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How to Make Rope from Rags

I was doing laundry this morning and decided I wanted to try to save some money by drying my clothes on a clothesline. I had two major problems. 1) I didn’t have rope to use as a clothesline. 2) I currently live in an apartment and an outside clothesline just isn’t possible. So, after surveying my pad, looking for places to secure a line to that would be level and could withstand the weight of wet clothing, I set out to solve problem number 1. Rather than get in my car and drive all the way out to some store to fork over hard earned money on more rope than I actually needed, I decided to use resources I had at home already and make my own rope.

I have a lot of fabric laying around, so I had plenty to chose from, but I certainly didn’t want to use my good cotton for such a project. What I used was a old shower curtain I’d picked up from Freecycle in a bulk fabric box some time ago. It’s a fabric shower curtain, not a plastic or vinyl. Of course, you could use just about any old fabric. Old sheets, old clothes, etc. It doesn’t have to be pretty because this is strictly a utilitarian project.

I cut the curtain into strips of fabric. Starting with 3 strips, tie them together at the top in a knot. You can now begin braiding the strips together.

Once you’ve braided to about 2 or 3 inches from the loose end, it’s time to start joining in the next strips. What I did was lay each new strip on top of an existing strip, so that as I continued braiding, I was braiding with 3 double strands (6 strips). Because this causes the rope to suddenly become thicker, I gradated the new strips so the new thickness wasn’t as sharp.

As you can see, I have the 3 loose ends of the new strips hanging out from the rope where I began joining them in. These loose ends can be cut off later.

I would like to note that while this homemade rope may not have industrial strength, and I cannot vouch for just how strong it is, it is sufficient for the vast majority of the everyday tasks most of us would require rope for.

In the end, my rope was a success. My jerry-rigged clothesline however, not so much. As I don’t seem to have the space to adequately dry a full load of laundry in my apartment, I may need to rethink this afterall…

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One thought on “How to Make Rope from Rags

  1. The idea of making ropes from old clothes is wonderful. At my village in rural Kenya, we use old clothing to make ropes for tethering cattle and goats on pasture land. The rope can be made stronger and more durable by incorporating nylon or wire strings.

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