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What is a Rag Rug?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2016
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A rag rug is a rug which is made from recycled fabric, although modern rag rugs are sometimes made with new materials as well. Originally, rag rugs were purely pragmatic, designed to get every possible use from every scrap of fabric in a home. In the modern era, rag rugs are viewed more as decorative artifacts and fun craft projects.

Many flooring stores stock a variety of rag rugs, especially if they cater to people with a country or rustic design aesthetic. It is also possible to find rag rugs at craft cooperatives and art fairs; artisans make stunning examples of rag rugs which are both beautiful and durable. Some people prefer to make their own rag rugs. There are dozens of ways to create a rag rug; most crafters specialize in one or two techniques.

Traditionally, women collected scraps of fabric in large bags. These scraps included garments, leftovers from sewing projects, and pieces of quilts and other projects. When a bag grew large enough, it was turned out, and women cut the scraps into long strips, sewing the strips together to create large balls of what was essentially yarn. With this yarn, a rag rug could be created.

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Assembly techniques for rag rugs include weaving, crocheting, knotting, braiding, and hooking. There are numerous branches of these techniques which can be used to create a dizzying array of patterns and designs. A finished rag rug is typically quite colorful, thanks to all the mixed scraps, and it is also thick, because the strips of rags are thick enough to create a dense finished product. The thickness of a rag rug makes it an excellent insulator; many homes in colder regions of the world have floors covered in rag rugs to help keep the cold out.

In traditional communities, women and men still make rag rugs from scraps of recycled material which can vary widely from coarse wool to fine silk. Other crafters purchase scraps specifically designed for making rag rugs, chair covers, and similar projects. It is also possible to make strips from entirely new sheets of fabric, of course; people who have a specific color scheme in mind may utilize this technique for their rugs.

If you have not made a rag rug before, there are numerous books and online tutorials with directions. Some communities also offer classes in rug making and textiles which may include working with rag rugs, and some crafting circles welcome newcomers who are interested in learning traditional techniques.

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myharley
Post 3
I remember when my grandpa was retired, he enjoyed making hooked rag rugs. He gave one to each of his grandkids for Christmas one year, and I still have that rug that he made for me.

Even though it is not displayed in my house and stored in a place with some other special items, it is one thing I will always hold on to.

Most people think of women enjoying working on projects like this, but this is something my grandpa enjoyed in his later years. He had been a farmer his whole life, but making rag rugs was something he found relaxing and productive.

Mykol
Post 2

I have a friend who works for a company who makes rag rug cutters and frames. She travels around the country to different craft fairs and sells these products.

I never realized there was such a big market for something like making a rag rug, but many of these ladies have been making them for years. The products they sell make this a lot easier and more productive for them.

When she showed me what some of the finished projects looked like, I could understand why people enjoyed doing this. I am not much of a crafty person, so don't think I would have the patience for it, but many of them were very detailed and beautiful.

LisaLou
Post 1

I was recently at a quilt shop and saw some very beautiful rag rugs that had been made by some of the employees. They had these rugs for sale, and also sold some rag rug kits if you wanted to make one yourself.

I loved the look of these rugs, but wanted to make my own with colors that would work in my house. The rag rug instructions were pretty basic, but I still couldn't figure out quite how to do everything.

Watching some online tutorials really helped me figure out what I needed to do. I didn't have rags or leftover material in the colors I wanted to use, so bought the material I needed.

The second rag rug I made didn't take me nearly as long as the first one. I will probably make some more to put in other areas of my house since they turned out so well.

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