A rag area rug is a traditional handwoven carpet that is made from old and discarded clothes This craft has been around for hundreds of years and involves crocheting strips of cloth to create a floor covering.
Long ago, when clothes are so worn that they were no more useful to wear, they were hardly thrown away and too old to be given out. Every old bit of anything a family owned was recycled and put to good use for the benefit of the family. And if gifts needed to be presented, rag rugs made from the same worn-out materials were used.
Today, the popularity of rag area rugs continues to rise, and people love them so much that they either go out to buy one or hand-weave one for their own use or as a gift. Also, those who love craft-making, ‘rag-rugging’ is great fun and when it is completed, makes a wonderful item to spread on your living room or bedroom floor.
Materials You Can Recycle to Make Rag Rugs
Making handwoven rugs is a great way to recycle your old garments which can include:
- Old jeans
- Bed sheets and pillowcases
- Shirts and skirts
- Old jumpers
- Old but soft leather bags
- Curtains and drapery
- Old towels
- Toughened plastic bags.
The best rag area rug has a good mix of fabrics in a planned colour-coordinated way and a variety of textured materials can also be added to the mix.
If you will rather use new strips of fabric instead of old clothes, you can purchase a mix of cheap or reject materials online or from any of your local fabric shops. Wherever people live, cheap fabric shops and flea type markets abound so especially look out for leftover strips got from bales of fabrics.
There are different types of rag rugs and each is constructed differently from the others. They can come in one solid colour, or as a multi-coloured rug.
If you want a soft rug, use fabrics that are soft underfoot like bedsheets, pillowcases, or old t-shirts. On the other hand, if you want a rag rug that is thick, strong, and longer-lasting, you can use old jeans, suits, or flannel.
If you can crochet with yarn, then you can crochet a rag area rug with fabric strips. It’s the same basic crocheting principle. Don’t worry too much about perfection because the idea of a rag area rug is not to achieve the intricate look of a machine woven carpet. These are handmade rugs meant to be a work of art and therefore need not be perfect.
How to Make Handwoven Area Rugs
Rag area rugs are quite easy to make and if you are skilled at the art of making them, you can complete one (depending on its size) in just a couple of days. For a beginner, the process is fairly straightforward and if you are able to do some simple crocheting, you can make a rag rug because the most basic and simple technique of crocheting will suffice.
Beginners who wish to perfect the art of rug making may find this simple but comprehensive book on weaving rugs quite helpful.
The tools you need to make a rag rug are:
- Needle and thread or,
- Sewing machine
- A sharp pair of cloth scissors
- A large crochet hook (the US size Q is perfect for the job)
- Old clothes or materials found around the home
Make sure you have enough materials to make the rug size you want but if you are a beginner, just use what you have available and consider it a test run but if you have a certain space you’d like to use the rug and need it to be the right size, you’ll need to be sure you have enough material to use.
- Cut all the material into I” or 2” strips depending on the fabric and the look you desire.
- If the strips you have are short, joined them together by sewing or knotting at the short end to create longer strips.
- If you can crochet with yarn, then you can crochet a rag area rug with fabric strips. It’s the same basic crocheting principle. Follow a half double crochet
- With the large crochet hook (large crochet hook allows looser stitching) start the rug with a chain stitch as long as you want the rug to be wide.
- After you create a chain, start the half double crochet stitches.
- Wrap the strip around the hook and hold it with a finger so it doesn’t slip off the hook.
- Push the tip of the hook through the hole, hook the fabric strip and pull the hooked strip out through the hole.
- Continue to pull it through both the loops on the hook
Don’t worry too much about perfection because the idea of a rag area rug is not to achieve the intricate look of a machine woven carpet. These are handmade rugs meant to be a work of art and therefore need not be perfect.
- Add on strips as you crochet or make all that you’ll need in advance.
- Make all your strips up first if you plan to dye them to look evenly random.
- If you want simple stripes on a rectangle rag rug, for instance, you can add on as you crochet and change strip colours at the edges as is required.
- Using a large crochet hook allows stitches to be relaxed so it’s easy to unravel if you hate the end result and want to do it all over again.
- You can get area rag rug making kits that has every tool you will need for your task, including backcloths.
- After making the rug, iron it with a steam iron, especially the edges are ruffling.
Other Crafts Made Out of Old Clothes
The technique used for weaving rag area rugs can also be applied to other crafts Asides using a rag rug for the floor, there are a variety of other things you can make out of old clothes and fabrics to use as home décor items or give out as gifts. They include some of the following:
- Tote bags
- Tea cosies
- Wall art
- Tablecloths, coasters, and placemats
Rag Rug Making – A Perfect Craft for the Family
When kids are free or on vacation and want something exciting to do, give them this fun task to do. They can make their own rag area rug for their bedroom, or for any other space in the house. And if they get good at making them, they can sell them to family and friends and earn some money in the process.
Even the elderly can join in the fun of making handmade rugs. They have a lot of free time on their hands to take up rug making crafts. They may even take the craft up to earn some income too.
They will make great gifts for their family members, friends, and even as gifts for children in an orphanage, and homeless people in localities, to help insulate them from the cold.