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The Magic of Upcycling: From Rugs to Riches

how to upcycle antique rug into a glamorous jacket

by Irina Novgorodskaya

August 25, 2020


I love creative projects where everything can be flipped upside down which allows you to look at things with a new angle.

Upcycling a rug to a jacket

I inherited this rug from my Grandmother who had a trunk full of these. I don’t know what material they were made from, but they feel very soft as if they were made from natural fabrics. This is an heirloom work of the old traditional weaver. I have one such rug in my bathroom, and it’s so pleasant to walk on.

I liked the texture and colour combinations of this rug and I always wanted to make something interesting out of it. And so I decided to make a summer jacket without a lining from this rug that looks as if it got bleached in the bright July sun.

First of all, you need to wash and iron the rug and then proceed with the cutting and the markings.

The material was very soft from years of use, however, I still chose a pattern with the minimum amount of seams and details. Make sure to include 2.5 – 3 centimetres of seam allowance in case the fabric deforms slightly after all the finishes.

upcycled rug

upcycling project

I decided to embellish the material slightly by adding rows of silver thread stitches. I chose lurex thread because I was going to finish the jacket with silver trim decorated with beads. This finish matches very well with the colour and the texture of the jacket.

But first, inspect the fabric pieces and pull any knots you see on the face side to the inside of the material. Then stitch straight rows of lurex thread making sure to release the tension on your machine slightly or the thread will tear. I used almost 4 spools of lurex thread, 50 meters each, for this jacket. Don’t forget to change directions as you sew each row so the fabric doesn’t get distorted.

upcycling a rug to a jacket

You can use silk thread or other interesting decorative ideas to embellish the material. This is what I got as a result: new, slightly sparkling tweed. 

upcycled rug

The next step is pressing, stabilizing and marking the darts.   

To make the fringed edges at the bottom of the front and back bodice and the sleeves, pull the weft threads until you have about 2 cm fringe.

upcycling a rug

To secure the raw edge of the fringe, attach strips of fusible tape 1.5 cm wide at the start of the fringe and use a zigzag stitch close to the edge. This tape will be covered by decorative bias strips in the next steps.

finished edges

Use the same method to stabilize the front of the bodice, neck edge and back shoulders.

finished edges of pattern pieces

I decided to make this jacket without the usual lining and underlining because of the thickness of the material.

I finished all inside seams with the matching bias strips. Cut 5 cm wide strips on a bias, press seam allowances towards the centre, then fold each strip in half and press.

bias strips

pressed bias strips

Use these strips to finish side seams, shoulder and sleeve seams. If you don’t do this, your fabric will fray because of the type of weaving used in the rug.

use bias tape to finish edges

Then stitch darts, side and shoulder seams. Press.

Cut more bias strips but don’t fold and press them. Use these strips to finish the edges of the front and neck as on the photo below. Take another bias strip; fold 2 cm on one side and press. Stitch the tape over the back and front fusible tape you attached earlier to stabilize the fringed edges.

upcycling a rug project

Insert the sleeves and finish the seams with bias tape. It should look like this:

insert the sleeves and finish the edges

And now, my favourite part: embellishments.

I already had embroidered trim in mind which was too straight and it didn’t look good around the neck edge. I looked in my stash and found bias pieces of silver fabric and matching white and silver beads. So I decided to make the embroidered beaded trim for the neck edge.

trim and beads for embellishments

To do that, cut 3.5 cm bias tape from silver fabric, fold the seam allowances towards the centre and press.  Slip-stitch the bias tape to the neck edge. Press again.

finished neck edge of upcycled jacket

Slip-stitch embroidered tape to the centre front and the neck edge. Sew the beads to the tape. You can make a pattern to make it easier.

attach decorative trim to the jacket

The beading is finished and I am happy with the result. It’s time to attach hook and eye closures to the front of the jacket.

finished upcycled jacket

This is my finished summer jacket.

Upcycled rug to a couture jacket


About the Author:

Irina Novgorodskaya has 20 years of fashion design experience, including experience as a guest designer for brand name clothing companies. In addition, she has 10 years of experience making garments for individual customers at a fashion atelier.

Irina has been teaching fashion design, construction and technology for the past 8 years.

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