A while ago I came into possession of an ex-display hanger of samples of wool crewel fabric in a range of 5 different colourways. I considered upcycling one piece into a bag, but the heavyweight wool embroidery meant that the cloth was very bulky in places. Then I remembered a piece of hessian that had been lying at the bottom of a basket for a while. And an idea was born for a rug and an eco-friendly project. Here’s how.
First of all make a template 5” x 5” and then cut the fabric up into squares. Alternatively, choose a size that will mean you can cut the maximum amount of squares out across the width of the cloth you have available. If you have one, use an overlocker to stop the edges from fraying. If you don’t have a machine, it is not too serious if the fabric you are going to use does not fray too badly as you will be sewing on a backing to give the rug more substance and durability.
Begin by arranging the squares in such a way that the colours and shapes are well distributed across the whole area of the rug giving it some form of cohesion. When you are satisfied with the layout, begin sewing the squares together a row at a time. Press all the seams open in each row either as you go or all together at the end. Then begin joining the rows together, matching the seams carefully by placing pins at a vertical angle into the seams so that they stay well matched up and can’t slip or move while sewing together.
Next some batting - I used part of an old candlewick bedspread. You could use batting, or curtain interlining, or an old blanket.
Baste (or tack) the backing carefully to the patchwork taking care that all the seams remain open.
Pin a piece of hessian to the batting side of the work and then baste all three layers together. Trim off any excess hessian at the edges. Secure the hessian to the patchwork and batting by sewing through all layers in a large stitch. You can either sew in straight lines top to bottom or left to right sewing between the joins (stitch in the ditch) or you can zig zag across. Ideally start from the centre and work out to the top and bottom and sides always taking care that there are no folds and smoothing the base fabric (hessian) regularly as necessary.
Bind edges with heavy duty fabric tape or strips of fabric precut to fit, cutting pieces to fit two opposite sides first and once these are in place measuring across the whole width including the border to get the final length for the two remaining side, plus about 1” extra to turn under for a neat edge.
Creating a patchwork is quite a fast way to make a rug and means there are no raw edges which works better for fabrics that fray easily, or that are very soft. It also great if you’ve got natural fabrics and helps create a healthy home and contributes to low impact living.
Please do share any ideas you have or improvements to the technique above. It would be lovely to start a discussion and sharing platform for creative ideas and projects.
To read about the Wonders of Wool go to www.designercushionsandthrows.co.uk/blog_page