1 April 2013

Foray into making Rag Rugs

~ Relax with a rug ~

Many years ago I bought a book on rag rugging - and added to it my vast collection of craft books, "something which I'd love to have a go at some time".  

Then last month I found out that there's a group of people who get together nearby every fortnight for a session making rugs and chatting (or perhaps more chatting - and now and again prodding more fabric into their rug!).

Ragwork is an ideal pastime for several reasons, not least to pass the dark evenings.  Since the work is repetitive, it's quite relaxing and therapeutic, the work grows quickly , it's suited to recycling materials and really is very easy.

Rag rug making originated in Scandinavia (perhaps because of all those dark evenings) and has been practised for hundreds of years, becoming particularly popular during the 19th century.  Rag rug making was born of economic necessity, cutting up discarded items of clothing into strips and re-using the fabrics to make sug floor coverings.  

However, ragwork can be used for a very wide range of projects, from wall hangings to hats, bags and even small items such as jewellery.

Used sacking would have formed the backing, being loosely woven and ideal for pushing the rug hook through to secure the fabric strips.  Hessian is still favoured for the backing, regardless of which ragwork method is used.

Those who remember rag rug making the first time around (not necessarily during the 19th century!) won't need to be reminded of any of this, but if you haven't discovered the craft before, now's your chance.

There are several methods of pushing or hooking fabric through the backing, and here are a few ideas (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Rag-Rug):

Fabric which is plaited, then sewn together.

Woven rag rug

circles of fabric folded, poked through and then glued

This is the method I'm going to use for my first attempt. 
small piece of fabric hooked through the hessian
I sent off for a kit from: http://www.makings.co.uk/, which arrived very quickly and opened up the package. 

I decided on a small size to begin with and a simple swirly design. 

Firstly the edges were bound with masking tape. Then I drew the design straight onto the hessian  as there's no need to worry about the marks showing through once the fabric's attached.

This design is growing very quickly, here's a photo taken after about four hours work.  It looks as though the rug's about half finished.  But looking at the back there's still quite a long way to go as the hessian's only about a quarter covered.  The idea is to have every inch of the back covered in fabric pieces, otherwise with use the rug will start to 'shed' some of its bits.  I soon realised that the less that the fabric frays the better, so one of the best types of material to use is something like fleece, or t-shirt material.  When cutting up garments it's important to remove all seams and other thick areas, although using the welts does add some interest to the rug.  Cut the strips thinner when using thicker material so it will go through the hessian easier.

Here's a photo of the back - so far - showing that there are many more strips of fabric to be added. When it's finished there should be hardly any hessian showing!

And here are some helpful links: 

and my pinterest page on rag rugs: 

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