There are many tutorials on the Internet, to help guide anyone with making a braided rag rug. And there are many books that are also helpful (listed at the end of this post).
This particular rug that I made, measures about 26 inches by 19 inches, and contains 60 feet of 1/2 inch wide braid.
~ old bed sheets, pillow cases (see tips below)
~ quilting thread
~ optional: duct tape to get you started
~ optional: sewing machine and thread
The traditional rugs were made from rags, but if you are not a patient person, you could spend the extra money and buy other fabric.
1. Cut your fabric into 2 1/2 - 3 inches strips.
2. Sew shorter strips together using a straight stitch on your sewing machine (or by hand), or using the no-sew method.
3. Roll the strips into rag balls. Don't make these too large, or you will have a difficult time braiding.
4. Chose 3 rag balls. Sew all the ends together using a straight stitch on your sewing machine, or hand stitch them together.
5. I used a piece of duct tape to hold the fabric in place, so that I could start braiding.
Braid the fabric, and continue by sewing new rag balls into the strips as you go. I used a wooden clothespin to hold my braid when I was not working on it (see tips below on tri-folding your fabric).
6. Use quilting thread and sew, on the backside, catching the braids on both sides as you go. Contine until you have the size rug you wish to have. You can make these rugs oval or round.
There are different ways to do this, according to the books that are available on making these.
This was my first braided rag rug. I have made crocheted rag rugs, but not a braided one. After making this, my tips are -
1. Cut the strips at the larger size width to keep your braid at a nice width. My rag balls were cut at about 2 inches, as I had been crocheting my rag rugs.
(source: Handmade Rugs from practically anything, by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken)
I was not able to tri-fold as most books suggested, so I simply folded my material once, while braiding. There are also tools you can purchase called "braid aids" that help beginners keep their fabric tri-folded. You can simply type in the name of the tool, in your internet search engine, and you will be able to see many sites that sell this tool, and see photos of it.
2. Don't make your rag balls too big. If you want a more colorful pattern in your rug, and want a smaller center color, you will want smaller rag balls. You will want larger ones for the larger rings in your rug.
3. When hand sewing your braid together be careful not to sew too tightly, or your rug will buckle up and will not be flat.
4. Start sewing your braid together as you braid more. You can gauge your rug much better than by how many feet you braided.
5. Use a thimble. I had a very sore finger from pushing the needle into the braid, so I do suggest this.
6. Use a woolen material if you wish to have your rug last longer. According to "Braiding Rugs" by Nancy Bubel, cotton is stiffer to work with and wears out faster. I did not know this until I was finished. However, I do like the way my rug turned out.
Books that you will find helpful:
~ Braiding Rugs, by Nancy Bubel (A Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin)
~Handmade Rugs from practically anything, by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken, © 1971). Those hula hoop rugs you read about on the Internet are not a new pattern.
This book has photos and instructions on making those hoop rugs.
Sites that you will find helpful:
More: Braided Rugs - Mother Earth News
Handmade Braided Rugs - Mother Earth News
Making More with Braids:
~stair step covers
~mug rugs (coasters)
~use as a doily (under lamps, plant pots, etc)
More notes: As I was sewing my rug together, one of our cats started "baking bread" on it and simply plopped onto it. I do think cats would enjoy these in the beds. I know our dogs enjoy any rug I put on the floor. I don't think I'd use these to place under the food/water bowls, as they would get wet and possibly mold, if not dried out.
Here is a photo of a rag rug I crocheted, using strips of old t-shirts:
You may also be interested in this one. I crocheted it with strips cut from old sheets, pillow cases and an old apron: