I have a fabric-hoarding problem, and sadly there is no 12-step program to help. I just can’t quite bring myself to part with that last six inches of cute fabric, even though there are only so many patchwork quilts a person can make. Rag rugs to the rescue! They’re perfect for using up small scraps, they’re supposed to look “rustic” (which is code for “you can claim all those mistakes you made were intentional”), and when you run out of friends and family to gift them to you can donate them to your local animal shelter; they’re great for insulating the bottom of pet beds in cold weather.
Rag rugs can be knitted, crocheted, woven, braided, or hooked, so you can use your favorite construction method. The easiest way to make the “yarn” for your rug is to tear the fabric into strips more or less the same width (precision doesn’t matter too much), then knot them end to end. This is handy because you can knot as you go along and don’t have to worry about long tangled strips. You can also make yarn with less-obvious joins using this technique.
The simplest tutorials for knitted rugs pretty much consist of “use big needles and just go for it:” crazy mom quilts and She Who Measures have some tips for that method. Cocoknits has free patterns for a rag doily rug and rag bath mat which are a little more structured-looking.
For crocheted rugs, wikiHow has instructions for a simple round rug; sustainable baby steps has a nice in-depth tutorial which includes advice for dyeing your fabric, and About has a roundup of patterns.
A Beautiful Mess and Craft Passion have tutorials for making woven rugs. For braided rugs, inhabitat and Little House Living both have good instructions with lots of pictures; the latter joins the braids with machine-sewing instead of by hand, which would work okay for the thin fabric she uses but might be kind of a strain with thicker wools.
To make a hooked rug you can use rug canvas and a latch hook as described at Craftster, or hessian fabric and a crochet hook as in this tutorial at Creative Living. There’s also a sort of cheat-y rag rug made by knotting fabric through a non-slip rug pad; My Love of Style has instructions for that (although I’d ignore the part about buying fabric specifically for the project and use scraps).
If, like me, half of your fabric stash is Halloween-themed, it’s easy to make a rug in spooky colors and feel virtuous about using up your scraps.
(Image from JoAnn, where there’s also a brief tutorial)