How to Sew a Denim Rug

Denim is one of the most durable fabrics made and also the easiest to find for projects such as this small space floor mat. You can repurpose last year’s worn out jeans or go in search of a handful of jumpers or dresses at the thrift store without spending a lot of money. You can also purchase new denim fabric in various shades from most fabric stores if you aren’t interested in hitting up the thrifts.

This project is very similar to (and uses many of the same skills) as making a quilt. We’re basically going to use a hardy fabric (denim) to create a really cute and functional rug; or I suppose you could think of this as a floor mat. Whatever you call it, you won’t be sad when you see it around, sprucing up a doorway.

-denim in 5-7 different shades of blue. I suggest using old jeans or a shirt you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or hitting up the local thrift stores to find a few different shades without paying too much. Look for wide leg jeans, larger sizes, shirts in the men’s section, or dresses from the ’90s that have embroidery on them and won’t be enjoyed by someone else.
-one yard of cotton batting. I suggest about a yard, but you can always double up for an even softer bath mat.
-one yard of grip tight cloth (think the bottom of footie pjs).
-one skein of embroidery thread.
-hexagon template (make your own based on the size hexagon you want, see photo below for mine)
-straight needles

Step One: Print out your hexagon template and cut it out. Use your self-healing mat, acrylic ruler, and rotary cutter to cut through at least two layers of denim at a time.

Step Two: If you’re cutting it out from denim jeans, be sure your hexagon shape has a flat line on the sides instead of a point on the sides. This will help you be more efficient with your denim and get more hexies per pant leg.

Step Three: Cut about 50 hexagons from the various shades of denim you’re using. You only need 46 hexies for this project, but you may want to play with your denim shades and have some choices near the end.

Step Four: Arrange your hexagons with five in a row and then six in a row until you have nine rows. You’ll later cut off the excess tops and bottoms to make a smooth perimeter.

Step Five: To start sewing your hexies together, line up one set of edges.

Note: When lining up your hexies, be aware of which direction the grain of your denim is running. I like to keep the ones with visible grains facing the same direction because it feels a bit cleaner. Just something to pay attention to if it would bother you later

Step Six: Fold the bottom one onto the top one so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other and pin along the edge you want to sew together.

Step Seven: This is the most important part. Start stitching 1/4″ after the left angle and end your stitching about 1/4″ before the right angle. If you stitched all the way to the angles, you wouldn’t have any wiggle room for when you join another hexagon and then fold it flat. I suggest backstitching at the beginning and end of your seam, but be sure you aren’t getting too close to those angles.

Step Eight: Fold it flat and iron. Do this as you add each hexagon to help keep things flat when you add another hexagon.

Step Nine: You can stitch rows so that you have five hexagons one after another, or you can just organically add one at a time. Here’s how you add another hexagon and sew more than one side together.

Step Ten: Choose the first side you will sew and fold it onto that hexagon with the right sides facing together. Pin those two edges together.

Step Eleven: Stitch together, making sure you leave some space around your angles.

Step Twelve: Remove pins, fold flat.

Step Thirteen: Place the top hexagon shown onto the hexagon below it so that right sides are facing together and match up the angles as best you can. Pin together and stitch.

Step Fourteen: Unfold and iron flat. This is what the back side will look like. See how there is still a space at the angle in the middle? If you don’t leave that little bit of space in all of your angles, it’ll pinch and pull at the fabric when you iron things flat.

Step Fifteen: Be sure you are ironing down your seams as you go.

If you are sewing your mat together in rows, you can start at the top and fold, pin, and sew as you go.

Step Sixteen: Once you’ve stitched your rows together, cut the excess halves off the top and bottom with your ruler and rotary cutter.

Step Seventeen A: This is what it should look like so far. Notice the top and bottom edges are straight.

Step Seventeen B: Cut off the flaps on the top and bottom edges as shown.

Step Seventeen C: Cut off the last two angles on the right side for a straight edge.

Step Seventeen D: Cut off the top and bottom angles as shown. Repeat for the opposite side. This will give you an oval-shaped mat when you are done.

Step Eighteen: Place your batting on the floor first. Then center your grip tight cloth on the batting with the right side facing up. Finally, place your patchwork mat on top of your grip tight cloth with the right side facing down. Pin around the perimeter and in the middle. Be sure your pins go through all three layers.

Step Nineteen: Stitch around the perimeter of the mat, leaving about 6″ of space open so you can turn it right side out.

Step Twenty: Trim the excess fabric from the edge of your mat, but leave the excess near your opening. Remove pins.

Step Twenty-One: Turn it right side out and smooth out your edges. You can see where the opening is below. Tuck the excess fabric in and iron on a low setting so that you don’t accidentally melt the grip tight fabric. Pin your opening shut and stitch along the perimeter of your mat, leaving about 1/4″ seam allowance. This will help your mat retain its shape and close your opening at the same time.

Finished! This kind of mat can be thrown in the wash and line dried or tumble dried on low heat, so it’s perfect for high traffic places such as the back door or the most popular bathroom in the house. Make one for your kitchen sink space or the laundry room to give your feet a break while you work hard! – Rachel

Credits // Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Janae Hardy and Rachel Denbow.

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