Sunday, January 18, 2015

Loomed Rag Rug

Last Christmas I received a present from Santa that I have wanted for a long time.  Most of you are familiar with Rag Rugs made on looms.  They are for sale in many places from Amish farms to craft sales.  You can even see them in commercialized stores.  I like those, but I always wanted to make one myself.  I have crocheted many rugs made from fabric scraps but I never made a loomed rag rug.

Through my blog, I have become familiar with other blogs similar to mine.  One such blog is   I ordered a loom from them.  OK, it's confession time.  I ordered the loom myself, wrapped it in Christmas paper and said it was from Santa.  In defense of my family, they had no idea I wanted this loom or they would have ordered it for me.

On Christmas Day I had my husband assemble it.  My son-in-law and my husband wondered how much I paid for it because it was a very basic design and the actual cost of materials was minimal.  I just said Santa got a deal, which was a little stretch of the truth.  If I would wait for someone to make me a loom, I would have a very long wait.  I think it is harder to make than it looks.  The looms come in different sizes.  There is one for place mats plus the rug sizes.   I opted for a 25 x 37 inch rug loom.  If I was going to learn how to do this, I wasn't going to mess with a tiny place mat.

Loom is just wood, nails, eye hooks and metal rods.

 Fortunately I could start the day after Christmas.  Since I crochet rag rugs, I had some fabric strips already prepared.  I also had unraveled a rug years ago that had been damaged by a puppy.  I could get a good start with this even though a finished rug of this size takes eighteen yards of fabric.  It would be very expensive to buy this much fabric so that is why they are called rag rugs.  People use old clothing, thrift store fabric and best of all, old sheets.  The fabric is ripped into strips about one and a half to two inches wide.  

The warp of this rug is fabric where some use other materials.  Starting on the left hand nail, just string the fabric up and down around all the nails.  The warp threads won't show much except on the very top and bottom.

Warp threads in place.

Now it is time to start weaving.   Instead of using one strip to go over and under like the potholders we all made as a child, this technique uses two strips one in each hand.  In a braiding type technique put right hand strip over the left strip and under the next warp.  Good instructions with pictures come with the loom.

A good start to a long process.

This is a big piece to work on so I had to lean it against the wall and put it on a chair to get the right height.  A few times everyday, I would work on it.  A lot of the rag rugs have a raggedy look.  I like it smoother, so I folded the strips as I wove them through.  They suggested a process for connecting the strips that involved making a knot.  I didn't like that bump, so I used a needle and thread and sewed the strips together as needed.  Since this is my first rug, I tried to develop things that would work for me.  There is nothing wrong with adding strips by layering both strips,  cutting a slit through both and taking the tail of the top strip, pull through the slits and pull tight.  I did both so there weren't a lot of knots.  I think the hardest part is learning to secure the row ends around the metal rod.  If not secured properly, the rug will fall apart on the sides when it is taken off the loom.

After working for several inches, it is time to flip the loom.   This rug is worked toward the center.  It makes it easier to choose colors and helps keep the rug from stretching out of shape.

Rug is worked toward the center to keep it straight.

Finally after a little over three weeks, the rug is finished.

The only thing left to do is take out the metal rods and remove the rug from the nails.  It was a fun project, and I will be making another one soon.  When I was putting away Christmas decorations, I discovered a plastic tote with a lot of pre-cut fabric rolls.  I had forgotten all about purchasing them from a garage sale many years ago.   I don't know how people make these rugs to sell and make a profit.  They take too much fabric and too much time.  For now, I will make them for our use and the fun of it.

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