DIY Rug Making

handmade rugs image by Earl Robbins from

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Heavy-duty sewing thread or rug sewing yarn
  • Heavy-duty sewing needle

Rugs are a beautiful addition to any home, but they can be pricey. Making your own rugs using looming or latching techniques may be a solution, but they too can be difficult and expensive to make. Rag rugs made from inexpensive, easy-to-find fabrics, on the other hand, are a great alternative. You can make a rag rug using almost any kind of fabric, in any color, and to match any decorating scheme. Best of all, this method can be used to make rugs of any size from small doormats to bigger area rugs.

Choose your fabric. Lightweight knit and woven fabrics work well: old tee-shirts and bed sheets are inexpensive and can be found easily at thrift stores and garage sales. The amount of fabric you need depends on the size of the rug you want to make: larger rugs need more fabric and smaller rugs need less.

Tear your fabric into strips of 1 to 3 inches in width. Tie the strips together lengthwise to create long strips--the longer the strips, the easier the braiding will be. Wind the finished strips into balls so they'll be easy to handle and won't get tangled. Wind at least three balls (it doesn't matter how big or small the balls are, but you'll want three so you can easily braid your strips).

Tie together three strips--one from each of your balls. Begin braiding the strips. You can continue to braid until you have braided the whole ball, or work the braids into a rug as you go along.

Form a tight, flat circle with the end of your braided strips--this will form the center of your rug. Sew this circle into place using your heavy-duty thread or yarn and needle. A whip-stitch will work best for this--bring your needle up through the back of the rug, and down from the top with each stitch being roughly 1/2 to 1 inch apart (it is better to sew more stitches than fewer, since this sewing holds your rag rug together). You can use either contrasting or matching thread or yarn--both will produce visually pleasing results.

Continue to form your rug by winding your braided strips around the center of your rug, sewing as you go along. Don't allow the coils to get too large before you sew them, or you may have to reform them if they shift.

Finish your rug by braiding to the end of your strip, and joining that end braid to the last section of the rug by sewing. Tuck the ends you could not braid to the bottom side of the rug, and sew them down tightly. These ends should not be visible from the top of your rug.


  • Make sure your rug lies flat as you wind and sew your sections. If you find the rug buckling or curving at all, loosen how tightly you are winding it.

    If your strip balls run out before you have finished your rug, simply attach new strips to the rug by braiding the old and new strips together.


About the Author

From the Bronx, N.Y., Shannon Lea has been writing social science and art history-based articles since 2000, with works featured on various websites. Lea is currently perusing her Master of Arts in the history of the decorative arts at the Bard Graduate Center, where she is writing her thesis on ninth-century Arab ceramics.

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