How to Make Shirred Rugs

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Things You'll Need

  • 5 to 6 yards wool or cotton fabric

  • Fabric shears or scissors

  • Heavy gauge sewing needle

  • Embroidery thread

  • Rug liner


Look for soft wool fabric if you're buying new material from a fabric store. Otherwise, use scraps of any natural fabric, such as cotton or wool from an old shirt.

Once you master the technique, you can make rugs of different shapes and designs.

Making a rug by hand is easier than it looks.

The prospect of making a rug without a loom or knitting experience may sound daunting, but shirred rugs are a surprisingly simple DIY project. The term "shirred" refers to the gathered appearance of the fabric that comprises the rug; shirred looks are also common in women's fashion and window treatments. Beyond the element of style a shirred rug can add to your home decor, making a shirred rug out of discarded scraps of fabric is a way to "go green."

Step 1

Cut fabric into strips measuring 1 inch by 2 yards.

Step 2

Double thread for added strength.

Pull embroidery thread through the eye of the needle and double the thread on itself, to create a double-strand thread at least 1 yard in length. Cut the spool end of the thread and tie ends together in a reinforced knot.

Step 3

Gather fabric into a wave or accordion fold, like the folds in this piece of paper.

Choose a fabric strip and gather the first few inches into a wave fold. Draw the needle through the center of the gathered fabric and pull the thread until the knot catches. Continue to fold and gather material until you reach the end of the strip. Tie a simple knot to hold the bunched fabric in place.

Step 4

Align another strip of fabric below the first. Starting from the end you just finished, fold the second strip of fabric and sew as with the first.

Step 5

Continue to add strips of fabric, working back and forth with a continuous line of thread, until the rug has reach the desired length. If the thread runs out as you are working, cut the thread from the needle, tie a reinforced knot, and hide the knot within a fabric fold. Thread the needle again and continue the shirring process from the same spot. When the rug is at the desired length, cut the thread and tie into a reinforced knot.

Step 6

Rethread your needle with thread 3 to 4 inches longer than the length of the rug.

Step 7

Sew strips of fabric together lengthwise. Feed the thread through the first wave fold all the way through to the end of the rug, then secure with a knot. Repeat on the opposite side of the rug.

Step 8

Cut the rug liner to the size of the rug, save 1 inch on both length and width. Lay the rug flat and center the liner onto the rug, then sew it into place around all sides.

references & resources

Elle Williams

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Williams has been a journalist since 2000. She has been published in "The Georgetowner," "The Washington Times" and scholastic papers, among other outlets. Williams studied government and English at Georgetown University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. She is currently seeking a graduate degree in film and television and is expanding her writing to include fiction and scripts.