Toothbrush Rugs - Complete Video Instructions (Part 1 - Beginners)

On this page you will find explicit step-by-step instructions that show you how to make a toothbrush rag rug! Yes, everything a beginner needs to know!

Toothbrush rugs are one of the easiest and quickest rag rugs to make. They are easy to learn, inexpensive to make, and the result is gorgeous!

Most other instructions that I've come across on the internet assume some previous knowledge of crochet or knitting. But, believe me, you don't need any experience to learn how to make these rugs! In fact, I just learned how to make these two weeks ago, and I am not very crafty at all.

 

 

 

I taught myself how to make these rugs in one day, and was SHOCKED at how easy it was. I figured it out in one evening, piecing together a number of different directions I found online.

I made two very small experimental pieces that looked awful, but soon enough my rug started to look good and I started a rug for real that very first night. The next day I worked on it ALL DAY LONG (8 or 10 hours?), and my first rug was complete! I was so satisfied and proud of myself!!

As a result, I vowed to share my knowledge. I don't like learning from diagrams, so I wanted to actually SHOW how to make the stitch. I just had to share my easy rendition.

Here is an example of what my instructions can help you to make. This is the first rug that I created (after a few false starts, of course).

START BY EXPERIMENTING

Material

To start experimenting, you will need two long strips (each approx. 2 feet long) of fabric, yarn, ribbon, or whatever you have on hand.

Tool

You will also need some kind of tool to help you pull the strip through--basically, you will need a "big needle". Many people use altered toothbrushes. The bristles/head are cut off and the severed end is filed to a point, like the pointy tip of a needle. The untouched end gets a hole drilled in it, like the eye of a needle.


Other people have used crochet hooks, or have purchased a tool from the "Aunt Philly" website.

When I was learning, I wanted to experiment right away, so my partner helped me bend part of a coat-hanger into a tool. Not perfect, but it works! Even if you don't have any kind of tool, I suggest experimenting anyway. How about a short, pointy pencil with your fabric taped to the end? The only reason you need a tool is to help you push your material through a tight hole.

 

 

Introduction

Let's watch the following movie. In it, we jump right into seeing the very basic knot that you need to know. Don't worry if you don't quite get it; this is just to give you an idea of what is to come.

Okay, now you've seen that the idea is pretty simple!

LET'S MAKE A RUG!

Making Lots of Fabric Strips

To make a whole rug, you will need lots of one-inch strips of material. Any material will do (try cotton or wool), but dry to avoid very stretchy material (like spandex, for example) because it's harder to work with. Basically, just use whatever you have on hand to begin with. To start a rug, I usually get around twenty strips "ready to go", which means that they are cut into one-inch strips (anywhere from 3 to 6 feet long), I've removed any annoying strands that are hanging off the strips, and I've cut small holes in the ends (discussed in the movie below).

 

 

Starting Your Rug

In this movie we start a circular rag rug properly, and we watch how to attach the strips together when your strip gets too short. (By the way, we start with circular rugs because they're the easiest. Ovals are pretty easy too, once you get the hang of the circle.)

3. So, here we go! Let's make a rug!!

My best advice is to just keep plugging away on whatever you've started. At first, it will probably look like a horrible jumble, but after you've gone around a couple times (for example, you've made like fifty to seventy knots [but don't count them or anything!]), you'll suddenly realize that you're starting to figure it out!

Once you feel like you've got the basic idea, it's time to start over with new material and actually start again with a perfect start.

PS: If you really want to make your rug look good, see the next tutorial (for intermediate ruggers)!

 

Comments

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Great instructions. To make

Great instructions. To make one without a core, would you use the same directions?

This is a really good read

This is a really good read for me. Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I have ever read. Thanks for posting this informative article.
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Will you be doing a tutorial

Will you be doing a tutorial on how to finish the rug? I think your instructions are wonderful! Easy to see and understand what you are doing. Can you do an instruction on working around an end?

Thanks!

I saw the rag rugs for the

I saw the rag rugs for the first time at a craft show and fell in love with them - I’m a bit of a crafty person and your instructions are very easy to follow - I need to be shown something to learn it and you’ve done a great job. Now my friends and I are doing rag rugs for all our Bunko pals for Christmas 2008. We are giving ourselves alot of time.

Thanks again for taking the time to show us how to do these beautiful rugs.

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Thank you. I just received my

Thank you. I just received my toothbrush braiding needles in the mail, (Outlandish shipping chages no matter where i looked), and was anxious to get started. I have seen some limited written directions on various websites and was truly longing to find someone that knew how to work the technique so that they might demonstrate it for me. (I’m such a multi-modal learner) Surprise to me. I found your videos tonight. Your videos are wonderful. You spoke clearly and explained everything in detail. I don’t believe that I’ll even have to watch them a second time. God bless you.

Thanks again,
Jodie

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OHMYGOSH! I ABSOLUTELY love

OHMYGOSH! I ABSOLUTELY love this! My great-grandmother used to do these rugs as gifts and they were PRIZED possessions in my family. I’ve had carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel surgery on both arms and although it takes me about four times as long to do any craft now, as long as I don’t rush or push it, and STOP when I should, this is excellent therapy (and keeps me from going out of my mind since I’m no longer able to do the work I was before my surgeries)! I’ve tried TONS of sites to try and learn this and this is the BEST one I’ve found at giving directions for this beautiful craft!! THANK YOU for taking the time to “show” me!

“Reply to comment | Rag Rug

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Thank you-Lily

HI again! I started working a

HI again! I started working a round rug - just to see if it was as easy as you made it look and (ta da - trumpets please) IT IS! I just wanted to share something with you since you’ve shared your rug making skills. When I have done macrame in the past, I used a cork board - a message board, push-pin board that you can get for a couple of dollars at Wal-Mart - to keep my work still/steady, pinning the macrame to the board. The smaller the board the easier to move your work around if you need to, or to cart it if you wanted to work in front of the t.v. I started my rug by pinning it to a small cork board and that seemed to work well for me, instead of using my bed. One I got to the point where I removed the pin, I just took it off the board. Thanks for your web-site (again)! I can’t wait to get good enough to do a “real” rug (I’m still practicing - LOL!)

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Hi there ! thanks to your

Hi there !
thanks to your great “film” I am getting the hang of this. I found starting the rug was easier when pinned to my ironing board…it is a great height and is a stable surface. And…bestof all, I set it up beside my computer so I can work along with the videos.
Thanks for all the help!
B.J.

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Hi Brenda, Thanks for letting

Hi Brenda,

Thanks for letting me know that this was helpful; I love picturing you at your ironing board! Great idea for a rugging spot.

I too have loved your

I too have loved your tutorials! So simple and easy to follow. After reading Brenda's post I got a great idea and it has worked well for me. We live in a very small apartment and not much room to "move around" so to speak. We have a trundle bed that folds down out of the wall but it takes up alot of space so we rarely leave it down if we are not in it; the ironing board idea works great in our small space. Then I took it one step farther; I bought an inexpensive lazy susan (the spinning tray you can put in a cabinet or on your table) and I put a small amount of batting on it and stretched fabric over that and hot glued it to the bottom of the tray. Now when I need to spin my piece around, I can spin the tray easily until I get to a workable size that I no longer need it pinned down. Thanks so much!

Hi there ! Me again. Just

Hi there !
Me again. Just wondered…and I may have missed this somewhere along the way…what length should the strips of fabric be ? I am using bed sheets and have found I get tons of tangles if I use the strips at their original length.
This new endeavour is keeping me very busyand happy as I see progress so quickly.
Thanks again for taking time to give me a hand.
Brenda Jane

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Thank you so much for the GREAT tutorials!! I sew and sell bamboo fleece cloth diapers on Etsy and I’ve been hoarding my remnants because I can’t bring myself to destine all those scraps to sit in a dump somewhere polluting the planet!! Now I FINALLY have a good use for them. What a fabulously fun way to reduce waste :) Thanks SOOOO much for taking the tie to share your wisdom!

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Thank You, Thank You, Thank

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. No matter how many times I read instructions could not visualize them. Now I can make my rug. Your videos are perfect. Understand now and will be starting one soon. I was wondering about increases so rugs would not “hump.” If you learn I sure hope you teach the rest of us. Thank You Again.

Thanks so much for the

Thanks so much for the videos! Like you, I had looked for instructions, but none were clear enough for me. I had bookmarked some sites to re-read. You have saved me much time and frustration because I found your site before going back to the others.

My new rug is now about 6 inches in diameter! :) It works up so fast, I know I will have it done before long. We have wood and / or tile floors in our new home. I will be making rugs for some time, but that is just what I wanted to do.

Thanks again.

Wonderful videos, and great

Wonderful videos, and great verbal to go along. You are a natural teacher. I have been doing these rugs for years, and they are so durable. I must have missed your instructions on the increasing stitch? At the beginning of my rugs almost every other stitch is an increasing stitch - then they become less frequent - just enough to keep the rug lying flat. Thanks so much for sharing. People are always asking me how to make them (often in airports, etc.), and I don’t have time to really show them. Now I will refer them to your great videos. Pat

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Thank you soo much I can’t

Thank you soo much I can’t sew to save my life
You make it look so easy I will start my rug soon.
Also wondered if you knew how to make a square rag rug that I saw on HGTV. She started out with 3 pieces of fabric with a knot tied at the top then braided to the end and ended up with about 8 braids and some kind of way connected the braids together by weaving fabic across the braids and that’s where I got lost

Thank You for this video!!!!

Thank You for this video!!!! I can show my mom how to do these rugs know. She’s been trying to find instruction on how to do rag rugs like… forever. I can’t wait to show her something for a change. She knows how to quilt very well…but I on the other hand can knit & crochet (only blankets..lol). I’m just glad we can add something else to do. Thanks again!!!

Thanks so much for your

Thanks so much for your videos! I have had a tool made for a month now, while I was trying to figure out how to make the rug….. saw your video during the day, wrote down 3 notes, and was starting that evening! I was asked if I was making a circle or oval, and at that point, the first one looked more like a comma! LOL

Guess I need to keep practicing……

Thanks again! Your instructions made it so clear!
susan

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A reader of my blog told me

A reader of my blog told me about your entry here. Glad to see someone else trying to keep this fine old craft alive!

Like you, I’m a terrible crafter- I can’t cut or draw a straight line. My mother and grandmother taught me as a child, when I was too young to know better, *grin*

I’ve not watched all the videos (I’ll come back and do that another time… I’m adding a link to this page to my blog and mentioning it in a post today) but what you say in general is apt.

Cotton and cotton poly blends are the easiest for beginners. Plastic grocery bags are pretty easy too, provided you carefully do just enough “double” stitches. They’re a great way to recycle shopping bags, and work great as mats in the kitchen and bathroom, or as a doormat.

By far the best thing for a beginner to use is an old sheet. You will probably need wider strips than 1″, but the cutting and sewing is very easy. My wife just took up the craft, and after some false starts where she tried to be as ambitious as I am, she is now working on a rug made of various sheets I’ve “liberated” from their ignominious and eternal entombment in landfills. (I live in a big city, people are always moving in and out, so I’m never at a loss for free mat’l.)

Believe it or not, jeans are also very easy to work with- they just take a lot of effort to cut and sew. But the fabric itself is VERY forgiving… I’ve never had a jean rug pucker [from too many doubles] or cup up [from too few] on me. And the finished product is astonishingly beautiful.

One other comment- while one inch is a good general rule, it depends much on the nature of the fabric. Lighter weight mat’ls such as a sheer blouse you might need to go up to 2″ or more… thicker things such as a pair of men’s dockers, half an inch should do. For jeans, you don’t want to go MORE than 1/2″ unless you intend to use this as a form of resistance exercise.

Square rectangular rugs are also possible, but they’re quite advanced. I’ve tried to explain a little about it on my blog, but I’ve yet to figure out how to explain it to a novice. No one in my family knew how to do them until a crocheter friend of mine in high school saw me working on a rug and gave me the idea of reversing back on the row. Best advice there- make 4 or 5 rugs, such that your fingers “know” the craft, then try tackling a square or rectangular rug.

Anyway, good for you, look forward to seeing your videos. I have an entire blog dedicated to the subject, so if you want to read more of my tips, see the videos I’ve done, they’re all there.

I started making a round

I started making a round toothbrush rug and it is curving up. Could you tell me how to prevent this from happening . Thank you Tina

OK, the link on my site

OK, the link on my site (toothbrushrugs.blogspot.com) is up.

A question- who is “Aunt Philly” and what is the url of her website?

A comment on tools: Yes, sadly, most toothbrushes are too high tech today to work as needles, but two excellent substitutes are readily available:
- A small paintbrush handle (just chose the size which you want.) The shape is PERFECT, putting the point on is easy. You’ll probably have to widen the hole a bit.
- Small spatulas (the sort with a rubber head you’d use to clean out a bowl, not the kind you’d use with a grill.) Go with quality, the cheap ones break too easily. The process of making a needle from a spatula is the same as from a flat toothbrush. My sister prefers the VERY high end ones which are flexible and essentially unbreakable. With one of those, she can do 3 to 5 stitches in the time it takes me to do one. (She also does a looser stitch than I do… its been said my rugs could double as bullet proof vests.)

I had seen the toothbrush rug

I had seen the toothbrush rug on a hgtv show once and was going to order the video but never did. Figured I would pay the $25 and never get around to it. I made my own tool from a denture brush from drug store and it sat it a drawer for two years. I happened to run across your video a week ago and have started one using old bed sheets. Its ok but a little bowl shaped. I saw in another post about using increase stiches (would that be 2 knots per hole, I dont crochet or knit so not familiar with terms) I was trying just putting doubles (doing oval) at the turns, just a few. Do you think I should do more to prevent the bowl shape?

I did see on that show a easier way to get strips than cutting. Measure the width of your strips across the fabric and cut about 3″deep then tear the strips the rest of the way. Be sure that you are tearing the length of the fabric. You can’t tear it the other direction. (tear the same direction as the salvage edge of fabric)

Thank you for your video.

(I pinned mine to the my pants to start while watching your video)

The fabric can be torn either

The fabric can be torn either lengthwise or crosswise. I do it all the time. The only difference is that the crosswise direction is a teeny tiny bit stretchy but nothing that you're going to notice or that will make a difference in your rug.

Actually, while you can tear

Actually, while you can tear something (like sheets) lengthwise OR crosswise, crosswise won't usually tear straight... You'll give it a good strong rip, and it takes off diagonally across the material. You're better off tearing lengthwise as the first commenter described, and getting even strips.

Your rag rug instructions are

Your rag rug instructions are great! That’s so nice of you to post this. Thank you!!!

Uh..ok..I can see it now!

Uh..ok..I can see it now! When I throw my rug on the floor and start stomping and jumping up and down yelling. "be a rug, be a rug"...they'd have me in the looneybin within the next 2 hours! I normally crochet all my rag rugs but this techinique has intrigued me...I've just GOTTA try this now!!!....Arkansas

Still working on my

Still working on my rug..getting there. I thought I would let you know…I showed my “new project” to my mom. She said a few of her sisters made these kind of rugs. They also used this technique to make chair pads with ties for wood chairs (kitchen chairs mostly) so the wouldn’t slip off chair.

Thank you Lara-Jane for sharing this! I just love a new project!

Any one know how to figure out how long to make starting run to end up with certain sizes on ovals?

OH, I have another question. Does anything significant happen the first time rug is washed in washer? Shrink, flaws stand out more, gets bumpy, or alot on strings come off…etc..

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