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How to Make Rag Area Rugs (Recycle Old Clothes)

Updated on March 27, 2018
viryabo profile image

I love crafts works. I made my first ragdoll when I was 10 as a class project for a jumble sale and made my first rag rug when I was 16.

Did you know that rag area rugs have been around for hundreds of years and were crocheted with fabric strips cut from old cloths?

At that time, it was a necessity because old clothes were not just thrown away, or given out. Every old bit of anything a family owned, was recycled and put to good use for the family.

Rag rugs are a traditional and somewhat classic hand woven craft, and as in the days of old, today, a rag area rug can be made from old unwanted clothes.

This is a great way to recycle your old garments, including old jeans, blankets, bed sheets, and even old leather, and its quite simple to make, sometimes in just a few days.

A rag rug made from different pieces of discarded clothes.
A rag rug made from different pieces of discarded clothes.

Recycling - Old Clothes Can Be Put To Good Use

Those old unused clothes, strips of fabric, unwanted apparel and such stuff can be made useful instead of being thrown away.

If you want to give old clothes to charity, you can also give them nice handmade rag rugs made from the ones that aren't good enough to wear anyway and would have been totally discarded.

Materials You Can Use to Make Rag Rugs

The best rag area rug has a good mix of fabric in a planned colour coordinated finish. A variety of materials can be used to make a rag area rug, materials such as:

  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Old jumpers
  • Dresses and general apparel
  • Old unused ribbons
  • Leather or any faux leather products
  • And even unused and tougher types of plastic bags.

One can also purchase cheaply priced yards of different types and textures of materials from any of the local fabrics shops. Wherever one may live, cheap fabric shops and flea type markets abound. You will find there are the left over strips from their bales of fabrics that will make a beautiful rag area rug.

A variety of rag rugs
A variety of rag rugs | Source

How to Make Rag Area Rugs

To make a rag area rug is simple and straightforward and if you are able to do crochet then you are good and ready to go. The most basic and simple technique of crocheting will suffice. If you are a beginner and wish to perfect the art of rag rug weaving, you may find this first comprehensive book on weaving rag rugs quite helpful.

However, if you are a beginner wishing to perfect the art of rag rug weaving, you may find this first comprehensive book on creating rag area rugs quite helpful.

Tools Required

The things you require to make a rag area rug are easy to find items, and you probably have them lying around the house or tucked away somewhere, deep in the closet.

First, assemble these items:

  • Needle and thread (or a sewing machine if you possess one).
  • A pair of good sewing scissors
  • A crochet hook (the US size Q is perfect for the job), large size.
  • Old unwanted or discarded clothes, blankets, linen, jeans or whatever form of material you may find around the home.

Using a large crochet hook allows stitches to be relaxed. It makes it easy to unravel if you hate the end result and want to do it all over again. If you think you've made a mistake, just unravel it and begin again. You will eventually get it right.

In the alternative, you may get a rag rug making kit that has every tool you'll need, including burlap back cloths.

And when you are pleased with your results, iron the rug you just made with a steam iron, especially if you find the edges are ruffling.

Video Tutorial - No Sew Rag Area Rug

A round rag area rug
A round rag area rug | Source

Video Tutorials - Round Doormat

If You Can Crochet With Yarn, You Can Crochet With Strips Of Fabric

If you can crochet with yarn, then you can crochet a rag area rug with fabric strips. It’s the same basic crocheting principle.

Don’t worry too much about perfection because the idea of a rag area rug is not to achieve the intricate look of a machine woven carpet.

Remember that these are homemade rugs, and are supposed to be a work of art, so it's not necessarily intended to be perfect.

Other Crafts You Can Make With Discarded Clothes

Asides using a rag area rug as a floor area rug, there are a variety of other things you can make and use, or give out as gifts, using the rag rug making system.

People recycled discarded sheets and clothes to make some of the following:

  • Cushions
  • Tote bags
  • Tea cosies
  • Wall hangings
  • Chair pads
  • Blankets
  • Vintage look tablecloths

Rag Rug Making - A Perfect Craft for Kids and the Elderly Too

When the kids are on vacation and want something exciting to do, why not give them this fun task to make a beautiful rag area rug for their bedroom, or for any other space in the house.

Better still, they can earn money by making these beautiful area rugs and sell them inexpensively to family and friends.

The elderly that have so much time to themselves can easily take up rag area rug making crafts, producing pretty rag rugs as gifts to orphanages, friends and family. Making a rag area rug can even earn them a little income on the side.

© 2009 viryabo


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    • marissa lopez profile image

      marissa lopez 

      18 months ago

      thanks :)

    • toptenluxury profile image

      Adrian Cloute 

      5 years ago from Cedartown, GA

      I love this hub. I think that I will make a small one for my table and then make a bigger one for my floor.

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Great idea on how to recycle old clothes and fabrics. You've given us easy instructions too, viryabo. Excellent craft hub.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have to say that, "I just love this." I love to make good use of everything, and I love the old Pioneer days from making home made bread, and cheese, to candles, and now this. This is AWESOME! Thank you. Making my first rug now from old fleece sweat shirts that I never wore. =)

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      You are welcome Tina.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've tried plaiting and lacing a rug before, but this looks so much easier, I will have another go. Thank you for the really clear videos.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Light82, im happy you have found a commendable idea in giving rag rugs to the destitues, from reading this article.

      That's a sad thing to happen. The cold bitter months are when they need the most help from us.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving thought inspiring comments.


    • light82 profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Thank-you for the charity idea. When I lived in Toronto (this is very sad) a homeless man was found dead on the sidewalk in his sleeping bag, during winter. He froze to death and people walked by him for three days until someone discovered he had passed. hopefully we can help this from happening. Thanks for the idea1 ~L

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Auntysa, i'm glad you found this informative. Imagine how we can all recycle our old clothes and present rag area rugs as presents for the needy at Xmas.

      They will be nice as covers against the cold for the homeless too.

      Thanks for the visit and for leaving nice comments.


    • AuntySa profile image


      8 years ago from Austalia

      Great post. I love the step-by-step videos shown here. I must say that you have given us a brilliant idea to recycle things and make them useful.

    • RTalloni profile image


      8 years ago from the short journey

      What great ideas-I'll be back to take a closer look!

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I'm so glad Emma. i know how it feels like, having to throw clothes away. And if they are stained and quite old, they cant be given away either.

      Making rag area rugs is the best way to recycle clothes that are too old to give out.

      Thanks for the visit Emma. And for finding time to leave a nice comment.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This has given me such inspiration. I have a bag of my boys' old clothes that are stained and old. I can't give them away, and I hate the idea of wasting them by throwing them away. So I am going to make a rag rug! Brilliant. Thank you.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      2uesday, hello and thanks for visiting. I'm glad you are inspired to try it out.

      Winter months seems a great time to make craftworks such as weaving rag ares rugs, as we tend to be stuck at home a lot more in the cold months than in the summer.

      Im sure you'll enjoy crafting some.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave me a nice comment.

      Cheers 2uesday.

    • 2uesday profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi viryabo thank you for this, I can remember rag rugs in the homes of my grandparents. I knew they could be made by the technique where the fabric strips are pierced through a hessian backing but I never thought of making them by crocheting or knitting. I may have a go at this in the winter time, I have small off-cuts of fabric that would be suitable. You may have inspired me with this article. Thank you.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hello Peggy, Thank you for your visit and comments. We can put to good use all old clothes and use constructively. We really must have the ragman back! That will be nice.


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You are correct in that nothing was wasted in the "good old days." My mother actually remembers the ragman coming around in Milwaukee, Wisconsin collecting old cloths that no one wanted or could use. And rag rugs.......very popular back then. Good hub!

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Stacie, thank you for the visit and your nice comments. Im glad you've found it informative.


    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 

      9 years ago

      this is a very useful and informative hub for us crafters! thanks :=)

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Plants & Oils, Thanks for your nice comments, glad you like it.

    • Plants and Oils profile image

      Plants and Oils 

      9 years ago from England

      Great hub, and really easy to follow instructions.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks so much Dame Scribe. Appreciate your comments. I know kids will love this, especially the creative children who love to do crafts. Keeps them busy and entertained.

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Great skills to know and fun projects for kids and teens too. Great article! :)


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