Toothbrush rug instructions

Updated April 17, 2017

Toothbrush rug is an odd name for a colonial style spiral rug that is made using a series of knots. The name comes from the tool used in making the rug, which traditionally was a modified toothbrush. A toothbrush rug can be a fun project that can add interest and appeal to any room in the home.


Fabric: You will need strips of fabric, an inch or more wide and a yard or more long. Tear these strips from new or used fabric and fold them in half lengthwise. Keep in mind when choosing fabric that both sides of the fabric will show in the finished rug. Cut a lengthwise slit about ½ inch long at each end of each strip for joining together.

Tools: The only tools you will need are scissors and a large needle-like tool. You can make the needle from a toothbrush or another tool about 2 inches long with a dull point on one end and a hole large enough to thread the fabric on the other end.

Getting Started

To start your toothbrush rug, simply join two strips together by putting the end of one through the slit in the other, then through the slit on its own other end, pulling to make a knot. Pin the knot temporarily to a surface to hold it as you begin work on your rug.

The First Round

Hold the two strips side by side. The one on the left is the filler strip and the one on the right is the knotting strip. Thread the knotting strip onto your needle. Make a half-hitch knot with the knotting strip around the filler strip by crossing the knotting strip over the filler strip, then under it and back up through the loop that is formed. Slide the knot near where the strips join and pull it snug but not tight. Repeat this three times, resulting in a strip of four half-hitch knots lying side by side over the filler strip. Turn the strip so that the ends meet and join it into a circle by pushing your needle top down through the first knot, then passing it under the filler strip and back up through the loop--this forms a half-hitch that now links the strip into a circle. You have completed the first round. (See References 1)

Continuing the Circular Rug

Hold the filler strip beside the previous round of knots. Continue making half-hitch knots by first pushing the needle down through the knot in the previous round, then passing it under the filler strip and back up through the loop you've made. Continue working rounds until the rug is the desired size, then weave the ends into the knots to finish off. (See Resources 3)

Forming Curves

As you go, add extra knots occasionally to form the curves of the circle. In the first two rounds, you will probably need to add an extra knot for every two knots by pushing the needle through the space between the two knots of the previous round. Continue adding extra knots as needed. Spread the rug out frequently to make sure it will lay flat. If it bubbles up, you need to add more extra knots in the next row. If the edge ripples, you have too many extra knots-add fewer in the next row. (See References 3)

Joining New Strips

As you near the end of a filler or knotting strip, knot a new one in the same way you knotted the first two together.

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About the Author

Susan's broad interests have yielded a rich and varied career in human resources, small business, nonprofit and education. Now retired from a Fortune 500 company, she consults and writes on related topics. Susan has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University, and holds Professional Human Resources and New Jersey Teacher of the Handicapped certifications.