So I've always had this thing about rugs. I don't know what it is, but I'm just really picky and can never make up my mind. In my last apartment, I looked at approximately, oh, 3000 rugs or so, and that's not really that much of an exaggeration (boyfriend can vouch for it - he was so sick of looking at rugs). So I finally got my rug, which I really liked, and it worked well in my current place as well.
The only problem with it was that I am just an inherently messy person. I've tried to change, but at least 5 days a week, I look down at myself and say things like, hmmm...why is there pizza sauce on my shoulder (two weeks ago). So the fact that the rug was mostly white proved to be difficult, even after I rented a steam cleaner. So up on Craigslist it went, and I got this one:
I really like the rug itself, and the brown background was definitely a plus, but the size wasn't quite right. I thought I could go down from the 5'x8' of my old rug, but this one was 3.5'x5.5', which didn't quite fit the bill. I left it for a while though, as I couldn't bring myself to get a new rug. That is, until I saw this fantastic tutorial on making a rug out of fabric, from High-Heeled Foot in the Door.
(Photo via High-Heeled Foot in the Door)
Sounds a little silly, but it fit the budget. She had used one layer of heavy-weight fabric, one layer of canvas (a drop-cloth), and a rug pad. Since I had already used canvas drop cloth for my bookshelf doors, I figured I would just do two layers of canvas. I also took some inspiration from a post on Apartment Therapy on using a doormat as a stencil to paint a rug.
(Photo via Apartment Therapy)
So I decided to combine the two ideas, and do a stamp of a gingko leaf on the canvas drop cloth. You can find better instructions on the tutorial I linked above, but here is how I did it.
1 - 4' x 15' canvas drop cloth: $15
1 - 5' x 8' rug pad: $20
4 jars of fabric paint (red, yellow, brown, and white - only used half at most): already had on hand, I think about $4 apiece from the art store
1 - sheet of foam stuff from the kids craft aisle: $0.50
Spray adhesive: around $8
Total - around $40 or $50
How I did it:
I wanted to make sure that I made the rug the right size, so I spent some time looking at the various drop cloths, and decided the 4' x 7.5' sounded about right, so I bought the 4' x 15' one and cut it in half. Following the tutorial I laid it out, ironed the crap out of both pieces, and then folded one half back. I sprayed both sides, let it sit for a minute, and then very carefully folded it back, starting at the center line and smoothing as I went.
This is a terrible picture, but luckily I had just painted my bedroom, so I had a clear space to work in. This is with the top piece folded halfway back.
Unfortunately, after I did the first half, I ran out of spray adhesive, since I just used a can I had on hand. Since it was almost midnight, I had to wait until the morning to run to the hardware store. This time I bought the super heavy duty spray adhesive, as I had my doubts as to my general purpose stuff that I had used. Being super heavy duty though, meant that I was almost in tears by the time I got it all glued together, as it kept getting messed up, or I would step on it and mess it all up/track glue all over my floor, etc. This is not fun at all. But I do recommend the heavy duty stuff.
I let it dry for a while while I cut out my stamps. I decided to go with two smaller leaves, and just do a random pattern. I had also bought this foam stuff a while ago, and it worked perfectly. After looking at several inspiration leaves, I hand-drew my leaves and then cut them out.
I then mixed up my fabric paints to the perfect shade of yellow, which actually turned out lighter than I wanted, and stamped away with the larger of the stamps. I painted the stamp with a brush, so I didn't make too big of a mess. I figured they wouldn't be perfect, but I really like the texture they ended up with.
Once I had a good scattering of yellow leaves, I mixed up a brownish color (I was running out of colors to mix with), and stamped the smaller of my gingko leaves all over.
Before sewing the rug pad to it, I decided to check it out in the living room.
I left it like that for a while, with the rug pad under it, but not attached, and it worked quite nicely. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I'm a little messy, so I spilled some coffee on it. I thought I would see what would happen if I threw it in the washing machine. The side that I used the heavy-duty spray on held up pretty well, but it needed a good ironing. The other side came apart, and was a completely balled up, wrinkled mess. Needless to say, it was not something I tried to fix before submitting my apartment for Small Cool. It is currently in a balled mess underneath my bed, and someday I will put it out and try to fix it. But take my word for it, never put a rug like this in the washing machine.