**Update** Two things I forgot to mention:
1) If you need an idea of how long it takes to make a rug, I am estimating that I’ve put approximately 8 hours into my rug so far. I’ve been working on it in the evenings while watching movies with Ryan, so it seems like no time. :)
2) If you use old sheets or any fabric that is cotton, this rug is completely washable!
“Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful. But if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.” -Shaker design philosophy
I’m working on a rag rug. My first.
The colors alone make it a therapeutic experience, not to mention how satisfying it is to see something I am making come together to become something useful and lovely!
May I share my experience with you?
The first think to know, I suppose, is whether you want to make a braided rug or a crocheted rug. I’ll tell you that they both have their delights and drawbacks and that you shouldn’t let a lack of crochet education keep you from giving it a whirl. In fact, if you want to learn, this may be the best way – it’s on a HUGE scale, like working under a magnifying glass, so it’s easy to see what’s going on. I am crocheting my rug, but my sister is actually quite satisfied to be braiding hers.
If you want to crochet, well, you’ve come to the right place! (Seriously, let me assure you that it’s really very simple to learn. I just taught my girlfriend down the street last week and she’s already finished with her rug – now, her only child is still in the “oven”, she’s got the summer off and she already had all her fabric lined up, so don’t let her speediness intimidate you!)
Alright, enough chit chat. Let’s get started.
What you’ll need for a 3′ round or 2’x3′ rug:
:: 5-8 yards of 100% cotton fabric, cut or torn (my preferred method!) into roughly 1 1/2″ strips
:: a P- or Q-sized crochet hook (I used a “p” for this rug, but I think I’ll try a “q” next time.)
:: a sewing machine (ideal), a handy stitch (better than nothing) or a needle and thread and the patience of a crocodile (less than ideal)
How to make it happen:
1} Gather your fabric. This really goes without saying, but chose fabrics with interesting colors that will work well in the room for which the rug is intended. (A few tips: the more pattern, the more interesting, and, the actual pattern doesn’t matter at all, only the colors will be apparent.)
I wanted the main colors of my rug to be based off the Wonderland line by Moda fabrics. (My rug is for in front of my kitchen sink.) So, I bought one honey bun, which includes 40 strips that are 1 1/2″ x 44″, one of each of the fabrics in the line.
(Another tip: You can buy these for under $20 on Ebay which is much less than you can buy them in online stores, but be warned, 40 strips won’t get you very far. You’ll need to buy a TON of honey buns, or else subsidize the rug with other solids and coordinating patterns purchased on the cheap.)
EBay’s Honey Bun stock – I see some on there going for $7.99 with free shipping right now. Some brands are cheaper than others.
I also found bed sheets at yard sales in colors/patterns that worked well as well as a great amount of scrap fabric. Honestly, you could use old pajama pants if you wanted to.
There was seriously something so aesthetically wonderful about just holding this and quietly unravelling it. The colors were just remarkable.
2} Tear all your fabric into 1 1/2″ strips. Please don’t waste your time measuring each one, or cutting each one if you can avoid it. It’s a rag rug, and part of it’s beauty is in the glorious messiness. If you’re using a “Q” hook, you can make your strips even as wide as 2″ or 2 1/2″. This will just make a chunkier rug. I usually just use scissors to snip every 1 1/2″ across the top of a piece of fabric, then use those leads to tear it from there. It’s actually sort of satisfying!
When you’re finished you will have piles of strips and fabric dust everywhere. Aaachoooo! :)
(Note: if you only have a bit of fabric to start out, or you want to get going before you commit to tearing up all your nice fabric, just do a little and go back to the tearing step when you need more strips.)
3} Sew the strips together.For this next step, it really is ideal to use a sewing machine. If you do not have access to a machine, I think the best thing to do is to use scissors and snip 1″ “button holes” near the ends of two of the strips (well call them A and B). Send fabric B through the slit a the end of fabric A, then loop B’s tail around and pull it through B’s slit. (I really hope that made sense – it did in my mind. Eeee.)
So, if you have access to a sewing machine, your goal is to make one very loooong strip (you can think of it as your yarn to crochet). You’ll be sewing these strips end to end, facing each other with about 1/4″ – 1/2″ seam allowance. I ran mine through the sewing machine as randomly as possible, stitching the top of B to the bottom of A, then the top of C to the bottom of B.
You’ll come out with a chain of loops. And, if you did it properly (and I have no reason to doubt that you wouldn’t!), you will Voila be able to snip the little bits of thread in between each one and it will become one loooonnng strip.!
(Time for another tip! You can have decent control over the pattern of your rug if you decide to stitch together only what you know you’ll need at a time. I wanted the center of my rug to have all the same fabric, so I stitched a bunch of one particular pattern together at the beginning. I could have just done all the brown until I was satisfied with the center, then brought my little wimpy rug over to the sewing machine, and sewed more strips onto the tail of what was left. This is a hard project to mess up.)
No pressure. :)
4} Get to work with your crochet hook! Now, at this point it’s ideal to have some crochet experience. You don’t have to be an expert (believe me, I’m not), but you do need to be able to crochet single crochet stitches into the main chain. If not, this video is one of many online resources for learning. You can also probably find good instructional books with lots of pictures at your local library.
If you want to make an oblong rug like mine, start with about 20 links down the center, then turn the corner and start to single crochet your way back. You’ll just keep going around and around, adding extra chain stitches every few stitches when you’re rounding the corners.
If the rug is getting wavy, you take out a few stitches by skipping a stitch here and there. If it is curling up on you, make an extra stitch here and there. There’s no real hard and fast pattern, and there’s beauty in that imperfection.
5} To finish it off (when it’s the size that you want, or when you need to step away for a week or a year) tie the tail that is left into the main rug and snip off the end. Hurrah!
(This is what I have so far. I’m thinking of finishing it off with a few rows of that brown that I used in the middle. Wonder if EBay has a good price on it…)
Okay, I really really hope this makes sense. It’s entirely possible that you’ve gotten to this point and you just want to forget my shoddy instructions and just google it. I’m at peace with that too! :) In fact, I am attaching a few helpful resources below!
Want to crochet a rag rug out of old t-shirts? Try this! (Thanks, Ginger!)
Will you please share your rugs with me when as you work on them? I’d LOVE to see!