How to Make Rag Rugs

Dr. Harry Noland
15 Min Read

If you are looking for a unique way to enhance your home decor while also repurposing old fabrics, consider making rag rugs. This craft allows you to create beautiful designs through weaving and using materials that might otherwise go to waste. With a few tools and some guidance, you can create a one-of-a-kind rug that adds character to any room in your home.

Key Takeaways:

  • Creating rag rugs is an eco-friendly way to repurpose old fabrics while enhancing your home decor.
  • This craft involves weaving fabric strips using different techniques to create unique patterns and designs.
  • Setting up the loom and preparing the fabric strips are crucial steps in the rug-making process.
  • Finishing techniques, such as hemming and knotting, ensure the rug’s durability and longevity.
  • Caring for rag rugs involves regular maintenance, including spot cleaning and vacuuming.

Gathering Materials

Before you begin making your rag rug, you’ll need to gather some materials. The great thing about rag rugs is that you can reuse old fabrics that you already have on hand, making this a sustainable crafting option. Here are the materials you’ll need:

Materials for Rag Rugs:
Old fabrics
Fabric strips

When selecting old fabrics for your rug, look for materials with similar weights and textures. This will help to ensure that your finished rug has a uniform appearance. You can cut the fabric strips to any length and width that you’d like, but a common size is 1-2 inches wide and 4-6 inches long.

Once you have your fabrics and supplies ready, it’s time to start preparing the fabric strips. Keep reading to learn more!

Preparing the Fabric Strips

Before you start weaving your rag rug, you need to prepare your fabric strips. The width and length of the strips will depend on the specific weaving technique you choose and the desired finished product. Typically, fabric strips for rag rugs are 1-2 inches in width and 4-6 inches in length.

The first step is to gather your old fabrics and cut them into strips using scissors. It is important to ensure that the edges of the strips are straight to avoid any unnecessary gaps in the rug. To achieve straight edges, use a ruler and make small marks along the fabric before cutting.

Once you’ve cut your strips, you can sort them by color or pattern to create a specific design for your rug. Alternatively, you can mix and match the strips to create a more eclectic look.

Make sure to cut enough fabric strips to complete your rug. It’s always better to have extra strips on hand than to run out mid-project.

Choosing a Weaving Technique

Now that you have prepared your fabric strips, it’s time to choose the weaving technique that best suits your project. There are several weaving techniques you can use, each with its unique characteristics and effects on the final product. Some of the most common weaving techniques for rag rugs are:

  1. Plain weave: This is the most straightforward weave, where the weft threads are woven over and under the warp threads alternatively. It produces a flat weave rug with a tight texture.
  2. Twill weave: Twill weave creates a diagonal pattern on the rug’s surface. It involves passing the weft thread over two or more warp threads, then under one or more warp threads, creating a diagonal line on the surface.
  3. Herringbone weave: This technique creates a zigzag pattern on the rug’s surface, similar to the pattern of a herringbone fabric. It involves alternating the diagonal pattern of twill weave in two directions.

You can experiment with different weaving techniques, combining them even to create a unique design for your rag rug. It is essential to practice your chosen weaving technique on a small piece of fabric to familiarize yourself before starting your rug properly.

Setting Up the Loom

Before you can begin weaving your rag rug, you will need to set up your loom. This process can be a bit tricky if you are new to weaving, but with patience and attention to detail, you can achieve a perfect loom setup.

The first step is to attach the warp threads to the loom. These threads run vertically and serve as the foundation for the rug. You will need to tie one end of each thread to the front beam of the loom, then run the threads through the heddles and the reed. Make sure the warp threads are spaced evenly and securely tied to the back beam of the loom.

Next, you will need to adjust the tension of the warp threads. This is important to ensure the rug is woven evenly and does not have any gaps. Use the tension knob on your loom to tighten or loosen the warp as needed, being careful not to over-tighten and break the threads.

Once the tension is set, you can move on to spacing the warp threads. This will depend on the desired width of your rug and the thickness of your fabric strips. You can use a ruler to measure the distance between the threads, making small adjustments as needed to achieve the desired spacing.

With the warp threads in place and properly spaced, you are ready to begin the weaving process.

Weaving the Rag Rug

Now that you have prepared your fabric strips and set up your loom, it’s time to start the weaving process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Begin by tying the end of your fabric strip to the first warp thread. This will be your starting point.
  2. Pass the strip over the first warp thread, under the second, and over the third. Continue this pattern until you reach the end of the row.
  3. When you reach the end, gently pull the fabric strip to tighten the weave.
  4. For the next row, repeat the pattern but this time, pass the strip under the first warp thread, over the second, and under the third. Continue this alternating pattern until you reach the end of the row.
  5. Repeat this process until your rug has reached the desired length.

As you weave, be sure to gently beat each weft thread into place with a fork or a special tool called a beater. This will ensure that your rug is evenly woven and has a smooth surface.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different patterns and colors to create a unique design. You can create stripes, chevrons, or even intricate geometric patterns with a little practice and creativity.

Once you’ve completed your rug, be sure to gently release it from the loom. Then, tie off the warp threads and use a hemming or knotting technique to secure the edges. You can also add fringe for a decorative touch.

Congratulations on completing your rag rug! With a little care and maintenance, it will add warmth and charm to your home for years to come.

Finishing and Securing the Rug

Now that you have completed weaving your rag rug, it is time to finish and secure it. There are a few different techniques to choose from, but the most common ones are hemming, knotting, and adding fringe.


Hemming involves folding the edges of the rug under and sewing them in place. This technique gives the rug a clean, polished look and prevents fraying. To hem your rag rug, fold the edges over about half an inch and pin them in place. Then, sew along the fold using a needle and thread.


Another way to secure the edges of your rug is to knot them. This technique creates a decorative fringe and is especially useful for rugs made with shorter fabric strips. To knot your rug, separate the warp threads on the edge of the rug into groups of two or three. Then, tie the fabric strips around each group of threads in a knot. Repeat this process all the way around the rug to create a fringe.

Adding Fringe

Finally, you can add fringe to your rug for a unique touch. To do this, cut additional fabric strips and knot them onto the edges of the rug. You can also create a braided or twisted fringe for a more intricate design.

Choose the finishing technique that best suits your rug and personal style. No matter which method you choose, your finished rag rug will add a cozy and eco-friendly touch to your home decor.

Cleaning and Caring for Rag Rugs

Now that you’ve made your beautiful rag rug, it’s important to know how to properly care for it to ensure its longevity. Here are some helpful tips for maintaining your rug:

  • Vacuum regularly: Use a vacuum with a beater bar or a brush attachment to remove dirt and debris from the rug’s surface. This will also help to prevent fibers from becoming matted.
  • Spot clean stains: For spills and stains, blot the affected area immediately with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can damage the fibers. Use a mild detergent and warm water to gently clean the area, then blot dry with a clean cloth.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause fading and discoloration. If possible, place your rug in an area that doesn’t receive direct sunlight.
  • Rotate the rug: To prevent uneven wear, rotate the rug every few months so that the same areas aren’t always exposed to foot traffic.
  • Professional cleaning: For deep cleaning, it’s best to consult a professional rug cleaner. They have the proper equipment and expertise to clean and restore your rug without causing damage.

By following these simple tips, you can keep your rag rug looking its best for years to come.

Creative Ideas for Rag Rug Designs

When it comes to making rag rugs, the design possibilities are endless. With a little creativity, you can transform old fabrics into unique home decor pieces that reflect your personal style. Here are some creative ideas to inspire your rag rug designs:

  • Color Combinations: Mix and match colors to create a bold and eye-catching rug. Or, opt for a monochromatic color scheme for a more subtle look. You can also use color to highlight specific patterns or shapes within the rug.
  • Patterns: Experiment with different weaving patterns to create intricate designs within the rug. Try a herringbone or chevron pattern for a modern look, or stick to a simple plain weave for a classic style.
  • Shapes: Don’t limit yourself to traditional rectangular rugs. Experiment with circular, oval, or even asymmetrical shapes for a unique and unexpected design.

Remember, the beauty of rag rug making is that you can customize your designs to fit your individual style and tastes. Don’t be afraid to try new things and get creative!


Congratulations on learning how to make rag rugs! We hope this guide has inspired you to try this craft and reuse old fabrics in a sustainable way.

Not only does rug weaving allow you to create unique designs that add personality to your home decor, but it’s also a fun and rewarding hobby.

Remember to gather all the necessary materials, prepare the fabric strips with straight edges, choose your weaving technique, set up the loom with proper tension and spacing, weave your rug with weft threads while creating patterns, and finish your rug with hemming, knotting, or fringe.

Don’t forget to care for your rug properly by spot cleaning and vacuuming it regularly to maintain its appearance and longevity.

And if you’re feeling creative, try experimenting with different color combinations, patterns, and unique shapes to make your rag rug truly one-of-a-kind.

We hope you enjoy the process of making your very own rag rug and transforming old fabrics into something beautiful!

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