Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kitchen Rag Rug

Rag rugs are quite the art, I have certainly not mastered the craft but will share what I have learned following my first kick at the can...

My feet get sore standing at the sink to wash dishes. A rug to soften the tootsies I've been wanting for some time. The problem was that I started making a little rug quite a while ago, then stalled on the project and certainly didn't want to go out and buy a kitchn rug while I had one on the go. I finally finished this one and it works great, if not a masterpiece quite yet.

There are a couple different ways to make rag rugs I have discovered: braiding or crocheting. I opted for the braided version. Using materials from a white flannelette sheet with blue flowers that my Mennonite grandma-in-law gave with a hole worn through, an old light blue dress shirt of my husbands (also with holes worn through) and some dark blue cotton fabric with small flowers on it I was able to mostly stick to the true thrift values of the rag rug.

Preparing the Fabric
First, to prepare the materials I cut the strips into about 2 or 3" strips. I then sewed the strips end to end to make longer strips (not sure how long they ended up being but I did have to add as I went along). Initially I also ironed the strips with the rough edges in but found I could tuck them in quite easily as I braided. Winding the strips into three separate balls I was set to start.
(note, I ran out of the light blue shirt fabric at the end of the rug so replaced it with a plain navy fabric which gave the rug a nice framed finish).

I sewed the three fabric strips together at one end and then started braiding them together with just a simple three-strand braid. When I first started I tied the braid to the back of a dining room chair to provide some structure. The braiding is a bit tricky because with such long pieces you end up braiding at the bottom as well as the top and then having to de-tangle the bottom. As I started running out of the rags and had to add I actually found the braiding a bit easier when one of the strips was short enough (a few feet) to just pull out of the bottom tangle, adding to it when it was at the end of the braid.

This part again I found a bit tricky at first. I started out with more of a hemming or whip style stitch using thin cotton string and a darning-style needle. The problem with my start however was that the string was very obvious. After working away though I realized I could weave the string in between the inner loops of the rug and the braid I was winding into the rug. The needle needs to always be tucked into the loop in the same direction that the braid is being spun (look at the large sample photo, the small one is wrong and the string shows through more that way.) This did take a bit of practice, I also realized at one point I was pulling the string too tight and it was causing tension (hence the hat-like photos)... At that point I thought I should probably pull back a wind or two but didn't so my final product is a little lumpier than it might otherwise have been. After I started weaving I switched between braiding and weaving, adding strips of fabric when needed.

When I decided my rug was finished, which was only at about one and a half or two foot in diameter, I cut the strips to a few inches (not all the same length), sewed them together and wove the ends of the braid separately (unbraided) back into the edge of the edge of the rug.

The little rug sits in my little kitchen and does a great job keeping tootsies comfy and cozy!

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