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Rag Rugs 1

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

So many of you have asked for some instructions on making rag rugs – so here for your edification is my very first tutorial!

The first thing you need to do is make a frame. I used the instructions in this book – or at least my husband and son did! My frame is about 3’x4′, but your frame can actually be any size. Mine makes a rug which is a bit larger than you probably want in an average bathroom. The book provides very good detailed instructions on the whole process from beginning to end, and I would highly recommend it!

The frame needs to be solid and have the part with the nails in raised higher than the sides. The nails are about one inch apart. Down the sides there are two removable metal rods which run through metal rings – don’t miss these out, they are critical!

Then cut 2″ fabric strips to make the base strips and weave them up and down the frame to make the base for you to weave your strips on. Just tie a loose loop to start with and to finish off. Leave at least a 2″ tail – this will be woven in so don’t worry if it looks a bit messy at this stage. You can use almost any fabric for this – I used plain loose weave muslin, but you could use old sheets and some people even use heavier leftover fabrics.

The fabric can be joined together in which ever way you like best. The lazy way (my way!) is just to join them with a sling knot – or you can sew the ends together (which will give you a smoother finish).

It will then look like this:

As you can see I have tied an elastic around the end, to make sure that the fabric doesn’t ride up.

And then you’re ready to go!

Cut lots and lots of 2″ strips. I use a serrated blade for my rotary cutter and this stops some of the fraying, but not all. In total a rug of the size I’m making will take about 15m of fabric – which makes it just about the best stash buster around for old and ugly fabric!

Start by joining two different strips of fabric. Wrap the fabric round the metal frame to start off (avoiding the join) and then start to weave the fabric in front of and behind the vertical strips. It should look like this:

At each end the strips must pass over or under the metal rods as you turn. This keeps the rug perfectly square.

Once you have a few inches established on one end, start the weaving in the same way from the other end. The aim is to meet very tightly at the middle. It would be impossible to get this tight finish if it was at one end of the frame rather than in the middle.

Now get weaving! In part two I will show you how to finish the rug off!




9 Responses to “Rag Rugs 1”

  1. Julie Says:

    I think I would definitely do this if I had the frame. Probably not gonna happen, but I can weave vicariously through you, dear Helen. xxoo

  2. Nancy Says:

    Great job of explaining the process of twining. The book you recommended is a good one.

    How long does it take you to finish a rug?

  3. Susan Says:

    Great explanation, but I don’t have 15m of ugly stash fabric – yet. Give me time.

  4. Katy Says:

    I remember when I worked as a street urchin at Blists Hill Open Air Museum as a teen, that the ladies in one of the cottages used to make rugs like this. Not as colourful though…

  5. Shelley Says:

    Great tutorial, and so well timed! After your last blog post I found myself just a little more intrigued by the rag rug making, and started to google how-to’s for making a rug frame and you’ve provided me with a wonderful answer. Now the question is whether I will ever make the frame and start a rug. Maybe after the kids go back to school…

  6. Elisabeth Says:

    I love rag rugs but don’t think I will ever get round to making a frame. Maybe I should try to crochet one instead.

  7. diane stanley Says:

    These rag rugs last forever and each one is unique. I think it is great that you make them

  8. Rae Says:

    How far apart do you space your nails?

  9. Patty Says:

    Hello, You can order a frame from I have made several rugs and love everyone. The thrift store is a great place to get fabric. it takes about 14 yards to finish a rug. They bare so cool!!