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Crocheting Rag Rugs Basics

Crocheting with Fabric

Type of fabric to use
Width of fabric strips
Preparing fabric strips
As early as the latter part of the 18th century, rag rugs were crocheted with fabric strips cut from old clothing; at that time, from the necessity of reusing every bit of everything a family owned.
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You may want to recycle some old clothing into rag rugs too or you may want to purchase yards of fabric especially to crochet rag rugs from. Check the bargain bins at your local fabric shop; you may find something you'd just love to crochet a rug from.
You crochet with fabric the same way you crochet with yarn. The difference is in the material you are using to crochet with.

As long as you already know how to do single crochet stitches, the main knowledge you need for rag crochet is in knowing how to prepare the fabric strips to crochet with.

Not just for making rugs, fabric strips are often the material of choice for crocheting baskets and chair pads.

Type of fabric to use

Rag rugs can be made from a variety of fabrics such as wool, cotton, silk or rayon. It's best not to mix the kind of fabrics you're using to make any one rug because the shrinkage of material varies between woolens, cottons and silks.

If you want a finer, softer rug, choose soft fabrics. Hard fabrics will result in a coarser rug.

If you have a certain shade in mind and you can't find that color fabric anywhere, you might get adventurous and dye some white cotton fabric to the color desired. (Keyword here is cotton.)

Width of fabric strips
Rag strips are used in various widths from 1/4 to 1 inch, depending on kind of rug and sturdiness desired. Wider strips can be used with raw edges turned under; the finished rug will be heavier and no raw edges will show on right side of rug.

When choosing the fabric you'll use and width of strips, keep in mind that softer fabric and narrower strips are easier to crochet with.

Preparing the fabric strips

Find the bias Strips cut on the bias of the fabric will be stronger and are not as likely to ravel.

Fold the fabric so the horizontal grain is parallel to the vertical grain. Mark a straight line along the bias using a sewing chalk pencil (or the type of fabric pencil where the line disappears on its own after a period of time or disappears on contact with water).
Mark cutting lines Using a ruler and a sewing chalk pencil, mark bias strips of your desired width on the fabric. With sharp sewing scissors, cut along lines you have marked. (Some fabrics will rip easily in a nice, straight line; in that case, you only need to make a small cut at the beginning of the line to get it started, then rip the remainder into the strip.)

You don't need to finish the edges of the fabric with overcast serger or zig-zag stitching because bias strips only ravel slightly. The slight "fuzzy" raveling is part of the look of a rag rug.

Sewing ends of strips together Now, to make one very long strip to crochet with, the following method is recommended for a strong join.

Holding right sides together, overlap the strips in the position shown. Cut the edges at an angle. Machine or hand stitch the two strips together with the seam being about 1/4 inch from the edges. Repeat for each strip being joined. (Keep the strips all the same width for any one project.)
Press the seam open. Clip corners as shown.

Wind the strips into a ball (keep winding each new strip as you finish joining it) so it will all be easier to handle.

Another joining method If you would rather have an "invisible" join, instead of sewing strips together to join them, cut the ends of the two strips diagonally and overlap the two strips by about 3/8 inch and crochet working with the double thickness of the two strips to join. This joining method should only be used for crocheted rag items which will not be receiving hard wear.

This article by Sandi Marshall. If someone else wants these instructions, please give them the URL to this web page, so that they can come here and explore everything this site has to offer, for themselves. Thank you. URL of this page is http://crochet.about.com/library/weekly/aa092599.htm

Fabric illustrations by Sandi Marshall. Not to be redistributed. Green photo of rug was originally printed in Handmade Rag Rugs, published by W. L. M. Clark, Inc. in 1933 (copyright now expired).

Oval Rag Rug Free Pattern
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