“Mary was braiding a new rug. She had cut worn-out woolen clothes in strips, and Ma had put each color in a separate box. Mary kept the boxes in order and remembered where each color was. She was braiding the rag-strips together in a long braid that coiled down in a pile beside her chair.”
On the prairie, no scrap of fabric could go to waste, and you had to do what you could to make your home feel cozy. From beautiful quilts, to fashion accessories, no scrap went unused. Ma’s resourcefulness is one of the things we love so much about her.
When reading the Little House on the Prairie books as a child, I loved to learn how the Ingalls girls used what they had to make lovely decorations, like braiding rags into rugs. Their creativity has inspired this fun and easy DIY project. All you need to know is how to cut, braid, and stitch. You don’t even need to do any of these particularly well to get a great result.
Supplies for Your Braided Rug Inspired Placemat
How to Make a Braided Rug Inspired Placemat
Start by selecting your shirts. For contrast, look for different colors.
Fold the shirts in half down the front. Using scissors, cut down one of the sides. Cut off the bottom hem, then cut up the shirt into 2.5″ strips. Repeat for all the shirts.
Select three strips, pin the ends of the three strips together.
Braid the strips together.
When you get to the end of one strip, add a new strip of fabric by overlapping the last two inches and securing it as you braid.
As you continue braiding, the new color will be secured, as you can see with the peach strip above.
Keep adding new strips and braiding them in until your braided rope is long enough for the rug you want to make. Use a safety pin to pin the ends together.
Thread your needle. Wrap the thread around one end of the braided rope, cutting off the excess braid.
Fold about 1.5″ of the braid back over on itself. Stitch together the sides that are touching. Don’t worry if your stitches show, this will be the underside of the braided rug.
Spiral the braid around, stitching in place as you go.
Keep spiraling the braid around, and keep stitching.
When you get to the end of your braid, decide if your rug is large enough. If it is not large enough, you can braid in more shirt strips, and keep going. Once the rug is large enough, trim the ends, tuck them to the back, then stitch in place.
Flip over your braided rug – you’re all done!
This is so beautiful and such a practical item. Use a series of these as old-fashioned placemats, or create a slightly larger oval-shaped rug to use as a table centerpiece. See more fabric craft ideas to inspire your pioneering spirit!
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