How to Make "Shag" Rag Rugs
I started making rugs several years ago when, as the home room mother, I needed a class project idea for my daughter’s school auction. Rugs can be made from the leftover fabrics (i.e. used and outgrown clothing) that everyone has in their home, so the initial cost is small and the end product can be very beautiful.
This idea is very appealing to members of the "green revolution" as well as the more frugal among us. In my opinion, "shag" rag rugs are the easiest of all rugs to assemble plus you can find a place for every piece of leftover scrap in your fabric stash.
All you need to complete this project is assorted scrap material, monk's cloth, 1-inch wide hem tape, and a blunt, large-eyed tapestry needle. I also put a backing on my rugs made out of duck cloth so they appear more finished but some people disagree with this idea saying it traps dirt in the rug, causing it to break down more quickly.
To begin, cut the monk cloth in the desired size of your rug plus 1/2 inch on each side. Fold the hem tape in half and sew it to the edge of the monk’s cloth. This will prevent it from raveling. To hem, fold the hem taped edged monk’s cloth in 1/2 inch and sew on each side.
Next, cut the assorted fabric into strips 1 to 1.5 inches wide and about 6 to 12 inches long depending on how "shaggy" you want your rug to be. Don't worry if the length varies slightly. This gives the rug some diversity. I use pinking shears to cut the fabric so my strips won't ravel so much but others prefer the raw edges saying it provides a more homespun look.
To assemble the rug, thread a strip of fabric through the eye of the needle. Starting at the center of the monk’s cloth, attach each strip to the backing by inserting a small stitch.
Both ends should be in the front of the monk's cloth. Even them up and tie them in a knot. Go on to your next strip. Mix colors randomly. Fill the entire rug with strips, making sure no backing shows.
Densely cover the backing. I usually include 3 weaves of monk's cloth in my stitch and then skip 3 weaves before I make another stitch. I work from the center to the edge, skipping 3 weaves between rows. If desired, when finished cover the back with duck cloth.
Shake your shag rag frequently to remove loose dirt because the dirt will break down the fibers in your fabric. Hand wash or place in the washer on a delicate setting. Hang to dry. Enjoy many years of use of your one-of-a-kind shag rag rug.