Upcycle Style: Denim Rag Rug

Seems I’m hooked on making rag rugs! I can’t help it, they are just such a great way of upcycling unwanted textiles and clothing.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

I’m currently working on two large rag rug projects using old t-shirts, they’ve been so successful that I’ve run out of old t-shirts! (You can read about my big braided t-shirt rug experiment here). I’ll have to wait till a family member or friend has a clean out so I can get started on those again.

The one thing I do have lots of is worn out jeans and chinos!

Mr Man wears though jeans and trousers like crazy. The wear is mostly between the legs and I do patch and mend where I can, but sometimes they are beyond repair and head straight to the rag pile.

Because the worn out area is mainly in the bum, the fabric on legs of Mr Man’s jeans is usually in great condition.

I like to save old jeans because denim is such a strong and versatile fabric.  Mainly I cut it up to use in other sewing projects like adding knee patches to jeans, or making coin purses out of pockets.

But the unwanted trouser and jeans pile was getting pretty large so I thought a big upcycled denim project was in order.

how to make a rag rug - mypoppet.com.au

I’ve had so many requests for a rectangular coil and crochet rug on this circular rag rug post that it inspired me to create this very eco-friendly rag rug using old jeans and leftover cotton yarn.

This little rag rug is pretty sturdy and makes the perfect bedside mat or even a colourful indoor door mat. You can use this technique to make a rag rug in any size you like.

Of course the bigger your rug the more jeans you’ll need. Just to give you an idea, this little mat is made from 2 pairs of large loose fit men’s jeans. If you are using ladies or skinny jeans you may need more pairs.

Upcycled Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

Don’t cut up wearable jeans. The whole idea of upcycling is to use up materials or garments that would normally go into landfill. If you have jeans that are in good wearable condition, consider donating. I only cut up old clothing if it’s too far gone for charity donations.

Often charities get lots of unwearable items donated to them that they then have to dispose of at great cost. If you don’t have any old jeans piling up in your wardrobe, maybe you can have a chat with the local thrift shop and take some un-sellable holey, damaged or stained jeans off their hands for a few dollars. WIN-WIN!

Scrap denim rainbow rag rug - mypoppet.com.au

I’ve used lots of left over cotton yarn scraps in a range of colours for this project. Cotton yarn is idea because quite sturdy and doesn’t stretch like wool or acrylic yarn can. Thinner yarn can be doubled up.

If you don’t have scrap yarn, I’d estimate that you’ll need 2-3 50g balls (but that’s just a guess).

Don’t like the rainbow look? Opt for the same coloured yarn all over.

Crocheting over a fabric core is one of my favourite techniques. I’ve used it to make a bigger round scrap fabric rug and some small rainbow baskets.

In the past I’ve used thinner fabric which has worked fine, but the sturdy denim is a real game-changer and I can’t wait to make some bigger baskets with this crochet technique. Luckily I’ve got a big pile of old jeans to work with!

Read on for detailed instructions.

You may also enjoy these rug and mat DIY projects:

Don’t throw out your old clothes, make rag rugs from them instead! Here are some great tutorials to help you upcycle old fabric, t-shirts, sheets and other clothing into rugs and mats.

How to make a Rag Rug from Old Jeans

You will need:

Denim rag rug supplies - mypoppet.com.au

  • 2-3 pairs of old denim jeans
  • sharp fabric scissors
  • crochet hook 5mm (slightly bigger or smaller is fine) – I like this crochet hook by Tulip with a rubbery handle
  • cotton yarn assorted colours – whatever leftovers you have, 5-8ply (sport to DK) held double or 10ply (worsted) held single

How to:

Finished Size: 44x68cm (17.5″x26″) but you can make any size you like.

Prepare Denim Strips

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

1. Cut both legs off jeans as high as you can. Save pockets for this cute project – Upcycled Pocket Pouch.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

2. Cut away seams then cut leg panels into long strips about 4cm (1.5″) wide. You should be able to get 3-5 strips from each panel depending on the size of your jeans.

Time to Crochet!

Only one stitch is required for this project – Single Crochet (US), abbreviated to Sc. It’s equivalent to UK/AUS Double Crochet. 

Remember Single Crochet (US) = Double Crochet (UK)

If you are not familiar with how to Sc over a cord please refer to this blog post which has detailed instructions – How to Single Crochet over a Cord.

Crochet with 2 strands of yarn - mypoppet.com.au

3. Holding two strands of yarn together make a slip knot to get started.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

4. Fold over and/or twist your denim strip to make it more solid and ‘rope-like’. It will act as a core that you will crochet over. I may refer to this denim strip as the denim core or cord, the terms are interchangeable.

Foundation Row

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

5. About 5cm/2″ from the end of the strip, Sc 2 stitches around the denim cord.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

6. Fold the denim tail over.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

7. Continue to Sc (firmly) over the tail and along the rest of the denim cord. Continue doing this until you have reached your desired rug width, mine was 44cm then add 2 extra stitches. The overall stitch count is irrelevant.

Subsequent Rows

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

8. To work the second row, fold the denim cord over on itself, skip the last 2 sc stitches and then continue to sc to the end of the row.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

9. Once you reach the end of second row, add 2 sc stitches (which shall from now on be referred to as turning stitches).

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

10. Fold the cord over on itself, skip the turning stitches and proceed as per previous row.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

11. Continue this way until your rag rug is the desired length changing the cotton yarn as you go. Just knot the ends together when a colour runs out and keep going. Crochet over the yarn tails to keep it neat. 

Joining Denim Strips

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

12. To join the denim strips together just overlap the ends and roll them over each other, then crochet over them to secure.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

13. Try to work over this are a little tighter than normal to keep the overlapped ends secure.

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

14. It’s also a good ideas to alternate the areas in the rows where you’ve joined the ends so the joined ‘thicker’ areas are spread throughout the rug. You can see in the picture above where the joins are as the denim core is a bit lumpier. If you want to avoid the lumps, just taper off the ends of the denim strips slightly to reduce the bulk of the fabric.

Finishing Off

Crochet Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

15. Once your rug is the desired size, here’s how to finish off the last row. Stop crocheting about 7cm/3″ from the end and fold denim strip over on itself, tucking any raw ends inside (you may need to cut the strip). The crochet to the edge firmly over the doubled over area. When you reach the last stitch sc once or twice onto the row below. Break yarn and tie off firmly. Weave in any remaining yarn ends.

All done!

Upcycled Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

Congratulations! You’ve just turned a couple of old pairs of jeans that were headed to the bin, into a brand new fantastically useful rag rug!

This upcycled scrap fabric rug is super satisfying to make and so practical. It’s reversible so you can just flip it over if it gets too grimy. Rolls up easily for storage too.

I love how the colours gradually change and overlap through the rug as one yarn runs out and the other picks up.


Upcycled Denim Rag Rug - mypoppet.com.au

Denim Rag rug diy mypoppet.com.au

The colours of the cotton yarn really pop against the denim. What a great way to cheer up any dark corner of your home.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as practicable.

Feeling inspired to make a Rag Rug?

Once you’ve mastered the rectangular rag rug, use this same technique to make a circular rug as well – Coil + Crochet Scrap Fabric Rug

Coil + Crochet Scrap Fabric Rug - mypoppet.com.au


How to make a rag rug from old jeans - mypoppet.com.au


  • This rug is gorgeous and doesn’t look too difficult to make. Thank you for the tutorial!

  • Jodiebodie says:

    Hi Cintia,
    Like you, I keep old, worn out jeans to use as a source for patching or other projects. A rag rug is the perfect upcycling project because denim is so hard wearing.
    I have been wanting to combine crochet and rag rug making for a long time. The only way I had seen before was a braiding method but I found it hard on the hands and gave up! Your crochet method is so much easier and I do like the finished effect.
    Thank you for the photo tutorial. You’ve given me confidence to try again.

  • Brandy says:

    I save up jeans for sewing projects too. Can’t wait to try out this method for a rug.
    Q: Do you use the heavy seams from the jeans? I cut them out and try to keep them long. They make excellent gentle plant ties for the garden where a simple knot holds well and gets stronger when wet.

  • patricia says:

    Your re-cycling posts are my favorites. I love to find ways to re-use things. Maybe because I hate shopping so much! (except for art supplies…) I am willing to repair clothes, embroider over holes, whatever…rather than go to the store and shop for new things. I haven’t actually made one of your rugs yet, but I sure love to see how you do it and I love so much the final product!

    • Thanks Patricia. I enjoy making my upcycled projects the most too. There’s something very satisfying about breathing new life into a previously unwanted object. I’m glad it resonates with you.

  • Melissa G says:

    Simply wow, Cintia!
    This is an inspired project.

  • Sue Nieland says:

    I’d like to try this.

  • Carol says:

    Does the yarn have to be cotton? What if most of my yarn stash is acrylic? Or wool? How would those work?

    • You can use any yarn. Both wool and acrylic will work just fine but you may find that because those yarns have a bit of stretch, you may get some more movement of the rug. You may need to crochet quite tightly around the denim so it doesn’t slip out or move during use.

  • Patrice says:

    I wonder how this denim rug would turn out if instead of yarn i used yarn made from t shirts. Have u tried it?

  • Laurie says:

    Thank you for showing this! I will surely be making it.

  • Lindal says:

    I’m on the fifth row and it seems to be bowing out rather than lying straight. I haven’t been careful about using the same number of stitches on each row. Could this be the problem?

  • judi says:

    I saw the tip on reversing the rug when it gets grimy on one side–do you have to throw it out if both sides get grimy or can it be washed–gently or otherwise? Just curious to know if you’ve tried and what your results were like since that may dictate which type of rug I try and what size. Love the idea of up-cycling all our pile of jeans in such a pretty way!

    • It’s made of cotton, so you can clean it the same way you would any other rug. I have washed my smaller rag rugs in the washing machine. Larger ones can probably be washed outside with soap and a hose. It will take ages to dry though so I recommend washing on a really warm day for quicker drying.

  • Lindal says:

    I ripped out my work and started over, keeping a consistent number of stitches on each row. However, the rug is still bowing as it’s stretching or is wider for some reason on row 10 than row 1. Is this normal? If not, what might be the problem? The solution?

    • Jo says:

      I have the same problem only the other way. Row 5 is shorter than row 1 and it’s bowing inward. Ugh

      • In your case you need to loosen off your fabric core and possibly add some more stitches. Try pulling on your core outwards until it’s flat. You may need to undo a row or two if it’s very bad.

  • Raelynn says:

    Curious how I could use this or a similar technique to make a bag?

  • Norma says:

    Can’t wait to make this, have worn out jeans in boxes, waiting to be used, we have a ranch and I have rugs all over can’t wait to make some, for those dirty booted men.

  • Zoe Bloomfield says:

    I don’t really haveany jeans to upcycle, but I do have lots of other scrap fabric around. Would that work here, or is the thickness of the denim specifically very important. Would using a larger strip of a thinner fabric work like it does for the coil carpet? I just love the look of the rectangle! Fabulous work!

  • Aruna Yellapregada says:

    Hi. I am from India and love the concept of recycle and reuse. First off, thank you for such a nice tutorial on making this rag rug. I am trying to do this with long scraps of fabric that i got from my tailor. The first 5 rows are neat and straight but as i go further up the rows, it is turning wavy.

    Can you tell me what i am doing wrong? Thanks.

    • You may find your rug is wavy in you have too many stitches or too much fabric. If the rows are getting wavy, it may help to give the fabric core a little pull, and slide the crochet stitches along till the mat sits flat.

  • Jessica F Lawrence says:

    Hi! Love this and will likely try it very soon. Do you have a basket pattern?

  • Ann says:

    Hi Cintia,

    I love this project and am ready to begin. Do I need to use 2 strands of yarn, of can I use just one? Will it be too flimsy with just strand? Thanks!

  • Susan mallin says:

    Are these rugs washable

    • Yes, on a gentle wash cycle and line dry on a warm day. The fabric is quite thick so the drying time may be a while.

    • Annette says:

      do you have to finish the edges of the jeans? or is it okay how the jeans fray? I think you’ll get a lot of loose threads all over the floor otherwise.

      • No, you don’t need to finish the edges. I haven’t had a problem with loose threads as the denim is kind of rolled into itself with the raw edges tucked inside for the most part. Also the crochet cotton keep the core denim fairly contained.

  • Susie Schaefer says:

    I have several pieces of denim leftover from a recent project. I would like to donate these to you if you are interested.

  • Carzon says:

    Je cherchais des idées pour recycler des vieux jeans, votre technique pour faire un tapis est passionnante, je pense que je vais essayer très vite – pensez-vous que l’on puisse remplacer le coton par de la laine ? ce sera sans doute plus fragile ?
    Qu’appelez-vous fil de ferraille ? c’est du vieux fil moche ?
    Merci pour vos idées et votre partage

    Translation: Hello,
    I was looking for ideas to recycle old jeans, your technique for making a rug is exciting, I think I’ll try very quickly – do you think we can replace cotton with wool? it will undoubtedly be more fragile?
    What do you call scrap wire? is that old ugly yarn?
    Thank you for your ideas and sharing

    • Hi Fabienne, yes you can use any yarn but wool would be more fragile. If you have acrylic/wool blend yarn this would work too. I don’t know what you mean by ‘scrap wire’, maybe it was lost in translation. I think yes you are talking about old ugly yarn

  • Carol says:

    Brilliant! So glad I discovered you and your wonderful creations. I’m looking to make a Rag Rug after the first of the year.

  • Minnie says:

    Would this work with old cotton towels? If so would the strips for the core be cut 2″ thick or more?

    • Yes you can make this with old towels or any other fabric. I’m not sure how thick your towels are, you may need to trial a few cutting widths and see what works the best. If your fabric is thinner than denim then cut the strips wider. If the fabric is thicker than denim then cut the strips a little thinner (around 1″-1.5″)

  • Jeanette Sherbondy says:

    This is a beautiful rug! I used strips of an old shoot for the core. One yarn was periwinkle blue cotton and combined with scraps of acrylic yarn of varying colors so that there was a constant blue undertone. It made a comfortable and pretty bathroom rug. Thanks for the idea!

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