Sunday, February 12, 2012

Slashing that Stash: Bathroom Rug Tutorial!

Ta-Daaaa, here is a great project to get rid of a bunch of fabric in your stash:

It's a rug made from fabric braids, I made mine for the bathroom. It's really quite simple to make, and what I love about it is that you can incorporate fabrics in your stash that you wouldn't know what else to do with anymore otherwise. You know, the sales-bin fabric that upon closer inspection is a really nasty synthetic fiber, not suitable for a garment. Or the one that looks different in daylight, or the left-overs from a garment, for which you bought twice the amount than you actually needed. You get my point.

The only thing you should think about is that you can wash it in the end - so no fabrics that bleed heavily or that aren't washable. Make sure you pre-wash all the fabrics, too.

I made a little video of this project, with a couple real-time stitches and otherwise talking you through the steps, but I am also posting photos and instructions below, in case you prefer that.
Here is the video (sorry, I have a bit of a sore throat...):

Instructions and photos:

  1. You need fabric strips, so this project is more suitable for fabric left-overs that aren't in very small pieces, not tiny scraps. More like that left-over yard from a project... Cut strips of about 4-6 inches width, depending of how thick your fabric is and how thick you want your braids to be. I started with a light fabric and narrow strips in the center, which made the narrow curve easier.
  2. You need an underlying fabric, a little bigger than you want your rug to be in the end. Of course you can piece it together, as it will not be visible in the end. I used an old towel, which worked really well.
  3. Take three strips of fabric and braid them, always making sure to fold under the rough, fraying edges so that the top of the braid is nice and smooth. When one strip comes to an end, add on the next strips of fabric. Don't make the mistake to sew together the strips before braiding. They will tangle up and make braiding a big pain. So it goes braiding, adding on, braiding, adding on...
  4. Once you have a good amount of braiding done (but you don't have to have everything braided yet, you'll go back and braid some more later, the project is much easier to handle that way!), you start sewing the outside of the braid to the towel/base fabric, using a strong needle and heavy duty thread that doesn't tear. Start in the center of the fabric. In the beginning, it helps to use a crochet hook:

    This is what the back looks like. At this point, you can remove the crochet hook. The project is heavy enough to work without it by now.

    •  5. After sewing the outside of the braid to the underlying fabric, you will sew the inside of that braid to the adjoining outside of the other braid:

    Then go back and repeat steps 1-5: braiding, adding fabric strips, braiding, sewing the outside, sewing the inside etc...

    • 6. To finish the rug, make your fabric strips get narrower and the braid get smaller and smaller:

    That way, you can blend together the end of the braid to the circle:

    • 7. When sewing the last outside round, include a strip of fabric cut on the bias. Mine was about 4 inches wide, but I cut it back a lot later, so 3 inches would be enough. Fold it under by about 1/2 inch and sandwich it between base fabric and braids: 

    This is the only time you should make sure the stitches are nice and disappear under the braid.

    • 8. Cut back the base fabric to about 0.5 - 1 inch:

    • 9. Cut back the bias strip. This is what the underside of the rug looks like now. I'll get rid of all the thread ends later:

    • 10. Fold the bias strip so the two edges meet:

    ...and then over the edge of the base fabric to the underside of the rug:

    ...Pin it, first with wide gaps between pins:

     ...then filling in between them to make sure everything is nice and smooth along the curve:

    Check the other side to make sure you don't have any ugly wrinkles:

    • 11. Stitch the bias strip to the other side (I'm showing some real-time stitches of this in the video at the top of this post):

    This is what the underside looks like, after finally also getting rid of the loose thread ends...:

    • 12. This isn't mandatory, but I used a running stitch around the edge, to make a nice flat "frame". You can even use contrasting thread if you feel like it:


    I admit, it was quite a lot of hand-stitching and crawling on the floor and such, but this is the kind of project I have running parallel to my other sewing projects. It's the one I do in front of the TV, while the husband is watching soccer or the likes ;-)

    Here it is in it's final destination... the bathroom. I had gathered all the fabrics in my stash that match my bathroom, and I have to say I really like it. I used some pretty thick fabrics and the braids are so nice and soft to step on! It's ok to step on it with wet feet, and even if you drip some lotion on it or the likes, the stains disappear nicely ;-) And after all, you can throw it into the washing machine any time it's necessary.

    My bathroom is really small, impossible to take good pictures...

    ... but you get the idea...

    So then, off I go to finish the 1938 dress, yeah! I'll add the belt piece and skirt, and then get to that vintage snap button closure tutorial.

    Take care and be sure to let me know if you make one of these - I will link you up here if you want!


    1. Du erklärst deine Arbeiten immer so schön ausführlich...danke.
      Das ist ein Prachtteil von Teppich...ich bin total begeistert....auch dein Bad gefällt mir ....grins !
      Sei ganz lieb gegrüßt Yvonne

    2. Thanks for this tutorial, the video is very clear and easy to understand. I saw your jumpsuit tutorial on Debi's site for the sew grateful week theme. I've entered it as well. I'm giving away a Knipmode magazine on my blog. See you around. BTW you might want to get discus or something similar for the comments section in your blog. OpenID hasn't been functioning for ages, which means you're missing out on all direct comments that originate outside of blogger/blogspot.

      1. Thank you so much, also for the other comment! I'll be sure to check out your give-away and blog ASAP! Also thank you for the tip on the comments-subject. I actually have discus, so I should start using it... :-) See you around, too!

    3. This is absolutely fabulous!! I have TONS of scraps that I've promised myself I would use but didn't know what to use them for. I will definitely make one and let you know how it goes.I appreciate the video and the photo how-to. Thanks for sharing (^_^)

    4. This is so smart idea! The tutorial is clear and the colors, you choosed are so nice. I wish I would have enough scrap fabric for this :)

    5. Really nice job on your rug. The colours co-ordinate beautifully. I made something similar for a childs room last year - They are a great project to work on while watching tv!

      1. Thank you Chris - wow that is cool! I am glad you linked your project, I had not seen it before! We got there with different techniques, but the end result sure looks a lot alike!

    6.  Thank you so much for the tip! I just installed Disqus - I really wasn't aware of this issue! See you around!

    7. Great idea and great tutorial for leftover fabric. 

    8. I just stumbled across your tutorial and had to come check out your website. I have been looking for good detailed instructions on how to do this and was amazed when I saw yours. I LOVE the idea of using an old towel for the back. I have old towels and am looking for an excuse to buy new ones. :-) Plus I like my rugs to be washable. Thanks so much!

    9. Thanks so much for the tutorial, Katja. But even more, thanks for opening my eyes to the potential beauty of braided rugs. I've never liked them. But now I see it's because of the usual colors and how they're are used--little contrast, usually monochromatic. Your use of contrast (both of light/dark and of warm/cool) is masterful and makes for a beautiful rug. You've inspired me to make one for my small bathroom. Thank you!

    10. I was looking up "sewing machine" and braided rug when I found your blog, and I'm so glad I did! I already have a very long braid, and had started hand stitching the center when I realized how long it would actually take. Thanks to you I now know to add the backing (duh, why did I not think of that?) and to use the bias at the end. Thanks for taking the time to do the pictures and help this beginner!
      One question: what exactly is the crochet hook doing?

    11. I used old tshirts. If you don't have the quantity I had (lots of kids) check yard sales and thrift shops. I get a lot of fabric this way for dirt cheap!

    12. Oh wow, what a great compliment! Thank you so much!

    13. Hi and thank you! The crochet hook just helps to keep everything nice and flat in the beginning... You can probably do it without, too...

    14. Ah I just tried to post a comment but I dont think that it went through so here it goes again...

      I would love to make this large scale for my dining table. I'm thinking 6 feet in diameter and I plan on backing it with a canvas drop cloth. I am going to buy the fabric from the fabric store new... is there any certain fabric type or quality that you would recommend?

      Also any idea how much fabric I may need?

      Thanks, beautiful work!!!

      Ashley Lewis

    15. Jeanette Bonneville BrennanJanuary 5, 2015 at 4:56 AM

      Hi! Gorgeous rug!!!! question: how do you attach the next strips of fabric when you run out while braiding? do you knot it to the next piece and keep going? Stitch it? Thanks!