try your hand at making one of these rag rugs.

©2012 Off the Grid News

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One comment

  1. In step one, it says to sew strips together, but doesn’t say which part to sew… Do i need to sew the ends together to make longer strips or the sides to make wider strips? Also how do you finish the rug?

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