Last year, as I was planning what things I could re-purpose for the upstairs, I thought about all of the multicolored fabric rugs my mom had purchased when I was a child. The idea of a fabric rug intrigued me, but I did not care for mine to be multicolored. Then my mom, who has boxes of fabric scraps, showed me her treasure trove of white bed sheets. I knew I would be making bed sheet rugs.
I wanted to find a braided method that could be completely done by hand, with no use of a crochet hook or sewing needle. I was planning to produce this rug wherever and whenever, including on public transportation. I was a full-time teacher and full-time graduate student at the time so free time was scarce. Then I found this tutorial from Little House in the Suburbs. I spent spare minutes snipping two bed sheets into 1 1/2 inch strips, round about, and ripping them down the weave.
I simplified the method in the tutorial, because I forgot about adding multiple strips once I got into a rhythm with my weaving/braiding. The entire rug is made with a 4 strand-braid tucked into itself. The result is a white, durable, hand woven rug, with visible knots and fraying thread that, to me, makes this rug even more special.
I do not have photographs of the strip preparation, since I prepared the strips more than half a year ago. I'll update this post when I start my next rug and completely finish the first.
First, I laid out the bed sheet and folded it into manageable sections, roughly 2' x 3'. Then, I cut along the folds so that I had about 15 rectangles of white fabric. I cut slits into the hems about every 1 1/2 inches, before I ripped the sheets down those edges. I had to collect many threads that fell off at this step.
Then I cut slits on each end of the fabric strips so that I could interlock the strips securely together.
I gathered 4 strips and interlocked them into one starting knot. I began a 4 strand braid in an "under, over, under, over, tuck and pull through hole" pattern.
Here are my four strips in the rug I had already begun. I didn't mind the fraying, so I didn't take extra time to fold, sew, or iron in the frayed edges to hide them. I was hoping for the handmade look these untreated strips would provide.
I took the first strand on the left, went under the second strand, went over the third strand, and under the fourth strand, as shown above; a basic weave or four-strand braid pattern.
|Here is a photo of the woven first outer strand being pulled through the hole and the butter knife indicating the hole again.
|When a strip becomes short, it is time to interlock another strip to make it longer.
|I retrieved another strip I prepared, so that to ends were cut with points and slits. I'll call the strip on the left the old strip and the strip on the right the new strip.
|Pull the end of the old strip into the hole of the new strip, as shown above.
|Once the middle of the new strip is pulled through the slit of the old strip, the two fabrics will be loosely interlocked.
|Lastly, pull the old strip to the left and new strip in the right to interlock the two strips. I cut points on the slit ends to ensure the knot would be less bulky with material. Now, this strip is ready to keep weaving. :)