Making rag rugs, a use for worn out fabric

For a while now I have been saving (hoarding really) old sheets that are just too far gone to use as sheets anymore. Some are used to make pajama pants; the material in the middle wears out first, so I cut pants leg pieces from the edges of a double sheet and sew them up (usually flannelette sheets). Lately though, I have been reading about making twined rag rugs and decided I need a few new bathroom mats, and maybe one for the front of the sink, then one for the floor beside my bed… the list is endless.

So of course I found a great tutorial online.

The first step was to make a frame loom. I just happened to have some electrical conduit lying around (and some corners too) so I made a frame in no time.

I just happened to have the materials lying around.

The basic frame loom.

Then I cut up two old t shirts and parts of two old flannelette sheets (left over from making pants).I made the strips about an inch wide, but I wasn’t very precise about it. The t shirts were cut sideways to make big loops (like huge rubber bands).

Cutting up t shirts

In weaving there are two types of threads; the warp and the weft. The warp is the ‘bones’ of a piece, they are the strands that go up and down and the weft threads are woven backwards and forwards through them.
For my mat, I used the t shirt loops slipped over the frame as the warp and the sheet strips became the weft.

A pile of warp strips

Making the weft strips from an old sheet

Then it was time to put the warp on the loom. I just slipped the strips over the outside like big rubber bands. It made a nice tight warp.

The warp on the frame, ready to go.

Then it was time to start twining; I just followed the tutorial until I got the hang of it. It was surprisingly simple, the turns at the end of the row were the hardest to learn.

The first few rows

Getting there
The finished rug still on the loom.

When the rug was long enough, I cut the bottom of the longest warp loops and tied them in a granny knot. The top of the loops were slipped off the bar (I had to take the loom apart to do that) and they pulled back into the mat as I tightened the bottom loops.
The whole mat is thick and soft. I think they will make excellent bath mats. It took about a week of evenings sitting and twining to finish though, so this is not an instant project.

The finished mat,not a good photo I know.

I can still see the pattern of the old sheet in the weave, you can see the ends of my knots on the edge of the mat..

What else can I do with old sheets? I seem to have inherited the old sheets from several houses as friends and family realise I have a use for them. Any suggestions?

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