25 Oct

Braided rag rug

braided rag rug 1 jemima schlee braided rag rug 2 jemima schlee

photographs by Emma Sekhon


…use up old shirts and sheets
to make an oval rag rug…

You will need:

scraps of cotton fabrics
(choose old shirting, shirts, sheets:
the longer strips you use the quicker it will be)

thread, sewing needle & sharp scissors

sewing machine (optional)


Cut or tear your fabrics into 10cm wide strips. Using an iron, fold a strip in half lengthways and press. Open up the fold out and press two more seams by folding the long edges to meet the centre fold line…

braided rag rug 3 jemima schlee

Step 1



Now fold along the central line to encase the raw edges.

braided rag rug 4 jemima schlee

step 2



Repeat this with twenty or so more lengths of fabric to start with

– more if you’re on a roll.

Pile three strips on top of each other, align at one short end and stitch together by machine (or by hand), through all layers.

Start braiding your three strips of fabric. As you near the end of each strip, join further ironed and folded strips on with a running stitch seam by hand (or by machine).

braided rag rug 5 jemima schlee

step 3


To start constructing your rug, take your braided fabric and, with the braid lying flat, twist it 360° to fold it back on itself 15cm from the stitched end. Use doubled thread and over stitch to join the edges of the plaits lying alongside each other.

All your stitching is on the reverse of your rug.

braided rag rug 6 jemima schlee

step 4



Continue wrapping your braided ‘rope’ around and stitching it on.  Keep pressing, folding, adding on and braiding
strips of fabric as you go.

Be warned:
… as your rug gets bigger it grows more and more slowly!

braided rag rug 7 jemima schlee

step 5


To finish off your rug, when your are 15cm from the end, gradually position the braid of fabric so that it curls behind the edge it is being stitched to, to create a smooth contour.

turn your work right side up – hurrah! finished!

braided rag rug 8 jemima schlee

step 6

making tips
Don’t try to braid lengths of more than 1m at a time,
they will get knotted and twisted together

When sewing doubled thread knots easily, so keep your thread short too, again no more than about 1m.


Striped fabrics create soft speckles.
Try braiding different fabrics together.
This is a great project for using up fabrics you don’t like! once braided and mixed with other fabrics, they take on a whole new life.


Use a thimble if your cotton is quite thick, to save sore fingers.

If your rug doesn’t lay flat, spray it lightly with water to make it damp (but not wet) and leave between flat surfaces overnight