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Braided Rug | How To Braid Your Own Rag Rug

January 29, 2011

Braided Cotton Rug

Here is how to make a braided rug.  You can google ‘braided rag rug’ or ‘how to braid a rug’ to get other ideas or if you want to be more particular about your rug.

I will explain the simplest way and the fastest way to start and finish your project.  I’m not a fan of taking forever to get a project done… probably cuz I fear that I won’t finish it.  Doing it the way I explain below will give you a very nice finished rug with the least amount of time and money involved (no sewing machine, no ironing, no fuss).

Material

I think bed sheets are the easiest material to use. Use cotton or poly/cotton blend. You simply cut 2 or 3 inch strips (I prefer 3 inch).  If you use a scissors and simply notch a cut every three inches, then you can go back and tear the strips.  This is fast and easy.  Sheets will tear straight, once it is started at the top with scissors.

Tear up enough sheets to get a good start.  Or tear them all and get this step over with.

Fabric Edges

There are lots of methods for braiding rugs. You can leave fabric edges exposed and allow them to fray naturally for a homespun look, or turn the edges in, fold the strip in half, and stitch the seam in place for a more finished product. The look you want and the time you have to spend on the project will probably be the biggest determiners of which method you’ll choose.  I personally just leave the edges and let them do what they do.  Most of the time, they end up on the ‘inside’ and you don’t see them and they won’t really fray because everything is nice a braided together.

Adding Strips

The fastest way is to add strips is to make slits on the tops and bottoms of the strips about a half-inch from the end. Lay the strips over each other and lace then new strip through both the holes and gently pull into a knot.  It’s kinda like a slip knot.  This is quick and easy doesn’t require any sewing.  You’ll be able to hide the connection in the braid.  Just make sure you do not have more than one connection in the braid at the same spot.  Stagger your lengths.

Beginning the Braid

Begin your rug by using a large safety-pin to affix three fabric strips to something stable, like a  bed spread, couch cushion, or pillow. One nice thing about using a pillow is that it’s portable, so you can take your project with you from room to room. Start braiding, and then fold and hide the starter ends in the first two rows of the rug.

Starting to Make Rows

You can easily create either a round or an oval rug by the way you start your rows. You can begin a round rug by simply turning your long braid in a circle, creating longer and longer rows as you continue to wrap the bulk around the central core. For an oval rug, you’ll want to make an oval loop to start, and then wrap rows using the loop as your core. Following the loop will create an oval shape as the rug grows. The size of the loop should be in keeping with the planned size of the finished rug. Try subtracting the length from the width of your planned rug. The resulting number should be the length of your beginning loop. For example, a four-foot by three-foot rug should start with a one-foot long loop. (4′-3’=1′)

Lacing:

Find a  heavy-duty thread to lace the braids together.  Jute, yarn, .  Along the straight sides of rug the loops of each braid are side by side to form an open “V” or chevron. Using a large blunt needle,  lace through alternate loops of adjoining braids ( see sketch). When rug begins to curve another method is used. To allow fullness needed to keep rug flat it is necessary to increase by lacing thread through 2 loops on new braid and continuing to lace through alternate loops on rug (see sketch). Be sure to increase enough at each curve to allow rug to lie flat.

After rug is complete, it may require light pressing with a damp cloth and a hot iron. Now you may relax, sit back and admire your handiwork.

Keeping Your Rug Flat

There is a lot of flexibility in how you can create a braided rug, but there are a few important things to watch out for as you work. The two most common mistakes are pulling the rows so tightly that the rug cups instead of staying flat around the outer edges, or tying the rows too loosely and creating a ruffled effect. To control both of these problems, work the rug on the on a table and then move to the floor if you need more space.  Keep checking your rug to make sure it lays flat. If you check after every row, you’ll save yourself having to rip rows out later.

If you find that the rug is not laying flat, you will need to take out a row or two to fix the problem because the ‘bowl’ like effect will only worsen as you continue.

A rule of thumb is to make 12 increases per round – 6 at each end.  Figure out some way to keep track or you will lose count and have the sombrero affect vs a flat lying rug.

Finishing Off

When you’re coming around the last row, start to trim the widths of the last three strips of fabric , making the braid narrower. By the time you get to the end, the tail of the last strand should be easy to wrap under the previous row and stitch in place, making a smooth outer ring.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use the same amount of tension for all of your braiding. Looser and then tighter braiding will result in an uneven thickness and a sloppy look.
  • Try to pick fabrics with the same thickness.  Probably don’t mix new sheets with very worn /thread bare sheets.
  • Match your thread or twine to the colors in your rug to help them blend into the background.
  • Wrap tail ends of fabric strips and knots into the seams created by new rows. If tails look bulky, sliver cut them with a sharp pair of scissors.
  • Get sheets at a thrift store for the best prices.  There is usually a huge variety to choose from.
  • If the rug needs a little extra help lying flat, get a non-slip rug mat to go under it and smooth it out.  This should help it lay flat and not slip/wrinkle on a hard surface floor.

Braided rugs add country-style and casual chic to a room. Although they can be expensive to buy, they are inexpensive to make. Learning how to make a braided rug is an easy and restful way to get into crafting.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Leslie permalink
    January 7, 2014 8:31 pm

    For clarification what is “increase ” around the curves? I started relooping my grandma’s rug she made because she use yarn and in the wash it came apart at every not. I now have a perfect cowboy hat.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 11, 2011 6:41 am

    Thanks! You’ve inspired me!

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