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I just love making my own bathroom rugs! They’re small so they’re generally fast to make and I just love the feeling of a squishy bathmat under my feet when I get out of the shower! So we have quite the collection of bathroom mats that I’ve made over the years. Ages ago I showed you how to knit a bathroom rug from strips of old t-shirts, and that rug is still one of our favorites. Then I sewed a bunch of rugs from upcycled towels and bedsheets (and then realized the hard way that it makes much more sense to zig-zag the edges to avoid fraying). And after that I made some smaller mats with feet for my daughter and I to use in the locker room at the pool. (She no longer takes swimming lessons, but I am still going strong and still use both of those mats myself.)
And another great thing about this project is that you just need old towels and bedsheets (or whatever other cotton fabic instead of sheets). So if you raid your linen closet and clean out things you don’t need anymore, these rugs are totally free to make! Yah! I used part of an old sheet that I’d already cut up to sew a cover for my husband’s amplifier, scraps of a green towel (that I used for the pool footmats) and a hand-me-down hooded towel for babies that was wearing too thin for me to feel comfortable with handing down to someone else.
In this tutorial I will show you how to make rugs in two different styles, but you can really personalize these however you want: stripes, circles, swirls, shapes, letters… I suggest you take a look at the other posts that I linked to in the first paragraph of this post to get an idea of some options. You could also make a rectangle with a curve cut out of one long side to put around the base of the toilet. The sky’s the limit!
Today I’ll show you how to make a bathroom rug with stripes and a smaller rug with two circles to put your pet’s food dishes on! In theory it’s the kids’ job to feed and water the cat each evening before bed, so I thought it would make it fun for them to center the dishes on the circles, which are also handy for soaking up the water which always ends up sloshing out of the water dish! Let’s get started!
To start out, cut two equal-sized rectangles, one from a towel and one from a sheet (or woven cotton fabric). You can make these whatever size you want based on your bathroom (or other room) dimensions or however the pieces fit in best on your fabric. I’d say that anywhere from 40 x 60 cm to 60 x 85 cm for a bathroom rug is fine. Calculate 1 cm seam allowance on all sides. So for my striped bathrug that I made here, which is 38 x 56 cm finished, I cut 40 x 58 cm pieces. I cut 39 x 59 cm pieces for my pool mats and 27 x 42 cm pieces for the cat dish rug. Just make sure that both pieces are the same size, more or less. As you can see in the picture above, my towel pieces were slightly bigger because I didn’t trim them down perfectly, and that’s fine because I did trim them down later. I was just sure to sew along the edge of the top (smaller) layer.
Then cut out whatever decorations you want from the towels. Remember that the more complicated the shapes are, the more they can slip around while you sew them, making it more difficult. I suggest keeping it simple. If cutting out stripes, make them sort of irregular. This project actually looks better if it’s slightly messy-looking. For my first rug, I cut out perfectly regular strips, then realized it looked weird, so I trimmed the edges of the strips to make them irregular! The important thing is that they reach from one side of the sheet piece, in whatever direction you want.
If you want to make circles for a food dish mat, just trace a plate that is slightly larger than the base of the food dish, but small enough that two can fit onto the sheet at least 2 cm from the fabric edge. I used a permanent marker to trace and just cut inside the line.
Position the strips or circles or whatever shape you cut out onto the top of the sheet piece, right sides of all pieces facing up. The short ends of the strips will obviously run to or over the sheet piece’s edge, and that’s fine, but make sure that the long ends don’t get within 2-3 cm of the edges, or it will be hard to sew later on. Then pin the pieces in place.
Sew the edges of the pieces down with a zig zag stitch. I used stitch width 4.5 and stitch length 1.5, but do some tests to see what you prefer.
Remember that the stitching should be entirely on the top fabric, with just the very outside edge running off onto the bottom fabric. If you look closely, you’ll see that I wasn’t always super careful and the stitching sometimes didn’t go all the way over the top fabric edge, but I’m not worrying about it for this project because it actually looks better if it’s a little messy!
If you need help with the zig zag stitch, look at this tutorial. Also, the zig zag stitch can sometimes make the fabric a little wavy. In this case, just iron it and it’ll look a lot flatter (and nicer).
Position the sewn top piece on top of the bottom towel piece, right sides facing, and pin together. Decide where to leave an opening for turning (see here for a tutorial on turning and topstitching), and mark the beginning and end with doubled-up pins or a mark of some kind. Because the edges are straight and we will topstitch, the opening can be relatively wide on any side without strips or other shapes overlapping the edges.
Sew all around the rectangle with a straight stitch and a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance, leaving the opening space unsewn.
In this close-up, you can see how I sewed right over the zig zag stitching that ran up to the edge.
Trim down the fabric edges if there are any excess parts sticking out and clip the corners.
Turn the rugs right side out through the opening, poke the corners out and iron the bathmat flat. Then topstitch around the entire rectangle, closing up the opening. I suggest changing your needle to a 100/16 or 110/18 size to sew through the fabric bulk.
Remember that you can use different colors of thread! I used green for zig zagging my circles and white for zig zagging the stripes and sewing around the rectangles. And you don’t have to use the same color for the top thread and the bobbin! When topstitching these rugs, I used dark blue on top and white on the bottom.
And there you have it! Super easy, comfortable and absorbent rugs for your bathroom, kitchen, locker room or pet… and you probably didn’t even have to pay a cent for the materials! When they get dirty, just toss them in the washing machine. Easy peasy!
Our Macchia seemed pretty happy with her new mat. Or maybe it was the tuna that I bribed her with to get this picture that made her happy. Either way, the kids are happy because they like to put her dishes on the circles and I’m happy because I hopefully won’t have to clean up spilled water as often anymore! (Are those cat dishes adorable? They’re by my friend’s mother’s company, Tatutina.)
So now that you know how to sew a bathroom rug, make about five more! You’ll love having so many bathroom rugs to change as frequently as you need to… which in our home is about every 10 minutes! Ha! And hey, why not make some for gifts? Remember, you can personalize them to your heart’s delight!