UPCYCLED CROCHET RUG
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Let's go make some rugs!!
WRITTEN HOW-TO WITH PATTERN
Of all the upcycling I do, this is by far my favorite, a circular crochet rug. There is something so satisfying when the rug is finished. Practical, functional, easy, and green, crocheting rugs from repurposed fabric allows you to decorate a space in infinite styles. You can make the rug as big as the amount of fabric you have on hand. The greatest part about that? The more fabric you use, the more upcycling you are doing, and what a better way to recycle than making something you will use everyday?
First you will need fabric. A lot of fabric. My favorite finds are sheets, duvet covers, and drapes. Big pieces mean greater consistency of color and are easier to make into fabric yarn (I’ll explain in a minute). It is possible, however, to use T-shirts, jeans, dresses, anything you can cut or tear into strips. Avoid stretchy or elastic infused fabrics, as these are difficult to work with and will not give you a uniform shape. I love linens (they fray beautifully) and cottons. I recently found an organic cotton cinnamon colored duvet cover and it made a SUPER soft rug.
The top question I am asked is, “How much fabric do I really need?” This is quite difficult to say, and depends on the thickness of the fabric, how thick/thin you cut your strips, and how big you want your rug. On average, however, if you want to make a 2ft diameter circular rug with 1.5 inch strips you will need approx 2 king sized bed sheets or a king duvet cover. These might leave you a couple inches short, but I usally add a contrasting rim around the outside anyway with a different fabric or color. For any size over 2ft, you will need significant increases of fabric because as the circle gets bigger, it takes more and more stitches to make one round (which usually amounts to 2 inches of diameter). The best part about this? The more fabric you use the ‘greener’ you are!
Once you have your piles of fabric, you need your scissors. You will be cutting long strips that you will eventually roll into ridiculously large balls. The width of the strips depends on your answer to 3 questions.
First, how big is your crochet hook? I use a size S. But pretty obviously, the bigger the hook the wider the strip. I like chunkier stitches which make thicker and more durable rugs. When shopping for hooks, think of theold addem, ”Size Matters”. Sorry guys, in this case, the bigger the better.
Second, how thick is your fabric? When using jeans, for instance, I cut the strips really thin, approx 1/2 inch. (Make sure they are sturdy, however, by pulling them. If they break, cut them thicker). When using sheer, gauzy, or very thin fabric, cut them thicker, approx 2.5 inches. On average, I use 1.5 inch strips. Don’t be crazy about keeping the width perfect. I purposefully vary the sizes a teeny bit to add some interest to the rug.
Lastly, how thick do you want your rug? Do you want super cozy, thick, and heavy? Cut your strips wider. Do you want lacey, light, airy, and soft? Cut them a bit thinner. Keep in mind the wider your strips are the harder it is to crochet. Your wrist and arm will definitely get a work-out! Don’t feel overwhelmed by this. Getting the hang of it really comes with time and trial and error.
Now it’s time to make the strips. Spread your fabric out on the floor. Linens such as flat sheets are ready to go. All you do is start cutting the fabric into long strips. Start at the bottom and when you get to the other end of the fabric, don’t cut all the way through. Stop about an inch from the top and move over another width and start cutting another strip from the top down to the bottom. This way, you can make one uber long strip without having to deal with tying separate strips together.
If your fabric allows it, you can cut a couple inches and then tear/rip your strip. This is supremely easy and 10x quicker than using scissors. The drawback? If your fabric doesn’t have seams at the top and bottom it is very easy to tear all the way through and you will have to tie the strips together, making it more difficult to crochet later on. I have read that some people will actually make seams so they don’t have to worry about ripping through the edge. For me, I like to live by Occam’s Razor: Tend towards the simplest solution. So I am just as careful as possible when tearing. No matter how careful I am, however, I always tear through at least once. You too? Hakuna Matata. The other drawback of ripping instead of cutting is in increase in frays. Personally, I like a bit of fraying and sometimes hand fray fabric I have cut to getthat shabby chic look.
If you have a duvet cover, cut the seams so you have one large rectangle and snip off any ties or buttons and save for another project. Curtains and drapes are easy too. Cut off any ties, hooks, weights, or buttons and cut away. Fitted sheets are a bit more tricky. Think of it as cutting in a round. First cut off the elastic around the bottom. Then cut your desired width up the side of one of a corner seam. Tear or cut horizontally along the sheet until you get to the next corner seam. Cut through and keep going around. When you get back to the first corner, cut through so you are left with a long strip. Continue cutting your chosen width up the first corner seam and cutting around the sheet. Do this until you don’t have any seams and you are left with the top of the fitted sheet, a big rectangle. Then cut/tear like you would with a flat sheet. Kinda confusing? I know. If you have questions or need clarification, please ask!
Any clothes or other irregular shaped fabric is more tedious. Just cut your widths in the longest strips possible. When you do have to join your strips together, and this is the case using any kind of fabric or width, simply tie them together, leaving about 1.5 inches of ‘tail’ so you can weave it in later. For a more rag rug approach, you can actually crochet the knots on top of the rug and leave the tails loose. It can be really cute. Otherwise you can crochet the knots to the back of the rug, as I do.
Once you have this crazy pile of strips, you need to roll it into a ball. I have tried crocheting straight from a pile, thinking…why not? But I really don’t recommend it. You end up cursing each stitch because you spend half your time unravelling knots and herding children and/or pets away from the increasingly gnarled pile. Also, if you don’t plan on finishing in one go, or life gets in the way, as it always seems to, it is MUCH easier to store a ball than a nest looking knotted thing. Roll up your strips as you would a yarn ball, making sure to tie together any strips that are disconnected. Yes, these end up being ridiculously humongous. If yours gets hard to handle, cut your strip and start a new ball.
Now it’s FINALLY time to crochet. Any beginner crocheter can do this. Once you get over the increase in size, it really is easy peasy. All it is in crocheting in the round.
Round 1: make a slip stitch around your hook and chain 4. Put your hook back through your first chain and pull through to make a circle. Chain 1. Then single crochet (sc) 6 into the circle. You do this by inserting your hook into the circle and draw back your fabric strip through the circle and upward, finishing your sc on top of the circle chains. Make these on the looser side because they tighten up real fast. Leave the tail from your first slip stitch free and pull it up through the circle so you have a marker. I use this as a guidline as to where the beginning of my circle is.
Round 2: 2 sc into each stitch around. You now have 12 stitches and your rug should begin to flatten a bit.
Round 3: Alternate between 2 sc in one stitch and 1 sc in the following stitch around your circle. You should now be able to flatten your circle so it looks somewhat like a coaster.
If it is looking more like a bowl, don’t worry, in Round 4 continue this pattern of 2sc, 1sc around the circle. It should flatten out.
Round 4: 2 Sc in the first stitch and 1 sc in next two stitches. Continue 2 sc, 1 sc, 1 sc, 2 sc, etc. around the circle.
Round 5: 2 sc in the first stich and 1 sc in the next three stitches. Continue around the circle.
Round 6: 2 sc in the first stitch and 1 sc in the next four stitches. Continue around the circle. Getting the pattern? With each increasing row, you alternate 2sc and then 1 sc in increasing amounts as the rug gets bigger. You keep going until your rug is as large as you want it.
Trouble shooting: If your rug is wavy, that means you have too many stitches. When you start to notice waves and your rug isn’t laying flat, you can either sc all the way around once or twice to see if this helps and then go back to your increasing rounds. Or if it looks like stormy seas, take more drastic action, and skip stitches as you sc around the circle. You can either totally skip a stitch or work a decrease stitch by pulling your yarn through a stitch, but instead of finishing your sc, with both loops still on your hook, insert your hook through the next stitch and pull the yarn through. Now you will have all three loops on your hook. Yarn over and pull through all three. Make sure you decrease stitches evenly around your rug or it will become lopsided.
If your rug is looking more like a basket or bowl, you have too few stitches. Increase the amount of stitches by making more 2 sc between your 1 sc stitches. Hm did that make sense? For example, if you are at Round 5, instead of 2 sc and then 1 sc in the next 3 stitches, 2 sc and then 1 sc in the next 2 stitches. If this fixed the problem, great. If not, continue doing this until your rug lays flat.
Really, it is a matter of feel, constantly looking and adjusting, and trial and error. My first rug still doesn’t lay flat. Actually, who am I kidding? My first three rugs don’t lay flat. Don’t be discouraged. Power through your first rug and let it be. Think of it as a learning experience!
Things to keep in mind: Whenever you are making your rounds, or increasing or decreasing, make sure to finish your circle round. Don’t stop halfway around if your rug is getting wavy and try and decrease stitches on the second half. Your rug will become uneven. Don’t panic and just keep going until you finish up the round. Then decide your plan of attack. Also keep this in mind when changing colors.
To tie off your rug, finish your round, slip stitch into the next stitch, cut your fabric yarn with an approximate 4 inch tail and pull the tail all the way through the slip stitch.
Pull tight and then weave the tail through some stitches along the back of the rug and knot to secure.
You can leave your rug as is, (I am sure it is wonderful!) but if it looks like it “needs a little something”, as Soleil often says to me, you can adorn your masterpiece with just about anything. Here are some of my finished pieces for some ideas.
Now go decorate! These rugs are truly great anywhere in your home, whether it’s a nursery, bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen, or a special nook all it’s own. It can accent a sitting area, or change them out to bring in color and texture, or seasonal fun. Yeah! for being creative, gaining some arm muscles, and being green! Go you.
You can also purchase a whole range of my crochet rugs here!