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We often talk about upcycling trash and rubbish, but actually one thing we all have in abundance that ends up either getting thrown out, or sent for donation, is old fabric in the form of clothing, bedsheets, and towels.
One great way to breath new life into these unwanted fabrics is to turn them into rag rugs. In this post we’ll give you 9 ways to reuse these types of fabric as rag rugs with links to step by step tutorial instructions.
Area rugs, whether small or large, are not cheap so these rag rug projects are also great money savers on top of being better for the environment than buying something new.
All of the techniques in the below tutorials could be used with most types of surplus fabric. The most common type of material used for these types of rag rugs are T-shirts, but you could substitute bed sheets, towels or even things like shower curtains and use the same techniques. So don’t let the materials used in each of these examples hamper your creativity! Use what you have!
Braided No SEW T-Shirt Rag Rug
This is probably the easiest and simplest ways to make your first rag rug. It involves braiding strips of t-shirt (or other fabric and inter weaving your rug as you braid to shape your rug. You can create a circular rug or even fold your braid back and forth to make a bath mat or a long rectangular runner.
Meredith Amand has shared the tips she learned from making her first ever braided (circular) T-shirt Rag Rug in her tutorial here. This is a great rag rug project for beginners as it is a no sew method!
BRAID & SEW MULTI-FABRIC RAG RUG
Meredith’s no sew method above is one I wish I had come across a few years ago actually as I am currently several years into an epic rag rug project (with three years off to move house and have two babies!) that is still probably going to take me another month or two to complete!
However I didn’t just use stretchy t-shirt material – I used everything from men’s shirts, to a sari, a silk blouse, pillow cases and several t-shirts! So I’m not sure that the no sew method would have worked quite as well for me as my fabric is all different tensions and I braided it very tightly (see the photo above to see how skinny the braid is).
In any case I am where I am with it and what I have done is make one enormous braid of fabric. This was a stop start process as I collected fabric and it was done in front of the tv in the evenings (in my kid free days). I am now laboriously sewing it together by hand into an oval shape.
I think it is going to turn out great but it is going to take a long time! I’ll update this post when it’s finished but here is the beginning of it (you are looking at the underside which is why the stitching is visible!).
I’ll be posting a full step by step tutorial for my epic rag rug when it’s done and I’ll link to it in this post so if you want to see how it turns out pin this one for later!
Finger Crochet T-Shirt Rag Rug
This finger crochet rag rug method is brilliant because it is tool free – you don’t even need a crochet hook to do it! Sustain my Craft Habit has some great links to step by step instructions for both the finger crochet technique and how to prepare your t-shirt scraps into ‘T-shirt Yarn’. You can find the Sustain my Craft Habit project and pointers here.
Weaved Hula Hoop Rag Rug
Tricia from the Country Chic Cottage has used an interesting method to make her rag rug (also from old T-shirts). Her tool of choice? A hula hoop!
She basically uses the hula hoop as a frame from which to weave her material into a circular pattern – but of course she explains it much better in her tutorial which she was kind enough to share with us. You can find it here.
Denim Rag Rug
The fab rainbow look of this denim rag rug by Cintia of My Poppet was achieved by using scraps of different coloured cotton yarn! So that is upcycled old jeans and upcycled scraps of yarn – Big thumbs up in the repurposing books! For the step by step how to guide visit the fabulously colourful My Poppet blog here.
Cut & Glue Sweater Rag Rug
This is one of my tutorials. It’s a bit of a different take on a rag rug. It uses two super fluffy old sweaters and some heavily worn out kid’s play mats. It involves cutting and gluing – no sew, no crochet, no braiding!
I’ve had some different reactions on this one – it seems like either you love it or you hate it! I personally don’t think the photos do it justice and I love how super cushy and soft it is underfoot.
Check out the step by step no sew rag rug tutorial here and let me know if you are team love it or team hate it!
Fabric Twine Spiral Rag Rug
When I put the call out for rag rug tutorials the fabulous Cintia from My Poppet showered us with rag rug ideas! – I couldn’t feature them all but this is the second one (see the denim rug above for the other). This one is a very different method. It involves first making scrap fabric twine (she’s got the instructions for you don’t worry!) and then the zig zag setting on your sewing machine. I think a mat style rag rug like this would look great as a bath mat or an entryway rug. Where would you use it?
Yarn Pom-Pom ‘Rag’ Rug
Is this a rag rug? Is it not a rag rug? I swithered to be honest. It uses yarn threaded through a rug underlay mat rather than scraps of fabric but you could potentially adapt this method using the scrap fabric twine Cintia uses for the rug above. So this one is a rag rug ‘idea’ really. You could also use scraps or ends of old rolls of yarn instead of buying ones to make a specific pattern like this. I’ll let you use your imagination and creativity here. You can find Andrea’s tutorial for this rug here.
Shag Rag Rug from Old Towels
This last one is similar to the yarn pom pom version above in that it uses a rug mat, but this time with cut up rags from old towels.
Who doesn’t end up with lots of worn out old towels that could have a whole new lease of life as a super absorbent bath mat? I think this is a great idea – but probably not the quickest rag rug method of the bunch! The Pursuit of Happiness tutorial for this is here.
So are you ready to stop buying over priced doormats, area rugs and runner rugs? Which method are you going to use to make your rag rug? I’d love to see how they turn out!
Send me a picture on your social media channel of choice or join our facebook group Upcycle My Stuff Share My Stuff that has loads of fab upcyclers sharing their projects and tips with each other!
If you liked this post and you want to try one of these ideas make sure to Pin it for later to your Rag Rugs or Scrap Fabric Board!
Looking for even more ways to use your scrap fabric? Try these posts:
- 17 Brilliant Ideas for Upcycling Your Scrap Fabric
- 14 Ways to Upcycle Fabric Scraps as Gifts for Kids
- DIY Necklace Pendant Made from Upcycled Fabric Sample Swatches
Check out our new sister blog dedicated to scrap fabric quilting & sewing project ideas – Scrap Fabric Love.