When I first started making rugs, jersey knit was all that I used. I started with T-Shirts and then moved to recycled bed sheets and fabric. The process is so smooth and the edges of the fabric strips roll so perfectly, you don't see the edges of the fabric in the finished rug!
It is a very different process to prepare fabric strips for a rug made with jersey knit fabric. I NEVER recommend cutting fabric to make a rag rug, EXCEPT for Jersey Knit. Cutting cotton fabric causes very messy, uneven strings on the edges. Tearing cotton fabric causes the edges to have an even, uniform look. You can't tear knit fabric, you have to cut it. How to cut it can be tricky.
When you are using a large piece of jersey knit fabric, you will notice that the fabric has a tendency to stick to itself, making it very difficult to fold without wrinkles and lumps. The best way I have found to work with it, is to keep it straight a little at a time.
To make a rag rug, you will need:
9-10 yards of jersey knit fabric (2-3 bed sheets)
rotary cutter, mat and ruler
Small pair of scissors
(or scissors and a ruler/board)
Here is a pictorial guide for how I prepare jersey knit fabric to make a rug:
Using a bed sheet, fold the sheet in half and then in half again, lining up the edges of the seam as best you can. Don't worry about the fold area even if it is a little lumpy.
Using a rotary cutter and mat with a ruler, cut off the seam edge. Repeat on all sides, refolding if needed until all the seams have been removed.
IMPORTANT: Open the sheet and without stretching the fabric too much, look at the corner of the cut fabric. You will notice the fabric begin to roll. You want to cut the fabric in the direction that will cause the fabric to roll INWARD towards the underside, not outward. Here in the photo below, it is the right hand side, not the bottom side that shows the fabric rolling inward. I will cut the fabric in the same direction of the right hand side (on this fabric).
Refolding the fabric, line up one bottom edges as best you can. If you are using bed sheets, You may notice that the fabric is not even, or perfectly squared. When the bottom edges of the folded fabric are lined up as much as possible, cut off the excess to make an even edge. Try not to worry about the folded area or the wrinkles in the rest of the fabric.
Here, I have flipped the fabric over before I cut my edges off because of my work space. After you cut off your uneven edges, your fabric should look like this:
From here, mark off 2.5" (or 2" if you prefer narrower strips) and cut one strip at a time. With each strip, you may need to smooth out wrinkles in the folded area. As you do this, the opposite side will begin to get uneven. Don't worry about that. Just keep cutting, begin sure each bundle of fabric strips you are cutting are as even as possible.
As you near the opposite edge, you will need to open the fabric, refold it and line it up again. Keep doing this until you can no longer cut an even line the same size as your desired width. Discard the uneven remaining piece.
You should have several stacks of folded fabric strips. You can cut your joining strips now, or one at a time, but it is easier to cut them now. MAKE VERY SMALL SLITS for your joining slits. The fabric will stretch. Barely a snip will do.
Gently pull each strip so that it rolls into a nice long cord like shape (left side)
You are now ready to start your rug!
To start, use the same method as any other fabric. If you don't know how, you can see my video and blog post here:
Visiting my Knotted Rug Help tab at the top of my page will direct you to much more information and lots of tips for making these durable, long lasting, beautiful rugs including how to load the tool, increase, make an oval and more! Or click here for a shortcut:
If you need tools or supplies, check out my Etsy Shop here:
By the way, suppose you accidentally cut your fabric in the wrong direction. Don't worry. Been there, done that. Even though the beautiful fabric had rolled so that the underside showed, i decided to use it anyway and it turned out very pretty!