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Need to purchase fabric for rag rug weaving

21 replies [Last post]
Claudia Segal's picture
Joined: 05/13/2009

I am looking for fabric for rag rugs.  I am making 2 rugs, 36 x 96 each, and believe I will need about 6-8 yards of fabric.  Any suggestions for someplace with good prices?  I am happy to shop on the Internet because the colors do not need to be perfect.   I can go to our local Joanne Fabric store but the prices on large pieces of fabric range $4.99 and up.  It needs to be good cotton, not batik.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


kmcg3496's picture
Joined: 06/18/2011
fabric for rag rugs

I would recommend going to your local quilting guild and asking for scraps from the edges of quilts.   Most quilters have the long thin pieces they trim off the backs of quilts after quilting. 

Weavo admin's picture
Joined: 10/08/2010
Oooh, what a great idea.

Oooh, what a great idea.  There are actually 2 quilting groups in the town I live in.  I'll call today.  Great suggestion.


TinaHilton's picture
Joined: 05/12/2009
If you're near Leesburg Looms

If you're near Leesburg Looms in Ohio, they have good prices on fabric rolls.  They don't have a huge selection but I think the prices are more than fair.  Great Northern Weaving in Michigan also has fabric rolls, though I haven't purchased from them.  If you can't go to either store, you may be able to ask for specific colors over the phone.

Joined: 06/08/2009
Claudia, Most Joanne's have a


Most Joanne's have a section of fabric that is discounted for 1-4 bucks a yard - i find the best cotton at quilt stores in their discount racks. most have them.


littlebluetrike's picture
Joined: 06/06/2011
I'm a tad bit confused.. Why

I'm a tad bit confused.. Why do you need to buy fabric for a rag rug? Isn't that kind of ruining the purpose of the concept of a rag rug? You are supposed to use rugged old clothes and or denim that you aren't going to wear again.

My local thrift shop weaves various rag rugs out of unusable clothes. And they look just fine.

I guess i can't see paying for fabric when I got a box full of tshirts and jeans I didn't sell at a garage sale for free.

loomroomcat's picture
Joined: 09/21/2009
fabric rolls

I have bought fabric rolls and upholstery selvedge from In Weave Fabrics.  You just don't always know if it is printed on both sides or one side. You might be able to request 2 sides.  They are nice to deal with, and fast.

Joined: 06/08/2009
If you're making the

If you're making the occasional rug I agree with your view - use to be the entire village knew who the rug maker in town was, and that person would find stripped and balled fabric from used clothes left on their front porch. this labor was "given" to the weaver.

Today, without that help from the townspeople, that just isn't feasible - and the time it takes to strip clothing is enormous! it would be very difficult to sell these rugs at a price that would include the hours of labor!

I fully agree that the rugs made from clothing are incredibly earth friendlly, and love the look, it's just not feasible for me.

Another caveat i'm finding is that most clothing today is so cheaply made that i personally wouldn't want to use it. Everyone has their preference.  I know that sounds funny, but i have found that by purchasing a better quality quilt fabric, i am able to better coordinate colors or match color customers request and i think the hand of the rug is better due to the quality of the fabric I use.

That's my 2 cents - hope it gives you a better understanding of why i would buy fabric! : )



Claudia Segal's picture
Joined: 05/13/2009
Nicely stated Mary.  I make

Nicely stated Mary.  I make some rugs from clothing but the time spent de-constructing clothes is enormous.  I just finished (photos coming soon) 2 rugs made from our old, stained bathroom towels.  I had to put a call out to my friends for more towels, I ran out before the first rug was half done.  With the added colors and towels, I made 2 rugs, both 3' wide.  I will be measuring and finishing off the ends today.

Next project is 2 rugs, for a client, both measruing 36" by 86" and they are paying for me to use colors that match their kitchen.  I have some fabric left from quilt and other projects and that will go into the mix but I need more both for color and length.

In Weave Fabrics is a great find, thanks Cathy.  I will check out all the ideas here and post photos soon.


steve104c's picture
Joined: 01/26/2010
Fabric for rag rugs

I have started a rag rug business, "Elite Handcrafts"(no web site yet). I live in Texas. Have my DBA and tax number. The words "rag rug" are not used today as it was in the past. As a new business, it would be impossible to accually make all my rugs from "rags". Like Claudia, I make custom rugs and match the colors with my customer's decor. I have been very lucky and believe in the past year, I have collected, pretty close to 1,000 yards of 100% cotton, quilt fabrics. These are not cheap, but fabrics that were originally $9.95 a yard and found on clearance for $ 1.00-$2.50 a yard from various fabric stores............Steve.

celtinbirks's picture
Joined: 01/29/2011
fabric for rag rugs

I go to local thrift shops and buy very cheap sheets to rip up and use.

naturalfibres's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
I, too, buy bed sheets from

I, too, buy bed sheets from the thrift shop.  The only clothing I use for rugs is t-shirts and they are easy to cut up; however when I've woven a custom ordered rug I have bought new fabric.

Lauries's picture
Joined: 12/20/2009
I use new fabric for my "rag

I use new fabric for my "rag rugs" also. I like to use patterned fabric and that would be hard to find in used clothing. I have used old fabric on afew projects. They have been fabrics with special meaning to me. One such project I used an old table cloth my family used for the "fancy" meals. It had afew grease stains and I could not face the idea of parting with it. So I used it to make placemats for my table. Right now I am planning a project useing sheets I got as a wedding gift from my co-workers at the time. The rugs will be for my use. Again a new use for something I don't want to part with.

Claudia Segal's picture
Joined: 05/13/2009
That's a lovely way to use

That's a lovely way to use items that are difficult to part with.  I really like the idea of the placemats.  Is there a photo of them in your projects folder on Weavolution?

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and input.  I have some fabrics in my stash that will work well for what the family is looking for.  I am making two pretty big rugs, 36 x 96, so will need lots of material.


Joined: 06/08/2009
Some rag rug history:

The oldest Swedish known rag rug is noted in 1773, in a (what is it called?) inventory of a dead person.

There were laws against using rags "at home"  until the wood-based paper process (spread in the 1840-ies) - therefore rag rugs were not very common until then. When rgas were not saleable (to the paper industry) ppl found another way to use the rags. The first rag "rugs" were used as bedding.

(Something odd happened while I was writing this: I had written the subject line when suddenly I got another screen. Only Claudia's first post can be seen, and I have a warning field saying "comment field is required". It seems (?) I can go on writing)

Barbara Keyser's picture
Joined: 05/10/2011
Yard sales can be good source of cheap fabric -

I've seen people selling yards of unused fabric at yardsales - just a few dollars for a whole bag/ box of fabric.  Good luck

Joined: 10/21/2011
Rags for Rugs

Great Northern Weaving sells end cuts from fabric mills.  These are rolls of cloth from 2" to 2' wide, from 2# to 50# in a lot of colors.  Everything that I have bought is high quality cotton lawn.  They sell other rug weaving wefts; upholstery selveges, rep cord, etc.  They do ship the smaller mill rolls, and I think the price is about $3.00 per pound, but you should check their website.  I have made some very lovely rag textiles from their mill ends, and it is a completely different process and product from using old clothes.

Sally Orgren's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
I suspect "erickkbruce" is a spammer.

I would not click on the link posted until we receive confirmation otherwise. 

endorph's picture
Joined: 09/12/2011
I suspect you are right

Sally - I sent Erica and Oliver and email

cottageweaver's picture
Joined: 06/23/2009
Rags for rugs

Reading this post, I am reminded that I have a box of used tablecloths waiting to be a rug! We always like heavier cotton tablecloths for everyday and over the years most have been blue and white checks, plaids or patterns. I've saved the ones with a stain or hole and think they'll make wonderful rugs. It's getting very hard to find tablecloths like these anymore.

When our daughter requested a few rag rugs, I went to fabric outlets and discount stores, bought yards of new fabric in the colors she wanted and used a Fraser rag cutter to cut then into strips. They were nice, and even though they were all different, the colors were coordinated.

Places like Interior Alternative in Newark DE and Osgood's in Springfield MA have thousands of rolls of fabric at discount so maybe there is a similar store in your area.

trkeyfrm's picture
Joined: 02/12/2013
rag rug weft

the cloth material i have used has been a nice accent, the denim is very labor intensive to cut up, old tshirts are kind of thin, but my favorite so far is what i started with.. polo shirts   they have a little more body than tshirts or sheets (although i do still want to try something with flannel sheets).    it does take a little time to rip down each shirt.. about 25 for each of the size you mentioned, maybe a little less, but not much time per shirt.  since i have started, friends (the villagers, hehe)have swamped me with bags and bags of stuff... i have had to get a little selective actually.

Vennui's picture
Joined: 02/28/2011
Rag cutters

I too have a Frazier cloth cutter. Mine is powered. Someone mounted it in a box and attached a sewing machine control . It goes lickity split but, you have to be careful the material doesn't go askew.

I also scored. Upholstery material. A neighbor. Had a friend who retired from the trade. I noticed rolls of material leaning up against the fence and realized her back yard was full of them. I got brave enough to knock on the door to ask her about them and she agreed to sell me some.

You have to cut the strips narrow but, they make wonderfully thick rugs.
And they seem to wash well also.on