Feeling Sheepish: Making A Faux Sheepskin Rug (Part 1)

Ok, so you might think we’re crazy, but we always thought the sheepskin rugs that Ikea sold (especially the super cheap small sized ones that we always grab) were faux. Well, we recently had one of those duh moments when we noticed that the materials weren’t listed as acrylic or some other fabric and instead read: 100% sheepskin. Oops. We should have known- after all, they’re a Swedish company- but for some reason we always saw $99 sheepskin rugs and assumed those were the real ones and that the cheap $25 Ikea ones just had to be man made.

Now we know the faux or real sheepskin decision is an extremely personal choice (just like wearing fur, eating meat, wearing leather, etc) so this post isn’t about judging or debating that issue (to each his own!) it’s just about a faux sheepskin DIY project that we took on so we could happily pass our Ikea sheepskins on to a relative who promised to give them a happy home. It suddenly just felt weird to see Burger laying on the one that we had draped over the sofa but we didn’t want them to end up in a landfill (so handing them off to someone who would appreciate them seemed like the best thing to do). We actually took on two different faux sheepskin projects, so this post will detail one of them while the one this afternoon will detail our second adventure in faux sheepskin making (hence the “part 1” mention in this post’s title). Let the fun begin…

First, we hit up a few stores in search of a super wooly shag rug on the cheap. We hit the jackpot at Marshall’s where we found a large 4 x 6-ish version for $39. We knew we could get at least two faux sheepskins out of it (which made them under $20 each- which was actually cheaper than the affordable Ikea ones) so we snatched it right up. The tawny eggshell color was perfect and the fact that it was convincingly textured and wooly looking made it more of a “perfect fit” along with the fact that the backing wasn’t that baby-doll-head-smelling grippy rubber, it was one of those woven fabric-backed rugs that we prefer.

Then we got to work making a life-sized template to dictate our new sheepskin’s shape, so we taped a bunch of pieces of paper together to get a nicely sized “background” and pulled up the link to the real Ikea ones which we used as a guide. It was as simple as sketching out a sheepskin-ish blob on our taped-together printer paper and cutting it out with a scissors.

Oh and here’s a tip: you can fold the paper in half vertically before cutting it out and just follow the pencil line on the exposed half of your sketch while it’s folded for a perfectly symmetrical result if perfection is you middle name. I actually didn’t go that route because I figured a little asymmetry never hurt and most sheepskins aren’t perfectly even on all sides anyway.

Next we just placed our new “sheepskin” template on the back of the rug and used a thin sharpie to trace around the paper cutout which left two sheepskin sized outlines on the back of the rug:

Then we did a test cut to see what would happen to the rug when we sliced through it. Our big fear was that everything would come loose and fall out (which we thought we might be able to remedy by using white duct tape to tape around the cut-out lines on the back of the rug before snipping to hold things together at the edges). But we were pleasantly surprised that no tape or other precautions were necessary and every slice was clean and no threads came loose even when you tugged on them after cutting. So then it was as simple as cutting out both of our sheepskin outlines…

… which left us with two pretty darn amazing little faux sheepskin rugs. We love all the soft creamy texture that the shag pattern adds, and of course we love that we made them ourselves. There’s always a bit of pride when you get to mention that you DIYed something, right?

Oh and do you see that little pile of fluff under the scissors? We gave the outline of each rug a little haircut to refine the shape and make them look more polished and clean (initially the shag had flopped a few directions while we were cutting so the outline wasn’t very crisp- but a few snips around the perimeter of each of our new wooly additions really cleaned things up and emphasized our intended shape.

Now this version of our DIY sheepskin is thicker and less flimsy than our second one (which we’ll be sharing this afternoon). So it’s not as easy to “drape” over the back of a chair for example (it’s a bit more structured, like a rug would be). In short: it’s much better served as an actual sheepskin rug (ie: use it on the floor as opposed to tossing it over the back of your sofa). Oh and you can make a much larger one for a bigger area with a larger rug (or just by not making two of them from one rug) so that’s another idea. When it came to our two little ones, we did notice that one of them looked great on our square ottoman in the nursery (which required it to be a lot less flexible than thinner surfaces like the top of a soft upholstered chair or sofa) so that’s where we decided it should live:

Isn’t the shaggy texture charming? We just love how chunky and tactile it is- you really can’t walk into the room without petting it.

And Burger LOVES IT! In fact sometimes we can’t find him and he’s in there sleeping on it in the sun. Maybe he can sense that no animals were harmed in the making of it? Either way, so cute.

Our second wooly rug will probably also live in the nursery (on the ground as an actual rug) so stay tuned for those details as we continue to cobble things together in there. Oh and remember how there was an extra strip of leftover rug on one end after we cut out both of our sheepskin templates? Well it was perfect for creating a bonus little textured lumbar pillow. So not only did we get two faux sheepskins for $20 a pop, we actually got two sheepskins plus an accent pillow for $39 total. Not bad right?

All we did was take that long piece of leftover shag and trim the interior edge so it was one long rectangle. Then we “folded” it in half to create a nice loop of shaggy texture. When it came to filling our fluffy DIY pillow, we actually looked no further than a few other rug scraps- so it really is made completely from leftover rug snippings. We love that we didn’t have to buy any batting or anything- and there was practically zero waste created by our entire project since we used it all.

Now we’re sure this next step will leave a few of you shaking your heads, but we’re work-with-what-you-have people, so we actually reached for safety pins to secure the left side of our makeshift pillow (which you see me holding together in the photo above). The great thing about the rug’s incredibly dense shaggy texture is that every single pin was completely obscured but it held things nice and securely- plus it’s super poke-free and safe since they’re buried so deeply in the shaggy texture that you’d literally have to go hunting around for them to find one and then would have to apply a ton of pressure to pop one open (which can’t be done by leaning on the pillow or even whapping someone in the face with it during a pillow fight). Anyway, so we used a few safety pins to connect our loop of fabric on the side and a few more along the top and bottom seams.

As you can see from this close up, they’re placed extremely close to the base of the rug so they don’t stick up and can’t be seen, felt or accidentally opened (they’re literally buried two or three inches “beneath” the dense shaggy fabric).

So unless you’re digging through the long fibers of the rug in search of one they’re completely undetectable. Gotta love a cheap on-hand solution like that.

We’ve been using the pillow for about two weeks now in our living room and we have yet to feel any “small metal nubs” when we lean back on it. And we especially love that it was a free little bonus so if at any point we want to revise how we connected it (and remove the pins) we can- but seriously, so far so good. And we love that we used every last scrap of our rug and got a little bonus decor item out of the deal.

So that’s one take on our faux sheepskin solution. Stay tuned for this afternoon’s post where we actually hunted down fabric and made a more flexible and drapey “throw-like” version. And those were even cheaper and easier so they’re definitely an anyone-can-do-it DIY project. Well maybe not anyone; Burger refuses to help but ironically can always be found enjoying all the fruits of our labor…

Sidenote: Is it wrong that we think he’s the best looking dog in the world? Seriously, he’s a knockout isn’t he? But enough about our heartstoppingly handsome chihuahua. Have you guys ever DIYed anything from a rug or altered one in some fun hands-on way (dyed it? spray painted it? used it to “upholster” something like a cube ottoman?). We’d love to hear all about your thrilling adventures in rug-customization.


  1. Ericka says

    Talk about resourceful! Nice job! I recently recovered our circular ottoman from Target. I used some leftover fabric from another project and it turned out decent enough. I figure it’ll last a little longer until I want to spend more money on another ottoman. We use it as our seat in front of our computer (which is in an armoire) so that we can set it off to the side and it is unobtrusive.

  2. Jennifer says

    Great job! You guys are so innovative and resourceful! A couple quick questions: What kind of scissors did you use? and did you have to bind the rugs with anything or do the edges hold together well?

    • says

      We just used a regular kitchen scissors (not my good fabric cutting ones because I didn’t want to “ruin” them) and didn’t have to bind the edges since we did a test cut first. We initially thought we might have to (we figured white duct tape would have worked) but our test cut revealed that nothing was pulling out or coming loose with each snip so we were good to just cut away. Hope it helps!


  3. says

    WEAR ME…

    I am actually debating about turning one of my tank tops, or a few from our honeymoon into little accent pillows. They are fun beach colors that would go perfectly in our bedroom and help add some color to our fabulous bed (but it just is tan, black and white) so some color would be awesome. The nostalgia of knowing the pillows are from our honeymoon would be a great story to share with people.


  4. cait says

    i knew ikea’s rugs were real because our chihuahua, who is very much house trained kept peeing on them! he must’ve smelled something “real” in them!

    great projects – as always!

  5. Misty says

    The lumbar pillow was a nice side project that seemed to come out of nowhere! NICE! And speaking of Burger, upon reading this post, one of my co-workers spyed the pic of him trying out the new digs and said : “awww, who’s cutie is that???” he charms everyone!

    • says

      Sherry- Good question! The Ikea rugs weren’t able to be laundered at all or even spot cleaned (and we had them for a few years and they never looked very worse for wear- we just shook them out or trimmed some fur if we got something on it). Luckily, our new DIY versions can be spot cleaned since they’re fabric and not fur so they’re actually better in that department!

      Christiana- Yup, sorry to be unclear, we pinned the top, the bottom and the side. Hope it helps!


  6. Christiana says

    Well done! I had the same realization myself with the IKEA sheepskin rugs. I totally thought they had to be faux at that price. And, I don’t know, I guess I thought real sheepskin would be more woolly and less fluffy?? I threw mine in the Goodwill bag. :)

    Did you pin the bottom of the pillow together as well as the side?

  7. Lisa A says

    Thank you for this post! I have been on the fence about the Ikea sheepskins for awhile. They are so plushy and nice, but I am a vegetarian and purchasing one of these is out of the question for me. Funny, I was at Ikea just last night and saw a big old bin full of sheepskins, and I passed them right up with a tear in my eye for the critters that gave up their skin by no choice of their own. There is almost always an animal friendly alternative! You guys nailed it here!

  8. says

    I have always liked the look of sheepskin, but never purchased one due to my vegan lifestyle. Now I can have the look without sacrificing my beliefs! Thanks so much for this creative idea. I actually think the chunky texture is nicer than that of the sheepskin itself. :)

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