Wash your fabric, or clean it gently with vinegar and water. Allow it to dry completely.
Cut a piece of burlap or weather-resistant fabric to your desired rug size using a pair of heavy-duty fabric scissors. Search online classifieds, thrift shops or garage sales for a solid-colored outdoor rug for an eco-friendly option if you'd like to skip this step.
Clean the rug if you're up-cycling one instead of using burlap. Spray it with vinegar and water, let it sit for several minutes, and blot it dry with a clean rag. Allow it to dry.
Sketch design ideas on a piece of paper before painting your rug. Experiment with patterns, images and even text, if you're making a door or patio mat. Birds, leaves, and other nature-inspired images work well for an outdoor rug, as do large block patterns and prints that mimic vintage rug designs.
Lay a drop cloth, newspaper or plastic on the floor where you'll be working. Lay the burlap or rug out flat on the lining.
Paint your desired images or pattern using acrylic paint. Exterior paint samples also work well. Use brushes, sponges, stencils or masking tape as needed for various textures and shapes. Allow the paint to dry completely, usually several hours or overnight.
Apply acrylic caulk to the back of your fabric to give it more body and prevent slipping. Apply the caulk with a caulking gun, gliding it along the perimeter on the rug's underside so you have a rectangle of caulk. Repeat the step, creating concentric rectangles that get smaller and smaller until you reach the center of the rug. Let the caulk dry completely, until it's translucent. Skip this step if you're using a recycled rug that already has enough body and grip.
Turn your rug over, and put it in its desired place.