Secrets of the No-Sew Rag Rug

by Daisy on 11/04/2008

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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.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer June 27, 2014 at 12:08 am

I am so confused! Mine looks nothing like that. it looks like a serious mess! lol.

Brenda June 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

Great tutorial! I’ve always wanted to make one of these rugs but was never real sure how to go about it. I am putting this on my list of projects for this winter. Thanks!

Barbara Vaccaro July 18, 2014 at 9:40 am

Also a good way to use the miles of knitted I cord we all make.

Sondra August 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Thank you for the great tut! We’ll see how mine turns out. Appreciation for the share!!

Julieta August 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Fab Project! Is it strictly necessary to add and then remove strands when turning corners? I’m worried it will be too hard and even mess with my overall size…

Mikk August 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Found this quote by accident when looking up things to do with wine bottles.
Made one this afternoon using an old pair of jeans and an old pair of trousers, worked a treat. Instructions are great.

mary August 20, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Here is another place to see this technique, with good drawings:

Rug on!

Stephanie May 4, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Thank you so much! I too had trouble finding a “no-sew” version, even though I was sure I recalled weaving baskets and rugs and such as a kid without sewing or using any separate materials!

Christy June 9, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Let’s make these with the girls!

Sarah July 31, 2015 at 8:35 pm

I have been looking everywhere for a tutorial on this technique, so thank you for taking the time to write up and photograph the instructions. I have requested several books on rag rugs from my nlibrary, only to find that the instructions are for sewn techniques or weaving on a frame (both lovely but not what I wanted).

Off to my op shop to see if I can get some old sheets. If not I will try fabric remnants. Hmm, I wonder if you could use rope to make a doormat?

Sara R August 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm

I’ve been looking all over for a good no-sew rug. I’ll be using this technique with my old T-shirts!

Tracy September 24, 2015 at 4:19 am

….did anybody else notice that your rug looks like a fingerprint?
It is a great technique and thank you ffor posting. Definitely saving this.

lesley October 28, 2015 at 4:03 am

Thank you

Nina November 13, 2015 at 7:44 am

This is such an awesome idea! I love this!

Emma May 7, 2016 at 4:56 am

If you are in Australia Ilka White runs excellent workshops on this very technique.

Nancy July 20, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Great instructions. I think I can do this! Thanks for posting!

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