Friday, April 11, 2014

From Rags to Rugs

Photo above - Old rag rug
I've been keeping busy.  Unfortunately it hasn't been with blogging. 

Many years ago I purchased a rag throw rug to place on the floor in front of my kitchen sink.  It wasn't much to look at but it was durable and well made and it has lasted through what must be at least a thousand washings. 

Though it was getting tired and worn I could find nothing as nice to replace it with.  I looked in the home improvement stores and in the home goods sections of a number of department stores but nothing could match the homey, little, old  rag rug. 

Photo above - Close-up of one of the many well worn areas.
At a big home improvement store we did find a few woven, rag rugs but the fabric strips were in psychedelic colors of  caution tape orange, neon chartreuse, hot pink and tomato red.  Not exactly the color scheme of my kitchen and not the look I was going for, so I opted not to buy and to just keep looking.

Normally my hubby doesn't get involved in matters that concern the interior of the home, unless it pertains to repairs, like a dripping faucet.  His domain is the garage and that is his haven to do and decorate as he wishes.  However, for some odd reason, he ran across a display of rag, throw rugs and decided to purchase one for me.  Said rug was approximately a foot too long and 18 inches too wide, it contained several "odd" strips of fabric in neon orange and tooth rattling chartreuse . . . not to mention the occasional violet-purple, goldenrod, vivid turquoise blue, and  Mexican salsa red !  Those colors probably would not have been so glaring had there not been so much black thrown in with it - the stark contrast made the neon strips stand out even more dramatically.

It's the thought that counts so I tried to accept his purchase graciously. 
I placed the rug on the floor in front of the kitchen sink and tried to ignore it.  It was like trying to ignore a hangnail, or an eyelash that's fallen into your eye . . . it couldn't be done.  Then I decided to wash it (perhaps hot water and detergent would soften the colors or at least shrink it some.  When I removed it from the washer the rug was no longer rectangular.  I'm not sure what the shape was but let's just say that all the stripes were no longer straight but careened up and down the rug like drunken sailors.  Trying to straighten it out, I realized that the rug was very poorly made (but then for $5.95 what else could I expect?) and that the whole thing needed to be remade (oh joy ! - said sarcastically).

In my mind I thought it would be a simple and quick project to take the rag rug apart and reweave it.  WHAT THE BLAZES WAS I THINKING ? 
I began the project 4 weeks before Christmas, thinking I'd have it done well before the holidays,  I finished it 3 months later (and yes, I worked on it every single day).   

Photo above - the rug canvas that I found at Michael's and some of the vibrant fabric strips that were taken from the new rag rug.

Photo above - work in progress, the remaking of the new rag rug. Here the rug is about 95% complete, too bad I didn't think to take a "before" photo showing the rug with all its black background and its jarring stripes of psychedelic colors. 
The canvas netting  I used was designed for latch hook rugs and so the squares would not accommodate some of the wider strips of fabric, therefore many strips had to be cut down to make them narrower.  All the strips had to be ironed and folded and ironed again before they could be tediously woven through the netting.  Then there were the edges of the rug canvas that had to be reinforced and finished off neatly so the whole rug would not come apart in its next laundering. It would have been easier, if not faster, to have made a brand new rug from scratch.
In honesty I know I would not attempt this again as the canvas netting was very stiff and rough,  it abraded my knuckles to the point that I had to resort to wearing a pair of thick cotton gloves . . . have you ever tried to weave something wearing gloves ?  Awkward !

Though I left a few strips of the black and the dark navy blue fabric the newly rewoven rug looks a lot brighter than before its remake.

Photos above - So there it is.  Maybe not the best or the most beautiful rag rug, but it is done and it is on the floor doing its job.
Have you ever had one of those projects that you got involved with and then wished you had never started ? 


  1. Oh Sister I hear you I have been very neglectful of my blog....In other news the rug is fab and looks like it might have quite a few good years left in it! If you still have the old rug try soaking it in Oxyclean it has brought things back to life I was sure were dead!

  2. You did a great job and I laughed out loud at 'what the blazes was I thinking?' Oh yes, I've been there....started a project that seemed like a great idea at the time then cursing everything halfway through. Sometimes I bail, most of the time I finish with a hearty, 'I'll never do THAT again!'

  3. PS your rewoven rug came out GREAT!

  4. Love the colors and I am sure you're satisfied regardless of the effort. A special canvas - what a luxury, I have to keep that in mind. I know there are crocheted rugs from t-shirt yarn and even plastic bags but the canvas is a level up :)

  5. I know what you mean about the husband bringing something home and accepting it graciously no matter how hideous or so not me it is. You did a great job making it over though!

  6. My grandmother made rag rugs and I remember growing up with them. :)

  7. Great job!!

    Yes, we've all been there. I still have a chicken applique sweatshirt that I started more years ago than I can remember,that just turned into this nightmare of cutting minuscule strips, brushing them and sewing them on. Needless to say it's still not done!

    I second Patty's suggestion about the Oxyclean - that stuff is magic!

  8. I remember these rugs well, Anna! I don't remember if Mum wove them, but I know they were a constant in our kitchen when I was a girl. You did a great job, but some projects we finish out of stubborn will, long after we have stopped enjoying the process :(

  9. Hi Anna :)

    That is a beautiful rug :)

    I also ditto what JoJo said "I laughed out loud at 'what the blazes was I thinking?' Oh yes, I've been there...."

    We creative girls are always getting ourselves into trouble but we persevere and that is what makes us awesome :)

    Have a lovely week, cheers, T. :)

  10. Wow Anna your rug turned out great! You did an amazing job. The fact that you worked it everyday and put your heart into completing it, shows your dedication to finishing a project. I wish I had that kind of dedication sometimes :)
    Everyday Inspired

  11. Congrats! You did it! It's great and the rug is priceless cause you worked so hard on it. Great!


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