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I got hungry when I heard of Jelly-Roll rugs… but never thought they were like this! ‘No Calories but endless options. My own unique twist makes these Strip Rugs so economical and easy.

When I first discovered what Jelly-Roll meant in the sewing world I was disappointed that it meant buying pre-made Jelly Rolls! These rugs are made with strips that are ‘puffed’ with some filling and then sewn into strips that eventually get sewn together. Sure, buying a ‘Jelly Roll of fabric is an easy way to get half the work already done, but that control-freak in me likes to choose my own combination of colours! I also did not want to use the cotton batting that is suggested and can also be bought already cut. I like the idea that I can use up what I have or re-use some other fabrics.

My intent was to Up-cycle the polyester fleece bed sheets that seem to be crazy cheap. (thrifted at $5 each) They also do not breakdown as quickly as cotton and resist staining.

Make Modern Style Rugs

I know multicolour quilts are not such a rage right now. Personally, I like to have a calm environment so that I can easily add small pops of colour without huge changes. I find that keeping rugs neutral does help. I also know that rugs tend to get stained eve if you are crazy clean. To keep staining less likely and also to add washability I opted for the polyester fabric from old bed sheets. People buy polyester bed sheets and then realize they are not that comfortable to sleep in so the also end up at thrift stores for cheap. As much as I am not a fan of polyester, it is super hardy and will take repeated washing – all perfect for a rug!

A single bed sheet can give you 15 strips (each 2.5″ wide) of 74″ long, Queen: 24 strips of 80″ long! That’s a steal! Choose whatever combination you like or keep it all the same, it’s your vision.

I tested how the fleece works and it was great and soft to step on. Cut the fleece into strips of 2.5″ wide. A quilters rule makes the job even easier with the use of a rotary cutter, like my Fiskars one. If you don’t have one then you could improvise with a steel ruler. Wait! Do not forget about your cutting matt!

Rotary cutters make these jobs of cutting strips super easy and fast.

Keep things nicely stacked so later on you are not trying to untangle. I don’t try to be too ‘matchy’ with fabrics either.

Cut the fabric into the 2.5″ strips as well. You can fold the fabric to cut through 4 thicknesses at a time.

Machine Time!

Lay the batting inside the fabric piece and fold outside quarters into center and then fold again (so it is 4x layers, similar to seam binding) The folded edges will be where you sew a straight stitch to hold it closed. Some sew in the middle, some more on the edge, the edge sewing will allow the filling to ‘puff’ more. I just made a lot of yardage of strips as I didn’t know how much I was going to need. It’s very therapeutic…

You can attach all the fabric strips with seams before-hand or you can over lap and fold as you go. The same goes for the fleece ‘batting’ so I just slightly overlapped them when placing in the folded fabric, the sewing keeps it in place.

I did not want to get fussy with the pattern or do any measuring as I like the more modern random look of designs.

Don’t do what I did!

To attach the strips together use a Zigzag stitch to ‘butt-join’ the strips next to each other. It works nicely since you are only working on the edge, so no bulk gets under machine. I decided to just start sewing the strips together and hope for the best… Well, since the tension is not always the same, it tends to start to warp if some end up longer or shorter.

In my second attempt (yes I ripped it apart) I cut the strips all to the same length first and then I knew how much they needed to meet at the end. The rug ended up much more square and flat! Love the random design it makes. You can lay them out first or go with spontaneity!

Tip: Keeping the rug flat as much as possible when sewing also helps so I used some books to elevate and make a larger flat surface.

I’m not sure why, but I really enjoyed sewing these together. It does require much thought… The fabrics did not give the sewing machine any issues even though it was a few thicknesses.

Once all sewn there may be a bit of irregularities so a quick straight trim and some ironing will square it all.

The edge Binding:

To bind the edge I used the same fabric and wrapped it right sides together over the end and edges.

Flipping it over allows the edges to be finished shed when folded over.

Fold over the ‘binding’ (similar to how a seam binding is used) and pin.

Sew near the edge to hold in place with matching thread. It ends up looking like a strip.

It is pretty simple but modern and random. I like to have a rug in front of the sink and at each door entry. I also like them to be able to be cleaned so this makes me excited!

Next Challenge; Oval!

I started with the straight strip sewing but the oval enticed me! This one starts with a strips and the corners are eased around each end. Each end will be a half-circle so you can figure out how much of a strip you will need. Example; if I want a 36″ long & 20′ wide rug the centre strip needs to be (36″ – (10″ + 10″) = 16″ long.

When curving through corners manipulate & ease extra strip so the the outside of the curve will lay flat. Stop after a couple rows to iron and check how flat before finding out after the entire rug is sewn! (Again, I learnt the hard way!)

I am happy how it turned out and the prints will help a bit to mask any small stains until washing.

The illustrator in me loves the lines that this makes! I see it as quite the design opportunity! Hmmm, more ideas coming!

What do you think?! Doesn’t look too granny-like? Strips can be more than flat, oh just wait until you see the shapes they can be sewn into.

Alrighty, don’t forget they may slip so having a Rug gripper Pad helps it stay in place. If you add rubber or strips to the back then it will not be reversible. I hope I have inspired you to become a stripper like me…

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. What a great idea. Love the colourways, very neat. I too like a rug to stand on when I’m at the sink…… Might have to have a look in my ‘ragbag’
    Thanks for sharing

  2. I love your ideas and the fact that you are recycling and also that you share any pitfalls. Black and white always look stunning and modern. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Yes, whenever I try something new I get obsessed and want to figure out every part! It takes weeks to get all the info I need! I like the monochromatic as well!

  3. Brilliant idea to upcycle old sheets. I’ll have to rummage round some of our UK charity shops when in town next time. Thanks for telling us about this x

  4. Thank you once again for providing so much inspiration and for pointing me toward my next project. I’ve been looking for small rugs in the right colors and there they were all the time, right in my own bags of fabric! Some assembly required, of course…

    1. Oh, I like how you think! When I look at my huge shelf of fabric I see so many projects! It makes me smile and think; ‘I better use this before getting more!’

  5. Thanks Barb for another great idea, can you give a little more info on the fleece? Is that also recycled material, or is it new? How does one judge the thickness?

    1. I used the kind that I noticed were in the bedding aisle of the thrift shop. I could never sleep in sheets like that, too warm. It is a polyester fleece but not as thick as the the type you wear. The strip is folded over twice so it ends up 4 thicknesses. I also tried a thinner strip only folded 2X and that worked as well just less soft. Really, you can adjust as needed. The pre-cut cotton batting strips seemed thin. Hmmm, I wonder if flannel sheets would also act as a filling but might not be that easy to sew through.

  6. Love the detailed process explanation. I’ll try this idea to make a custom shaped rug to go around fixtures in my tiny powder room. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. I love this idea! The fact the jelly rolls are already in colorways is a great help. Now- I have some fabric in my stash that would be perfect…. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. And really they could also be placemats, wall hangings, ‘haha’ I could even imagine them as other vessels/boxes/bags. (once you allow yourself to be creative I think it continues to expand)

  8. You could tack the backing at corner and long edge so it stays together but would be easy yoindo to reverse when severely stained. Love the reuse.

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