Wednesday, June 20, 2012

$415 Rag Rug Fail

I have never been a crafter.  I truly appreciate something hand made, but lack both the talent and the patience to turn ordinary materials into a work of art.  Knowing this didn't stop me from trying though.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I wanted to create a beautiful nursery on a budget.  I refused to purchase anything that would serve no purpose 5 years down the road. I wanted everything that was put into the nursery to be meaningful and special.  So I decided to make a braided rag rug.
You may have seen these before.  When done properly, they look something like this.
First, I visited Value Village to purchase some sheets for this project.  I chose a pale green and ivory.  My sister then gave me a set of beige sheets that she did not use to finish it off.  Cost of sheets-$10.
I then washed the sheets scored them, and tore them all into 1.5" strips.  Total time spent tearing-3 hours ($28.50 if charging minimum wage for my time).
After the sheets were in strips, I then went through them all and removed any stray threads.  I did this while watching TV over a couple weeks, but in total, it took me about 4 hours ($38).
Next, for each colour, I looped all of the 1.5" strips together and made them into balls, ready for braiding.  Again, this took me about 4 hours in total ($38).
Next came the most time consuming part-the braiding. I am not sure how others have done this, but when you have three giant balls of fabric to braid, it is very difficult to pass them over and under one another.  What resulted was me braiding about 1 foot, and then spending about 5 minutes de-tangling the fabric at the end closest to the balls.  Total braiding time-16 hours ($152).
Beginning of Braiding.  Looks really good when lying flat without being sewn.
The final step in completing the rug was sewing it together.  I have a general understanding of sewing techniques, but am no expert.  I decided to go with a zig-zag stitch to really hold it together.  Cost of thread-$6.  Total time spent sewing-15 hours ($142.50).
Beginning stages of sewing.  Should have known that it wasn't right at this point, but I thought it would flatten out as I proceeded.
I should have done a bit more research about the sewing part.  I thought that it looked pretty straight forward.  Turns out, however, that the first stitches are crucial.  The braids must be sewn together perfectly flat in the centre for the rest of the rug to be flat.  Failing to recognize this, my rug turned out looking more like a giant cone than a rug.  And to top it off, because I did a zig-zag stitch, it would have taken hours to remove and start again.
I tried flattening it. I wet it and placed heavy objects on it.  I even slept with it under my mattress for 2 weeks, but alas, it still looked like a cone.  Needless to say, the rug went in the garbage and I will never again attempt a DIY project of this magnitude again in hopes of saving a dollar.
Final product after weeks of trying to flatten.
Recognizing that it would have been cheaper to buy a rug-PRICELESS


  1. Ahhhh...I have been there! I have tried to do so many projects only to spend more in the end (materials, time, and then still have to go out and the buy the actual object when I fail at DIY!).

  2. I give you huge props for even attempting this. I can't begin to count the number of projects that I've done that have ended the exact same way.