How To Get Started Making a Coiled Recycled Rag Rug

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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

  1. 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.
  2. I chose the in between method.
  3. 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

  1. Open up the t shirts or cut the material into strips of equal (ish) width.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

how to make a recycled coiled rag rug
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.

how to make a recycled coiled rag rug

Laying out and cutting the t shirt

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.

how to make a recycled coiled rag rug

Cut a long strip from all three colours, we aimed to make a whole shirt into one long strip

Braiding

  1. 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
  2. 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.
how to make a recycled coiled rag rug

Getting the strips even for braiding is helpful, I rolled any scraggy edges in as I went

how to make a recycled coiled rag rug

Knotting the first section which will need tidying at the end

how to make a recycled coiled rag rug

Here comes the start!

Coiling

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! 🙂

Sewing

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
Helen
xx

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72 Comments

  1. Helen wilde on October 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    excellent explanation! Love your colour choice, and look forward to hearing the next stage. Let us know what the measurements are when done, and how you plan to make the centre tidy or impressively original- I fancy a water snake head with tongue, or a dragon head with flames!

    • Brianna Yarmy on January 12, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      Did you get to finish your rag rug I’m about to start one myself thank you for sharing this I can’t wait to try this out.

      • Helen Edwards on February 18, 2021 at 12:20 pm

        No we didn’t!! Good luck with yours

  2. Helene Wild on November 10, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Recycled Interiors Absolutely! I still have mine somewhere, must get it out & take some photos!

  3. INTERIORspiration on November 10, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    What an amazing idea x

  4. Natasha O'Sullivan on November 10, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    This sounds like you Kirsty Webb U0001f609

  5. Shirley Thiedecke on November 10, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Workshop together on the holidays U0001f609

  6. Kirsty Webb on November 10, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Is this kinda like the one you bought

  7. Claire Stracey on November 10, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Dianne Stracey another project for you!

  8. Dianne Stracey on November 10, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Hmmmm I wonder wot Color I,ll do it in xxxx

  9. Recycled Interiors on November 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Let’s finish them together

  10. Wendy Lovett on November 10, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Thanks Kerry Patterson!!

  11. Lisa Hartley on November 10, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Sarah Cullen…. easier than pom poms?

  12. Karlie Simone Owen on November 11, 2015 at 7:27 am

    Samantha Watt heres a project for you 🙂

  13. Sharyn Williams on November 11, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I think I need to try this U0001f60dU0001f60dU0001f60d

  14. Lynne Edwards on November 11, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Sue new project

  15. Joann Donnelly on November 11, 2015 at 10:24 am

    My mum used to make these for our home

  16. Joann Donnelly on November 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Love this going to do this just like mum did when we were kids

  17. Samantha Chamley on November 11, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Loz Yovich I want to try to make this! ✌

  18. Teagan Batty on November 11, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    This is really cool!!!!

  19. Claire Harris on November 11, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Adrienne De Bruyn I think this could be your new project

  20. Adrienne De Bruyn on November 11, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I would love to

  21. Sara Whittaker on November 11, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Oh my gosh awesome! I can’t wait to try it

  22. Recycled Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Fabulous. What a wonderful thing to do

  23. Sandy Armstrong on November 12, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Grandma made these when I was a child…so pretty and versatile, lasted forever…made during the depression, along with all the other recycling ideas….re knitting was a favourite too. My Nana was so clever..

  24. Renee Simpson on November 12, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Bernie Taylor we could try make one of these for our house!

  25. Recycled_Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    what a lovely memory

  26. Recycled_Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    have fun!

  27. Recycled_Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    give it a go!

  28. Recycled_Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    that makes it even better doesn’ it!

  29. Recycled_Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    how lovey Joann

  30. Recycled_Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    yes you do!

  31. Recycled Interiors on November 12, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    what a beautiful memory

  32. Helen Forester on November 13, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Deborah Cufley your colours to. X

  33. Deborah Cufley on November 13, 2015 at 9:33 am

    It’s very lovely. Love to up cycle. U0001f499

  34. Kate Freeman on November 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Meggie idk but I thought of you

  35. Hollie Little-Goldfish on November 13, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I think this would be a fabulous project.

  36. Hollie Little-Goldfish on November 14, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I want to go and find some old linens from an op shop, wash them, and then make this rug!

  37. Helene Wild on November 14, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Glorious colours! Sounds lovely, Hollie. I was working with Helen on the day she made this rug. We used old tshirts. U0001f604

  38. Fiona Purchase on November 16, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Here’s one for you Kerrie Romeo

  39. Kerrie Romeo on November 16, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Great – in all my spare time – I reckon that could be one to add to your start but never finish projects

  40. Fiona Purchase on November 16, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Yeah I can just plait everything into one big rug!

  41. Kerrie Romeo on November 16, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    that’s funny because it’s probably true – you are hopeless!

  42. Joan Montgomery on December 8, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Remembering Aunty Lucy.

  43. Helene Wild on December 8, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Love love love this! U0001f604 and we had an Aunty Lucy too. U0001f49d

  44. Stephanie Boyd on December 8, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Do you like this

  45. Carol Jones on December 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Want to make myself a rug.

  46. Melissa Hardcastle on December 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Lucinda Wood xx

  47. Lucinda Wood on December 8, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve always wanted to make one 🙂

  48. Recycled Interiors on December 8, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    go for it!

  49. Sue Frederick on December 8, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Everything old is new again!

  50. Su Taylor on December 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Yes ! An old art …

  51. Elise Valentine on December 8, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Make me one U0001f601

  52. Elyse Sheree Haldane on December 8, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Holly Modra this reminds me you still have to show me how to make one of those rugs U0001f601 please

  53. Julia Holt on December 9, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Kylee Webster….this is your deal x

  54. Phoebe Bateman on December 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Josh Bateman thisnis what i want for christmas U0001f609

  55. Su Taylor on December 9, 2015 at 9:49 am

    U could make one whilst breastfeeding…u would get 10 gigantic rugs done in a week ha ha U0001f60a

  56. Jay-gerri Willoughby on December 9, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    This requires sewing I think

  57. Karen Harbottle on December 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Probably just seen what you put up earlier thought u might take a look at this one too always heaps of ideas and inspiration

  58. Jay-gerri Willoughby on December 9, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Yeah… I love the ideas

  59. Tegan Turner on December 10, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Shari Andrews I thought of you U0001f64a

  60. Shari Andrews on December 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Aww thanks Tegan Turner…. great idea!

  61. Leah Rice-Levitt on December 11, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Mum lets totally do this! Wouldn’t a giant one look great in my massage room? Gaylene N Glenn Bayfield

  62. Gaylene N Glenn Bayfield on December 11, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Absolutely. Make a date, preferably after Christmas.

  63. Rochelle LW on December 11, 2015 at 7:33 am

    I like the this. Have a bag of old clothes in my garage now lol

  64. Elise Giddings on December 11, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Yeah placemats for practice?

  65. Leah Rice-Levitt on December 11, 2015 at 10:13 am

    cool. I have two weeks off from the 18th. We can go op shop shopping for supplies 😉

  66. Sarah Middleton on August 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Woulkd love to do this

  67. Recycled Interiors & The Sustainable Home Hub on August 26, 2016 at 10:05 am

    give it a crack Sarah Middleton

  68. Leanne Fitzgerald on August 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Belinda Jones. Emma Dixon this could be another project fun for the girls rooms. ❤️L

  69. Lynette Leeon on August 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Will this be your next project Julie Struthers

  70. Emma Hosken on September 26, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I also started this about a year ago using old tshirts I’ve started coiling but not sure about the sewing part. I will have to finish it one day!

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