Inside: A simple tutorial on how to make a rag rug from upcycled clothing fabric scraps.
He blames it on a scented candle gone wrong, but I have my suspicions! There is an unsightly burn on the carpet in my son’s room. What I needed to do, was to make a rag rug, to not only hide the mark but to break up the sea of grey on the floor in his bedroom.
I developed a super simple way of making a rag rug by wrapping and weaving fabric yarn around some old rope. And I upcycled his old jeans to make this lovely denim rag rug.
The rag rug looks great on the floor in his bedroom. And you’d never know there is a burn underneath it. He loves the unique indigo colour of the denim too.
Why Make A Rag Rug
There are many reasons why I decided to make this upcycled rag rug
- It’s very affordable
- It is eco-friendly as upcycling fabric
- It’s an easy and enjoyable craft
- No fancy tools need
- No need to use the sewing machine
- No need to use any glue
- No crocheting or knitting needed
What Fabric Can You Use
Any fabric you can make into a yarn can create a rag rug. These include upcycled clothes such as t-shirts, denim and sweaters.
I used old jeans and keep all my family’s old denim to upcycle and repurpose. I make tons of things for the home out of them.
The best thing about using denim is that it’s plentiful, hard wearing and the colour.
How To Make A Rag Rug
There is a printable craft card for this tutorial with a video at the end.
What you need
- Approx 8 jeans legs – This may vary depending on the style and size of jeans you use. This estimate is based on four pairs of straight-legged adult jeans of average size.
- 20 meters of rope 14mm thick – You can use rope that is slightly thinner, but you will need more of it to make a rug the same size.
- Scissors, ruler and pen
- Crochet hook or something similar – this is not for crocheting but just a tool to help hook the fabric through a loop.
How To Make Denim Yarn
Denim fabric yarn is made in the same way as this t-shirt yarn (check out the infographic). That is making diagonal cuts across the tubed fabric to make one long strip of continuous fabric. (I made recycled sweater yarn this way for a Valentine’s heart wreath.)
Step 1: First, cut the legs off the denim jeans from the top of the thigh, just below the pockets. Also, cut away the bottom hem of the jeans. (Keep them to one side for other denim seams/hem upcycles).
Step 2: Next, turn the jeans leg inside out and lay it flat on a table. Then with a pen mark lines across the length of the leg. The lines should be the width of a ruler (approx 3cm) and finish about 3cm from the top.
Step 3: Next, cut along the lines with scissors. Make sure you stop before getting to the top of the jeans leg. You’re basically fringing the leg.
Step 4: Next, this is where the magic happens. Lay the fringed denim leg out and cut the first strip of denim to the edge at the top.
Begin the next cut with the next strip, working diagonally across the top of the fabric to the start of the next strip.
Continue cutting diagonally from the end of one strip to the start of the next one until you’ve cut all the strips apart.
Step 5: You will have one long strip of denim yarn. Wrap it into a ball. You will need to make at least eight balls of denim yarn.
How To Wrap and Weave The Yarn Into A Rag Rug
Step 1: Firstly, cut a strip of denim yarn into about 2 meters in length. Then tightly wrap it around the end of the rope overlapping as you go. You might find it easier to secure the end temporarily with a pin.
Step 2: After wrapping about 15-20 cm of the rope, coil it tightly. You might want to secure it in place with a pin. Take the end of the denim yarn and thread it through the centre of the coil. Use the crochet hook to help hook it through the middle of the hole.
Pull the yarn from the back between the top ropes all the way through. Then wrap it around the first two rows and repeat. It holds the rug together. Watch this video of the process here.
It is the trickiest bit of making the rag rug, but once you get started, it gets easier.
Step 3: Next, wrap the denim yarn around the single strand of rope three times. Then, pass it through the strand of rope below, wrap it around two strands and repeat.
Step 4: Carry on wrapping the denim around the rope 3-4 times before pulling the fabric through and threading around two thicknesses of rope.
When the fabric has run out, start another length of yarn. Wrap this over the end of the last yarn strip to hold it in place.
Step 5: If you run out of rope, join a new coil using duct tape. When wrapped in denim, you won’t see the join.
Step 6: When the rope runs out, or the rag rug has reached the size you want it to be, simply finish off the rug by weaving the end of the fabric yarn into it.
If you want to make the rug larger, add another coil of rope. Use a strip of denim yarn to weave the end into the rug. Then carry on weaving and wrapping the rope round the edge of the rug until you get the size you want.
The new denim rug looks great in my son’s room and it does the job of hiding that burn mark and breaking up the sea of grey carpet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Type of Denim To Use To Make A Rag Rug
You can easily make a lot of fabric yarn from the legs of old jeans. One leg will create a large ball of yarn.
Use any style of jeans, but flared and boot-cut jeans produce more yarn than skinny jeans.
Softer worn denim will be easier to weave and wrap than thick stiff denim. Use stretched and non-stretched denim. Both types will fray, but I’ve found that stretch denim frays less than non-stretched.
2. Why Cut the Yarn into 2-meter Strips?
It is much easier to manage the weaving with shorter strips of yarn around the rope. As it’s pulled through a small hole, it would take a long time with a whole ball of yarn.
You are more likely get tied up in knots with longer strips of yarn!
3. Can I Use Other Fabrics?
Yes, t-shirts work well. They don’t fray and give a smoother finish. Other fabrics to try are old bed sheets and sweaters.
Just make sure the fabrics aren’t too heavy and stiff, as they can be difficult to weave around the rope.
4. Can I use Any Rope?
You can use nylon or natural rope. The rug works best with one that is between 8mm-14mm thick. Just remember that if you use 8mm thick rope you will need more of it to make a rug the same size as that made with 14mm rope.
5. What Can I Make From The Rest Of The Jeans?
Another cool upcycled rug to make from old clothes is this sweater felt rug.
- 8 legs from four pairs of adult jeans
- 20 meters of rope 12- 14 mm thick
- Crochet hook or something similar for hooking fabric through a hole when weaving
- Scissors, 30cm ruler and pen
- Start by making the fabric yarn. Cut the leg off a pair of jeans. Cut the hem off the end of the jeans and turn it inside out.
- Next, lay the leg flat and mark lines with a pen from the base to 3cm from the top all the way along. Place the lines one ruler width apart.
- Next, use the pen marks as a guide to cut and fringe the jeans leg. .
- Then open up the jeans and cut the first strip to the edge. Then cut diagonally from one strip across to the next to make one long strip of denim yarn. T-shirt yarn is made the same way.
- Do this with all eight legs of jeans until you have eight balls of denim yarn.
- Next, cut a 2-meter strip of yarn. Then, start making the rag rug by wrapping the yarn around the end of the rope. After about 10cm is covered, coil it.
- Next, using the crochet hook, poke the yarn through the centre of the coil and wrap it around the next circle of rope. So that the two pieces of rope, are held together.
- Then, wrap the denim yarn three to four times around the rope. Again poke the yarn through the lower rope and wrap it around the two pieces of rope to hold the circle shape of the rug.
- Repeat wrapping and weaving the yarn around the rope as you coil it. When you run out of denim yarn, wrap a new strip over the old one and continue.
- If you run out of rope, use masking tape to join another coil.