Recycle Tutorial: Braided Rag Rug

sew braided rag rug

Recycle Tutorial: Braided Rag Rug


1.Old bed sheets (3 king size should be enough to make 3 rag rugs)
2. Scissors
3. Pencil and ruler
4. Safety pin and pin
5. Sewing machine and threads

make braided rag rugMark the edge of the old bed sheet, 1″ apart. Snip and tear to the end. Do it on warp or weft direction of the bed sheet not the bias.
My mum’s old bed sheets are quite tattered at the center part, so, I just utilized the area 1 to 1.5 feet from the edge. I saved up the center part to make the base for the rag rug.

make braided rag rugA bunch of it waiting for tidying up. Don’t worry about the frays, they will be gone in the next step.

make braided rag rugRemove all the loose threads along the strips, they normally are those vertical threads that came off when you tear the fabric.

make braided rag rugRoll up the strips into ball, don’t join the ends, just roll it up and get ready for the next step. I made 3 from different bed sheets, so that I will get some pattern when I braid the strips.

make braided rag rugStack 3 strips and make a few stitches at the end.

make braided rag rugSecure the end by pinning it down with safety pin to somewhere you feel comfortable to work at. I pinned it on my ironing board. Curtain should do well too.
Start braiding till you come to an end of the strip.
Arrange the strips to end at different length so they don’t join at the same point and make the braid bulky. Cut the length if necessary.
Loosen up the other ends when they get tangled up. This is the reason why I advise not to join the strips before braiding. Short length is easier to loosen up.

join stripsWhen come to the end of a strip and need an extension extension, fold the end of the strip at about 1 -1.5″ from the edge, make a small slit vertically. Do the same to the new strip.

join stripPut the new strip on top of the existing and pass the tail end through the slit holes.

join stripsGently pull the strip until is goes all the way to the other side. The end of the existing strip goes through it as well.
Tug it a little to tighten up the joint. Continue to braid.

make braided rag rugBraid the strips till you have a substantial length for the rag rug, 10 yard or so. Just an estimation will do, if you don’t have enough, you can always braid again later.
Set aside.

make braided rag rugPrepare the base.
Fold the center piece of the left over bed sheet after all the stripping, to a size of about 23″ x 17″. I place an old curtain at the bottom to further reinforce the rag rug, you can do without it if your bed sheet is not as tattered as mine.
Tack stitch to secure all layers.
Mark 1″ square on the base, to have 22 squares x 16 squares (with 1/2″ seam allowance for the sides). This is useful during sewing the braid strip to the base, so that you will know if your rag is going out of the shape.

make braided rag rugPlace the braid at the center 6 squares width wide, coil and go around the first strip. Hide the head end of the braid when your rounding strip reach there. Pin to secure.

make braided rag rugSew the side of the braid with zigzag stitch so that the braid join up side by side.

make braided rugContinue to sew until you reach the last square.

sew braided rag rugCut away the extra base.

sew braided rugSew the braid under the base. Hide the end. Complete!

floor matBesides the exquisite top, you will have a scenic base with all the zigzags go around in oval…. This make the braided rag rug reversible, one stone two birds!!!!

braided rag rug

{More photos and story on Page 1.}

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115 comments... read them below or add one

  1. My mom used to make these when I was a little girl. It’s how I learned to braid. I never knew how she finished it though! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. good one… I really liked the step by step detail provided.. m surely going to try it out.

  3. This is great! My mom made these when I was a kid but she “crocheted” them. This is going to be fun and I have old bed sheets to use, too!!

  4. This is perfect timing!! My dog just (accidentally) tore a big hole in my favourite sheet. I couldn’t bare to just throw it out as most of it is still like new. I will be doing this and then my hubby will have a rug for his feet when he gets out of bed in the morning! And it will even perfectly match our decor!! Win-win!!

  5. I like the idea but it seems a little more work to cut it, braid it, and then sew it all together. I like the idea of making it all into yarn *a lot like shirt yarn, just cutting it and then pulling it taught until the edges curl*, and then using that yarn to crochet a rug. this would seem a lot…fluffier. like it would be pleasant to stand on.

  6. Could you please tell me what size rug this makes. Thanks. Linda

  7. I am wondering if you can give more instruction on how you join the extenstion pieces. I am struggling the picture and instructions. Everything else is easy for me to understand:)

  8. Love have several braided can’t finish them because they curl thank you so much and I will put rubber pad under mine you are a life saver thanks so much

  9. hello Im making your woven rag rug I got all the pieces cut out so do you really put 6 strands of fabric through each slit in the cardboard loom

  10. I think it could work in other sizes also. Placemats perhaps? Bedspreads? A rags to rugs story.

  11. Wow………….

  12. Any items for yarn !! I have a ton of it

  13. The braids can be “laced” together with a large “needle” that can be bought. It’s about 3/8″ wide. My dad used to make them from the “tail” of a rattail comb. Drill a hole in the large end and smooth that end with sand paper. My mom used Aunt Lydia’s very heavy thread.

    Lay a braid in the form that you want the rug to be – round or oval.

    Run the “needle” through the braid that is on the side of the previous braid. As you lace a braid onto the previous braid, continue laying the next braid beside the finished part.

    My mom bought the wool strips from a catalog. Don’t mix used wool with old wool because the rug won’t wear evenly.

    Lay the rug flat as you work or it will take the form or a “hat”.
    There isn’t a need for a backing or to sew it on the machine.

    The rugs that I have from my mom are made of wool and are very neat and strong.

  14. Do you think this could work with old towels? I’m thinking bathmat

  15. It looks like Angie’s question about joining the extensions was ever answered. I too am having difficulty with this step. An answer or response of any kind would be nice. Thanks

  16. un grand merci c est super qu’ elle bonne idée je vais essayer

    Translation (by Google):
    a big thank you c is great that it good idea I’ll try

  17. I love your ideas. Thanks.

  18. Hi! I’m having trouble with my machine skipping stitches. I think it might have something to do with the thickness of the braids, but I’m not sure. It’ usually on the right-hand side of the zig zag. Anyone else have this trouble and figure out a solution? I tried a new needle, a ball point needle, and a denim needle. The denim needle worked best, but it still did it. So it’s problematic when it skips every-other stitch, aka all the right-hand stitches, in a zig zag, because then it’s essentially just a straight stitch that only catches the left-hand braid.

  19. was just wondering what size needle do you use to zig zag and what kind of thread, to sew the braided rug together?

  20. I’ve just made this rug using the tutorial and it looks great, I used moss green gingham, cream, green and pink floral fabric and raspberry pink linen. Love it, thanks for making it idiot proof. I used an ordinary sewing machine with a standard needle and left my braids slightly loose so they were not too think, I think this helped to avoid broken thead, needles and skipping stitched.

  21. I saw this post and was inspired to make a rag rug of my own,I made one while in high school which I sewed together by hand. Turned out very well. This time around I’ve used sheets (aquire at a thrift shop)and used the zigzag sewing machine problem is my rug is rippling, am I doing something wrong? I’ve thought about it and thought maybei was braiding it too tight? Or had the tension wrong on my machine? I’m at a loss.

    • Hi Lydia, I braided quite firm on the strips but I didn’t have ripple problem so I would say that it could be your machine tension issue. Please adjust your thread upper tension and see if it works.

  22. I make what are called Appalacian weave rugs. There is no sewing involved. When weaving the rug, I loop one strand through the side of the previous braid. i start with either 3 strands or 6. (The 6 strand is a lot harder to describe.)When you get to the end,you have to put two strands through one loop to make the braid go around the corner. I do not know how to make the square rugs yet. When you get to the end of a strand, the ladies of time past, would either tie the ends together, or cut a slit in each end, then pass one end through the other and bring the strand through.There was “no” sewing involved at all. I sew the ends together. That is all the sewing I do. Hope you can understand my directions. A good winter project!

  23. I have worked for several days on this and its frustrating. I’m now sewing it and its bowing up, like its trying to make a bowl. Idk what to do.

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