How to Make a Woven Throw Rug out of Recycled Denim Jeans

Updated on April 4, 2020
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Claudia has been writing about crafts online for many years. She is an avid crafter who has been creating for most of her life.

Easy-to-follow free pattern for using recycled denim blue jeans to make a woven throw rug.
Easy-to-follow free pattern for using recycled denim blue jeans to make a woven throw rug. | Source

Every once in a while I have to get rid of a pair of jeans that isn't suitable for donating. Either the hems are frayed, there is paint splattered all over them, or there is a big slash in them that didn't come from the designer.

Whatever the reason, I don't mind it too much because I get to add them to my stack of blue jeans that I use in projects.

This woven throw rug is one of those projects. It does take some time, and a few pairs of jeans, but I think that the result is worth the effort.

I particularly like the way the different hues of the jeans creates a unique woven pattern.

It's a durable little rug that washes well. However, because the fabric strip edges are unfinished, you will get some fraying, but that adds to the interest of the piece.

So gather up all of the supplies you need and enjoy making your thrifty throw rug out of recycled blue jeans.

Sewing With Denim

There are some tricks when sewing with denim. It's not like other fabrics. This video may help guide you along.

What You'll Need


Hopefully you have a nice tall husband like I do so the jeans are long, but even preteen sizes will work with this. They just need to be long enough to get strips that adequately cover the backing.

Denim strips, 2" wide in various lengths
Cut at least 28 strips for this size rug. At least 8 should be 26" long to cover the longest diagonal portion.
Durable backing fabric like canvas. Any color you prefer.
1 piece cut 17" x 23". You can make this larger or smaller, but remember to adjust the lengths, and amounts, needed of the denim strips.
Heavy duty thread for sewing machine
Heavy duty sewing needle
Quilter's ruler
Quilter's cutting board
Rotary cutter
Non-slip backing

Step 1 - Cut the Backing


Out of the canvas, cut out a rectangle 17" x 23". This will be the finished size of your rug.

Note: If you prefer to make it larger or smaller, you can. You'll just need to adjust the lengths of your denim strips.

Not Sure How To Cut Apart a Pair of Jeans - Here's How:

Step 2 - Cut the Strips of Denim


Disassemble a pair of jeans and use the legs to get the longest strips. Don't use any of the seams, just the fabric.

Cut at least 28 strips at 2" wide for this runner, although you may need more or less if you decide to use a different size.

At least eight of the strips should be 26" long. The others can vary, as long as you have enough to cover the canvas backing.

Be careful using the rotary cutter. These are long strips that are hard to cut and the cutter blade is really sharp.

Step 3 - Mark the Canvas


The nice thing about the canvas is that no one will see it once the denim strips are sewn on, so go ahead and mark it up.

I use a sharp pencil, a quilter's ruler and a quilter's cutting board. This type of ruler will help you get that 45° degree diagonal line that you need. I also recommend using a pencil so any mistakes can be erased.

Using the ruler and the board, mark your cross hatch lines, 2" apart at a 45° angle.

Step 4 - Audition Various Strips of Fabric


Start laying out the strips of fabric, deciding which ones you like the best. Start with one direction before you start weaving.

If you look closely, you can see where I made a couple of marking mistakes, but they were easy to fix.

Step 5 - Finish Placing First Side of Strips


Do this step on a hard, flat surface. The piece will remain on this surface until it is ready to sew.

Once you like the way it looks, finish laying out the fabric strips in the first diagonal direction. Don't worry too much about the backing that is showing. As long as it not too large a space, it will be covered up once the other set of strips is in place.

You will need to play around a bit at this stage. The longer the strips are cut, the better, because it's easier to cut a strip down than it is to make it larger.

Step 6 - Weave and Pin


Now comes the tricky part, the weaving.

Start weaving the remaining strips in. Begin at one end and pin as you go, catching the denim and the canvas backing. While doing this, make sure the strips are still lining up with the markings.

I can't emphasize enough that you should pin while doing this. You will also need to adjust pins as you go, so have lots of extra pins on hand. This will help you when lining up the strips with the pencil marks and with the weaving.

Watch your fingers here. Sometimes it is tough to pin through the denim and canvas layers, and you don't want to get hurt.

Note: Remember to check your weaving before you add the next strip. I had to correct myself numerous times and it would have been a lot worse if I had to remove more than one strip to fix a problem.

Step 7 - Finish Pinning


Once you have everything lined up the way you like it, add more pins before sewing. The strips will shift when sewing, so the more pins you add, the easier it will be to sew.

Don't worry about the uneven edges. They will get cut off after sewing.

Step 8 - Sew


I use a simple straight stitch on my machine, using a sewing needle that is good for denim fabric and heavy duty thread as well. I sew down both the sides of every strip, using a quarter inch seam.

Start and finish one diagonal side, removing pins as you go.

Then repeat on the other diagonal. You can see in the photo above how it should look.

Watch that you don't sew over the pins and break your machine or needle.

Step 9 - Trim the Edges


Flip the rug over and trim off the excess to a 3/4" overlap. This will act as the binding.

Step 10 - Pin the Binding Over


Fold over the overlapping denim fabric to the back side of the rug, and pin in place. Do this around all four sides before sewing.

Step 11 - Sew Around the Border

Using a 1/4" seam, sew around the entire border of the rug. The corners will be tough, but go slowly and watch your needle so it doesn't snap or get caught.

Begin and end with good backstitching to secure it.

Step 12 - Add Non-Slip Backing


Without the non-slip backing, this rug will slip. Choose a good non-slip backing to add to the runner for safety.

The Finished Product

Tutorial for this unique throw rug made out of recycled denim blue jeans.
Tutorial for this unique throw rug made out of recycled denim blue jeans. | Source

One of the things I like about this project is that it is very forgiving when it comes to the sewing. It is not that easy to sew through layers of denim and canvas. Your seams aren't all going to be straight, and the outside edges may be a little uneven.

But no one is going to get down on the floor and look that closely, and the overall look lovely.

Another nice thing is how different it looks in various light. The blues in the denim really change depending on what room it is in. Just take a look at this last picture versus the top photo.

I put my rug in our laundry room to brighten it up a bit, but this could go anywhere in the house. It would also make a nice housewarming gift for someone.

I hope you enjoy making your new throw rug!

I'd Like to Know

What do you do with your old jeans that can't be donated?

See results

© 2018 Claudia Mitchell


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    • profile image

      Nancy Miller 

      3 weeks ago

      I use old jeans to make quilt tops that our American Legion auxiliary ties and donates to Veteran's homes in our area.

    • profile image

      Amy S. 

      9 months ago

      Just wondering if it matters how the denim is cut-like the direction of the “twill” (not sure the word-“grain” maybe?)? I’m trying to maximize the use of the denim for a large play mat and it would be all directions.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      16 months ago

      That's great Grammers. I'm glad you liked the project.

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      This rug is just what we are looking for.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      16 months ago

      So glad you like the project Chris. We love this rug and I hope you like yours too.

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      I am moving and now I am taking my old jeans with me as I am going to make this lovely rug. What a grea idea and so pretty

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      20 months ago

      Thank you Chitrangada - I'm glad you liked this project. I hope you get a chance to make it.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      20 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Wonderful and so creative!

      It is so good that you reused and repurposed old fabric and created something so nice.

      Thanks for sharing this tutorial, with pictures and step by step instructions.

      Have a good day!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      20 months ago

      Hi Donna - Other heavy duty fabrics would work, especially canvas. It would also be fun with a mix of fabrics. I think mixing denim and corduroy would be really interesting. It would probably be tough to sew through though. Hope you are doing well and getting ready for the holidays.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      20 months ago

      Thanks Liz - I'm really concentrating now on using up the things I have around the house and this rug definitely fits the bill.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      20 months ago

      Thanks renee21. I appreciate it.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      20 months ago from USA

      Wow, this throw rug is really beautiful. The different shades of denim really make an interesting collage of color. Are there other types of fabric that would also work for this project? I assume heavy duty canvas would work, but what about corduroy or upholstery fabric?

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      21 months ago from UK

      Wow! This is a fascinating step by step guide. It is also very topical at a time when recycling is being encouraged a lot.

    • renee21 profile image

      Tori Leumas 

      21 months ago

      This looks really cool!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      21 months ago

      Thanks Peggy. Over the years I've amassed so much stuff in my house and I've made it a rule that any crafts I make need to use up things I have around. From time to time I might need to buy some a particular item, but I'm really trying to stick to my rule. It's helping make a dent in my "stuff".

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      21 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I love the fact that you recycle so many things in your sewing projects. The various colors in this jean rug do look particularly nice.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      21 months ago

      I'm really like denim too! And I have so many pairs to use. My husband always ruins the hems of his and he pretty much only wears jeans so I have a good supply. Hope you have fun making this rug! Thanks.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Love everything about this project! Working with denim is nothing short of delightful, especially when it's recycled. Your project is exceptionally well done. Though I usually wear my jeans too thin to use because I love their comfort at that point, but my husband provides ones that are quite useable for projects. I hope to copy your idea and that it turns out as nicely.


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