A little while ago, my Mum and I had a go at starting a coiled recycled rag rug, while at our lovely beach shack. I got started but never went back to finish so I am updating this post in the hope I may get motivated to get it done! Craft and I are not best friends, I prefer to paint and make larger items, but this is such a great thing to do, and I also thought you may like to see what we did, so you can start your own project. It was not that tricky once we got the hang of it but I have a lot of stages to go yet. I can see it is not a quick process, depending on how big you want it to be. There are numerous ways to make a recycled rag rug, but we went with the plaited, coil version.
Mum started with a different style where you hook pieces of material through hessian, which is also a great way to go, but I began with the traditional braided rug where you “plait” old t shirt material in long strips,which you can then shape to what you like, a circle or oval being the easiest.
I have only completed a small section but plan to keep going and then share again when I get to the point of sewing it together. Which I am determined to do by the end of 2015!
Work out what material to use
- Mum brought a pile of old t shirts to our beach shack, so we had a variety of colours and designs. You can decide to have an organic approach, be very organised with a set design, or somewhere in between.
- I chose the in between method.
- We set colours into similar tones so we could work with these ranges and I decided on two blues and a white with a blue pattern to start with as I love these colours.
Cut the material into long strips
- Open up the t shirts or cut the material into strips of equal (ish) width.
- Somewhere around 7.5 cm is perfect. However we are not the perfect kind of crafters so were much more organic with some pretty average cutting!
- The great thing is with this stretchy material, it did not really matter once I got going, the most important thing is the length of the strips and then the tension, you need to make sure you pull the material tight as you braid it.
You need a lot of material, I used three t shirts for the first section and we had fun working out how to cut around the arms. Remember the trick is to make the strip as LONG as you can, so this matters more than the width really.
We found when a strip was not long enough we could stitch a new piece in. I did manage to turn one entire shirt into a strip by the third piece.
You’ll need what can only be called “loads” of fabric, so cut strips that are as long as possible. You’ll only know if you need more fabric at the very end, once the rug is coiled together and the size becomes apparent.
Different fabrics will braid differently. Because you’re braiding, it’s easy to add more fabric if you’ve run out and your rug still isn’t big enough. We loved this organic process and the idea that you just cross that bridge when you come to it.
- Braid the strips together tightly. This’ll be easiest if you can devise a way to hang the strips so you can stand while braiding your long strips of material. A clothespin will be handy in keeping the braid together, but we did not have one so just tied the centre for now to anchor it and will tidy that at the end
- I found sitting with the braid on the table and the strips behind me on the floor worked well, but there were points where I had to stop and untangle the strips.
I am not really here yet, but once you reach the end, you coil up the braid. Start from the beginning and spiral out. If the rug is big enough, great! You’re finished with braiding and can move onto sewing it into its circular shape. If it’s not big enough, simply sew on a few more fabric strips to elongate and continue the braiding process. My plan is to go with this colour scheme as long as I can and then move to add a lilac, pink and a different blue. Then I will see how big it is.
You don’t necessarily have to coil it up and make a circle rug, but it’s definitely easy and looks very traditional. A snake-like rectangle works, too, but takes a bit more sewing mastery on the edges so may not be for me! 🙂
This comes last and is my most scary part as it involves the “Sew” word! 🙂 I will be getting Mum to help when ready.
The method is apparently to uncoil the rug and work from the very center. Sew along the inside edges to join the braid with the length of fabric that surrounds it, going around and around and around. Coil up your rug as you go, following with your string. You may have to make some reinforcements once you’ve finished. The beauty of the rag rug is that none of these will be seen!
I will be back with the next stage sometime before 2016 I hope!
Let me know if you have done a Rag Rug or if this inspires you to have a go! We would love to see yours as well