27 June 2009

**Update** Two things I forgot to mention:
1) If you need an idea of how long it takes to make a rug, I am estimating that I've put approximately 8 hours into my rug so far. I've been working on it in the evenings while watching movies with Ryan, so it seems like no time. :)
2) If you use old sheets or any fabric that is cotton, this rug is completely washable!

"Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful. But if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful." -Shaker design philosophy

I'm working on a rag rug. My first.

The colors alone make it a therapeutic experience, not to mention how satisfying it is to see something I am making come together to become something useful and lovely!

May I share my experience with you?

The first think to know, I suppose, is whether you want to make a braided rug or a crocheted rug. I'll tell you that they both have their delights and drawbacks and that you shouldn't let a lack of crochet education keep you from giving it a whirl. In fact, if you want to learn, this may be the best way - it's on a HUGE scale, like working under a magnifying glass, so it's easy to see what's going on. I am crocheting my rug, but my sister is actually quite satisfied to be braiding hers.

If you want to braid your rug, this is a great site to read.

If you want to crochet, well, you've come to the right place! (Seriously, let me assure you that it's really very simple to learn. I just taught my girlfriend down the street last week and she's already finished with her rug - now, her only child is still in the "oven", she's got the summer off and she already had all her fabric lined up, so don't let her speediness intimidate you!)

Alright, enough chit chat. Let's get started.

What you'll need for a 3' round or 2'x3' rug:
:: 5-8 yards of 100% cotton fabric, cut or torn (my preferred method!) into roughly 1 1/2" strips
:: a P- or Q-sized crochet hook (I used a "p" for this rug, but I think I'll try a "q" next time.)
:: a sewing machine (ideal), a handy stitch (better than nothing) or a needle and thread and the patience of a crocodile (less than ideal)

How to make it happen:

1} Gather your fabric. This really goes without saying, but chose fabrics with interesting colors that will work well in the room for which the rug is intended. (A few tips: the more pattern, the more interesting, and, the actual pattern doesn't matter at all, only the colors will be apparent.)

I wanted the main colors of my rug to be based off the Wonderland line by Moda fabrics. (My rug is for in front of my kitchen sink.) So, I bought one honey bun, which includes 40 strips that are 1 1/2" x 44", one of each of the fabrics in the line.

(Another tip: You can buy these for under $20 on Ebay which is much less than you can buy them in online stores, but be warned, 40 strips won't get you very far. You'll need to buy a TON of honey buns, or else subsidize the rug with other solids and coordinating patterns purchased on the cheap.)

Fat Quarter Shop - they sell honey buns of Moda fabrics directly
EBay's Honey Bun stock - I see some on there going for $7.99 with free shipping right now. Some brands are cheaper than others.

I also found bed sheets at yard sales in colors/patterns that worked well as well as a great amount of scrap fabric. Honestly, you could use old pajama pants if you wanted to.

There was seriously something so aesthetically wonderful about just holding this and quietly unravelling it. The colors were just remarkable.

2} Tear all your fabric into 1 1/2" strips. Please don't waste your time measuring each one, or cutting each one if you can avoid it. It's a rag rug, and part of it's beauty is in the glorious messiness. If you're using a "Q" hook, you can make your strips even as wide as 2" or 2 1/2". This will just make a chunkier rug. I usually just use scissors to snip every 1 1/2" across the top of a piece of fabric, then use those leads to tear it from there. It's actually sort of satisfying!

When you're finished you will have piles of strips and fabric dust everywhere. Aaachoooo! :)

(Note: if you only have a bit of fabric to start out, or you want to get going before you commit to tearing up all your nice fabric, just do a little and go back to the tearing step when you need more strips.)

3} Sew the strips together. For this next step, it really is ideal to use a sewing machine. If you do not have access to a machine, I think the best thing to do is to use scissors and snip 1" "button holes" near the ends of two of the strips (well call them A and B). Send fabric B through the slit a the end of fabric A, then loop B's tail around and pull it through B's slit. (I really hope that made sense - it did in my mind. Eeee.)

So, if you have access to a sewing machine, your goal is to make one very loooong strip (you can think of it as your yarn to crochet). You'll be sewing these strips end to end, facing each other with about 1/4" - 1/2" seam allowance. I ran mine through the sewing machine as randomly as possible, stitching the top of B to the bottom of A, then the top of C to the bottom of B.

You'll come out with a chain of loops. And, if you did it properly (and I have no reason to doubt that you wouldn't!), you will Voila be able to snip the little bits of thread in between each one and it will become one loooonnng strip.!

(Time for another tip! You can have decent control over the pattern of your rug if you decide to stitch together only what you know you'll need at a time. I wanted the center of my rug to have all the same fabric, so I stitched a bunch of one particular pattern together at the beginning. I could have just done all the brown until I was satisfied with the center, then brought my little wimpy rug over to the sewing machine, and sewed more strips onto the tail of what was left. This is a hard project to mess up.)

No pressure. :)

4} Get to work with your crochet hook! Now, at this point it's ideal to have some crochet experience. You don't have to be an expert (believe me, I'm not), but you do need to be able to crochet single crochet stitches into the main chain. If not, this video is one of many online resources for learning. You can also probably find good instructional books with lots of pictures at your local library.

If you want to make an oblong rug like mine, start with about 20 links down the center, then turn the corner and start to single crochet your way back. You'll just keep going around and around, adding extra chain stitches every few stitches when you're rounding the corners.

If the rug is getting wavy, you take out a few stitches by skipping a stitch here and there. If it is curling up on you, make an extra stitch here and there. There's no real hard and fast pattern, and there's beauty in that imperfection.

5} To finish it off (when it's the size that you want, or when you need to step away for a week or a year) tie the tail that is left into the main rug and snip off the end. Hurrah!

(This is what I have so far. I'm thinking of finishing it off with a few rows of that brown that I used in the middle. Wonder if EBay has a good price on it...)

Okay, I really really hope this makes sense. It's entirely possible that you've gotten to this point and you just want to forget my shoddy instructions and just google it. I'm at peace with that too! :) In fact, I am attaching a few helpful resources below!

A video:

If you can read crochet pattern code (I can't!), here's a good pattern.
Want to crochet a rag rug out of old t-shirts? Try this! (Thanks, Ginger!)

Will you please share your rugs with me when as you work on them? I'd LOVE to see!

Happy color!


Faith said...

This is such a neat idea! I might have to try this sometime soon!

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Anonymous said...

I saved directions for one of these 2 years ago. I want to make a crazy big one someday. Maybe it is time to start planning. Thanks for the inspiration. I love the quote at the top of your post - love it!

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KristinBrianne said...

I'm going to link to this from my blog, I hope you don't mind. This is a wonderful, frugal home decor idea that's so much more personal and beautiful than buying a rug in the store!

Anonymous said...

As if 3 identical comment (I deleted 2) were not enough... I forgot to mention... my grandmother made me one of these when I was a kid. It was made entirely out of tights of all different colors. That thing lasted a dozen years and washed up great. I loved it. I don't have that many tights around so I'll be using fabric but it's another option if anyone does. I think denim would be pretty nice as well but thinner strips would probably be necessary.

Jami said...

Wow... its absolutely beautiful... but I am not so sure I could make one of those. It looks quite overwhelming/daunting... and I don't know how to crotchet and don't own a sewing machine... :( LoL It would take me a century to get one of those made.. haha Very pretty though... how long did it take you?

Christine said...

Looks great, Rae! Good for you! When that puppy is finished, you'll stand on it for years to come, happily doing kitchen things, and think, "I made this. Go me."

Go you, indeed. Love the colors. Ab fab.

ginger said...

I like the colors, Raechel!
This is also a good project for recycling old t shirts. You may not have to do as much sewing, either. Here is one link: http://www.craftstylish.com/item/39345/how-to-crochet-a-rug-out-of-t-shirts or you can google "rag rug t shirts". If I ever finish the one I started before I moved last time ;), I will send Raechel a pic (or post it to my blog).

Amy said...

Looks awesome! Wish I lived closer so you could teach a class or something!

Be blessed,


Tracy said...

very nice, Rae!

Tracy said...

very nice, Rae!

Molly said...

Gorgeous! I just love the colors! I kind of like it with the green outside ring...I'd leave it as is.

wendy said...

Beautiful, Raechel! Thank you for the inspiration :-)

Leagh said...

Raechel it looks great, I've been watching for this post since you twittered it. Now I want to make one for the soon to be borns new room. I'm ready to start ripping up fabric, forget breakfast!

Marisa said...

Such talent, Miss Raechel. How great to get to use your crafty designer skills (and show the rest of us how to do it, too). Moda fabric is just beautiful--one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

Googies Girl said...

Wow! I couldn't even attept that kind of project. Your talents seem to be endless! I love home made decor & that rug is beautiful! You did an amazing job!

Katy said...

GIRL! That is SOOOO precious! You're so talented! So fabulous!!

Meredith said...

I have no sewing machine and I don't know how to crochet but you're rug looks awesome! I need to learn how to crochet, find a sewing machine and then get started...
Or, you could open an online rag rug business... it'd probably be a huge money maker, especially if women like me could say they made them themselves :) hehe, anyways, it's awesome and I can't wait to try

Heather said...

that is really pretty! great job!

purejoy said...

wow that looks really amazing! you're a dear for spelling it out for us!!

Candice said...

Love your blog. Came across it from Christine Case. Love the rug, both the braided and crocheted versions. Very shabby chic. The colors you picked out were great.

Missy said...

Love your blog. I may have to try this some time!!! Thanks for sharing!

amanda said...

I'm loving your blog & reading back a ways..
Your rag rug looks great! My mom has made several.. My favorite is our Christmas tree skirt, all in solid white/off white. She made one for each of my sisters & I. Super special to break it out every year at the holidays!