We always knew that our hair-braiding skills would come in useful for something! The only skills you need for this project is a bit of hand-to-eye coordination and some very basic sewing skills, so it’s perfect for a lazy evening’s creating or even a project to try with kids. You can even adapt the design to make a coil rather than zigzags and then make smaller items, such as trivets or placemats. We have designer-maker Anna Alicia to thank for this stroke of creative genius; her first book Make It Your Own (Hardie Grant, £16.99) is packed full of 25 brilliant ideas for every area in the house.
‘I love how rugs and mats add colour, texture and warmth to a space, all while being practical! This little mat gives such a welcoming pop of zigzag stripes to any doorway. You could easily scale it up to make a small rug or runner for a hallway. The exact amount of fabric you’ll need to make the plaits will depend on the weight of the fabric and how tightly you plait it. Make your plaits in stages so you don’t use up more fabric than you need. This is a great way to use up pieces of fabric left over from other projects.’
You will need:
• Neutral-coloured plain heavyweight cotton fabric for the backing, at least 50cm x 70cm (I’ve used a heavy fair trade texweave cotton)
• Cotton thread to complement your fabric colours
• 2–3 m light- or mid-weight fabric (I’ve used organic cotton cross-weave fabric in shades of blue, orange and dark plum)
• Tailor’s chalk
• Tape measure
• Sewing machine
1 Measure and cut out a 50cm x 70cm rectangle from your backing fabric.
2 With the right side of the fabric facing down, fold over the edge 5 cm (2 inches) all the way around, pinning it in place.
3 Machine stitch to secure and then set the backing aside.
4 Start cutting your pieces of fabric into long strips, about 3cm wide (I do this just a few at a time, so I don’t end up with more strips than I need and I can decide on the colours as I go along).
5 Take three strips of the same colour and stitch them together at one end. Plait them, and then stitch the other ends together to secure. Repeat with a few more strips, so you have a handful of long plaits.
6 Place your backing fabric face down on a flat surface, so that the hemmed edge is showing. Take your first plait and fold one end under about 2 cm, to conceal the untidy finish and stitching. Keeping the end folded under, pin the plait across the middle of your backing fabric in a zigzag pattern. When you get to the other side, cut off any excess plait leaving 2cm extending past the edge of the backing. Tuck this end under, hiding it between the plait and the backing. Make sure your plait overhangs a little at either side so that the backing is concealed.
7 Save the lengths of excess plait you cut off for later.
8 Repeat the process with the next plait, lining it up as closely as possible along the edge of the first plait.
9 Set your sewing machine to a wide zigzag stitch and sew along the join between the two plaits (removing the pins as you go), securing them to each other and to the backing.
10 Pin another plait in place, again keeping it as close as possible to the previous one, and stitch together in the same way.
11 Continue in this way, working in both directions away from your first plait and varying your plait colours to create a stripy pattern.
12 When you’ve finished the last zigzags (which probably look more like wavy lines) along the top and bottom edges, use the off-cuts of plait to fill in the gaps and to complete the rectangle (as always, tucking in the loose ends before you sew them in place).
Project taken from Make It Your Own by Anna Alicia (Hardie Grant, £16.99)