How to Make Toothbrush Rugs

    by Cyndee Kromminga

    About the Author

    Based in the Midwest, Cyndee Kromminga has been writing craft and interior design articles for 15 years. Her articles and craft designs have appeared in Crafting Traditions Magazine, Easy Holiday Crafting Series-House of White Birches Newsletter and Country Woman Christmas Books. Kromminga's education is in interior design and she has experience operating a craft and design business for more than 20 years.


    Making rugs with a toothbrush is a very old technique; created using many strips of fabric, they are a good way to recycle fabric from your fabric stash or old clothing. Craft a toothbrush rug while spending an evening in front of the television or take it along on long car rides. This technique is ideal for teaching a young crafter the knowledge of old fashioned handiwork.

    Things You'll Need

    • Toothbrush
    • Small handsaw or jig saw
    • Metal rasp file
    • Drill and 1/4-inch bit
    • Recycled or new fabric, amount depends on size of rug
    • Scissors
    • Ruler
    • Safety pin
    • Crochet hook

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    Cut off the bristle head of an old toothbrush using a small handsaw or jigsaw. Use a metal rasp file to file the cut end of the toothbrush to a point. Enlarge the hanging hole of your toothbrush or if their isn't a hole, use a 1/4-inch drill bit to enlarge the existing hole or to make a new one. This is your needle for making a toothbrush rug.

    Cut or rip multiple 2-inch wide strips from fabric. The amount needed will depend on the tension you use and the size of the rug you are making. It is best to experiment with a first project to figure out how tight your personal tension will be and how much fabric is needed per row and inch. Clip a 1-inch slit in both ends of the fabric strips, a 1/2 inch from the ends. Place a slit end of one strip over a slit end of another strip. Take the other end of the strip that is on top and poke it through the layered slits from the bottom. Pull it all the way through to connect the strips. It is easier to understand the toothbrush rug technique if these strips are two different colors. One strip will be the worker strip and the other strip will be the runner.

    Fold the strips in half at the connection. Safety pin the folded end to the knee of your pant leg to give you another hand. Decide which strip will be the worker and which will be the runner. The worker strip creates the loops and stitches, and the runner is what the stitches are worked around. Thread a couple of inches of the worker strip in the hole of the toothbrush needle. These instructions are for a right-handed crafter and everything is worked from the right to the left. If you are left handed, just reverse your hands and the direction you work.

    Hold the runner in your left hand, close to the safety pin. Lay your index finger on the runner, pointing toward the safety pin. Insert the needle, with the worker attached, under the runner and pull it through until the worker is wrapped over your finger. Remove your finger and you are left with a loop. Insert the needle down through the loop and pull the worker through. Do not tighten the loop. You have made one toothbrush rug stitch. To create a simple oval rug, repeat to the left of the first stitch until it's length is equal to the desired width of your rug. You have completed your base row. Add additional fabric strips to the runner and worker, as needed.

    Unhook the safety pin and rotate the base row. The worker end will be at the top. Work a turning stitch in the end by inserting the needle down through the left side of the last stitch. Pull it through, catching it over your finger, once again. Insert down through the loop and pull it through. Rotate the base row again. At this point, you may want to reattach the safety pin to your pant leg. You will now be working on the opposite side of the base row. Create the stitches in the same way as the beginning stitches, but connect them to the previous stitches on the base. Insert the needle under the back of the first previous stitch from left to right and under the runner strip. Complete the stitch as before. Repeat to the end of the base row.

    Create three turning stitches in the end of the row. Note: The end is the original fold that was pinned to your pant leg. Remove the safety pin. You should not need it anymore. Work the rug in continuous rounds using regular stitches. A regular stitch is as follows. Insert the worker needle down through the top of the next stitch to the left and under the runner. Pull it through until the worker wraps around your index finger. Remove your finger and insert the needle down through the loop. To increase, create two regular stitches in the same stitch on each of the four corners of the rug. Repeat until the rug measures the desired size of your rug.

    Turn the rug over with the backside facing up. Cut the worker and the runner, leaving six inch tails. Weave the tails through the stitches using a crochet hook to pull the tails through. Tie the tails in a knot around one stitch and trim to finish.