Friday, March 6, 2015
Guess What? Rag Rug Coasters
There was an anonymous comment on the first rag rug article that warned me about the addiction factor of making these items. She is probably laughing right now, but that's okay. I'm only filling time until spring.....I think.
As I sat working on rug #2, I kept thinking of other possibilities for using this technique of sewing knots for making all kinds of things. We have used some cloth coasters for about 10 years that we bought at a craft bazaar in Alaska. They have held up extremely well with daily use, and besides that, I like them. Well, after close examination, I realized they were probably constructed using the same 'stitch' pattern as the rug I was making, just on a much smaller scale. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that making these coasters would be easy to do. So I did.
I started off closely examining the coaster to see how the stitches were increased. Just every so often, there is a place where there are two stitches instead of one. I made a guesstimate on how wide to tear the fabric. I think my fabric is a little narrower than what was used in my original coaster, but I really like the way they look. A large tapestry needle works very well with this size fabric and a small project like this. Here are pictures of the process, with pointers along the way.
I started off connecting the 'tail' and the sewing 'thread' together just like you would add another piece of fabric to the sewing end. This video from Rag Rug Cafe explains it very well. I found this made a smaller, smoother knot.
With the fabric being this narrow, around 1/4", I didn't pay attention to the right and wrong side of the fabric like I do with the rug.
The first round left a hole in the middle, so I made sure to 'sew' it closed.
The original coaster has a 4 1/4" diameter.
With the fabric being this narrow, it was easy to tear the pieces apart when adding on the next piece to the sewing end. You can't yank these together like the much wider pieces used on the rug. And speaking of the rug. Most of the sites I read, including the Rag Rug videos recommend cutting the fabric for rugs about an inch wide. I have found that I like to cut them about an inch and a half to two inches wide. It makes the rug thicker, and I just like it better. The same could go for the coasters. I can see where these could easily be turned into pot holders, place mats, or any number of other things, and with each one, adjusting the width of the fabric will alter the thickness of the finished product. Just some thoughts.
I finished this coaster off by weaving the ends through some of the loops. It is long enough that if the end works it's way out, it won't start unraveling.
This coaster took about an hour to make. Now I'm thinking about next year's Christmas presents.....
While I was working on rug #2 the other day, Frank and I were talking about all of the scrap fabric, old sheets, and rags we have around the place. He's happy I've found a good way to use some of them. During this conversation I got to thinking about all of the old socks we have in the 'rag bag' cabinet. Do you save old socks? We do, and we have way too many of them gathering in there. So, I was thinking, wouldn't these make good pot holders or trivets of a sort, since it is a thicker material? So I tried it. It didn't work for a couple of reasons. This time I cut the fabric about an inch wide, but the thickness of the fabric made for really big knots, too bumpy. The stretchiness of socks also makes it more difficult to use them, but not overly so. I will try this again, but with much thinner pieces of fabric, probably not over 1/4 inch. This idea is still brewing in my head, but for now, I'm back to more coasters and rug #2.
And speaking of more coasters, we have one that is heart shaped, and I thought it would be really neat to try to make one of these. It was much harder. It appeared to me that this pattern started off with one long piece that was then shaped into a heart by the way the increases and decreases in stitches were applied. I think I figured out where the middle of the piece is, then measured how long it needed to be to create the base that could then be sewn around on all sides. Here is what I mean.
From this center point, it looks like the length of one side of the base row is 2 1/2" long.
So, I made my first 'row' about 5 " long.
I knew I would have to decrease at the halfway point to create the top notch and begin the heart shaped pattern.
It's hard to show and explain this, but instead of sewing the knot into the top of the next loop, I went through two loops from side to side instead.
I then had to twist the needle back to get it under the tail 'thread' and wrap the sewing thread around like a normal stitch.
Once I pulled this stitch up tight, it started the 'V' shape I needed to form the base of a heart. My first thought? It worked! Now if I can just figure out how to get this skinny little thing to look like a heart. I decreased a stitch every row in this fashion to keep the 'V' shape consistent.
This is where I took a break and played with the socks.
After a while I realized that this looked more like wings than a heart. It wasn't rounded off enough.
So I began adding many more stitches to fill out the lobes of the heart. It quickly looked much better.
The pointed end was still fairly rounded, and didn't quite look right, so I added more stitches about an inch or so from the point to lengthen it. You will just have to play with how many stitches you add and where.
The finished product is 7 3/4" diameter, and a little wiggety. It doesn't lay down perfectly flat, but that's that water glasses and coffee cups are for. When I put it on the table for inspection, Frank said I should stick to the round ones. I agree. I've made one, but the round coaster took about an hour to make and is much easier. He does like the red material better than the blue, though. By the way, I like and still wear the dresses made out of both of these fabrics.
I'm really happy that I discovered a way to use this fabric that I have been keeping for years. I have used some of my scraps to make quilts before, but that doesn't happen very often and the extra fabric has been piling up. It also helps bolster confidence that we can make due by using what we have on hand. This applies to so many things beyond making a rug or a
coaster. Anything we can make or do for ourselves increases our independence and decreases our dependence on the system. For when the system no longer functions in the manner that we have been accustomed to our entire lives, the more you know and can do for yourselves, the better off you will be. Keep learning. It's what your brain was created for. It's an amazing thing, our brains. It doesn't have a limited capacity like all of these electronic gadgets we use everyday. Every so often we may need a day or two off to let it reset and absorb events or knowledge, but we don't have to reinstall a new hard drive or wait for a part. Our brains are an amazing blessing we carry around with us all the time. Use it. All the time. Everyday. Don't let it become a stagnate jell of slow moving, slushy, dull matter. Keep it well fed, stimulated, crisp and sharp and you will be able to accomplish amazing feats you never thought possible.
Until next time - Fern