Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Weaving Stripes: Pattern Tutorial for Stephanie's Rag Rugs

Aren't these lovely?
I knew they were special when I opened the first photo that Stephanie sent me a few months ago.
They look so neat. . .no strings. . .but what struck me was the uniform stripes. . .and the perfectly matched pattern of them. . .not like the overall patterns that I weave. . .I love to weave 'tongues' of color, but I've never tried making the uniform rows like these. . .
I was very curious about the technique Stephanie used. . .
so I emailed her and asked if she would share with all of us. . .
It was before Christmas, so we had to get through the holidays. . .
True to her word, she emailed me the photos and her weaving technique just recently.
She also went the extra mile and wove a sample rug just for us!
That's no small task. . .
I'll be using parts of her emails so that the instructions are in her own words. . .
She deserves the entire credit. . .
I'll only make a few comments and basic steps in red.

 1. Warp (up and down) strips are cut from sheets or cheaper fabric,
approximately 2 1/2" wide and sewn together, not knotted.
"I cut the warp strips wide, but I use fabric like sheets or the thinner fabrics. . .the flannel fabric I use for the rest of the rug. . .I cut the strips about 2 1/2 inches.  I also like to cut the strips for the warps wide, I think this gives the rug more stability. (* See more details after Step 2) I've done it both ways. . .the thicker strips may make the rugs last longer too. If I use a fabric that's thinner with the thicker, I cut the strip thicker so it matches up with the thicker fabric. I also found out that when having thicker strips, I can roll the fabric so that the raw edges are hidden within the strips for the most part, giving a cleaner look. I also started to stitch my stripes together instead of knotting them. . .This gives a cleaner-smoother look on the back side."
2. Cut Waft strips according to the thickness of the fabrics before beginning to weave.
*In answer to my question if she normally cuts both the warp and waft strips 2 1/2", Step replied,  "Yes, I cut most every strip of fabric 21/2 inches, even the warp strips.  There is a time I may cut the strips even a bit wider and that is when I may use a lighter weight fabric with the heavier fabric. I do this so the rug feels level, smooth, not wavey when it's on the floor and not uncomfortable when your standing on it with your bare feet.  But I think you would feel the uneveness if you were in slippers or shoes. A person  needs to use their own judgement on how wide to cut a fabric. Most of my fabric is cut 21/2 inches, But there has been some of the thick blankets that I had to cut in half to use after first cutting them 21/2 inches.  They were just too bulky. I like to use sheets (for the warp) because I like the consistant strength of the whole area of the warp.  I once used something different and the warp was not consistent, so by the time I got to the center of the rug, it felt sloppy in the middle. The sheets, the regular ones, I like the best for the warp, but ofcourse, a person can use what they want and like."
"I use mostly flannel blankets and heavy knits (for the waft).  I have a great thrift store here were I get most of my fabric, used and new.  I like the softness under my feet.  I started with a heavy knit, got three large rolls at a yard sale the year before and after making some curtains and a bed skirt, I didn't know what I was going to do with the rest. Ha! surprise, I bought a loom 8 months later and wished I knew that when I bought the rolls of fabric, I got each roll for a $1.00. What I could be doing with all that fabric."
Note her use of clothespins while weaving the first few rows. . .
Another super idea to keep the warp in place.
3. Divide the cut strips in half and set aside--1/2 for the top, 1/2 for the bottom.
Also cut strips for the fringe and set aside.

"After cutting the strips of fabric (for the waft), I count them out, half for the top, the other half for the bottom. This doesn't mean I use them all, it's just a way of being sure I have enough to do the same design on the other end.  I also pick what fabric I'm using for the fringe and set that aside."
4. To weave distinctive rows, change the colors of both weaving strips close to the rod,
stitching the two strips together.

". . .hopefully you can see in the picture that I cut the fabric close to the rod and attach the next transition piece to it, making the transition cleaner.  This takes a little practice, some fabric stretches more then others, so what happens, the fabric your adding will stretch way into the next roll, which you don't want.  Also, I don't cut the previous strip till I have the new strip sewn on.  This makes it easier to stitch really close to the rod."
5. Flip the loom over after weaving several top rows and
weave the bottom with the same number and pattern of rows.
6. Continue weaving in this manner, toward the center until finished.
(Although she didn't say, I'm sure Stephanie sews the finishing ends together
instead of knotting them.)
7. Remove rug from the loom. Attach fringe.

Stephanie's Rag Rugs are so inspiring, aren't they?
She says she's a neat freak, which is why she developed a way to weave that isn't as primitive. . .
and they mimic high end rugs made commercially.
She is so clever.
Many thanks to her for this tutorial. . .
I know we will all be referencing it over and over again.
Be sure and print this one out!
If you would like to thank Step for her Weaving Pattern,