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recycled denim  rag rug

How to make a recycled denim rug from old jeans. Learn how to crochet a rectangle shaped denim rag rug.

recycled Denim rag rug crocheted from old jeans

  If you can do a single crochet (or any crochet stitch) you can make this upcycled rug.
​   I am going to share how I made my recycled denim rag rug.  I will share tips for preparing to make the rug, where to find  the denim and how to cut the denim into strips.  I will show the method I used to crochet this enormous (12ft x6ft)  rectangular area rug.  Including, but not limited to the size crochet hook used, the method I used to join my many fabric strips into one long piece of "yarn, and the different stitches I used as well as a few things to keep in mind in order to make crocheting with denim easier. 
​  I am assuming  that you have a basic knowledge of crochet. If you can do a chain stitch and a single crochet and a half double crochet , you have the skills necessary to complete this project.

WHy MAke a denim rug?

A thick and cushiony rug at almost 2" high
 I have this denim rug in my living room,  It really could be used anywhere in the home.  It is tough enough to withstand the traffic in a doorway while also being thick and cushy enough to earn a place on the bedside floor. To me, indigo colored denim goes with anything, I think of it as a neutral color for clothing and for home accessories. The area rug is machine washable and machine dryable so you could use it in your kitchen or bathroom without fear of it getting dirty.  (Although it would look unique and stylish, I would not use a denim rug in the bathroom.  I would fear that the rug would take too long to dry and may mold.  If you were to hang it up after you finished showering in order to give this rug some time to dry , that would be best).   Denim is widely available and easy to find.  Denim is also durable.  A rug made with old jeans can last you for years and years.


what size should a denim rag rug be?

   This rug pattern is easily adaptable to any size you would like to make.  You could make a small scatter rug by starting with a shorter chain and only doing a few rows of stitches.  If you wanted to make this a denim runner for a long hallway, start with a short chain and keep crocheting as many rows as you need until you reach the length you desire.   When I made my rug, I had no exact size in mind, I only knew I wanted to make the rug very large.     
   One thing to remember when designing your rug is that a very large rug will not fit in a home washing machine or dryer.    If I wanted to wash my rug, I would have to use the largest commercial size washer available at a laundromat.  If my rug was any bigger, it would not fit in even a commercial machine.  It is cumbersome to deal with at this size.  Moving it from the washer to the dryer when soaking wet is not an easy task. 
   Denim is very heavy.  One pair of adult sized jeans weighs about a pound. The 12 x 6 foot rug I made weighs over 30 pounds.  This is not the kind of project you will want to carry around with you and crochet wherever you go.  It was not a project that I worked on while in the waiting room at the doctors office or riding the bus.   
     If you want to make a heavy and durable, washable area rug from old clothes, this project maybe for you.

if a rug is too much of a commitment for you check out these baskets, both from recycled denim.  you could complete one in just a few hours.  

upcycled storage box made with recycled denim jeans
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easy decorative fabric bowl crocheted from recycled denim


  There are two main reasons that I use as many recycled materials as possible in my craft projects.
   The first reason is because it is easier on the environment t do so.  I have so many items coming through my home on a daily basis.  I am often amazed by the amount of trash and recycling my family produces each day.  And that amount is in addition to things we throw away less frequently.  Things like worn out furniture or clothing.    I worry about the environmental impact that my family may have so I strive to be less wasteful.  
  By keeping our worn out clothes from the trash can, I am saving space in the landfill.  Because I'm making home décor items with materials  I already own, I am not purchasing those new items or the fabric to make them  in stores.  Its hard to imagine I will ever again throw away fabric only to go purchase more at the store or buy a new rug when I can so easily make one.
   The second reason I try to make items with recycled materials is money.  Buying area rugs or buying any kind of home accessory is expensive.  There are so many other things I would rather spend my money on.   Even homemade is no bargain.  Anyone who has ever shopped for fabrics, especially decorator fabrics knows how expensive that can be.  It is often more expensive to make something with new fabric than it would be to purchase the item factory made.   Making home accessories for free or very inexpensively with recycled materials allows me to have things that I would not otherwise be able to afford.  Without recycled materials I would not have a cozy home with cushiony area rugs all over or unique baskets to help organize or interesting throw pillows on all the furniture.  Using recycled materials allows me to afford the home I want. 

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MATERIALS neeeded:

 rotary cutter or scissors:  for cutting strips
crochet hook size p 11.5mm 
recycled denim fabric yarn; cut to between 3/4 and 1 1/2 inches wide  (keep reading for more information on preparing the denim yarn)
needle and thread: 
for attaching strips to create yarn

recycled sari silk ribbon is fitted around an old mason jar or talenti plastic container to make a colorful crochet hook organizer or pencil cup for the top of your desk.
Do you want to make a rug with a fabric other than denim? Learn about the pros and cons to working with every other type of material

Where to get old jeans to make recycled denim yarn

.    The recycled denim yarn is made by cutting fabric strips from unwanted or worn out denim clothing.  You will need a lot of jeans if you are trying to make a large rug.
    One pair of jeans weighs about one pound before you cut off all the hardware and seams.  I usually am able to crochet about one square foot of fabric from one pair of jeans.  That is just an average, jeans come in all different sizes and styles.  A larger pair with no embellishment will yield the most yarn.  A child size pair with embroidery and holes in the knee will yield the least.   The square foot yield per pair of jeans is just  a guideline I keep in the back of my head to help me estimate how many pieces of old denim clothing I will need to find to recycle for a project
  There are several places where I get denim for my projects for free or at very low cost.   The first place to look are your own closets and those of your family members.  Pull any items that you have outgrown and are not good enough to sell or give away.  Pull items that have holes you know you will not be able to repair.   Dont forget about shirts or skirts and any other item made from denim.  You can use those too.   Another good source of free material can be family and friends.  Tell everyone you know that you are making a rag rug and would be grateful for donations of worn out denim clothing.   I have been surprised by how happy people are to give me their old clothes.  I think they are glad to not hav e to throw them away.  People feel good knowing that their items will continue to be useful long past their time as clothing has passed..

sisal twine is crocheted around recycled denim fabric strips to create a sturdy basket
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​.  If you still need more fabric after checking your own home and asking friends, there are some options that will cost a small amount of money.
   Thrift stores can be a great source of material to make rag rugs.   I always start my shopping in the men's section where the largest sizes are.   Try to find the largest items you can find in order to get the most bang for your buck.
      One of my favorite places to buy denim to recycle is an online thrift store called thredup .   They have a box on their site that contains 15 pounds of denim for $20 or 30 pounds for 38.  You can find these on their website in the rescues section.   If you sign up with my link you will get $10 off of your first order (I will get ten dollars too).    Their rescue boxes contain clothing that is not selling on their site.  These boxes are often sold out, but they relist frequently.  If I want to buy one, I will check the site several times a day until I find the box I want available.  
     Another site that sells used clothes at a ridiculously low price  They sell jeans for as little as 3 or 4 dollars and if you sign up with my link, you will recieve a coupon for 40% off your first order. 

Cutting denim strips

  Once you have collected the old jeans to use for your recycled denim rug, it is time to cut your strips.   The goal is to cut strips as long as possible while avoiding any worn spots or holes.  I also do not want seams or any embellishment in my denim yarn.   I try to cut my denim straight, not on the bias.  This makes the strips stronger.   I try, but because every item of clothing is a different shape, I am not always able to do that.
​       I always cut my strips at least 3/4 of an inch thick. ANy shorter and they tend to break.  I may cut some strips as thick as 1 1/2 inches wide.  I want the size of the fabric width to even out after its crocheted so heavier fabrics are cut to   3/4 of an inch and I will cut fabric strips wider for the thinner weight material.

What I wish I had known before beginning my first recycled denim project

Making fabric yarn from denim can take a lot of time.  Cutting strips while avoiding seams and other hardware as well as worn spots and holes can be tedious. 

Buying denim by the yard would resolve a lot of that hassle, but it is quite expensive and then you are no longer making a recycled or environmentally friendly item.   If using one color of denim from yardage, you do not get the kind of variation in color that you have when you use multiple pairs of old jeans to make a project.

Because you are cutting around so many seams and so much hardware, the fabric strips can be quite short.   There will be frequent joining of new strips as you work up your project.  I join as I go, but sewing the strips together into a continuous piece of "yarn" before you start can save a lot of time once you begin crocheting.

Cutting up old denim clothing is very messy.  You will have small particles of fabric in the air and landing everywhere.  You may want to wear a mask so you dont breathe in the fabric dust. You may want to prepare your strips outside or in an area that is easy to thoroughly vaccum when you finish.  

denim strips that are cut too thin ( narrower than 3/4 of an inch wide tend to break when worked with

100% cotton denim looks best (in my opinion) but can be difficult to crochet.   Denim that is mixed 

with some spandex to have some stretch is softer in the hands, less likely to break, and more forgiving of mistakes.   I usually end up using a mixture of both 100% cotton and stretchier denim because I am using found clothing to make my strips

If you are purchasing jeans from the thrift store to make your fabric yarn, start your search in the largest sizes.   The bigger, the better.   You get a lot more workable fabric from a size 40 than you do from a size 26.   Boot cut or straight leg styles are better than skinny jeans when it comes to making long, evenly sized fabric yarn strips

Joining fabric strips to make recycled denim yarn

   There are many methods for joining all the strips of fabric into a yarn.  Some people will do all their joining before they begin and will work from big prepared balls of yarn.  Others will only join their strips as they need to.  Joining as you go gives more control over color placement, but can interrupt your crochet rhythm,  I will usually do a combination. joining some before and some during, as needed.  
    With a thick fabric like denim, I sew my fabric strips together to make my yarn.  All the other methods I have tried just leave too large of a lump under the rug.


.   .
   A rectangular rug can either be worked in rows or from the center out.  THE large rug pictured above was crocheted first in rows and then I did several rows  around the outside , like a border or a frame for the rest of the  rug..
    To begin, I chained a chain that equaled nearly the length of rug that I waned to make.  I then worked single crocheted into each chain, turned my work and went back down the row.  I continued to work back and forth in rows until I reached a size I was happy with.  Instead of turning my work, I crocheted around the corner and began to work around my rectangle.  I went around about seven rows until I had a rug the size that I wanted.  I tied off and I was finished.
   NOTE:  I wish I had crocheted this rug tighter.  Since it has been in use the stitches have loosened up a bit and I regret not working tighter stitches.  That would have made a a much better quality rug 
  Have you ever made anything using the fabriic from old jeans?  How did it turn out?  What would you do differently to improve the outcome if you were to remake it?   Im always interested  in new thoughts about crafting with recycled denim.
This pizza floor pillow uses up all kinds of different fabrics. I used everything I could get my hands on in the right colors.

This post first appeared on Reragg: No Scrap Wasted, please read the originial post: here

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recycled denim  rag rug


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