Handwoven Rag Rug Instructions

Written by margaret mills
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Handwoven Rag Rug Instructions
Make your own handwoven rag rug. (braided rags image by Al Mueller from Fotolia.com)

Weaving is a common way to transform rags into rugs, on either a loom or a frame. Rugs can be made of nearly anything, such as cotton sheets, clothing or quilt fabrics. Wool and denim work too. Rugs can be woven with fabric strips for both the warp--the vertical strips--and weft--the horizontal woven strips--or with strong cotton thread for the warp. A floor loom is the preferred way for serious rugmakers to produce their work, but try making a simple rug on a frame before investing in a heavy loom.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Wooden boards, cut to chosen dimensions
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Rags
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
  • Rug maker's bodkin (optional)

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    The Frame

  1. 1

    Make a frame by measuring and cutting four pieces of wood, at least 1 inch thick, and nailing them into a rectangle. The size of your frame determines the size of your rug.

    Handwoven Rag Rug Instructions
    Create a frame the size of your rug. (wood frame image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Pound a nail into the upper left corner of the frame, then continue putting nails every 1/2 inch across the top.

  3. 3

    Add another row of nails across the bottom, in line with the top row of nails.

    Weaving the Rug

  1. 1

    Cut your fabric into 1-inch strips, using scissors or a rotary cutter. Cut them thinner for thick fabric such as denim.

  2. 2

    Sew the ends of fabric strips together to create one long strip for the warp by placing two strip ends at right angles to each other, right sides together. Sew diagonally across the square made by the strip ends, turn and trim the seam to 1/4 inch. The two strips should then be joined by a diagonal seam.

  3. 3

    Create the weft strips the same way, except each should be about 9 inches longer than the width of your intended rug.

  4. 4

    Warp your frame by tying one end of the warp strip to the top left corner nail, bring it down around the nail straight below it on the bottom, then up around the next top nail. Continue to the end, and tie the strip to the final nail.

  5. 5

    Weave your weft strips over and under the warp. Push or "beat" down each strip as you add the next.

    Handwoven Rag Rug Instructions
    Weave the strips together. (Weave Illustration image by Karin Lau from Fotolia.com)
  6. 6

    Finish by sewing a running stitch along each side, being sure to include the beginning and ending warp. Remove the rug from the frame. You can sew a strip of binding along the edges for a finished look.

Tips and warnings

  • A rugmaker's bodkin is a useful tool for weaving the weft strips through the warp.
  • The warp can also be strong rugmaker's thread.
  • Use similar types of fabrics in your rug. Wool and cotton, for example, shrink at different rates, so it is best not to mix them.

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