How to Make Your Own Floor Rugs Using Natural or Recycled Materials
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How to Make Your Own Floor Rugs Using Natural or Recycled Materials

Making your own floor rug is a craft project worth undertaking during the long evenings of winter. A colonial style rag rug is a good starter project the kids can help with that recycles old socks and sleeves. Here are several methods on how to make your own floor rug using natural and recycled material.

Making your own floor rugs can be a rewarding craft project especially when using natural or recycled materials. These projects are perfect for those long winter evenings that would otherwise be spent watching television. You can involve the kids in gathering and preparing the materials for your rug making project. A woven floor rug using natural grasses and reeds is an ideal summer project when natural materials are abundant and supple.

If you are new to rug making, start off with a scatter rug for the bathroom or kitchen floor. This way you will benefit from learning technique and the amount of materials necessary to complete a project. When you have mastered the technique you like the most with the materials that best suit your decor, you will want to embark on making an area floor rug.

Materials For Making Floor Rugs

Reduce, reuse, and recycle are now such a part of our green vocabulary. Items that were once trash are now eyed as resources for new projects such as making rugs to protect expensive carpets and hardwood floors. Raw materials can be gathered in large enough quantities to have an adequate supply for your floor rug project. Materials to consider:

  • plastic grocery and trash bags
  • used clothing such as socks, tees, sweats, sweaters, blankets, and jeans
  • rope, cord, string, shoelaces, leftover yarn 
  • reeds, grasses, vines

Conforming recycled materials into usable "yarns" is not that difficult. Make sure to prewash materials to avoid uneven shrinkage after the project is complete. When recycling cloth, consider whether to use like material and color combinations.

One method is to cut 1-2" loops from bags, socks, sleeves, legs. Attach one to the other by folding one loop over the inside of another and then pulling it through itself leaving a loose knot. This creates a chain just like making a Chinese jump rope out of rubber bands.

The other method is to create long strips by bias cutting one continuous length 1-2" wide from your material. Think in terms of peeling an apple or an orange without breaking the peel. To attach to each other, either sew them together or make a slit cut near the ends of the two strips. Feed one strip through the slit of the other. Feed the tail through its own slit to keep in place.

For strength and durability, you want to evenly braid 3 strips together staggering knots. Either sew, glue (fabric glue), or knot the 3 strips to get started. Anchor by attaching the braid to the floor with tape or tack to a wall for ease in braiding evenly. Always start your floor rug project using the beginning of the braid. This way you can keep adding more material as needed to the individual strands and continue the braid as you go.

Sew Your Own Floor Rug

The original rag floor rug is created by coiling the braid you made out of recycled cloth around itself and sewing in place as you coil with a large needle and heavy thread, yarn, or cord. Round or oval are the shapes derived through this method. Ease the curves so the rug will lie flat.

To create a square or rectangle shape, use individual even lengths of braid and sew together side-by-side. Finish off by sewing one continuous braid around all four sides to bind edges. You can also just tack braid edges under to finish.

There is even a no-sew version of a braided floor rug at Little House In The Suburbs. You will find a complete tutorial with pictures.

Crochet Your Own Floor Rug

If you are adept at crochet, making a floor rug can be quick and easy. If you would like to learn, visit Crochet Instructions. Simple crochet stitches work the best. Spaces will create weak spots that will wear faster. Choose a very large hook and gage your material before you start making your floor rug project. Experiment with different simple stitches. Individual squares can be sewn together just like creating an afghan.

Knit Your Own Floor Rug

If knitting is your forte, creating a unique floor rug from yarn using recycled or natural materials is a fun project. Use very large needles for rope, smaller for jute twine. Again, twine, cord, or string can be braided for a thicker sturdier yarn. Use a simple knit or knit one row pearl one row stitch for the knit floor rug.

If large needles are hard to find, make your own from dowels. Scrape and sand to smooth points. Attach a large bead or button to other end so stitches won't slide off.

Weave Your Own Floor Rug

Making a floor rug using a weave pattern is not very complicated unless you strive for an intricate pattern. All weaving is done through an over and under technique. Weaving is the better technique when using reeds and grasses. These natural materials will become more rigid as they dry.

A sheet of rigid cardboard cut 2" larger than the desired finished floor rug will allow taping or stapling the up and down or warp material. You can also use a wooden window or picture frame with glass removed as a loom. Use screws to tie on warp. Screws can be reset for making a different floor rug project.

The warp material can be rag strips or braid. It can also be heavy cord or thick yarn. Interesting weave can be created using ribbons, belts, leather strips, and even neckties for a floor mat. Leave extra warp at both ends to tie into a fringe, sew under, or add a binding to finish off. Space warp side by side using 4-12 warp pieces per inch as a guide. The thicker the material used, the less will be needed. If you are using 1" wide belts, set them next to each other.

Warp does not have to be the main material of the woven floor rug. The weft or side-to-side material will be more prominent if the material is wider. In other words; if you use a black cord for warp and black and brown leather strips for weft, the finished floor rug will appear as leather stripes tied together with black cord and have black cord fringe.

Rigid material like reeds or leather belts can easily be woven over and under the warp. Softer, more pliable weft needs the aid of a stiff shuttle to weave over and under. A very large eyed tapestry needle will accommodate most heavy yarns. A simple shuttle can be fashioned from a wooden paint stirring stick. Just drill a hole in one end large enough to handle the width of the weft material.

You can make separate weft run throughs where the beginning and end are left to finish off or you can continuously weave by reversing the direction when you come to the end. Just keep in mind that the next weft row must be opposite from the previous row. If you ended under the last warp, you need to go over that same warp for the next row. Firmly push each weft row up the warp with a fork or wide-toothed comb. Finish off the floor rug by knotting together two end warps and two wefts. You can also bind loose edges with heavy fabric folded in half to encase. Sew close to edge with a zipper foot.

Scotchguard the floor rug you made to prevent staining. Floor rugs made using these techniques can be washed using a mild detergent unless made of leather.

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Comments (4)

I'd love it if it were possible to vote this article up twice. I have a braided rug in the works and have used the weaving technique to make placemats. This article is spot on with directions and recycling ideas.

Thank you Irene for this share, wishing you and your love ones the best and good health in 2011 and plus years.

I love your ideas Irene! I never thought of using belts to make a rug. I've got those little excited butterflies in my belly. I'll never throw away a belt again. voted and retweeted and dug and liked

A very well written tutorial Irene.