Secrets of the No-Sew Rag Rug

in Crafts,Recycling & Nature Crafts

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I thought that with all of the emphasis on recycling and reusing these days, a no-sew rag rug post would be more common. However, in my own internet research, I find that it’s something of a unicorn.

It follows the same principle that we all used in making those funny cotton loop potholders–under, over, under, over. See? You’ve already got 3/4ths of the technique.

No-Sew Homemade Rag Rug (Or trivet, potholder, centerpiece, place mat, what-have-you.)

1. Cut strips of fabric 1-3 inches wide and remove seams. I like three foot strips, but the length only matters for how often you want to be taking the time to join new strips.


2. Tie two strips in a simple loose knot. You’ll be trying to shove fabric through this later, so too tight and you might get aggravated. Also, notice that the pieces in the picture are UNEVEN. At the end of every strand, you’ll have to join a new one, and it looks better if that’s staggered.


3. If you want stripes like mine, arrange your strips so that they alternate A,B,A,B when you lay them flat. Then take the one on the right side and go under, over, under.

4. Continue taking each right-hand strand and going under, over, under (Notice that it’s not a TIGHT braid. Just snug enough to lay flat and hold it’s shape.)


5. When you get a braid about 1/2 the length of the rug you want, it’s time to turn. I went under, over, under with that gray strip and then turned it to the right so I could tuck it in the edge of the original braid.

Depending on your material, your rug may not want to lie flat if you turn it too quickly, so you may not get to tuck EVERY strand into the original braid. Sometimes you might have to skip tucking a couple so you can turn the corner smoothly.

6. Work your way back down to the starting knot following the exact same pattern as you used to make the original braid, just tucking the end through each time. (If you want the stripes, tuck it in it’s OWN color as you come around and down.)


7. Once you get back down to the original knot, and work your way around the curve, skipping and tucking as necessary to lay flat, it’s time to add a strip! To maintain the stripes, I joined one of each color together and stuck it through the starting knot in a way that kept the pattern. Then I continued braiding the same way I had been all along, but now it was under, over, under, over, under–>TUCK!

You can’t see, but there’s SIX strips now.
Important to keep an even number the whole way.

Intermission: WHEW, this is way harder to explain than it is to do! For another explanation, in fact the only other explanation I’ve seen on the whole internet, click here.

Let’s also pause to learn how to join (slip-knot) strips to each other:

Cut a hole in the ends of both strips you want to join. Shove the new on through the old one. Then push the tail end of the new strip through it’s own hole and tug until snug.

Back to our regularly scheduled tutorial…

8. Braid all of the way down to the end and back up the other side to the original knot. Add another strip where ever you can sneak it in to make eight strips.

9. Pick up that right-hand gray one, and go under, over, under, over, under, over, under, over, under–>TUCK!


9. Every time you work yourself back to the beginning knot, add another set of strips until you get the size rug you’re looking for.

10. Once the rug is the width you want it across
the middle, it’s time to work yourself back down to 8 strips, then 6, 4, 2, and finally none in a way that doesn’t throw off your overall shape. When I decreased in the picture, I went under, over, under, over, under–>TUCK–>TUCK AGAIN under two more blues horizontally—>snip off the excess. Continue until you run out of strands.


Ivory



{ 150 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Kara Park June 27, 2012

Hello, I love this tutorial as its the only one I could find that truly has no sewing. I would LOVE, LOVE it if you would be able to do a video tutorial, as it would be easier for my mind to see you do it, than just from looking back and forth at the tutorial. =)

102 Ivory Soap June 28, 2012

I SHOULD make a video. I should make a video of LOTS of our stuff. But when?

103 ajira July 2, 2012

How about right now? You can sleep when you’re dead! Get to work!! *whip crack here*.

Oh, okay. Fine. We’ll just muddle along with your tutorial. Thanks for sharing that, btw. No, seriously… I’m grateful. My darling has a huge stack of raggedy t-shirts and is still trying to wear them. I’m trying to convince him that it makes more sense for me to make a rug out of them so I can stand to stand longer in the kitchen and make pies! He’ll do just about anything for a cherry pie! HA!

104 Alyssa July 4, 2012

I absolutely love this tutorial, and can’t wait to try it out! But, I was wondering if it would be able to go through the washing machine. I need a new rug for my kitchen, but that one usually needs to be washed at least once a month (we’re terribly clumsy in the kitchen, lol) and I don’t want to spend all the time making a wonderful rug and then put it through the washing machine and have it fall apart.
Thanks again. :-)

105 Ivory Soap July 4, 2012

I don’t know how it would do with regular washing. It would depend on how well you braided it. I would make a small tester to use as a pot holder and run it through the wash a bunch to see what happened.

106 Alyssa July 4, 2012

That is a great idea! Thanks! I will do that. :-)

107 Kandiss July 6, 2012

Can this be done with quilting weight cotton? I notice that my fabric strips don’t roll up like yours and have fraying at the edges which makes for a messy cumbersome weave. Did the fabric you use have stretch in it? Your rug looks great!

108 Robin Civitello July 17, 2012

i’m looking for help in finding instructions on how to make rag rugs out of t-shirts and a hulahoop… a friend of mine found instructions in a magizine and brought them to work for me. we can’t find them now and i would love to make one. Can anyone help me?

109 Mauve July 17, 2012

Robin

I’ve just been looking at a hula hoop rug at http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/hula-hoop-rug-995304/print/

110 Lynn July 28, 2012

LOVE this!! I’ve looked high & low for just such a tutorial, thank you so much for sharing!

111 Tania August 9, 2012

Hello.
Love this tutorial so much that I linked it to an article I wrote on my blog about re-using old clothes. You can find it here http://www.chappellavenue.blogspot.com
Please let me know if you would like me to remove the link.

112 tris August 24, 2012

this tutorial rocks! please please pleeeease post a video because it would make my life!!

113 Sabina Moe August 28, 2012

This is great! I need a rug for my dorm but, being a college student, I’m broke as no other. I was just wondering, How many t shirts did you use for this, two? I want mine to be a decent size so I may be collecting people’s old clothes.

Thank you!

114 Ivory Soap September 8, 2012

I used three.

115 Cassandra September 13, 2012

Kandiss, she used old t-shirts to make the rug, after you’ve cut the cotton jersey/knit jersey into strips you pull it just a bit to make ‘tshirt yarn’

I’ve been wondering about methods to make reg rugs from tshirt yarn, I have 6 balls of the stuff, one x-l mens shirt in each ball!

116 Julie September 20, 2012

I must move within two weeks and must down-size considerably. I have fabric ready to use for crocheting or braiding rag rugs in bins ready to donate.
I’d like to find a group or just one person who enjoys creating rag rugs to become the joyous recipients of two large plastic bins of ready-to-use fabric for creating rag rugs. (My mom called the result of the fabrics she cut, sewed and rolled up: “carpet balls.”) Remembering how much time, effort and love Mother put into preparing for rug-making, it would be a shame to just threw it all out.
Please let me know if anyone is interested.

117 Keelyn Sealy September 24, 2012

I loved this tutorial.I think I’m going to buy some cheap t-shirts at wal-mart tomorrow.I’ll get them in nice colors and put them in my bathroom,the rug in the picture looks really comfortable.

118 Anna September 25, 2012

If you are looking to buy tshirts to make rugs like this, check the thrift stores/yardsales. Thrift stores usually have t-shirts for less than
$1 each.

119 Courtney September 26, 2012

I just need to say THANK YOU! I searched all over Pinterest and I kept finding the round rag rug, but I didn’t want that. So I did the Internet search (and have now pinned your site), and found your wonderful tutorial! It was a bit hard to understand just reading, so I jumped into it and figured I’d get it once I was doing it…. And I did! I spent a good deal of this evening working on one for my little one and can’t wait to finish it!

Thanks again!

And if anyone is looking to get rid of t-shirts, feel free to send my way! You can email to cpr115@gmail.com

120 madhuri September 27, 2012

Its really a wonderful tuts , that helped with this art.I am always eager to learn something new.Thanks a lott.I have this pile of old clothes stacked nearly 4 ft high and didnt knoe what to do with them.I have sorted the t-shirts and started with this.
thanks a lot once again
keep doing something new..

121 hisarmycowgirl October 3, 2012

You should work on your directions…very confusing…bet theres a reason people keep asking for a video…

122 Buddydog October 4, 2012

I would disagree. I don’t find it confusing. It’s quite intuitive once you get started. I like how this rug grows quickly. Good for impatient crafters! I’m a little unsure about how to decrease the strands though, but again, maybe when I get to that stage it might become more obvious. Thanks for this. That’s Christmas sorted, then!

123 Cassandra October 12, 2012

approximately how many t shirts did this use?
I have about 5 softball size balls of t shirt ‘thread’ and wondered if it would be enough

124 Ana October 22, 2012

For Julie: I would love to have your extras. I am a disabled stay at home mom and the days sometimes get monotonous. I love this new craft for the rugs and purses especially since Christmas is coming. Thank you & God Bless!

125 Ellen Schickel October 28, 2012

I learned how to make this type of rug from my aunt in Minnesota. She turned 100 years old this spring. She learned from her older sister. My Aunties were the ultimate up-cyclers. During the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s the rugs were made from wool clothing. Then in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s they made the rugs from polyester clothing. They often gifted a rug as a wedding gift. My cousins and I have long been interested in finding out whether other people made rugs this way. We make the rugs with 8 strands instead of 4. Your instructions are excellent!

126 Jenni James November 11, 2012

Thanks for the tutorial, I went to the link for the other instructions and yours are much more streamlined and clear. Plus, I like your pattern better. I hope to make one soon, can you use any kind of material or is cotton jersey the best for this?
Thanks again, finding project patterns like this are hard to come by, so glad I found it. Take good care of yourself and know that you are appreciated very much!
Creatively Yours!
Jenni

127 AJ December 7, 2012

Very neat, I’ll have to *try* to make one myself. Thanks for the tut.
Question, what do you do with the ends when you are tapering off to finish the rug? Don’t they eventually unravel? I guess one can place a few sutures in to hold them. I’d love to see a video, would greatly help! Thanks again

128 Deb December 17, 2012

I love this! I’ve been saving denim for a project, and this is it! Thanks for sharing such a creative idea!

129 revengeismine January 14, 2013

My boyfriend dumped me and left some of his clothes, so I’m going to make them into a rug and when he asks for them back, I’ll give it to him.

130 lori January 23, 2013

This is awesome!!! Thank-you for taking the time to spread the rag rug love LOL I’m excited to uphold my grandmother’s tradition of making our own rugs . She passed away last year in July and I never had a chance to learn from her how to make them so thank you thank you thank you this is wonderful!!!! now I get to teach my daughter.

131 HELEN L. SMITH HOKE February 2, 2013

You can also just braid a straight line as long as you want. Then start with one end and start winding the braid around the end and back again. Take a needle and thread and place a stitch at each end to hold them together. Continue to wind the braid around the rest of the braid, making stitches to hold to each other. You can make it into any shape depending on that first braid. Tight and small first braid makes a round rug and a long first braid makes a more rectangle rug.

132 Yvonne February 10, 2013

Greetings from Hawai’i!

I followed your tutorial as a guideline about a year ago and turned two king-sized bed sheets into durable braided rugs. Last weekend, I decided to turn the two smaller rugs into one larger one. The method I used is based on the on you posted, except I did not add strips as I went around the core braid, nor did I start the rug with two strips tied in a knot in the middle. I love that I could do this anywhere! I linked to this page and to your site from my modest little blog. :) Blessings and best wishes!

133 Daisy February 10, 2013

Yvonne–Love your white rug, very sweet! Well done, and thank you for letting us know!

134 Linda February 12, 2013

Someone showed me how to do this 35 years ago and I forgot the method and the person, so I was delighted to find you on the very first site I opened. I will be making one of these soon. Thank you so much for the clear instructions. Note on washing a heavy rug, I put it on the deck on a warm day, hose it down, spray it with soap of your choice and give it a good sweep on both sides and rinse with with the jet setting on the nozzle. Works well on a jute back carpet that can’t be machine washed. Drape over picnic table or what ever to drip dry.

135 Anne February 27, 2013

I love this tutorial– it is very clear! My grandmother made wool braided rugs (she is not around anymore). Nice to keep the tradition.

When I conjoin two pieces, I have stray pieces sticking out. Any remedy besides snipping after the braiding?

Thanks!

136 Beverly March 4, 2013

This is a great rug making technique, but I can’t figure out how to increase. Could you explain that in more detail. How do you attach the extra strands?, etc.

Thanks!

137 Laurie Thibault March 21, 2013

THANK YOU!! I have been looking for years for directions on this style, not the sewn kind. My grandmother who died in 1979 at 84 years old taught me.. I used to help her all the time, but in the years since she died, I wasn’t able to remember how to start one or turn corners. She used “silk stockings” that had runs, upholstery fabric, anything she could get her hands on. She even used some silk parachute fabric that was discarded after the war. I STILL use many of her original rugs today. I do machine wash them and machine dry them. Some need some repair, but considering they are 40-50 years or older, they are in great shape! I can’t wait to revive her work and carry on the tradition. Thanks God for those who won’t let technology kill our pioneer and creative spirits, but use it to share the traditions!

138 Mim Stewart April 3, 2013

Hi, I love the rug you made. I am trying to teach myself, so I can teach my 4-H group. I love the idea of using old clothes. I try to teach them to recycle whenever possible. I wondered if there was video of this tutorial? I am having trouble with the turn. Thank you.

139 Harriet April 9, 2013

I tried this rug. It worked out pretty well. You can take a look at my efforts here: http://www.hemandher.com/2013/02/22/t-shirt-no-sew-rug. Thanks for the great instructions.
Harriet

140 Sarah May 20, 2013

Hi, my mom and I have started this project with old sheets and so far it’s turning out great! I had a question though. We are on the third column and there is a noticeable curve in the work. It is almost S- shaped. Is this supposed to happen? There aren’t any full size pictures of how the work looks as it’s being woven and if it’s not supposed to look like that, I’m going to assume it’s a matter of fabric tension. Thanks!

141 DeLane June 14, 2013

Thank you so much for this tutorial. My hands don’t seem to want to work with more than 4 strands at a time, so I am having to improvise a little. But it’s working beautifully. Using strips of many different t-shirts and not trying to stick to a pattern, it is coming out very colorful and random. And so easy to do while I am on bed rest. Thanks again!

142 Sarah G June 18, 2013

I love this! Thanks! But, couldn’t I just continue with 4 strands instead of adding to it?? I just see myself getting them all tangled ;)
Thanks!

143 Kirsten McCulloch July 7, 2013

Wow, I love this, thank you so much for the tutorial! When it’s truly got no sewing, it makes me very happy :)

What did you use for your strips? It looks like maybe two old T-shirts, is that right?

I guess I’ll have to make it to figure this out, but it looks like you could just keep getting bigger indefinitely if you want, is that right? If you have enough T-shirts, LOL!

144 Yvonne July 13, 2013

Sarah G, you can totally just continue with 4 strands. I actually braided a large rug using this method using just 4 strands (and white bedsheets, so no pattern). Be wary of buckling, and alternate pulling 2 strands through the same “opening” around the corners to increase the amount of “openings” as the rug gets larger.

145 Elaine Chan November 3, 2013

I’ve been looking for this no sew method FOREVER! Thank you SO MUCH for this tutorial, it is very clear and easy to understand. Way better explanation than the link that you gave. Thank you once again!

I have a small tip though, attached a small safety pin at the end of each strip. and then tuck through the braid with the safety pin and pull the rest of the strip through. It will make the tucking much more easier. :)

146 Krista November 30, 2013

I would so love to make one of these, but i was lost almost from the very start. I guess those who are way more craft savvy know exactly what you are talking about thru this tutorial, but i would definitely be one who needs a video tutorial on this. Cute idea tho! My hat is off to you!

147 Vayle January 9, 2014

Great idea! I love it! ;) I added it to my huge list of diy ideas here: http://vaylebyme.blogspot.com/2013/12/daj-tkaninie-nowe-zycie-spis-pomysow-diy.html

148 vi January 28, 2014

Is this easier to make than a toothbrush rug?

149 tash Perryman February 23, 2014

Oh Ms. Ivory…..i absolutely love your rug and how very VERY grateful I am to finally find a no-sew (for real) rag rug. I have been searching for a while now. And in the mean time I did however learn to make TARN(T-shirt yarn)…… In fact i have probably made enough Tarn to make about a dozen of these awesome rugs. Hahaha. Thanks again for taking the time to write and post this. Can’t wait to get started!!!!

T?sh

150 leonilyn of Fun Arts and Craft March 30, 2014

Thanks for this tut.. Followed your tutorial along with the other tutorial you linked in this post and was able to make my own no-sew rug. My hubby, kids and friends loved it a lot. I made a blog post about it and linked this post. :)

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