The Internet is full of fantastic ideas for upcycling generally (turning waste into something useful), and rag-rugs specifically. Old T-shirts too stained to pass on as second-hand clothing, still find a use. Stretchy fabric works best. Ideally the fabric should not fray.

Rags to strips

Start by cutting off any seams. Then cut the fabric into strips, in a zig-zag pattern to make one long continuous ribbon. You don’t need to cut straight either, curves is fine.

On fabrics that stretch in one direction only, it is better cutting in the direction of the stretch rather than across it.

The strips can be from 1 to 3cm wide. The thinner the fabric, the wider the strips.

The thicker the yarn, the thicker the final carpet will turn out.

Find a route that has the smallest off-cuts, for instance:

top
sleeve
pants

To save time, fold the fabric in half. Cut from the fold to within 1cm of the edge. Open up the fabric, and snip through to the edge, on alternating rows, to create a continuous strip, like this:

A lovely selection of matching colours.

Strips to yarn

To connect individual strips quickly and easily, loop them through each other. Cut slots into the ends; first push the end of strip A through the slot in B, then pull strip B through the slot in A:

Once I got a huge bag of off-cuts from a T-shirt factory. It took ages to untangle all that cotton Lycra – much longer than it took to crochet the rugs afterwards.

Yarn to rug

If you don’t know how to crochet, check out Sarah‘s blog for example. The simplest crochet pattern starts with a chain, and then works back and forth until the rug is long enough.

The last time I crocheted anything was at age 5.

Here is an alternative pattern for a rectangular rug. Hopefully the instructions make sense. (I am a complete novice and cannot read or write a proper crochet recipe.)

First, mark out on the floor how big you want the rug to be. Mark out two right-angled triangles on each end. Measure how long the starting chain needs to be. Calculate 2cm per stitch.

On this rug the starting chain was 50cm long, about 25 stitches.

Use a 10mm thick crocheting hook.

  • Create a chain (Step 4 on Sarah’s blog)
  • ‘Work into the chain’ (Step 5)
  • As you get back to the beginning, put three stitches in the end loop of the chain (figure A below).
  • Crochet along the chain and do the same on the other end (A).
  • On the next round, add an extra stitch on each of the four corners (B).
  • On the following round, and each round thereafter, add two stitches in each corner (C).
  • With each round, there are two extra stitches on each side of the rectangle (D).
  • When the rug is big enough, or you run out of yarn, fasten off (Step 9).

I love my colourful rug!

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