Saturday, November 07, 2009

Tutorial: Homemade Braided Rag Rug

I've just moved into an awesome new apartment and want to do my kitchen in Plum and Lime. I have some lovely dishtowels in this color palate that I based my window treatment choice on (vintage curtains!) and signature antique bottles filled with colored water to match the room they are in.

These bottles are one of my favorite decorating items as each has a story as to where I salvaged them...the river bed in the town I grew up, an abandoned house outside of Rome...They make great decorative items with colored water and unique vases to break up a bouquet of fresh flowers.

To my dismay, I'm the only one into plum and lime today as I was not able to find any decorative stuffs in pretty much every kitchen decor store I looked in. I desperately wanted a little rug for in front of the sink. So, reflecting on what my mom had in her kitchen while growing up, a large, circular wool braided rug, it occurred to me that I could make a rug! To my further disappointment, google yielded very few to no useful braided rug tutorials.

Yes, they tell you to braid a long continuous 3+ strand braid. That to me is a given. No one really seemed to be able to suggest how to assemble said rug. I tried the hack job way (which I thought would be quickest) of zigzag stitching it on a machine; to find that this resulted in a bowl!

As a result...I present you...a step by step, photographic tutorial!

-Several yards of cloth (colors to your choice, yardage will vary depending on size. My rug is about 2'x 3' and I used about 3-4 yards. This is a great way to recycle old clothing...hence rag rug)
-Flexible feet, heavy object or helpful friend
-Strong darning needle
-Heavy thread
-Iron (optional)
-Large flat surface

1. Cut fabric into 2" minimum width strips. I cut mine on the bias (diagonal) because this ensures minimum (often none) fraying.

2. Stitch the ends of minimum 3 strands together. I read that it is common to make 4-6 strand braided rugs as well. Three strands are plenty :)

3. Begin braiding! You'll want a place to anchor the braid; if you are flexible, use your feet, if not, place it under something heavy, have a friend hold it etc.

If you are unsure how to braid, the best suggestion is start with all three strands laid out next to each other. Grab the left most strand, cross it over the center strand (it now becomes the center). Then grab the right most strand, cross it over the new center strand (it now becomes the center). Repeat until desired length.

Note: if you don't like raw edges, you may want to iron under the edges before braiding, also, I would cut your strips a bit wider if you intend to iron. Otherwise, you can do as I did and simply tuck under the edges as you go. The back will show some raw edges...but to me, it is simply the back :)

4. Once you have a couple feet of braid, begin laying it out flat in the desired shape (circle, oval and square are the easiest). I selected oval, as my mom thought it would fit best against the cabinets.

5. You will need a large darning needle, heavy thread and a thimble to start assembly. Start at the center and use a basic stitch to catch one side than the other. I suggest you stitch from the back side so you won't see the stitches from the top. (As the stitches are small, click on the picture to view it larger).

6. Alternate between braiding more length and assembly the rug. I find it is helpful to assemble as you go because you have less length to negotiate and you can control your color placement better should you wish to make it stripped etc. Be sure to always stitch on a flat surface, otherwise your rug will become bowled or lumpy. (Pardon the project cat, she felt this was the best place for her to be).

7. To finish, simply tuck in and under the loose ends and stitch to the rug.

8. Enjoy!

Here's mine so far.

P.S. What I really love about this type of rug is that it is a frugal choice, can be perfectly tailored to your design colors, is relatively easy to do, allows you to recycle fabric should you wish and thus is a sustainable choice! Love it!


  1. Anonymous12:28 PM

    Oh wow, this is so cool!! Thank you so much for the tutorial!!


  2. You're welcome. I think I'll be posting more fun tutorials in the future since my time is spent doing cool crafty projects I might as well share :)

    Best part is this is super thrifty, one of the fabrics I am using is a t-shirt. One could make this all out of old clothes very easily!

    Thanks for reading,


  3. And indefinitely it is not far :)