Make a Rag Rug

Rustich Shabby Chic Patchwork Wool Crewel Rug
Rustic Shabby Chic Patchwork Wool Crewel Rug

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.

Adding a layer of batting
Candlewick bedspread as batting

Next some batting  –  I used part of an old candlewick bedspread.  You could use batting, or curtain interlining, or an old blanket.

Basting the patchwork and batting together
Basting the patchwork and batting together

Baste (or tack) the backing carefully to the patchwork taking care that all the seams remain open.

Stitching the hessian backing in place
Stitching the hessian backing in place

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.

Binding the edges
Bindng the edges

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

10 Reasons to Get Excited about Hemp

Have you ever had a favourite outfit that you loved so much you wore it to death and you have never been able to replace it?   Whatever happened to timeless elegance in the rush to conform to the High Street command of “get the latest look”?  How much money would we have left over for that holiday we have all been dreaming of if our clothes lasted more than one season?

Organic Hemp is now available in a range of beautiful colours

Well, hemp fabric could be the answer.

Here are 10 reasons why we should all get excited about hemp

  • Hemp is stronger than cotton.  It is the most durable natural fibre with the highest abrasion resistance and tensile strength amongst all of the natural fibres, providing maximum wear and use
  • It becomes softer with use.  The inherent lustre and light reflecting qualitites of hemp are enhanced by washing
  • The fabric breathes as well as linen and better than cotton, and is as effective an insulator as wool.  It feels cooler in summer and during cool weather it retains body heat
  • Hemp resists staining by releasing a microscopic layer of cells with each laundering, exposing a fresh surface.  In effect, this means that hemp retains its sleek sheen every time it is washed, that it never dulls and that it releases stains more easily than other fabrics.  It becomes finer and more luxurious with use.
  • It will not stretch out of shape, so it will always look good
  • The fabric is very porous, making it highly absorbent and quick drying.   Hemp absorbs more moisture than cotton and much more than synthetic fibres, and faster.
  • It is naturally resistant to mould, mildew and bacteria, and naturally mothproof, and has natural antimicrobial properties, so it does not need to be treated with chemicals and is therefore better for you and your family’s health and well-being
  • Hemp blocks UV rays more effectively than any other fabrics with less fibre degradation from UV exposure than any other natural fibre, making it especially good for window coverings and a wide range of eco soft-furnishings
  • With a longer lifespan than other natural fabrics, it can render a lifetime of service,  is biodegradable and easily recyclable and even more than any other eco fabrics lends itself to re-fashioning and upcyclling.

Wow!  And if  you thought that hemp fabric and eco textiles means a return to the dark ages and the days of sackcloth, look again.  With ever better production methods, fibres can be polished and finished to much higher standards than ever before, meaning that it is possible to be indulgent and kind to the environment at the same time.

Anything we’ve missed here?  We’d love to hear from you…….

Eco at Home

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Our home is an extension of our body, an outer shell.   How we furnish our home environment is as important as the quality of food that we eat and the quality of the air that we breathe.

You may be surprised to know that, in our ‘modern’ world it has become usual to preserve home furnishings in the same way as foods, as a means to improving wear or maintenance, texture or appearance.  Additives such as formaldehyde are used to make fabric ‘crease resistant’ or ‘easy-care’ and remnants of chemicals used in the dying process such a dioxins and even heavy metals are often present.  Even many so-called natural fabrics have been treated with potentially harmful chemicals, either during the growing cycle, to improve crop resistance and increase harvest, or as applied finishes.  These chemicals can pose a threat to human health and well-being.

Non-synthetic fibres such as cotton, linen wool, jute, sisal, coir, hemp, bamboo can be processed in ways that demand less treating although cotton is a very thirsty plant and does need large amounts of water to grow sucessfully.    These fabrics can also be coloured with natural dyes which have far less impact on the environment.  They are also biodegradable and can be recycled.   Hemp for example has a very long life, being very hard wearing, and its texture actually tends to improve with age.

For some examples of how to become more green and take the first steps towards using eco fabrics in the home, visit http://www.designercushionsandthrows.co.uk

Cushions in 'Hardy Organic Hemp' from the Emily Todhunter Collection at OEcotextiles
Cushions in 'Hardy Organic Hemp' from the Emily Todhunter Collection at OEcotextiles