Had a question about how to lace a rag rug, thought I would put the answer here in case anyone else had the same question.
Mom was the expert in making braided rugs, I've only made small versions. But she drummed into my head that when I made one, to LACE it together, not SEW it. She said it was stronger, easier, and lasted longer.
She used a very strong upholstery thread, like the silk suture thread I found at surplus once (marvellous, can't be broken, incredibly strong for it's size).
You take your balls of fabric strips, and stitch the ends neatly together on a diagonal, so it will make a neat transition in the rug. I do a flat braid, right over left, left over right until I have a good length of braid made. (As one roll of rag strip ends, you can overlap by a few inches over the new roll, or stitch both to make a diagonal seam and trim.)
To lace: first decide whether you are making an oval or circular rug. For a circular rug, you start by making a nice even circular beginning. It's worth taking your time here, as this will be the foundation of all the future coils.
For the oval version--bend the first inch back on itself and pin. Lay down the first strip and pin in place on cardboard. (Large or long and narrow rugs will use a longer straight strip.) Small placemat or chair pad sized pieces will need a short straight section.
Double the braided strip back on itself, and lay the new round flat beside the first round. Make sure everything is flat before you lace. This is crucial. If it isn't flat now, it'll never be flat.
For the lacing: take a sturdy thread/light twine that isn't breakable by hand. Rag rugs get very heavy, especially when wet, you don't want that weight to pull apart the stitching when you move the rug.
See where the loops from the braiding from one round meet the loops from the previous round. You will be going through the loop, not through the fabric, using a blunt needle (like the kind you use to weave together knit pieces, the plastic needles work fine).
Go through one loop, then see which loop of the next round is closest, and go through it. The old instructions at www.netw.com/~rafter4/1932braids.htm have you do every other braid. Remember that you always choose the braid from the next round that matches closest to lace into. This keeps the rounds nice and flat. No calculations needed, simply chose the closest loop, it automatically adjusts for going around the circular areas this way.
Just keep lacing, you do every outer loop in the braid for a sturdier lacing, in the loop from the braid from the inner round, then in the closest loop from the outer round, then to the next loop in the inner round, etc. All the lacing is on the side between the loops, not on the top where people walk, so it doesn't wear through. And when you pick the rug up, the weight is not on a thin stitch through a few threads of fabric, but through the entire fabric strip loop, much stronger.
This is the first I've seen this website, found it on an internet search, but at www.netw.com/~rafter4/braids.html you see near the top a photo of a braid being made. See those little pieces of metal at the bottom of each fabric strip? That's a BraidAid, those little clamps I was trying to explain that turn the ends in for you.
If you click on the various links at this website, you'll see a lot of different kinds of rugs explained.
At www.essortment.com/all/braidedragrug s_ rjmn.htm they had a good rule of thumb. Make your first round of an oval rug 1/3 of the desired finished size. So, if you want a 6' finished rug, the first strip should be 2' long before you turn for the second round.
For runners, use 1/2 the finished length (a six foot runner would have a three foot length before turning for the second round.
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