Making a braided rug
Instructions on making a homemade braided rug from fabric scraps.
In the 1830's, with the introduction of machine-made fabrics, homemakers began to put all of their leftover scraps to use by braiding them into floor coverings. It is a craft that is still practiced today, even though machine-made braided rugs are readily avaiable. Many people want to bring back the feeling of the "good ol' days" by doing it themselves.
When choosing rags or old clothing to make a braided rug, woolen ones work best. To prepare clothing for braiding, remove all lining, etc., and cut garments along the seams. Tear wool into strips that can be folded into cables for braiding. To tear strip, start with scissors and then rip the rest of the way along grain of fabric. Different weights in fabrics will mean that strips may need to be cut in different widths. Start by cutting a 1 1/2" strip and fold it to form a plump, round cable. Once you have your cable thickness decided, use that to judge how wide you need to cut the rest of your fabric strips.
Once the strips are torn you'll need to join them. Simply hold the ends at a 90 degree angle with right sides together, then stitch on a diagonal across the corner. Cut off excess corner.
To start the rug you'll need to make a center seam. To determine what size this seam needs to be it is suggested that you subtract your desired width from your desired length. For example, if you want a 4' x 6' rug you need a 2' long center seam. Braid the length of the seam desired, and then you'll need to turn the corner so you can continue braiding. To do this consider the strand hanging on the left part of the braid strand 1, the middle strand 2, and the strand on the right strand 3. To corner, bring strand 1 over strand 2 and into the center. Bring strand 2 over strand 1 and then under strand 3. Pull the braid towards the right and continue braiding. When you reach the other end and need to corner again simply repeat the process. As the rug area becomes larger you will not have to corner, it will simply wrap around.
To attach the braided lengths so they stay together you'll need heavy thread or carpet thread and a large needle. Do your stitching on what you desire to be the bottom of your rug. Thread the needle and begin by sliding needle under braid loop and out the top. Draw thread out and do the same to the length of braid that lays beside it. Do this back and forth, just like sewing until lengths are securely attached.
Since each length of braid that works to the outside of the rug is longer than the previous one you will need to skip a stitch along the outer curves to accomadate this. Do not skip at exactly the same places each time you hit the curve.
When you reach the last piece of braid, you'll need to cut strands 1,2, & 3 so they taper. Work them into the cable next to them and stitch them into place. Now lay your rug out and enjoy your handiwork.