How to Weave Amish Rag Rugs

Written by helen harvey
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How to Weave Amish Rag Rugs
Scrap fabric and old clothes can be used to make rag rugs. (bolts of fabric image by Scott Williams from

The Amish believe in not letting anything go to waste, and when hand-sewn clothes can no longer be worn, the fabric is used for other purposes, including rag rugs. Rag rugs have been made for centuries by many cultures around the world, and they became particularly popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are a number of techniques used to make rag rugs, and one of the oldest techniques utilised by the Amish is the cord method.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Scissors
  • Scraps of fabric
  • 50-yard reel of upholstery cord
  • Sewing needle
  • Strong thread

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  1. 1

    Gather together the fabrics you will use for your rug. Use leftover scraps from sewing projects, old clothes and cheap shirts, skirts and dresses you may have bought in thrift stores or at garage sales. The ideal fabric for a rag rug is 100 per cent cotton.

  2. 2

    Cut or tear your fabrics into strips that are 2 inches wide and 5 inches long. Make sure all your strips are the same width and length.

  3. 3

    Find a comfortable seat where you will work the rag rug and position your rag strips within easy reach. Place the reel of cord at your feet and hold the end of the cord in your lap. Starting about 12 inches along the cord, take a rag strip and tie it around the cord, knotting it securely with a double knot. Ensure that both ends of the strip are even in length. Take another strip of cord and repeat the process next to the first strip. Continue this process until you reach the end of the reel, ensuring that you leave no gaps where the cord shows.

  4. 4

    Turn the cord over so that the loose ends face down. Cut off most of the excess cord at the start of the rags. Start to coil your rag-covered cord, forming it into the shape of rug you want; a simple circle, oval or rectangle is most common in Amish rag rugs. Use your needle and thread to secure the coiled cord together as you coil it.

  5. 5

    Turn your finished rug over and trim any stray threads.

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