Saturday, 19 January 2013

Preparing Weft for Rug Weaving

Here is a great way to prepare crisp and clean cut strips for weaving. You can use just about any type of material to weave a rug. Rag rugs have been around for a long time and were made of old textiles such as bed sheets, clothing, curtains or any other old material which no longer served it's purpose. Rag rugs can be woven of new fabric as well, which is the case in this tutorial. This fabric was bought on sale and it is 100% cotton. Here are a couple of steps before cutting:

1. Acquire your materials.
    - Use old bed sheets and/or clothing. Ask family and friends for any old
      fabric they no longer want.
    - Most thrift stores will carry bed linens, tablecloths, curtains and fabric for
      very cheap.
    - Buy new fabric, your best bet is to buy the fabric on clearance for a good

2. Whether old or new make sure all material is washed before using. If you are using new fabric you must pre-shrink it first. If you do not, once you have woven your rug after the first wash your fabric will shrink and the rug will become loose and weak. You may wash it with a load of laundry or pre-shrink it by submerging the fabric in hot water for about 10-15 minutes. Machine or air dry as needed. After this process is done iron the piece and fold it. You want long strips for your rug so fold it in a manner where you will cut the longest side of the fabric. Iron the folded piece so there are no folds or creases as this may result in uneven strips.

If you don't have a rotary cutter and a cutting board you can always use a ruler and scissors on an ironing board. Make sure this scissors you use are sharp enough to cut through multiple layers of fabric. You may also roll the fabric in a rollade fashion and use a very sharp knife to cut strips. True rag rugs do not call for such precise cutting especially if you are using old material which may not be worth the time. This is not the case as I would like to weave new rugs.

Place the ruler at the very top and you may draw a line across to guide your cutting if needed. I cut these about an inch. Continue to cut strips until you are out of fabric. Some weavers tear the fabric in strips. Although easier and quicker I would not recommend this method as the edges of the strips will stretch causing loose fibres and fuzziness.

After cutting your pieces they are ready to be stitched together. Some rug weavers say they do not stitch the strips into one long continuous piece rather they weave in each strip as they go which is not a bad idea if this method is too time consuming or the rug pattern calls for many interchanging colours. 

Take your first two strips and place them to form a 90 degree angle. Stitch them together diagonally and cut away the excess material to avoid bulk. If you are using a patterned/pictured fabric make sure to face them right sides together when stitching. 

Remove excess fabric to reduce bulking

This is what your stitched strips should look like, one continuous piece. When you are done, you will have one long weft which you will then roll up into a ball. Store away for future projects or begin to weave right away.
Finished ball of rug weft.