One of the most traditional crafts, rag rugging has been passed down as a skill for generations. Any rug that uses up rags is quite rightly called a rag rug, but here we are talking about those rug that use a hessian type fabric as a base rather than weaving rags between a warp. Rag rugging is called all sorts of things across the U.K, from proddy rug, to peggy rug to hooky rug but they all include the similar technique of pulling or poking strips of fabric through a hessian type fabric.
In this blog I am going to focus on the rag rug that I enjoy the best which is using a hook similar to the shape of a crochet hook which then pulls the fabric through the hessian. In our workshops we do cover a variety of methods of rag rugging to help you choose your favourite.
After choosing the size of project you would like to complete (in this case a small wall art size) and cutting the hessian , we then draw on the design. There are free downloadable images available to help you draw either an echinacea or a botanical leaf. Our email subscribers will have also recieved the option of a tulip.
Once you have drawn your image, checking that it fit inside your embroidery hoop, fix the hessian inside the embroidery hoop and now you can start choosing your colours! Choosing the colours of recycled fabric is one of the best parts of saving fabric from landfill. Once you have cut fabric into small pieces, you really are just working with the colour. You can no longer see any pattern or text so you are free to match, contrast and compliment the shades of colours that you have. It is especially satisfying to use fabric that you have collected and saved because then you also have the memory of what that fabric used to be before it was made into wall art.
Another idea for a design is drawing a simple heart shape, an initial or both! This can make a really lovely personalised gift by choosing the letter of your favourite person.
Once you have cut all your fabric into strips (our kit has pre-cut fabric in it to give you a guide on size) As a rule, cut each strip about 2cm thick but if the fabric is a thicker piece of jumper then you might have to cut it thinner again.
Placing the strip of fabric at the back of the design and the rag rug hook at the front, push the empty hook through the front of the design to the back, pick up the strip of fabric and pull it through to give yourself a little loop. Keep repeating until that strip of fabric has finished. No need to tie the fabric together, the tension of the hessian will hold all the fabric in place. Get your next piece of fabric and repeat until you have finished your design or until you need to cut more fabric! We leave the work in the embroidery hoop using the hoop as a frame for the artwork.
We would love to see your finished designs. It is amazing how different they each look depending on colour and texture of the fabric. Using light and dark fabric can shade the picture to make it look 3D. Then putting a pale background of colour can really make your image stand out!