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What to do with recycled clothing uk

February 5, 2024

 What should you do with your old recycled clothing UK? Well, there’s lots of things! Read on for a few ideas.

Rag Rugs

Have you ever heard of a rag rug? The creation is as simple as it sounds. It’s a rug made of rags – or more elegantly put, hand-formed from recycled materials. They have been around for a long time, and were created both from necessity due to poverty, as an artistic craft form and activity, and just as a way to have a nice rug. Rag rugs are warm, hardwearing, practical and attractive. They are also very eco-friendly, made with very ethical production and environmental standards and a good way to use your recycled clothing UK. You can use any clothing brand, sustainable clothing or not, the supply chain is not important.


My great-grandma used to enjoy making them, and the ones she made in her 20s and 30s, which would have been around the turn of the 20th century lasted for so long that there were still a few in my mum’s house until a few years ago. They were slightly tattered but still going strong almost 100 years later, lasting through many feet and pets. She favoured black wool. Her daughter, my nana, worked in the woollen mill and I imagine was able to bring home quite a lot of discarded wool material which didn’t quite make the grade. I also suppose there were other colours than black available, but it seems great-grandma didn’t go in for colour, preferring practicality.

Recycled clothing UKHow to make a rag rug

There are a few different ways to make rag rugs. My great-grandma’s method involved tearing long strips of fabric into strips about an inch wide. If you’ve never done it, tearing fabric into strips is very satisfying. You just make a nick with scissors where you want the line to be and go for it. It makes a great sound. Of course the edges will be tufty but they actually come out a lot straighter than even the most careful of hand cutting with scissors. This is because the fabric tears along the grain.


Ok, so first you create the “yarn”. You can then roll it all up in a ball like you would with knitting wool. But it will be much bigger. Like a ball of wool for giant kittens to play with! And then you find a couple of sacks. I feel like it was easier in the 1910s to find sacks, so just go and buy some hessian. And if you don’t have a daughter who works in a wooden mill, tear up your old clothes. Then, methodically hook the strip of rag through the sacking back. Make a loop an inch or so long, from the back of the sack through to the front. You can use a crochet hook or buy a special hook for this. Then make another loop next to it, on the same row.

Recycled clothing UK – Keep on going…

Keep going, keeping them all to the same height. When you come to the end of the strip of fabric, just start a new one. Keep all the loops close together. At the end you can either cut the loops or leave them. You can now back the rug with another piece of cloth or hessian, or leave it as is. You’ll now have a good, dense rug which will last you and your family till kingdom come!

Rag rugs using recycled clothing uk

Now, this is a good way to use up all the old clothes you no longer want. Or if someone has split up with you and you feel like ripping up all their clothes. Then you can leave the rag rug made from their stuff on their doorstep, like a really creepy sort of memento of yourself and revenge in one. OK, I don’t really recommend or advise this course of action. The best revenge is no revenge, folks.

Plaited Rugs

Right, so, that’s one way. The other way is to make a plaited rug with recycled clothing UK. It’s has a similar starting place: take fabric and rip it into strips. Plait these strips together. You can incorporate new pieces into the plait as you go so that it’s one continuous plait. If you roll these plaits in a ball you will end up with an even more giant yarn ball, for an even more giant kitty! A leopard, perhaps, though I don’t picture leopards playing with balls of wool, they might do.


Now coil this plait into a circle or oval, and stitch it to its neighbour as you go. Make sure each row is laying flat, plaited side up, not the edge side. In this way you can keep going until it is as big as you like.


If you run out of the clothing of yourself or your enemies, try going to a charity or vintage store to get more. Yes, it seems a shame to rip up all these lovely clothes, but try buying some things that are not lovely, problem solved. Look for colours, not shape, and it doesn’t really matter if you don’t like the pattern as no-one will see that. You can also save and use plastic shopping bags, for a waterproof option. 

Recycled clothing UK – Woven rugs

Recycled clothing UK

Recycled clothing UK – a rag rug

Basically, these strips of fabric can be used as you might wool. So weaving is another option. This requires a bit more of an investment, as you’ll need a loom. To make a floor rug, you’ll need a big wooden loom a bit bigger than the width you want your rug to be, so quite big! If you just want to make a table mat or coaster, you can put together a more simple affair using a shoe box. Cut notches along each short sides at matching intervals. Then wind string or some of your fabric strips along the length of your box, keeping them taught, to create a warp thread.


Cut an oblong of cardboard and wind more fabric thread on that. That’s going to be your shuttle. Pass the shuttle in and out of the warp threads to commence weaving. As you finish each line, push it down next to the others. When it is all filled up, there’s your table mat! Cut the string off the box and you’re done. A good, eco friendly way of using recycled clothing UK.