This project began when I ripped yet another pair of blue jeans beyond repair. I didn't want to just throw them away; I wanted a way to repurpose them. Light bulb! Make a rug with them. So I started braiding...
Now if you have old (or ugly) rags, shirts, pants, towels, sheets, etc, here is a way to get even more use out of them.
You will need the following:
- Fabric - I used old worn out blue jeans
- Safety pins
- Sturdy surface (I used my pants leg)
- Your hands
Step 1: Prepare Your Strips
First you will need to cut your fabric into strips. Because I was using old blue jeans, I had to cut through the bottom hem to get my strips started. With my scissors, I made small cuts about an inch apart along the bottom hem of the leg of a pair of jeans. Then start ripping...The fabric should rip easily into long strips. Rip whatever fabric you are using into long strips. After the strips have been ripped, I cut off the bottom hem of the jeans since it's usually thicker and more stiff.
Step 2: Begin Your Braid
Now that you have a bunch of fabric strips, take 3 and pin them together at one end. It's better if the strips are different lengths. Lay the strips one top of the other with the ends lined up together. Safety pin them together near the end of the strips. Take a second safety pin and pin the strips to something sturdy, like your pants leg at your knee. Any sturdy surface will do as long as it's ok to put a safety pin through it. This provides resistance to help keep your braid tight. Braid your strips together, keeping the tension as even as possible. I always begin with my left side so move the left strip over the top of the middle strip. Then move the right strip over the new middle strip. Continue until you almost reach the bottom of one of the strips.
**Side Note: My daughter was helping me rip strips and found a better way to begin so I'm including it for your benefit. I had already begun so it was too late for me but I think it would work better. I wish I had thought of it before I started. When tearing strips, leave one set of 3 strips together at one end. You won't have to secure the strips together and it will be easier to weave the beginning tail into the finished rug.
Step 3: Adding More Strips
Once you are near the bottom of one of the strips, you will need to add more length so that you can continue braiding. Instead of sewing all my strips together, I just tie them together. Fold the end of the strip down toward the middle about an inch. With your scissors in the very center of the strip along the folded edge, make a cut about a half inch long. Take another unattached strip and fold down one end about an inch. Make a half inch incision in the center of the folded edge, like before. Now we can tie these two strips together.
Gently insert the new loose strip through the incision on the strip attached to the braid. Then, through the cut you made in the loose strip, insert the other end of the same strip. Pull the second strip through itself until the strip is almost completely through the incision. Grasp each strip on the outside of the incisions and firmly pull both strips in opposite directions to tighten the knot, tying the two strips together. Now you have lengthened the strip for your braid and can continue braiding until you need to attach another strip. By using different length strips, the knots for adding length will fall in different places on each strand of the braid, making them less noticeable.
Once your strip is too long to comfortably attach to your knee (or whatever surface you have used), you can remove your safety pin. When it is too long, you can use your knees (or your feet) to help you keep tension on the braid. Just hold firmly onto part of the braid above the section on which you are working and continue braiding, adjusting as needed.
Continue adding strips as needed until you have run out of fabric or want to stop. The size of your rug will depend on how long your braid is. Leave the very end of your braid unsecured as we will use it to secure the tail of the rug when we finish
Step 4: Start at the Center
Once your braid is finished, gather it all up and find the start of the braid. We will come back to the unsecured end later.
I am making my rug a circle since I don't know how big it will end up. We will be finger crocheting so that we don't need any special tools. This process goes pretty quickly once you start. I finished the rug in about 30 minutes, while the braiding took me hours. I am right handed so if you are left handed, you need to do these steps with the opposite hand. Use your dominant hand to control the working braid.
To begin to crochet the rug, we will be making a magic loop. Take the tail (the end of the braid) and lay it across the palm of your left hand hand at the base of your fingers. Make sure you have 6-8 inches of the braid hanging down from your fingers. With the working braid (the rest of the braid), wrap the braid around the back of your hand and back up the palm. Make sure the working braid is toward the outside of your fingers (closer to the finger tips).
With your left hand clamp your fingers around the braid to keep it secure. With the right hand, push the working braid under (from right to left) the braid around the back of your hand. Insert your right hand through the loop you just made. Pull the working braid through the loop, now you have made a chain stitch. Pull the working braid through the new loop you just made, pull this new loop onto your wrist.
Step 5: Work Around the Magic Loop
Pull your left hand out of the magic circle; pinch with your left thumb and forefinger to keep it together. Leaving the loop you just made on your right hand (second chain), insert your right hand through the loop that was on your left hand (the magic loop). With your right hand, pull the working braid through the magic loop and into a new loop on your right hand. Now you have 2 loops on your wrist. Pull the working braid through those 2 loops and onto your wrist. You have now completed your first single crochet. This is equivalent to having your yarn on your hook, inserting hook through the loop, yarn over, draw hook back through the loop, yarn over and pull through both loops. Your hand is the hook.
Insert your hand back through the magic loop. Pull the working braid through the magic loop and onto your right hand. Now you have 2 loops on your wrist again. Pull the working braid through those 2 loops and onto your wrist. You have completed your second crochet stitch.
Repeat this process 4 more times so that you have 6 single crochet stitches through the magic loop.
Step 6: Join the Circle
Once you have 6 single crochet stitches through the center (magic) loop, it's time to slip stitch. We are going to slip stitch into the base of the first crochet stitch so that we can join our circle together. If you are unfamiliar with crochet, the top of the crochet stitch looks like a "V" with 2 strands of yarn. With the braid loop still on your right hand, reach through the base of the first crochet stitch and draw up a loop. Pull the loop back through the crochet stitch and then pull the loop that is farthest back on your wrist over the new loop. You have created a slip stitch and joined your circle.
Step 7: Keep Crocheting
Single crochet 2 stitches into the top of every crochet stitch around the circle. The first circle had 7 stitches (including the slip stitch) so this next circle will have 14. This will keep your circle going outward instead of upward. To crochet into the top of the stitch, look for the "V". Insert your hand under the "V", draw up a loop of braid, pull your hand back through the stitch and put the loop on your right wrist. Pull up another loop of the working braid and pull it through the loops on your wrist. Do this again in the same stitch. Repeat this all the way around the circle. Continue to put 2 single crochet stitches into each crochet stitch until you have almost reached the end of your braid. Leave about 6-8 inches to tie it off.
Step 8: Finish the Rug
Once you have neared the end of your braid, join the strands of your braid together. Cut a slit in the shortest one, just like we did to join the individual strands of the braid. Slip the next shortest strand through it and pull the short side up snugly against the bottom of the braid. Repeat with the remaining strand so that there is only one left to work with. Trim the strand if necessary but make sure to leave several inches of the last strand to make it easier to tie off.
Find a loop near the end of the braid and tuck the tail under. Carefully weave the tail over and under different loops in the direction of the center of the rug. This will make the rug tighter. When your braid has been woven in, take the remaining strand of the tail and tie it in a knot around one of the braid loops. Make the knot as inconspicuous as possible then tuck it between the loops of braid.
Find the center of the rug and repeat the process with the tails from the beginning knot. The center tail shouldn't have as much tail to weave. Knot it tightly and tuck it between the braids so that it is hidden.
Your rug is finished!