Monday, July 20, 2009

How to Crochet a 'Rag Rug'

March 6, 2011:  I've been wanting to add some "quick" videos to show the process for using flat and fitted sheets to make continuous balls of materials to crochet rag rugs, and show some basic techniques around increasing, decreasing, and changing colors, too.  I finally did the "first draft" of these videos.  I had hoped they would be just 2 or 3 minutes each (I have the attention span of a gnat!) so if you watch the videos (found here) please do let me know in the comments if it was worthwhile, too much, too little, etc. as I would like to make another more 'polished' round of videos, or eliminate anything that doesn't work.  Making crocheted rag rugs is SO FUN!!! Enjoy...

The original post I wrote about crocheting rag rugs can be found in its entirety, below. 

Edited to add: Quite a few people have found this page searching for 'how to crochet a rag rug', so I went back and saw that I could add a few clarifying things that I hope make it helpful to use. If you're considering making a rag rug this way, I highly recommend it! They are beautiful, homey, and so practical. I make mine out of repurposed bed sheets, and so they easily just pop into the washer and dryer for speedy clean up! Here is my favorite one that I've ever made; I made it for my friend, and, I should add here, they make great 'race tracks' for little boys to play cars on! :) If there are any questions/clarifications that would be helpful, let me know!

Another round rag rug I made as a rocking chair pad here.

I mentioned last week that I had crocheted a bath mat for our bathroom (tiny, tiny little bathroom!) and even though I had to take it apart twice, it was still finished by the next day. I made it too big twice, but third time was a charm. Here it is in action.

At the time that I had crocheted my very first rag rug, I had written about how to do it using repurposed sheets, so I thought I'd include that here too. Here it is, from my old blog:

I made it over three days, and it's actually almost four feet in diameter, though I think in the picture it could be misconstrued as a placemat. It's big and thick and so homely. It's exactly what it's supposed to be.

It started out as a bunch of thrifted sheets. I think I used 6 sheets, that cost anywhere from 2 to 4 dollars each. It was probably about $15 worth of material. (Though there was lots left over! I've actually made 3 rugs using this material.) Grams's favorite color is blue. She loves it. She hates yellow.

I was way not looking forward to cutting all these sheets up into long strips (you can see how I had to roll the strips up into balls in the photo above. hehe I said "balls" hehe). You have to cut almost all the way to the end, move over an inch or more, then cut almost all the way back to the other end, over and over. Ugh. But, like paper, material has directionality, and it turned out, with maximum annoyance to my husband but minimum output by me, that I could cut a starter and then just RIP the sheet all the way to the other end. Awesome. Edited to add: Two things:

First: See in the picture, how at this end I tore all the way to wear the fold/hem is? That's great! Sometimes on the other end, where there is no thick hem like that, you fly right off the edge with overzealous tearing. That's okay, you'll just have to 'reattach' all the bits before you roll them into a ball. By 'reattach' I mean 'tie together'. Some people might sew them together, but I like the rustic look, and when you're crocheting it all just gets wrapped in together anyway so you don't even know. Sometimes, the hem is so deep that stopping there leaves a way too big 'flap' at the end. I just keep scissors handy when I'm crocheting it together, and when I get to a spot that's way too thick, I just trim it down as I go along.

Second: Flat sheets are best, but you can use fitted sheets. The biggest problem I've had with fitted sheets, is that the weave is 'unpredictable'. This means that the 'directionality' I mentioned above is sometimes hard to find, or changes in the middle of the action. If you have a great pattern or color on a fitted sheet (or, for example, are already using the matching flat sheet) I would still say it's fine to use them. I cut away the elastic parts and then pretend like I can figure out which direction to start by scrutinizing the weave pattern. I cannot. Eventually, I just start a cut and tear as far as I can (stop one inch from the end, if you get that far!). If I get to the other end, I move over about an inch and start a new cut then tear back, leave about an inch at the end, move over about an inch, start a cut and tear back (stop at within 1 inch of the end), etc. If the tear goes wonky (veers off or dead ends) then I just pick a new spot and make a small cut and tear again. There's a little bit of material waste this way (sometimes I've ended up with scraps that just aren't worth tearing further), but it's quick and easy, so that's your trade off.

Then I just used those strips ~ along with this ENORMOUS crochet hook (Edited to add: S Hook) ~ and used a simple increasing-rounds pattern and a simple double-crochet stitch, around and around and around, changing colors as I ran out, mostly, but for asthetic, occasionally. I later found out through some research that "traditional" crochet rag rugs mostly use a single crochet, but really, I love it just the way it is. Edited to add: To 'change' colors, I just tie the new end to the old end and keep crocheting! So simple.

I left all the stringy-parts and rough edges and tied pieces (which you can only see on the back side) because I thought it was all part of its charm.

Adding the Technical Part, assumes basic crochet ability

Basic increasing round pattern: I just started with a chain 4, and slip stitch to make a ring. Then, either sc, hdc, or dc (pick your poison) 8 stitches into the ring. Always slip-stitch the last one to the first one that started that round (do not count this slip stitch in any stitch counts), then chain 1 (for sc) or 2 (for hdc or dc) and start the next round, without turning. Increases are made: 2 stitches in each of the 8 stitches. Next round increases are made: two stitches in one, one in the next one, two stitches in one, one in the next one, all the way around. Don’t forget the slip stitch (and don't count it as a stitch)! Make your chain (for sc) or two chains (for double or half double crochet) and do not turn. Next round increases made: two stitches in one, one in each of the next two, two stitches in one, one in each of the next two, all the way around (sl st to end and don't count it as a stitch). Make your chain (for sc) or two chains (for double or half double crochet) and do not turn. Next round increases made: two stitches in one, one in each of the next three. Etc. The pattern grows just like that, until you’re at the size you prefer. Can of corn!
For the shape of the rug in our bathroom: I sort of wing it on this one, so you’re better off searching for one online. You can also usually use any rug pattern in an oval shape, just use the fabric strips and the huge hook, but the pattern will usually be the same. Edited to add: I think you could use Futuregirl's Starling Handbag pattern, just the part for the bottom of the purse, to make a rug roughly this shape. Isn't that funny? But it's basically what I did, except I'm sure with mistakes, since I was just fooling with it. But that's good, because you can see that even with mistakes, it's a smashing little rug! The only problem is that you have to experiment with the number of chains you start with. For example, in the rug in my bathroom (picture at the top) I wanted it to be about 24" long by 18" wide. When I first did it, I made 30 chains to start. Wayyyyyy wrong! (It made a huge rug.) Tore it out. Then I made 22 chains to start. Still sooooo wrong. Tore it out. I think I ended up with about 14 or 15 chains to start, and it was just right. The good news? The crocheting goes incredibly fast on these things, so tearing out a few rounds or starting over is not the same drama as when you are using a size D with cotton thread.

Any rug pattern can be followed ~ just use the S Hook and the materials you prepared. Here are a bunch of free rug patterns. I got started with an old rug pattern book my aunt had, and I just used my material instead of yarn. All good!
Best advice: Don’t be a stickler! If the rug is not laying flat, or not shaping properly, do not be afraid to break from the pattern and put in extra stitches (or take out others by stitching two together as one (known as a ‘decrease’)) and you’ll be very happy indeed with your finished rug!


  1. I think this might be too complicated for me to make. Can of corn!

  2. Ha! Susan, you are so funny. Can you even *hold* a crochet hook? :P

  3. I've missed you!! I just found your new place today. I think I'd try doing this one, I've enough scraps around.

  4. Linda, stop it!!! Are you telling me you found this blog because you were googling how to make a rug?!? How are things up North? Moving lots of cattle? I'll go check in with glad you wrote!!!

  5. I've wondered how to make those, now I think I might try. Thanks :)

  6. Thanks for sharing this, I'm going to give it a go!! :0)

  7. That's great, Artisanne! I hope to see pictures...they are so fun to make!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Glad I found your blog, I just bought a croched rag rug at a craft fair today...With your help I'm going to give it a try.

  10. I've made these in the past, but this time it's a bit 'wavy'- not laying flat around the perimeter and I'm not sure what to do....Is it going to lay flatter when ti settles out or do I need to yank it apart and start over? it's going to be about 5-6 ft round for my grandson's room....
    am I working to too tight? I 've followed the pattern above.

  11. Hi Anonymous ~ When there are too many stitches in each round, that's when it gets wavy. If you're following the pattern in the post, that shouldn't be happening, but there are other influences. You may want to try a smaller hook (I think I mentioned S hook above, but I've used as small as L, and usually use a P or N quite successfully). If you want to use the hook/fabric combination you're currently using, pull out a few rows, and omit the increases when it feels like it's starting to wave. In my experience, that's the least ideal (starting over with a smaller hook is your best bet!) but only because there's the chance that it will never 'lay quite right', and that can be frustrating in the long term! I'd love to see a picture when you're done, and if this doesn't help, let me know (send a picture!) and I'll see if I can tweak the pattern for you. xoxo Mia

  12. thanks for the tip, here's a question:
    Am I reading this right? I increase constantly 3 singles crochets and 2 in 1 etc etc row after row? IT seems like a lot if increasing.
    I'll pull a couple of rows out and not increase and see how that works.
    I am also closely examining the only one I have left from a binge of run making a few years back to see how I did it.
    I apppreciate your help and will get back to you with success or failure- Kate

  13. Hi Kate, If I'm reading your question correctly, we're in luck, because I see the problem! I'm going to write out the increasing rounds pattern in detail, so you can see it (number of sc for the row in parenthesis):

    To start: Chain 4, slip stitch in first chain to create a 'ring'.

    Into the center of the ring: Make 8 sc (8)

    First round: Chain one, do not turn, 2 sc in each of the 8 sc, slip stitch into first sc (16)

    Second round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc in first stitch, 2sc in next stitch* repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (24)

    Third round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc in first two stitches, 2 sc in next stitch* repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (32)

    Fourth round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc in first 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch* repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (40)

    Fifth round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc in first 4 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch* repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (48)

    Sixth round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc into first 5 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch*, repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (56)

    Seventh round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc into first 6 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch*, repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (64)

    Eighth round: Chain one, do not turn, *1 sc into first 7 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch* repeat 8 times, slip stitch into the first sc of the round (72).

    I think that's a pretty big rug, depending on your material strips! But if you want to continue, and you see the pattern, go ahead. If you need me to extend the pattern for you, write me and I will.

    You can see: you only increase 8 sc for each round, and those increases get spread further and further out (start out right on top of each other, move to one away, two away, three away, etc. until round 8 the increase (2 sc in one stitch) is 7 away from each other.

    Also, you don't ever count the chain one OR the slip stitch in your stitch counts for each round. For that reason, sometimes you'll get a WEE wave, and you just adjust by not increasing that time.

    I hope this makes sense! I will love to hear about your SUCCESS ~ there won't be a failure! :)

  14. Dec. 7, 2010
    Hi, i am making my first rag rug (it's round) am on the 13th round and it looks like a ruffled doily! I am following the pattern above - 2 sc in one stitch then 1 sc, next round 2 sc in one stitch then 2 sc in the next 2 stitches, etc. I'm using a P hook now on the 13th row, I was using a N hook. Don't know whether i should put in increases or decreases or change to a S hook. (I don't have an S hook) Any advice you could give me would be tremendously appreciated.
    Thank you, Linda

  15. Hi Linda, You know, I'm looking at these pictures, and that blue hook is a P also! I usually do use a P, but I've even gone as low as M, depending on how wide I ripped my strips of fabric, so I think you're okay there. My S hook is a big white hook, and it would give a much looser weave.

    For the pattern, I can't tell if I'm reading what you're saying correctly (I'm sorry!), so let me just check....I see "2 sc in one stitch, then 1 sc" (that goes for the whole round and makes sense to me); then I see "2 sc in one stitch and then 2 sc in next 2 stitches" for the next round, and I have to make sure...when you say "2 sc in next 2 stitches" do you mean one in each of the next 2 (for a total of 2), or 2 in each of the next 2 (for a total of 4)? Because the first one is right and the second one is too many increases, by far.

    If you're doing the second one, you're problem is summary, the way the increases work is each round, you want *to grow the distance between between the stitches where you are making 2 sc in one stitch*. You start out with one sc between the increases, the next row grows to sc, sc between the increases, the next row has sc, sc, sc between the increases, the next has sc, sc, sc, sc between the increases, etc.

    If you are doing it this way already, let me know, and let's see what we can do!

  16. How wide are the strips? And if I want to try something similar for making placements, would the strip width be smaller?

  17. Hi Word Vintage, The strips are nothing like a precise science (no measuring occurs during the ripping!) but I just measured the material I made last year (1.5" wide) and some I made last week (1.25" wide) so that's what's been working for me. I made what amounts to a placemat sized circle (as a pad for my rocking chair) out of these same fabric rolls and a P hook. I've also made a set of actual placemats using a couple of yards of cotton quilting fabric, ripped in the same fashion as the sheets, that were more like slightly less than an inch wide using an L or M hook. Here's a link to the post with pictures of the placemats

    So, I guess for me, I would say that the fabric is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half, using an L or M for the thinnest and a P for widest. That's what's been working so far! :)

  18. Way back in the sixties my mother started a hobby of crocheting a rag rug, out of strips of wool. She would buy woolen skirts, etc, at Goodwill and such. Eventually the rug, all colors, was wall to wall in our living room. It was almost three inches thick! When she died in 1978 my brother laid claim to it, took it to the cleaners to have it cleaned. It weighed a little over three hundred pounds!!! He still has it to this day. I must find someone who can crochet to show me how to get started.

  19. Susan, this comment gives me such joy! Thank you for sharing that memory. 300 pounds. Just makes me grin like crazy! I love this. If you live in the SF Bay Area, let me know, I'll get you started. :)

  20. One website I went to suggested cutting the fabric on the bias, to prevent unraveling...It sounds like if you are ripping it's going with the weave..does unravelling seem to be a problem? I do like the idea of tearing a whole bedsheet into one long piece vs sewing strips together...Thanks, Cheryl

  21. Hi Cheryl, Interesting! I'm not sure what "unravel" means...there are definitely "stringy bits" that come with ripping the sheets this way, but I've had no problems (even with many washings and/or the one in the bathroom which gets soaked with ROTTEN BOY BATHWATER :) with any of the rugs not "holding up". Also, they don't seem to *continue* to get stringy bits, you know what I mean? Like, there's strings from the tearing, I pull them off, sometimes I don't get them all and keep pulling them off as I crochet, but once I've made the rug, I've never found NEW stringy bits that need to be pulled off. So, I guess...the answer is no, I haven't personally had any problems with what I could call "unraveling". To be honest, I'm not at all sure I would ever make a rag rug if I had to cut the material (instead of rip) and if I had to sew ends together to make the continuous strips! What can I say? I'm a bit of lazy. ;) You watch though, now that this is on my radar, won't I just find one of my rugs unraveling! haha!

  22. Hello,
    I'm tickled to find this blog and the great instructions for making a rag rug. Question. about cutting the strips. If I cut a 1" strip of the sheet to one side and then cut in a curve for the cut going back, would this make a usable and longer one piece strip? Thank's.

  23. Hi Zoe! Hmmmm...I'm not sure I'm picturing what you're describing. My philosophy, always? Try it! I've personally never found the need to round off any corners, as it always works out once I'm actually hooking. Let me know how it works for you!!

  24. Yep - got to this by looking up "how to crochet a rug"!:-) One thing I didn't see wide are your strips? Thanks.

  25. My great aunt use to make these out of old clothes, underware too. She used her fingers to crochet it.

  26. question... do you put anything under the rug when it is done?

  27. @anon ~ must be from michigan : ) haha! what a funny story. my strips are about 1.25" wide. best wishes for your newest little one!

    @anon ~ oh my happy, your great aunt....i'm in love! lol

    @anon ~ i do not put anything under the rug. There's no reason you can't use the same padding and/or non-skid materials you would use under any other rug. in fact, i may just for the one in the kitchen which tends to get kicked underfoot more than the others. they certainly don't *require* any padding though. for the small one i made for the bathroom, i eventually sewed on a towel, trimmed to fit, because i wanted the terry for absorption. so long story longer, you don't have to put anything, but feel free : ) lol

  28. Hi Mia,
    Love your rug! I am going to try it. I have been making twined rugs but the loom is cumbersome and it is quite time consuming.
    Thank You!

  29. Mia, thanks for the rug making information. I have made a few twined rag rugs but they are time consuming and the loom is cumbersome.

  30. Hi Mia!
    Ahem* I'm one of the ones who found you by searching rag rugs. Lol Yours is the best advice for making a rug so far. Thanks!
    I've been wanting a rug to fit my bathroom but just couldn't find one I really like but this is perfect :) Can't wait to get started.


  31. Finally the advice I have been searching for. Now I can start a rag rug.... thanks... Mia


  32. Hi MIA! Okay so I already like you by just what I've read here. I have been researching the internet trying to fins out how to make a rag rug. I just love the idea of making something fabulous from something that would be discarded. There are so many conflicting methods that I just get paralyzed with fear to even start because I don't want to get it wrong. Today my sweet neighbor brought me two-yard lengths of three coordinating fabrics to encourage me to start already. Is 6 yards of fabric enough to make a rug? I'm assuming I wash and dry if first? Your directions seem to "click" for me so imabout to go wash my fabric and give it a go. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with a newbie like me!
    Deb in Jacksonville Florida

  33. Thank you for all the lovely info! So helpful! I had a possible suggestion as well that I found helpful: For those times where you must attach material together to make a long strip ( overzealous tearing, or simply adding another strip of material) I enjoy this method, which takes away a bit of the bulkiness from knotting:

    Take your two ends, and fold them over. Make a cut on each fold, so that when you unfold them it looks like you have to big fabric needles: strips with a hole at one end. Slip the cut end of one (A) through the end of the other (B). (The strips are joining where you have cut holes.) Pull the opposite end of (A) through its own hole, around your (B) strip. Then pull both pieces to tighten. (Confusing to do with words, I'm sorry! But it is similar to how you would link two rubber bands together.) Anyhow, that is the method I am using to great success! Thank you again for your fabulous tutorial! - Jenn

  34. Thank you so much for this information. Over the winter I decided to try to crochet a rag rug. I bought some second-hand sheets, but couldn't figure out how to cut the strips. I bought an electric sissors, but still couldn't face it. When I saw that you ripped the sheets in your blog. I tried it immediately. It was great. Thanks again! Joanne

    1. haaa Joanne, Don't you sound like me? I was the same way when somebody told me to "stitch the ends together"! Oh, well, uh...that will never happen. lol

  35. Mia, I just finished my round rag rug following your directions and it is adorable. Thanks again, Joanne

    1. Yay Joanne! Be careful they're addicting ;)

  36. I want to make some for folding chair cushions. Sounds very possible. I dont crochet too much but I can double crochet. Lots of scraps sounds like a plan to me :)

  37. I'm really happy I found your blog. I was recently at the farmers market and there was a lady with a booth selling many crocheted items. While she was sitting there, she was crocheting rugs. She also was selling them for $50.00 & up. My husband was in awe. I explained to him that she was using what looked like sheets. I'm excited to try this out. Thanks so much for your pattern and the pics!

  38. thank you so much you answered my questions I heard about this and cant wait to try look for finished rugs online again thanks