Strategically placed rag rugs are an exciting and creative way to spruce up any room. Besides adding a splash of vibrance and texture to your decor, they are practical pieces as baby play mats, doormats, and bathmats.
What is a rag rug? A rag rug is a small mat or carpet usually handmade from strips of scrap fabric. What makes it particularly many people’s favorite is that you can make it by repurposing clothing, and all you need is time and basic crochet and knot tying skills.
You could purchase ready-made rag rug yarn or t-shirt yarn if you do not want to go through the trouble of making it. But trust us, the sense of satisfaction from making your own rag rug yarn is worth the effort.
You also get to save those bucks, declutter your wardrobe, withhold more clothes from the already overflowing landfills, and the freedom of choice for colors and patterns. Whichever way you look at it, it is always a win-win.
But how do you make rag rug yarn? Making rag rug yarn involves cutting rags, clothes, and other unwanted materials into strips and attaching those strips together by sewing or knotting. You can roll the attached strips into a ball and then it is ready to be used.
Some knots and ways of cutting material into strips are more efficient, but ultimately the process is simple. Still, we’ll share all our best tips with you.
Ready to flex some do-it-yourself muscle? Here’s an easy to follow tutorial post on how to make rag rug yarn. You’ll also get tons of helpful tips for choosing the best rag fabric. Let’s get ragging!
How To Make Rag Rug Yarn, Step-By-Step
You don’t need anything fancy to make rag rug yarn. Just ordinary stuff. A pair of scissors alone will do. In fact, some crafters never even utilize scissors. They just rip the rags apart by hand!
Unless you are going for an extremely rugged look, we do not vouch for it as the strips turn out uneven in thickness. We have these fantastic tools to make the whole experience easier, faster, and neater, so why not make use of them?
Choosing Fabric For Rag Rug Yarn
You can get fabric from old and worn out tees, dresses, skirts, bed linen, table cloths, and pillowcases sitting in the corner of your wardrobe. If you already gave those away, the thrift store will suit you at a bargain.
But not all materials are the same. Some are better than others for making rag rug yarn in durability, neatness and effort needed to manipulate them.
Avoid very heavy fabrics that are difficult to work with. Denim, leather, and towels are some examples (though you could use these materials together to create a very sturdy rag rug if you feel up to a bit of a challenge). You also want to avoid anything that sheds excessively.
100% cotton is an excellent choice. Jersey cotton – the material used to make t-shirts – in particular, is a favorite among rag rug makers. When cut across, it curls to itself, forming a nice tubing with smooth edges.
Delicate flowy fabrics, lycra, spandex, silk, and elastane are great too.
As we said, you can make do with just a sharp pair of scissors, but if you want an easier, more streamlined process, you can opt for the extra materials we’ve included with a (*) in this list.
Step 1 – Gather Materials
Gather your clean and dry rags (the clothing or bedspreads no longer in usable condition). 3 bedsheets or 6-7 shirts provide ample yarn for a rag rug.
Step 2 – Prep the “Rags”
Cut off any thick hems at the bottom, at the neckline, and sleeves of your “rags” if there are any. You can do this freehand with just a pair of scissors.
But if you want to cut easily, quickly, and get neater edges, use a ruler, rotary cutter, and cutting mat. The cutter slices through multiple layers of fabric at one go. You can check out this set on Amazon for this and future sewing projects.
Step 3 – Create Rag Strips
Measure and cut strips of 1-2 inches wide across the cloth. If you will use a mesh rug base, ensure the thickness is ideal for the holes.
You can cut your old clothes or other round items in 1-2″ thick loops, and then snip the loops in the middle (or along a seam) to get longer strips.
You can also save yourself time later by attempting to cut old T-shirts in 1-2″ spiraling from one end of the middle to the other. Rather than make loops, you’ll just have to slightly angle your cut as you work around the shirt or other round item. Your rag yarn will vary a little in thickness, however.
Step 4 – Separate Strips by Color (Opt).
Separate the strips by color if you want to follow a specific pattern or color scheme. Otherwise, you can mix everything up and see how dramatic the end results are. This is a good way to get a rainbow scrap look.
Step 5 – Sew Strips into ‘Yarn’
Sew the ends one to another until you have a long continuous strip – your rag “yarn”. Be sure to pay attention to the right and wrong side of the fabric while doing it (unless you don’t care). You can use a sewing machine or sew them up by hand using a thread and needle.
Another no-sew method of joining the strips is tying knots.
To do this with less bulk, simply make a slit near the one end of one strip (a) and another slit on the next strip (b). These should look like loops, or narrow holes on either end.
Insert the slotted end of strip (b) through the slit of strip (a) and pull its tail to loop into itself through the slotted end. Pull to form a knot and repeat by adding another strip (c) to the tail of strip (b), make slits and loop, and so on.
You can check out this video for a visual demonstration of what we mean. Although Drew Cavanaugh is technically demonstrating this for use in fishing, it’s a basic technique that can be applied to crafts and all kinds of uses!
Step 6 – Roll Rag Strips Into Ball
Once a sufficient length is reached, roll up the now joined strips into a ball, and voila! You have your rag rug yarn. You’re all ready to crochet with your repurposed yarn!
What Size Crochet Hook to Use for Rag Rugs?
A 10mm hook is typically going to be the most suitable crochet hook size to use for rag rugs. If the rag rug yarn is extra thick, as large as a 15mm will be a better choice. As always, the very best hook will depend on the nature of your rag yarn and how you tend to crochet (loose or tight).