How to Braid a Cozy Rag Rug

Add warmth and color to your home with unique floor coverings made from leftover fabric scraps.

| Winter 2019


Colorful, cozy rag rugs are enjoying a resurgence as folks rediscover the frugal beauty of their ancestors' home goods. Photo by Adobe Stock/Jana

Rag rugs have been around as long as frugal folks have set aside worn clothing until they found something useful to do with the fabric. Besides keeping bare feet off ice-cold floors in winter, rag rugs added a pop of color and hominess to interiors that didn’t have much else going for décor — think of those rough log cabins and sod houses our ancestors lived in. Not many of those homesteading-era rag rugs are left; families simply used them until they wore out completely. And rag rugs fell out of fashion for a while in the 20th century.

You can recreate this pioneer style in your modern home by upcycling old fabrics to make your own creative, colorful floor coverings. Making rag rugs requires only the most basic sewing skills — just a simple stitch to hold the braids together. So, put your natural frugality to use and start gathering up that old fabric.

To prepare your fabric, you’ll need to remove any pockets, zippers, buttons, and collars, because they’ll be hard to braid and will make the resulting rug lumpy. For the same reason, we recommend you use fabrics that are similar in weight. Old bed sheets from thrift stores make great rag rugs, because they’ll be nearly identical in weight — and they’ll also be easy to tear into strips. Think about how you plan to clean your finished rug, and take that into account when choosing fabrics. Whether you’re using old or new fabrics, pre-wash them so any shrinkage happens before you make your rug — and so you’re working with clean fabric.

After the fabrics have been washed, you’ll need to tear or cut them into strips. This will be the most time-consuming part of making a braided rag rug. If you plan to cut the strips, a rotary cutter will work great. You can also use scissors, but it’ll be hard on your hands and you’ll likely need to rest frequently. This is a great project to work on in the evenings, sitting in front of a cozy fire (or the television). To store the strips until you need them, simply roll them into a ball as they’re finished.

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