DIY Rag Rug From Old Sweaters & Kid's Play Mats

5 Materials
1 Hour

This is a tutorial for a different kind of DIY rag rug than what you might have seen before. It’s key ingredients are old fluffy sweaters (the faux angora type) and old kids or baby play mats. It’s a double upcycle (the play mats and the old sweaters) and it requires no sewing and no fabric braiding!

This rag rug DIY came about when I was looking at my kid’s old baby play mats and wondering what I could do with them. Ideally these are the sort of thing you pass on to another family when you are done with them.

Unfortunately, ours have endured 3 sets of cat claws, and two babies that delighted in trying to pull the teeth off the edges of the mats, so they really aren’t in a great condition for passing on.

The thing is even though they are not 100% useable for babies anymore the mats are still lovely and comfortable underfoot so it did seem a shame to throw them out.

While I was having my wee brainstorm I also was looking at a pile of old sweaters that were headed for donation.

That’s when it hit me, I could combine the two and get a new rug for my bedroom. Here is how I did it.

Cut off the Play Mat 'Teeth'

I had a specific spot in mind for my rag rug so I used as many play mats as would fit nicely in the space. I went for 117cm x 175cm (not including the teeth around the edges).

When I was happy with the size I went ahead and used my scissors to cut off the teeth around the edges that are meant to be used to connect more play-mat squares.

These where easy to cut off and I now have a pile of them in my craft cupboard waiting for another upcycling brainwave! Feel free to leave me any ideas for these in the comments!

Glue your mats together

I put a dab of superglue between every second or third ‘tooth’ where it connected with another mat and then pressed together.

I made sure to put glue on the teeth closest to the edge and also where the mats met at a corner of four. At these corners I put glue on all four sides. It seemed to hold pretty well.

Cut up your Sweaters

The next step in this DIY rag rug project is to cut up your sweaters.

The ones I used where a nylon acrylic mix with a bit of spandex thrown in. They are basically those fluffy soft to the touch jumpers that are trying to imitate a mix of angora, mohair and cashmere. They are usually cheap to buy and because of the small amount of spandex they are fairly stretchy, which is actually good for this project (but not essential so don’t worry if yours don’t have spandex – just use what you have).

I used one large navy blue sweater and one long black cardigan in very similar materials. They weren’t exactly the same, the blue one had a bit more of a high pile look than the black but they are both lovely and soft and have that sort of carpet/rug look!

I cut them up along the seams, cutting off sleeves and pockets and making them into large separate pieces. You will have to cut some smaller pieces later on if you are trying to make two sweaters cover one rug like I did but for now leave the pieces as big as possible.

Roughly lay out your sweater pieces

Next you want to lay out the pieces of sweater fabric over the play mats and try to get them to cover the mats as best as possible. Your pieces will be odd shapes, because sleeves for example are wider on one end than the other. So just lay your pieces out and find out where you have gaps or where you have fabric that would hang over the edge of your mat.

Once you see the rough layout you can trim pieces that are definitely too big and add those scraps into the gaps between the other pieces.

You don’t have to be super exact with this right now. You may find, like I did, that as you glue the pieces down they stretch slightly farther than you anticipate they will.

Start Glueing!

The final step is to actually glue your pieces of sweater down. I used a multipurpose spray adhesive which made this part very quick and easy.

You want to start at one end spraying the adhesive as close to the edge of your mats as possible. Put some cardboard down underneath if you are worried about your floors!

Next, place your first piece of sweater material down pulling it as flat as you can across the mat surface. You have to move pretty quickly with this adhesive but if you find you get a bunch up of fabric just quickly lift it up and stretch it back out and you should be fine.

As you move down from one end of your rag rug to the other you may find some of the pieces you had layed out to fit together won’t exactly fit or they fill up more space than you thought (because of the stretch and how well the glue holds the material in a stretched out position).

For this reason I recommend just spraying one area of glue at a time so you can readjust pieces as you move along and work out your plan for filling any gaps with the pieces you have left.

I used one really large piece from the navy blue sweater diagonally across the middle of my rag rug and then fit in the medium and smaller pieces as I got to the edge. I think it turned out pretty well!

Because of the dark colours I’m not sure the photos really do the rug justice but I absolutely love it! It is so soft and squishy underfoot! It really feels a bit luxurious for something made out of upcycled clothing and play mats!

If you are looking for more rag rug methods - from traditional to wacky like this one have a look at this post: 9 Ways to Make a Rag Rug you Will Want to Try!

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Kristen Hubert
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • Dianne Dianne on Mar 06, 2020

    I love it but how do you clean it ?

  • Mariana Bonilla Mariana Bonilla on Mar 06, 2020

    I don't use Angora sweaters but,what about old polyester ones,do you think they'd make a nice match?

  • Lori Schmidt Lori Schmidt on Mar 16, 2020

    You said you cut the teeth off, but when you begin gluing, it says you put glue in where the teeth fit and push the pieces together. So, teeth or no teeth? How are you holding together with no teeth?

Join the conversation
3 of 19 comments
  • Michelle Helmeczy Michelle Helmeczy on Mar 07, 2020

    Put the leftover pieces in a garden section - if there's enough.

  • Shelly Moore Shelly Moore on Mar 27, 2020

    For the little bits of foam you cut off, you could cut or carve them to make homemade stamps for ink, paint or food coloring. Just attach the foam piece to a small piece of wood. Garage Sales and thrift stores often have old wooden blocks or beads for Cheap! Use Hot glue, E-1000 or whatever works. For a rustic stamp handle use a short piece of a small tree branch, cut flat on the side for the foam. An exacto knife works to carve small details. 😁 Stamp Away!!!