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rainbow rags

an easy upcycling sewing technique

with Emily Peters



In this tutorial Emily Peters, local Miami jewelry maker, sustainability advocate, designer, and musician shows us how to make Rainbow Rags out of upcycled materials. Many household products are enshrined in plastic, are single-use, or in general end up in landfills shortly after their initial use. This waste accumulates over ones lifetime to epic proportions. Rainbow rags can be used to replace single use items such as cosmetic rounds,  napkins, table-runners, place mats, re-useable bath tissue(TP), rags, or tissues. In this tutorial you will learn how to do basic stitching as well as how to cut and repurpose old fabrics and clothes around your home. Every little thing you can do makes a difference! See how many products you can replace in your home with reusable DIY ones!


making rainbow rags


great for cosmetic rounds, cloth napkins, table-runners, placemats,

re-useable bath tissue(TP), rags, or handkerchiefs

what you'll need

  • fabric (upcycled clothes, rags, or linens)

  • scissors

  • paper (can be upcycled box, scrap paper, newspaper, etc.)

  • needle

  • thread

Rainbow Rags - save finished edges.jpg


1. Choose/Dye fabric to reclaim and Up-cycle

2. Wash dyed fabric thoroughly

3. Cut off the finished edges of the fabric and save for gift wrapping or to use as rope

4. If you're up-cycling old clothes, and there are seams, cut as close to the seams as possible to make your fabric flat

5. Choose 2-5 thread colors

Rainbow Rags cutting.jpg


6. Choose your own adventure! . . . Make a Pattern OR use the Fold & Cut method

Make a Pattern (for cosmetic rounds or anything you want to consistently be the same exact size)

  • Find an object that is the size/shape you want your Rainbow Rags or Cosmetic Rounds

  • Trace it onto flattened grocery bag, or paper saved from packaging, or any other scrap paper

  • Make sure there is Seam Allowance: 

  • New sewers, give yourself plenty of room to learn - use 3/8" - 1/2" Seam Allowance

  • Cut out the finished pattern

  • Pin the pattern to your ironed fabric and cut out as many as you want/need


Fold & Cut method (easiest method - for things you don't mind are varying sizes - best with fabric that is already rectangular)

  • Fold the fabric in half

  • Iron the fold

  • Cut along the crease

  • Repeat until the fabric is the size you want your Rainbow Rags

7. With the finished pieces - Begin Stitching!

8. Begin with the darkest or most saturated thread color

9. Stitch 2-3 times around the perimeter of the fabric. New stitchers - use 3/8" - 1/2" 

  • stitch more times for lighter thread colors or fewer times around for darker thread colors

10. Press with the iron and enjoy!


Emily Peters is a sustainable jewelry designer and musician, with a deep interest in yogic and meditation arts. The rhythm, melody and shape of music can be seen in all of her visual works. Many of the geometric shapes in her accessories are a direct translation of musical pieces. Yoga and meditation have shaped her life and form of mind since young adulthood, and the influence of the rich cultures, languages, and ways of holistically viewing the world can be clearly seen in her works. Check out Emily's beautiful geometric zero waste jewelry at and at @e.atelier.e