Choosing Rag Rug Fabric is Like Song Writing

Choosing fabric for a rag rug reminds me of song writing. I like to start with a pretty melody. Add some harmony. Write a good accompaniment to finish the song. Be sure to include a good balance of harmony and dissonance to make the music exciting. That’s a good description of my thought process for selecting fabric for a rag rug design.

  1. Start with a melody–a fabric in the color(s) that you want to use in your design.
  2. Add harmony–one other fabric that compliments the first one.
  3. Write the accompaniment–with the chosen pair of fabrics on the table (or in the shopping cart at the fabric store), lay other fabrics beside them, one at a time. Select compatible colors that enhance the “melody” and “harmony.” Eliminate fabrics that “sing a different tune;” but don’t be afraid of unusual combinations. Some dissonance can work in your favor to add interest and excitement to the mix.

Here are a few examples of fabric combinations I am playing around with as I plan my next double binding rag rug design.

Fabric combinations for rag rug planning. Simple tutorial.
Starting with the blue fabric at the top, I added the bold multi-color print as harmony. The black acts as contrast. The two remaining pieces could be used as accents.
Choosing fabric for double binding rag rug.
Bold multicolor print takes the melody line, and the red batik adds harmony. Two more selections bring out the yellow-green and the reds and oranges in the melody piece.
How to select fabrics for weaving rag rugs.
Dark print with green as the base color is complemented with the reddish brown. Other fabrics are included to add contrast and interest.
Process for choosing rag rug fabrics. Short tutorial.
Summer print is enhanced with the harmonizing light pink. Dark pink in small portions makes a good contrast. White serves as a unifying backdrop. Two more prints, used sparingly, could be added for interest.

You can view my double binding rag rugs on Etsy to examine some of the fabric choices I have made for previous rugs.

Classic Check; Autumn Clouds; Improvisation; Woodland Walk; Black and Red SquaresForest at Dawn; Opportunity in Disguise; Painting Sunsets.

May you find a good balance of harmony and dissonance.

With a song in my heart,

Hand-Hemmed Rag Rug

A good rug lasts many, many years. The finest rugs outlast their owners, being handed down as useable heirlooms, like the two aged rag rugs I have that were woven long ago by my grandmother’s neighbor. I get excited about making colorful rugs that are meant to be walked on for years and years.

Finishing rag rug warp ends before hemming.
First step after cutting the rug from the loom is pulling out scrap rag weft with a long tapestry needle, and securing warp ends by tying groups of ends into square knots. Walking weights (again!) hold the rug in place.

I am hemming this rug by hand, using 12/6 cotton seine twine rug warp and a tapestry needle. This makes a tidy hem, with nearly invisible stitching. I secure the ends of the hemming thread by weaving them back and forth into the woven hem with the tapestry needle. (Refer to Related Posts in the sidebar to see other ways I finish rug hems.)

Hand-stitched rag rug hem.
After trimming the warp ends to 1/2 inch, the hem is folded under twice and pressed. Hem is stitched down, including the selvedge sides, with short stitches in the rug warp.

Pursue truth. That means doing what it takes to find answers. It’s as simple as examining what we are walking on. What are we basing our life on? It means seeing the created and looking for the Creator. Taking a closer look at a unique rug that catches our attention, we see evidence of the weaver and the stitching hand. Discovering truth is like finding a handmade rug that is intriguing enough to put on display, yet is placed on the floor to satisfy our needs for daily living. It gives our feet a sure place to walk, and it’s worthy of being handed down for generations.

Finished double-binding twill rag rug. Karen Isenhower
Finished double-binding twill rag rug.

May you experience a satisfying walk through life in all respects.

(This rug is called “Improvisation,” and you can find it in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop.)

Weaving rugs,

Rag Rug Results

Isn’t it amazing how many different things you can try on one tie-up? All you need is color, time, and a craving to learn. It has been exciting to try some fresh ideas for double binding rugs. Now I have new patterned rag rugs, ready to hem!

New "crop" of rugs, ready for hemming.
Variety of rag rugs from one tie-up.

Lessons abound in life. There are amazing things to learn with the Lord by your side. Jesus is friend and coach. He governs and carries. The diverse and satisfying results are woven into your life experiences.

May you see positive results.

Happy weaving,

PS The rugs are now hemmed. One rug has been sold, and two of the rugs are in my Etsy shop.

Tools Day: Handwoven Photography Simplified

If you take pictures, does that make you a photographer? I enjoy taking pictures at the loom. Besides the creative challenge of finding a good shot, I like the aspect of letting a picture tell a story. The Warped for Good Etsy shop is another avenue to expand my photo skills. My goal is to take photos that showcase finished handwoven articles, while keeping the process as simple as possible. Typically, I take fifteen to twenty pictures of an item, and then choose the best five shots to upload on Etsy. When I have new items to add to Etsy, I do a photo marathon on a good sunshiny day.

Tips for taking photos of handwovens.
Single towel photo from photo marathon.


iPhone 5
– I take all my photos with my phone. I know that is crazy! I never use my husband’s fancy digital SLR camera. My phone is always in my pocket, and there is nothing for me to figure out.

– I do not actually attach the camera (iPhone) to the tripod. By leaning my hand on the tripod, I can get a steady shot; and I change the angle or height simply by moving my hand.

Natural light
– Colors are not true if I use any artificial lighting. Colors will vary on computer monitors and mobile screens, but natural light gives the best chance of capturing the colors as I see them.

Sunshine, not cloudy
– With the iPhone camera, I find it impossible to get true colors if the sky is overcast. Sometimes an overcast sky in the afternoon still seems bright, not dark. Even so, I find the colors are distorted. If the conditions are not favorable, it is worth waiting.

Long roll of white paper
– A white background appeals to me. I think it conveys simplicity and elegance.

Four walking weights
– There is no end to the usefulness of two-pound walking weights. These soft weights are perfect for holding the roll of paper out to size, without creasing. (You’ll find me using walking weights for just about everything …except walking.)

White poster board
– Sometimes a white poster board or two is needed to provide background for a shot from a lower angle.

Tips for simplified photo shoot for handwovens.
Simple set up for photo shoot. Testing lighting with first shot.
Tips for setting up simple textile photo shoot.
First few practice shots show me what adjustments to make with lighting, focus, and white paper and poster board background arrangement.
Three of a kind. Simple photo tips.
Three of a kind. I like to photograph complimentary pieces together.

May your photos show your best moments.

Say cheese,

Where the Weft Is Vulnerable

The outside rows of a rag rug are vulnerable. Twining secures the weft, making it a good way to begin and end a rag rug. I cut a length of rug warp thread two and a half times the width of the rug. Starting on the left side, with the length of thread folded in half, the top half goes under, and the lower half goes over each successive warp end.

Twining at the end of a rag rug on the loom.
Twining separates the warp ends evenly and secures the weft. At the end of the row I weave in the ends, and then, beat twice with the beater to push the row of twining firmly into place.

Is it really necessary to secure the weft? When the rug is under tension on the loom it seems like everything is holding together just fine. It is tightly woven, with the weft firmly packed in. Yes. It is necessary. The rug will start falling apart the minute it is cut from the loom. Twining keeps the most vulnerable place of the weaving intact.

Faith is the vulnerable spot where you allow yourself to be loved by God. Wrapped in his mercy and his grace, our weakest point is no longer our entry into failure, but where we are kept in his security. Your faith is the point of access, the opening, for your maker to show his strength to make you complete.

May you rest secure.

Etsy Announcement!
My new Etsy WarpedforGood Shop  is open! I would love for you to come and browse. As my tried and true blog friends, your feedback means a lot to me. Please let me know what you think!

You may remember seeing the progress on some of the items in the shop, like the Warp Rep Rug, the Rosepath Rugs, and the Cutest Little Loom Rugs. The rugs you see on the loom now will be posted in my Etsy shop when they are finished!

Your Friend,