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Do you have lots of small pieces of jersey fabric left over from sewing jersey garments? Or need a way of upcycling old knit garments into a useful item that you can use around the home? Then this post is for you. Today I am going to show you how making a rag rug (or clip rug) can use up all your old jersey scraps or garments to make something new and wonderful!
Here is how you too can easily make your own rag rug!
*This post has been updated – it was first published in October 2018 – and it is a collaborative post – please see my Disclosure Policy
Making A Rag Rug
My Mother was born during the Second World War. Her family lived in a pretty typical stone house of the time. A back to back, two up one down with an outside toilet. In a long street of many more houses inhabited by other similar families.
The houses had stone floors, and carpets were pretty rare, if not unknown. My Mum told me that the family often spent evenings in front of the fire making rag rugs to put on the cold stone floors.
These rag rugs were made from cut up pieces of worn out old clothes (such as coats) and pieces of sacking, as money was tight and the family used to make use of anything they could. Not much went to waste in those days of rationing.
I have often wondered how these rag rugs were made. Mum says that my grandfather made a frame for my grandmother to hang the rug from whilst she was making it. And grandad also made my grandmother a hook to pull the rag pieces through.
A Perfect Way To Upcycle Old Clothes
I was immediately captivated by this fact. If you have been reading my blog, you will have already found out that I am a keen sewist, and that I also do work in jersey and other stretch fabrics. You also may have read my series on Lagom, which is a lifestyle that promotes sustainability, recycling and upcycling.
If you have ever sewn, you will probably have ended up with countless small scraps. My scrap bag overflows.
But whilst the cotton and woven scraps can often be used to make many things, the jersey scraps that you end up with after cutting out your pattern are often too small to use for anything else. So here we have a possible use for those scraps!
Furthermore, as a parent to a 4 year old I do often have to throw away Elizabeth’s old clothes. She grows out of them quickly, and so I am constantly clearing out. Some I can sell or give to charity, but if they have been worn or played in a lot with they may have stains or be very faded. Here is a way of reusing these clothes rather than throwing them away. Knit or jersey fabric doesn’t fray, so is much more suitable for making rugs in 2020.
I was hooked on the idea of making a rag rug of my own.
What You Need For Making A Rag Rug.
- Hessian for the backing fabric (I cut quite a small doormat sized piece from mine and hemmed it with a sewing machine, but you could hand hem it or leave it rough, though the edges do fray)
- Some old jersey clothes (T-shirts, leggings, sweatshirts) or scraps.
- A pair of sharp scissors and a wooden block to make the ‘clips’ of rags all the same length
- Your tool of choice for actually pulling the rag ‘clips’ into the rug. I was surprised to find a range of tools online. These vary from a simple ‘proddy’ or wooden peg, to a latch-hook type tool, right through to a sophisticated rag rug tool with a spring loaded jaw that can pull the rag ‘clip’ through. Here is an affiliate link to the tools I use – the spring loaded tool and the cutting gauge to get the clips the same length
- To make the ‘clips’ or rags you need to cut the clothes into inch wide strips of material. This is not an exact science. And then use the wood block to cut the clips to be approximately all the same length.
- I drew a design on my hessian with a marker pen, but you can be as random as you like.
To Do The Traditional ‘Proddy’ Method
- Take the hessian and make a hole with the ‘proddy’
- Then push one end of the clip through the hole with the prod, and pull half the clip through from the other side.
- Then make another hole a few hessian strands away from the first
- Push the second half of the clip through this hole and pull through to the other side!
- Now make a hole a few strands away from the first, and carry on.
To Use The Rag Rug Tool Method
- I found this rag rug tool on eBay. You push the point of the tool into the hessian and back out again, effectively making 2 holes at once.
- Then you squeeze the handles of the tool together to open the jaws of the tool and insert the rag clip into the jaws
- Then pull the clip through the holes created earlier, and you are left with the clip in place.
- Now again all you do is push the rag rug tool through the hessian a few strands away from the first holes, and carry on.
Quite quickly the rug takes shape.
Until you are left with the finished result
I was very pleased with the end result. My mother was absolutely delighted when I showed her the finished piece.
As for rug cleaning the finished piece? Well, these rugs can be washed in the washing machine and hung out or air dried. You may lose a couple of the clips in the process, but once dry, these can just be replaced by using the technique above once more. I’ve washed mine several times now, and they are still pretty much intact.
Have you thought about making a rag rug? Do let me know if you have, I’d love to see your makes. Contact me on social media, or I’d love to see your comments below.
Don’t forget to pin this post for later!