Rag Rug Weaving

Rag rug weaving dates back hundreds of years. The early settlers wove rag rugs on large looms. These rugs were practical and colorful floor coverings. Women gathered together to weave rag rugs as a way of dealing with the loneliness of their husbands being away hunting. Strips were cut and the ends were sewed. Then the rags would be rolled into a ball. The patterned weft, made with bright and sturdy wraps, were used for durable welcome mats. Your students can make their own rag rugs with some sewing materials and scraps, as well as general arts and craft materials you probably already have on hand. Teaching students rag rug weaving is a fun way for them to learn about early American history. But before the class lesson, follow these instructions and give rag rug weaving a try.

To weave your own rag rug, you will need: a 6×6 inch piece of stiff posterboard or cardboard for the loom, 11 Ã?½ yards of strong cotton thread, scraps of patterned cotton, scissors, a ruler, a pencil, and a fork.

To begin, cut your scraps into one-inch strips. Complementary colors work best like orange and blue, red and green, and yellow and purple. To make your loom with the heavy posterboard or cardboard, make marks for slots Ã?½ inch apart on the edges. Cut the slots 1/8 ” deep. Tie warp string around the first slot to warm the loop. Keep wrapping warp string up and down and around the top and bottom slots. To finish, tie warp string around the last slot.

Now you are ready to weave your rag rug. Your first rag strip should be as long as your arm. Weave the end backwards over and under to get the strip to hold and then weave over and under across the loom. Fold it and then tuck the edges under so the rug has no wrinkles and looks smooth and neat. Use the fork to beat down the woven strip with a fork.

Keep weaving until you run out of color or want to change colors. To add a new strip overlap 3 or 4 warp threads with the new rag strip. Keep weaving and beating. Your rug will be complete when you are not able to weave in any more folded strips. To make it official, tuck in the last end underneath. Fold down the slotted edges and slide your rag rug off the loom.

Congratulations, now you’re ready to teach your students rag rug weaving.

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