Sunday, November 9, 2008

Week 7: Crochet Rag Rugs

Here is another great holiday gift idea, make homemade rag rugs! I remember these great rugs as a child and they always reminded me of Grandmothers and old farm houses. There is something great about a rag rug and the practicality of using up old scraps of fabric was a perfect way to make something useful and needed, back in the old days. I am half German and the term "use it up" came up a bit when I was a child. Nothing went to waste, my Dad would find ways to use up things and create something different out of something old and broken. Heck, my home office desk I have is an old door that my Dad painted, added some book shelves, and used on old metal clothing rack as the base. It does not get more "use it up" and hillbilly than that! The hole for the door handle makes a great spot for all the cords and cables!

So I think I have always been fascinated by rag rugs. Using old pieces of cloth, scrap fabric, old sheets, and clothes was truly a brilliant way to take things that were no longer functional as their original use and turn them into a usable rug for the floor, bath, or kitchen. Nice & hillbilly! I learned how to knit about 5 to 6 years ago, but I had never crocheted before. One Christmas while visiting at my boyfriend’s family, his step-Mom taught me how to crochet a rag rug and I have made a dozen since. I love it! There is only one stitch you need to know for this project and if you do not know how to crochet, I would recommend picking up a simple book on how to crochet or go online. I have the Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting. I also found a few websites below that may help. Here are some of my tips on making a crochet rag rug.

Special items needed:

  • Large crochet hook. Size K or Q

  • Scissors

  • Fabric cut into about 1" strips

Step 1: Select your fabric. I know I spoke of using up old cloth, but I actually like going to the fabric store and selecting "pretty" colors that go together, you decide. I like to have about 3 to 4 complementary colors that will look well together. Try for contrasting colors so the rug pops out a bit. Don’t worry about too many patterns on the fabric since you will not really see a lot of detail in a fabric pattern. I try and find fabric on sale that is less than $2.00 to $3.00 per yard to help keep costs down. I buy about 2 to 3 yards of each fabric. It will depend on how big you want your rug and you may want one color to dominate the rug. I find that the fabric usually costs me about $25 to $35 for each rug. I usually have left over fabric at the end of a rug and I incorporate it into another rug.

Step 2: Wash your fabric first. It will make it easier to work with and softer. I was taught to iron the fabric so that it is smooth, but I am not real big on ironing so I just try and fold it and smooth it out as best I can.

Step 3: Folding & cutting. Your goal is to try and get long strips of fabric when you are done. So, you want to fold the fabric end to end, and then fold it over on itself a few times so that when you cut it, you will have strips that are the length of your fabric (2-3 yards long). I usually have a rectangle of fabric about 12-20 inches long now and I can still easily cut it with scissors. You don’t want the folded fabric too thick or it will be hard to cut. Now you are going to cut about 1-inch strips. Use a ruler if needed, but I don’t get too crazy with the size, they are all going to get folded and crocheted together. I separate each fabric color into their own bags so they are easy to get to, see, and find.

Step 4: Now you are ready to begin crocheting your rug. You can decide if you want an oval or circular rug. If you want an oval rug, you are going to crochet a chain of about 20 stitches (more or less depending on the size of the rug). For a circular rug, I always get a little crazy when I do this, but I somehow just start crocheting around a chain of 3 or 4 stitches. This is where you are going to have to follow instructions from a book, but basically you create your chain, and then you keep crocheting around and around your chain. The key is to add extra stitches especially at the corners/turns and add them frequently at the beginning. The fabric will buckle and curl if you do not add extra stitches every so often. (I know this is vague, but I just add an extra stich every 10 stitches or so at the beginning of my rug)

I usually take the strips and fold it in half, you will find some fabric has the darker color as the front and a lighter color on the back. I try and fold so that the lighter color does not show. It is not perfect, but I try and get my main color on the outside. Also, I try to end my rug with a dark color since the edge of the rug will get the most foot traffic and get dirtier.

Step 5: Connecting fabric strips. Since each piece of fabric is between 2-3 yards, you are going to have to add and incorporate new pieces as you go. I usually crochet until I have about 3-inches of fabric left, I then take a new strip and lay it/overlap it on the back side of the fabric I am crocheting. It will be a little thicker at this junction, but if you fold the fabric over and continue crocheting, it will just work into your next few stitches. There are always a few ends that pop up sometimes, but that is part of the character of the rug I think. To change fabric and color, you just lay your new color just like you did the rest of your strips. I always love seeing the new color evolve as you work it into the rug.

That’s pretty much it. It is great to work on this while watching TV, I feel so much more productive and am creating a beautiful rug! Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast and you can stop anytime when you have decided the rug is big enough or you run out of fabric. Have fun and enjoy!!


Jeannette said...

This sound like alot of fun. Thanks for making the directions simple for a beginner. I've never tried anything like it.

Scott said...

I have two matching rugs (as much as rag rugs can!) from Jen that I love.