Sunday, March 23, 2014

Knotted Rag Rug Tutorial Revisited

Pin It
Many moons ago I did a post tutorial on how to make rag rugs without any sewing. In fact I did two posts. You can see them here and here.

Well, it has been a while since I have made a rug. But, when I was cleaning out my fabric stash, I found several pieces that just had to be made into rugs. You don't necessarily have to use rags, it is just a term we fabricolics use for unused as of yet fabric [...;-)...]

I came up with fabrics for two rugs. One for my self and one for a gift.
Sheets can be used for strips, tablecloths that you no longer use, or just plain fabric that has been sitting in your closet for far too long (my case). If you were to purchase fabric, it would take a lot. That is probably why our grandmothers used fabrics from old shirts, trousers, edges of sheets that were worn out in the center. You get the idea. Fabric is expensive. Scour yard sales and get some for bargain prices. The most memorable rugs will be from fabrics that you love, and you won't break the bank.

Here is one that was recently finished for a birthday gift.

Not every one's choice, but there is a vintage blue and yellow kitchen that it will go in.

As I was making this one, I thought back to the tutorials that I did.
I thought perhaps a remake would be in order because maybe, just maybe a new take would make more sense.

So, hopefully, if you read the other posts AND this one, it may answer questions you have.

I "try" to lay out the fabrics that I want to use. I am rather "color challenged" and often ask my daughters for help in selecting colors. What I think at first would be great, sometimes clashes later...

Here are some fabrics I was considering and I actually tore some into strips. I was looking for a bright, colorful finished rug... Just to ease your mind, most of this was not used. Looking at it later showed me, Whoa there! not good choices. So I tried the rainbow approach, somewhat better. Mr likes this rug better than the blue and yellow rug, so I guess everyone to their own taste (as the old woman kissed the cow!)

Depending on how tight you knot, you will have either gaps or "knot".

My favorite part is the red part... I just knew you wanted to know...

Currently residing in front of the range. Cushy 

I take the fabric, cut off the selvage edge and then use my first finger to measure out approximately three inches. I found out long ago that this finger measures three inches, who would have known...
At the three inch mark, I make a snip with my scissors in the fabric and go on to the next snip place. After about six or eight strips, I start tearing the fabric from edge to edge. (If you don't cut off the selvage, your threads go back and forth and unravel forever, cutting it off stops that from happening). Fold it and pull at the edges to get those strings that will happen. Getting them ahead of using the strip will ease your use later.

Cut a little hole in each end of the strip for joining. This is done by folding over about 1/2" down, fold it in half again side to side, then cut a little of the corner. When you open it back up, you will find a little hole. You will use this hole to join your strips. You will not be sewing them together unless that is something you want to do. Personally...

Can you see the holes? (as a side note, I loved this fabric at first, it had all the colors that I wanted for the rug I was making. Looking back, I do not like it in the center of the finished run, but given some time and dirt, it will fade to a lovely tan...

Take the end and fold it into itself by thirds, and then in thirds again. This makes a really small end that you will thread onto a safety pin. The pin makes going into your holes so much easier than if you didn't have it. Trust me.

Now, lay the two pieces with exposed holes over each other, Right Sides up... It doesn't matter if one is a little wider than the other, that part of the edge will be folded in and you won't notice it at all.

Now, you can do this you know, grab the end of the top strip and bring it up from underneath through the hole. Use the safety pin to poke it through.

Pull, pull it through. You may think you have a mess, but keep it coming. it will fold into itself and look like this
See the torn end up there? These little torn ends will be throughout your rug, but they will be relatively unnoticeable (relatively...)

From the back, smooth out the edges by pulling on each side. It will almost curl around on the edges.

Now you have joined two strips together. You will be working with two strips the whole time, just joining another strip to the end when it get short. Notice that I have laid out these two strips, but staggered in length. That is because wherever there is a knot, there is a little bump. You will learn to work around these, but for the first few knots, it is best to not have the knot at the end of the round. This is the hardest part of the whole rug, so hang in there, you will make it.

Now wrap the right strip over the left and bring it under and through the hole.

You see here that I have pinned the end to the arm of the chair, ouch! That is to keep it stationary while I make those first few knots and for you to see it better. I just wasn't born with multiple arms.

See, that wasn't so bad. This knot you will use for the first row. Right strand over the left and back through the hole.
Do a series of knots, one on top of the other until you think you have enough for a center of an oval rug. Here there is about four and I think I did seven.

Now you will turn the corner by doing three knots in the same hole you just made, by taking the top strip, laying it down and wrapping the left strip over the top and going up through the hole. This is the knot that you use for the whole rug. The first row is different.

It's going to be a little bulky, but you can do it. Make a knot in each hole from your previous knots along the side. Count if it helps you. When you get to the end, make three knots in the end hole. You have completed one side! You are increasing each time you add extra knots. That will keep your rug flat and not curling up on the edges.

Can you see the strips/strands on the edges? That is where you poke your safety pin. Remember, top strip comes down, left strip wraps around and goes up through the bottom into the hole. Now that one is the top strip and you take the one from the left and wrap it over the top of the strip and up through the next hole. It is really much simpler than it sounds. Two color strips will give you a different look than if you use the same color. Those knots where you have joined strips together will be covered up when you come along with the next row.

See the one from the top and the one from the bottom? The bottom one comes from the left, wraps over the top of the right one.

Back side, just for you that are interested.

Adding another color by joining the new color strip

Hopefully this close-up shows you. I like to turn my strips so that the right side is always out. Sometimes it seems like you are turning it all the way around, but I like the way it turns out. It is not necessary to do this. The rug will still be very strong without this added step.

Keep going around, adding extra knots as you go to make the rug flat. You may want to work on a flat surface as it gets larger. It is your choice. And, add as many colors as you can to make it interesting. Go around and around and around many, many times. Make it as big or small as you want.

Now, I know I promised that there was no sewing, but a tip given to me by my daughter who has made many rugs herself, Sew the ends of the strips together on the last go around. It will make a smoother look and won't have those awkward knots to hide and the frayed edges to look at. Just if you want to.

I would love to see if any of you try this technique. Also, send me pictures, comments, questions. I am here to help if I can.

Linking up to:

Made By ME #120 Linky Party and Features


  1. I have made braided rugs for years and they are a PITA to sew together and washing is another nightmare. I am going to try this, I think they will lie flatter and I really like not having to sew the braids together. Love both rugs in your post!

    1. Henrietta - I hope your trial with this method turns out great. I have made probably 10 rugs all together and they wash and wear beautifully. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to email me and ask! I will be most happy to help you along.


Tell Me What's On Your Mind