***3/5/2014 UPDATE: Check out A Better Recycled Rug for my latest thoughts on rug making***
Ruthie had asked for instructions on my braided denim rug. I don't pretend that my way is the best way, especially since this project has been largely dormant for well over a year. That having been said, I do like the way it looks.
I start by cutting the strips into strips that are about 2 1/4 inches wide. I don't care how long the strips are because they will be sewn together into a long strip anyway. I try to keep the strips I've cut organized by color (amount of fading actually). This allows me to keep the colors in my rug marbeled rather than winding up with a big patch of one color or another.
To get started, I sew several of the same color strips together until I have a strip that is about 6 feet long. I find anything longer is difficult to work with. You might even want to start with a shorter length until you get used to the braiding process. Repeat this until you have three strips that are about 6 feet long or your chosen length.
Here's the time consuming part. I fold the edges of the strips in and sew them together to create a finished edge. So the strip you actually braid with winds up being about a 1/2 inch wide. In looking at other rag rug patterns on the internet (and let's face it, this is a rag rug), I don't know if this is really necessary. I'd love to hear from other people who've done it without sewing the edges. Once I've sewn the edges I roll up most of the strip to make it easier to work with.
I sewed the ends of the three strips together and began braiding. This is a pain to get started. I pinned mine to the arm of the couch to keep it steady while I tried to get the braid started. I try to be very deliberate about the braiding and avoid twisting the fabric so the finished product will lay flat. Is this really important? I suspect because of the weight of the denim that it might be. However, if you were using a lighter fabric or you weren't finishing the edges, it probably wouldn't be a big deal at all.
Once I had braided a length of about 3 feet, I folded the braid in half and stitched the center together to create the center of my rug. From that point forward, I sew a few more strips on, finish the edges, braid a little, and sew the new lenth of braid onto the rug.
To give the rug more stability, I periodically flip it over and sew the back edges of the strips together as well.
Ruthie found this rag rug tutorial, which I'm really intrigued by. Here are instructions for another braided rag rug.
Here's a book that sounds very interesting on the subject. I've just requested it through inter library loan so I'll let you know how it is.
Handmade Rugs from Practically Anything
by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken. Countryside Press: Philadelphia, 1972.