Traditional Braided Wool Rug

Project Description

What are you most proud of? I am so happy to be able to continue an age old hand craft that results in a very useful and eco-friendly home decor item. I have saved all of the labels from all of the garments used, and will arrange them neatly on a matt and have them framed. They will be a part of the history and charm of the rug. I only used 100% wool fabrics. The three strand braid is 1"wide. The rug thickness is a @5/8" thick. As my grandmother would say, "You can never wear out a wool braided rug. They 'ugly out' before they 'wear out'." God bless my grandmother for teaching me so many wonderful craft disciplines. What advice would you give someone starting this project? Get as many garments as possible. There will be quite a bit of waste, but the end result is so rewarding. I got my garments at the thrift stores for a quarter a piece. So far I have around $2.50 invested in wool. I want to make it much larger, so will have to go on another 'thrift store run' soon. A wonderful project . In years past our grandmothers braided rugs as far as they could go with the wool they had, tucked the ends under and used the rug on the floor until they got more wool, and then kept adding until it was completed. My grandmother had one that she worked on for 4 years. So it is a good project to pick up and put down and be able to use all the time. One last thing, because a braided rug is 'laced togeether' and NOT SEWN together, the rug is reversible. This attribute makes the rug a very desireable addition to the hom. Lacing is also makes assembly very fast and extremly strong. Basically the only tools you need is 2" rug strips, thread to sew the strips in one long strip of wool for each braid leg, large safety pins, a lacing tool (which can be made from a popsicle stick), and lacing cord (linen is best, but I also use hemp), and I also like to use beeswax to draw my lacing cord through to make it more waterproof, and to give strength to the cord.

What you will need

  • 100% repurposed wool from garments and blankets.

Q&A with dottyeb

sunnyrose asked:
I love this ! Isn't there some kind of tool that pulls the braid tight and even? I remember my friend's mom working with one. if you used one, where did you get it? Thanks Brenda om
dottyeb answered:
No tool for pulling braids 'tight and even', but there is a company called Braidkin who makes metal 'braiders' called "Braidaids' (i.e. folders) similar to the bias tape makers you find in fabric stores. I have a set of Braid Aid Varifolders, but find them bulky and actually a bit clumsy to use. I just 'fold as I go' and braid as if I was braiding someone's hair. Here is the source where I purchased my Braid Aids: I also have a very good book "The Braided Rug Book" by norma Sturgis. It is a very informative book and easy to follow. I had not seen rug braiding since my grandmother did it. So, I purchased the book to 'refresh' my memory, and I am so glad I did. Hope this helps.
brewcrew23770 asked:
And lets mention how adorable your dog is!
dottyeb answered:
Thank you. We have two. The one in the photo is Emily--our 3-1/2# wonder dog. lol. She loves to be in every picture.
minnownj118214 asked:
Nice job. I used to help my aunt cut up garmets for her braided rugs. The local high school band got new uniforms, so my aunt hauled the old ones (100% wool!) home and I spent an entire summer ripping open seams and taking off brass buttons. For my 16th birthday my aunt gave me a 9-foot by 12-foot braided rug that contained an aweful lot of those maroon uniforms. She was really lucky to have spools and spools of heavy duty nylon thread to sew the braids together. She worked at the Muskin Shoe Factory for years, so when the spools emptied to a certain level, the machines would stop so a new spool could be loaded (so that the thread wouldn't run out in the middle of sewing a shoe together). My aunt was allowed to keep the spool ends for her rugs. Sure does bring back memories. As a matter of fact there are still a few homes in Pennsylvania that have her rugs in them... they last forever.
dottyeb answered:
What a wonderfully delightful story. I am sure your aunt's rugs were wonderful!!! There is nothing quite like a hand braided wool rug. They wear forever. I have some smaller 'throw rugs' that my grandmother braided around 1912. She used to tell how they would take the rugs out in a new fallen snow and 'clean' them with new snow and a good broom. When they came back into the house they smelled fresh, were clean of dust and dirt, and ready for another year of wear. Of course being that braided rugs are reversible, one gets double the wear by just flipping them over every so many months. I hope you still have your 9 x 12 rug she gave you. What a wonderful legacy.
Nanjimfit58079 asked:
Where are the instructions??? It says read full instructions, but it doesn't show anything but buying and cutting the wool......
dottyeb answered:
I basically started from the memory of my grandmother braiding rugs when I was a child. However, I couldn't remember how she started the braid so it laid flat. So I bought the following book (paper back) from Amazon. I bought it used, so it was not too expensive. It has the best graphic instructions I have found yet.
claynjazz asked:
Dotty, you commented on my quilt. I just want to say that we have a lot in common. My grandmother taught me how to make a braided rug when I was about 9-10. I never actually finished one but I did learn the technique and still remember it to this day.
dottyeb answered:
Yes, I feel so very fortunate to have had a mother and grandmother who taught me just about every discipline in needlework and home 'crafts' that there is. I even inherited my mother's 4 harness Gilmore loom on which she wove afghans, blankets, rugs, and every 3 or 4 years she would weave wool fabric from which she made herself a winter coats. The fabrics were such lovely hand woven fabrics. I never had a daughter to whom I could pass along all of this knowledge, and most of today's young girls have other interests than sewing, quilting, knitting, tatting, rug braiding, etc. However I have found a few over the years who really wanted to learn that I have taught. As far as the rug goes, I too 'helped' my grandmother when she was making rugs, but had never done one from start to finish. So I did purchase a very good book to refresh my memory on the techniques and especially the correct way to 'lace' the rug. I was glad I did. Also, if you will read my comment answers and also the info above on this project, you will see it is all made from 'repurposed' wool and is a very inexpensive project to do. Thanks for your interest. Try a rug some day. They are fun and very useful.