HOW TO WEAVE A RAG RUG ON A FRAME LOOM
This project has been on my list for a long time. But with all projects, that are meant as personal, they tend to slowly slip down the to-do list. Now the time has come, though, and I finally got to make this rug for my bathroom. It’s supposed to lay next to the bathtub and soak the water off our wet feet. But it does more than that! It has a lovely texture, as it’s made of natural linen, massaging the feet, plus it gives a nice minimalistic and handcrafted look to the interior.
For this project, I used a large wooden frame loom. If you don’t have one, you can find it in three sizes in my shop. The best feature of this loom is a detachable warping bar - it allows warping for projects longer than the loom itself. If you want to learn how to warp your loom for a rug or a long scarf, visit this previous tutorial.
What you need
For this project you will need a loom with detachable warp bars, strong cotton or linen warp thread, a few pieces of cardboard for warping and, of course, leftover fabric strips. I had some old and stained natural linen in my stash. I dyed the fabric with alder cones and iron for a darker shade and cut it lengthwise, into 0,7cm - 1,5cm wide strips.
I warped my loom with one thread per notch, which means I only use half of the grooves on the heddle bar. Before you start a big project like that, make samples with different setts and different widths of fabric to see which combination you like best.
If you don’t know how to warp the loom, visit this blog post.
For plant dyeing tips it’s best to start here and here.
Secure the base
Start with putting a wide piece of cardboard between the alternating warp threads. It will prevent the weaving from sliding down. Next, weave a few passes with the same thread you used for warp, to secure the base of your weaving. Once you’re done, knot both ends together and start weaving with fabric.
At this point, don’t worry about connecting the strips. Start weaving, going over, under, over etc single warp threads. I use a heddle bar to speed up the process and create an opening between alternating warp threads.
If this is your weavy first time weaving and you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you visit this blog post to see how to use the heddle bar or this blog post to learn weaving basics.
Connecting fabric strips
Once your fabric is too short to make another pass, it’s time to connect it to the next strip. Put the end together, with the ends facing the same direction and fold the tip. Make a small cut, creating small eyelets in both strips.
This is how they should look like, when opened. Now, put the new strip to the one you woven with until now. Both ends should go in the opposite directions, the eyelets should match, laying on top of each other. New strip goes under the previous strip.
Making a continuous fabric thread
Now take the other end of the new strip of fabric and place it on top of the eyelet. Push it through the opening and pull it through it. Keep pulling until two strips connect. There should be no bulky knot forming, instead a seamless continuation. This way you can keep adding to the fabric thread, without having any loose end to take care of later.
The best thing about rag rugs is that there is almost no finishing needed, once you are done weaving, it’s ready to be taken off the loom and used!
Keep an eye on the edges
As you keep weaving, the warp threads might start to pull into the center. To avoid that, try these two tricks: First of all, leave enough fabric on the side. Try leaving more than you think is needed. It will most probably start pulling in anyway.
You can also control the position of the warp threads using a pen or closed scissors. I kept pushing the warp ends outside as I went, making sure the spacing stays even.
Remember to beat the fabric down properly. The rug needs to be beaten down well if you don’t want it to turn out flimsy. For a solid structure use a fork or a comb to beat it down and make the the rug stiff.
Weave next sections
Once you’ve woven the first section, the weaving shouldn’t slip down anymore. Remove the cardboard and warp this first section onto the lowe bar, unscrewing the top and the bottom. Screw them back tight once you unwind enough warp.
Keep weaving, remembering about leaving enough fabric on the sides and controlling the warp spacing. I mark my progress with a piece of red yarn attached to the most outward warp and measure the distance until I have enough rug woven. For this project I wanted to have 1 meter long rug.
Once you’re done, just like we did at the very beginning, add a few passes of cotton thread at the top and knot both ends together.
Cutting it off the loom
Almost done! Start cutting the warp threads in small groups of 2 and making an overhand knot to keep the rug from unravelling. If you don’t want the fringe, you can weave it in, later, or sew some fabric tape around the edges. I choose fringe for now!
Unwind the rug
My favorite part - unwinding the project from the warp beam. Now we get to see the results of the hard work! Just unscrew the bottom bar from the loom and unwrap the rug.
Finishing the other end
Just as we did in the previous step, keep cutting the warp threads in the groups of 2 and making an overhand knot. When you’re done, there are just 2 ends to weave in on each side of the rug - the ones we knotted together when securing the weaving with a few horizontal passes of thread. That’s it! Your rug is done!
Handwoven linen rag rug dyed with alder cones
This is the end result! It fits perfectly next to my bathtub and because it’s made of natural linen, it absorbs the moisture wonderfully, and dries fast.
I would love to see your versions of this project. Keep me posted and if you have any questions, just ask them in the comments section or send me an email. I will be happy to help.