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A simple plaited rug

Making the most out of materials which you have lying around in your home can be a fabulous way to update a room and to indulge in a relaxing and productive activity.

An old fashioned rag rug can add a real splash of colour to any room in your home and it’s one of the cheapest ways in which you can alter the look of a room in a really eye catching and unusual way.

Rag rugs are a very old form of handicraft which was a popular way for poorer people to add warmth, comfort and colour to their cottages in the past. Even the very poorest families could enjoy the softness of a rug underfoot with this ingenious method of simple weaving.

Because people kept every last scrap of old fabric which they had, they usually had a store of materials to use for patchwork and similar projects. Rag rugs and plaited rugs were the best way to use up the oldest pieces of fabric in their collections because the style in which they are made is a fabulous way of hiding worn patches or faced portions of the textiles.

You can choose any types of fabric to make a plaited rug but it is usually best to select fabrics of a similar weight and texture or your rug will not be as strong as it might be otherwise.

To begin, gather up all of your old fabrics…use sheets, old dresses, curtains…anything that you have lying around.  Cut the fabric into long strips of around 3″ broad and pull off any loose threads.

Place three strips of the same length together…your strips need not be longer than around 36″ or they will become difficult to manage.

Use a safety pin to fasten the strips together and then pint the bunched strips to a length of string tied to a chair back. Begin to plait the strips, keeping them taught the whole time and tucking in any stray threads as you go.

Continue this process until you have as many as fifty or more plaited lengths of fabric and then you may begin to construct your rug.

There are two methods of construction; one involves coiling the plaited lengths of fabric into flat “discs” rather like coiled snakes…these are stitched down by hand as you coil and then multiple coils are sewn together; this gives a very attractive finish. The other method is simply to sew the strips together in rows which will give a simpler affect.

A basic earthy colour pallet looks particularly eye-catching
A basic earthy colour pallet looks particularly eye-catching

You can add a fringe or pom-poms to your rug once it is complete or leave the ends loose. If you have a good selection of fabrics to choose from you can play with colour by mixing in different shades of the same colour or by alternating coloured pieces with white or black pieces which gives a very stylish result.

Plaited rugs may be washed in the machine with ordinary detergent and they can be regularly flipped over to extend their lifespan because they look good on both sides.

You may also create a bedspread in this way and this adds a wonderfully warm layer to winter bedding.