Chances are that if you’re a fan of this blog then you’re probably a lover of beautiful fabrics and sustainability (particularly those from our shop *winkwink*). Even the thriftiest of us end up with little offcuts and scraps of material hanging about after a project or two. We keep them around because it seems a shame to throw such gorgeous things away but it’s hard to know what to do with them. Today the Ragged Life team will show you how you can upcycle your offcuts and make your fabrics go further. “How?” you may ask. With the age-old craft “rag rugging”.
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Rag rugging is on the rise at the moment and at the forefront of this movement is the team at Ragged Life. Started in 2014 by two friends with a passion for design, crafts and creative living, Ragged Life specialises in handmade rag rug homeware, fashion and art. Using rags that would otherwise go to landfill, designer, Elspeth Jackson, uses rag rug to create unique and playful designs, reinventing this old (and somewhat forgotten) craft to give it a new lease of life.
Ragged Life regularly undertake commissions through their website or sell pre-made pieces through their Ragged Life Store but if you fancy giving it go for yourself then you can either learn face-to-face at one of their rag rug workshops in London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex or Surrey (details of which can be found here) or learn how to rag rug with their handy “how to” videos below.
What is Rag Rugging?
Rag rugging is an old British craft that began in mining areas as a way for poorer people to repurpose old clothing to make cheap rugs for the home. Hard, stone floors were the norm in those days and in winter they were unforgivingly cold. Ready-made rugs were a luxury that few people could afford so women and men (yes, men did it too!) embraced the “make do and mend” attitude and began making their own. They saved clothing that was too battered to wear, cut it into strips and wove it through potato sacking to make rugs of all different shapes and sizes. These old rugs (that you can still see in some museums and stately homes) tended to be somber colours (greys, blacks and browns) as this was all they had. Luckily times have changed and nowadays rag ruggers are spoilt for choice with the ready availability of clothing and fabric in every colour and pattern under the sun.
How to rag rug:
There are two main types of rag rugging. The first is called “Loopy”. This is a more modern form of rag rugging that creates sharper, more defined patterns.
The second type is called “Shaggy” rag rugging. This is the more traditional style that gives a shaggy (clue’s in the name), plusher look.
What you will need:
Before you get started making a gorgeous custom-rug for your home you’ll need to gather together some equipment. If you don’t have these tools to hand then you can buy everything (except the fabric) from Ragged Life separately or all together in our handy Ragged Life Rag Rug Starter Kit:
- Latch hook
- Hemmed Hessian (the weave of the hessian must be fairly loose or rag rugging will be strenuous).
- Rags (any fabric or clothing will work but some items are harder to work with than others. T-shirts are best for beginners).
- Fabric Scissors (rag rugging involves a lot of cutting so make sure you use super sharp scissors). We sell amazing fabric scissors here.
- Gauge (used for “shaggy” rag rugging only)
- Marker Pen (only if you want to sketch a design onto the hessian)
Choose the piece of fabric you would like to start with. For loopy rag rugging you want to cut this fabric into strips that are approx. 2-3cm wide. The longer the strips, the better but don’t worry if they’re a little wonky. For shaggy rag rugging you want to then go one step further and cut these long strips into shorter, 7cm long strips (still 2-3cm in width) using a rag rug gauge. The below video shows how you’re best going about this:
How to do Loopy Rag Rugging:
See the below video to learn how to do loopy rag rugging. It involves pulling loops of fabric up through the hessian. Loops should be approx. 1cm in height above the hessian. Any shorter and the loops will fall out so do be careful.
How to do Shaggy Rag Rugging:
See the below video to learn how to do shaggy rag rugging. It involves pulling the two ends of the short fabric strips up through the hessian. Crafters should take care not to miss too many holes out in the hessian between one end of the strip and the other end or you will end up with bald patches in your rug.
Caught the rag rug bug and fancy trying more projects? We’ve got plenty of tips, tricks, projects and inspiration at www.raggedlife.com or on our social media pages below. Thanks for reading and we can’t wait to connect with you! The Ragged Life Team
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