Recycling Ideas – Rugs and Doormats

Do you have dupattas, old saris, bedsheets that are sitting in your cupboard and occupying precious space? Use them up productively and creatively to make floor coverings.

What you need:

Long strips of fabric

Sewing scissors

A ruler


Safety pins


Sewing needle(s)

Sewing machine

  • You can mix and match colors and prints to make a vividly colorful rug. You can also stick to just one or two colors and make a matching rug for your bedroom or bathroom. A rag rug does not need a backing, but you can add one to give it extra thickness.
  • Try using fabric that is of the same thickness and quality. For example, cottons, polyesters etc, that blend together.
  • Cut up your fabric lengthwise into strips that are an inch wide.
  • If you have rags that are too short, just sew them together to get the required length!

How to make a rag rug

  • Pull the ends of the strips slightly to make them curl along their long edges.
  • Take three strips and knot them together. Loop them through a door handle, use a safety pin to anchor the ends to the longer strip. Pull it as you braid the three strands together.
  • Start winding the braided strips into a cartwheel spiral. This will help you to estimate the size of your rug/mat and how many more strips you will need to complete the project.
  • Continue by attaching strands of the strips and make a long enough braid to wing them into a large circle.
  • Tack up the different strands with needle and thread.
  • Get out your sewing machine and set it on a loose and large zigzag stitch. Sew across the rug, up and down its width and length, and baste the braids together.
  • Your rug is ready.

If you are making a square or rectangular rug

  • Make enough braids to measure up to the width or length of the mat.
  • Take a piece of cloth for backing. Fix the top of the braids at the top of the backing piece – along the length or width – with headed pins. Sew them in and then align them side-by-side on the backing cloth.
  • Pin them to the bottom edge of the backing cloth.
  • On your sewing machine, use a large zigzag stitch and sew the rug horizontally and vertically to baste the braids together.
  • Use a bias binding cloth to border the rug on all four sides and sew that in as well.
  • The rectangle/square rug is ready.
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Padmini Natarajan
Padmini Natarajan calls herself Dame Quixote for she is forever tilting at windmills! A storyteller, poet, columnist, blogger, editor and journalist, she has specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. She has worked for over 15 years as Part-time Language Editor and Writer of manuals, curriculum textbooks and other material with an E-education organization, EZVidya/Chrysalis that is aimed at empowering Teachers, Students and Parents. She taught Vedic Heritage at Kalavardini to children from the ages of 3 to 14 and written and directed skits and plays. She won the Gourmand Special Jury Award in Paris in 2009 as co-author of ‘Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine’. Her book of short stories - ‘Crossroads: Stories from South Indian Lives’ - has good reviews on Amazon. Padmini has been concerned with paying it forward with her involvement in organizations like Sneha, a suicide prevention NGO, Canstop, Cancer Support group and many women’s organizations. Her other passion was acting, on stage, TV and screen. She is a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff, a music maniac who listens to Golden Oldies and has a strong Facebook presence. Nowadays she is an armchair activist and world traveler from the safety of her home. Quite the hypochondriac, she is exploring spiritual enlightenment through Vedanta and loves to spout philosophical thoughts to unwary audiences.