Upcycle different color denim jeans into a shag or rag rug.

How to Make a Levi's Rag Rug

by Linda Erlam

A rag rug is the old-world version of a shag rug. Rag rugs differ from braided rag rugs, crocheted or toothbrush rugs in which the rags undergo braiding or are manipulated into a flat-surfaced rug. A true rag rug resembles a long-shag pile rug. To make a Levi's rag-rug, recycle and reuse your old jeans. They make a durable and machine-washable rug.

Cut your jeans apart. Cut away the seams, pockets and hems; leave the pieces as large as possible.

Measure and cut your canvas to the finished size of your rug.

Calculate the number of strips you need by multiplying the square inches of the rug surface by two. For example, if your rug has a finished size of 36 inches square, it requires about 2,600 strips -- 36 multiplied by 36 equals 1,296 square inches times two or 2,592 with each strip 1 inch wide and 4 inches long. A 36-inch square rag rug translates to about 10,000 square inches of denim; 10,000 divided by 1,296 equates to 7.8 yards. Lay your cut pieces on a table to estimate the yardage you have.

Measure and cut the denim pieces from your cut-up Levi's into rectangles 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Longer pieces result in a deeper pile; a 4-inch strip creates a pile about 1 3/4 inches long. Adjust the strips to your liking but be aware that strips shorter than 2 inches may be difficult to handle; longer strips are better to start with.

Start at one corner of the canvas, one square in from the edges and work down that long edge for the first row.

Insert one end of one strip down from the top toward the underside of the rug canvas and bring it back to the top through the square to the left of the insertion point. Pull the ends even. Use a large crochet hook, about size 10, to reach up from the bottom and pull the strip through the canvas.

Skip a square and insert the next strip in the next square down. Continue to the bottom of the row.

Skip the row of squares to the left of the row of inserted strips.

Insert the second row of strips in the fifth square from the right edge and in the topmost square. Insert this row of strips between the previous row squares. For example, insert the first row into squares two, four, six and eight in the second row of squares from the right edge. Come back up through the third row. Insert the second row of strips in squares one, three, five and seven in the fifth row of squares from the right edge. Insert the strip down into the fifth row and back up through the sixth row.

Items you will need

  • Old jeans, or denim fabric
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Hooked rug canvas, 1/2-inch squares
  • Crochet hook, size 10


  • Prewash the jeans before cutting them. Add fabric softener to the rinse cycle to make the pieces easier to cut and handle.
  • No backing or edge trim is needed with this version of rug. The canvas and strips make a sturdy backing and the strips conceal the cut edge. The strips are not knotted because of their width and the fabric thickness. The canvas mesh opening size in relation to the fabric thickness and strip size keeps the strips snug and in place.

About the Author

Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images