Side Project: Rugmaking

11 Jun

When my partner and I started putting our dining room together after we moved, we decided we wanted a rug. A large rug. An awesome, large rug.  And it has to be the perfect color combination because I’m a total color snob.  Since we are on a decorating budget, finding a large one that wasn’t totally suck was proving to be frustratingly impossible.

This is about the time I just give up shopping around and try to make whatever I’m trying to buy. It happens all the time.  (I’m currently shopping around for suits in scrawny-but-bootylicious sizes……so, I’ll probably end up learning how to construct a suit soon. Stay tuned for that.) I started brainstorming different rugmaking techniques that involved skills I already have: knitting, weaving, latchhooking, crocheting, felting, stitching, etc.  I settled on trying out a layered fabric stitching technique, so I started making all the charts and diagrams because I would be cutting out ALOT of layers of fabric and I needed to be organized.

Charts help me keep sane.

The technique I chose is called faux chenille.  It’s based on the process of how they create chenille yarn, but simplified. Chenille yarn is made by weaving yardage of fabric, and then cutting it apart to create teeny-tiny strips of raw-edged fabric, aka chenille yarn. (Interesting sidenote: chenille is French for caterpillar. Cute.) With faux chenille, you stitch layers of fabric atop each other (usually stitching in the bias direction), and then you cut the fabrics in between to expose the underlayers.  The raw edges become fuzzy like chenille.  This faux chenille technique is used in quilting, but sometimes it’s called rag-quilting or slash-quilting. Also, there was a DIY craft movement circa 1992-ish where people took a standard sweatshirt and jazzed it up by doing some simple faux chenille patterns on the front. I think the one my mom made me had a giant heart on the front.  Inspired by my mom’s 90’s crafting skills, I decided a faux chenille rug would be awesome. I mean, if it’s cool enough for a sweatshirt, it’s cool enough for my floor, right?

Cutting in between the stitching lines.

A completed section: Black and beige. Black and sand…?
Black and grey/taupe/lavender/mystery neutral color that I love but can’t describe.

The process of stitching and cutting wasn’t overly difficult except that the sections were so large it was more like wrestling a rug than stitching a rug most of the time.  My sewing machine isn’t a long-arm style, so it was tough getting ALL that fabric in there.  The rug was pretty thick with all the layers (9 layers total!), so my machine was tired after all that sewing.  I have the rug put together in four large sections that velcro together to make one mega rug.  Each section is backed with a heavy black canvas (which was stitched through but NOT cut through).  I wanted to be machine washable, so it needed a way to actually FIT in the washing machine.  Also, I prewashed and shrunk all the fabrics before I started. With all the fuzzy edges that the faux chenille technique creates, you can’t really tell that the rug is made out of four sections. Success!

My finished rug! (And my grumpy giant Angora bunny, Frank.)

My new handmade rug on my dining room floor.

Still putting the room together, but at least the rug is in place. Next up: chair slipcovers.

I love the rug.  We’ve been walking on it and using it for months, and it still looks awesome.  Over time, the faux chenille strips open up a bit more and expose more of the underlayers. I like it.  Looking back, I really probably should’ve started my rugmaking endeavors with a smaller rug.  Maybe a 2×3′ or something.  True to my family’s motto, Go big or go home!, I just dove in. My first rug measures about 8×8′.  Heck yeah.


Posted by on 06.11.12 in Side Projects


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7 responses to “Side Project: Rugmaking

  1. pillowsalamode

    06.11.12 at 7:37 pm

    That is gorgeous!!!


    • audiohelkuik

      06.11.12 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks! I love some of the sewing studio organization tips on your blog! I’m going to have to make some of those stray bobbin thread donuts and pattern weights. I love simple, but efficient, solutions.


  2. cherisse

    06.14.12 at 6:15 pm

    so I’m thinking of doing this with one color and horizontal stripes. I take it layers make it “fluffier”. How many layers do you think a Jersey or light weight twill would need?


    • audiohelkuik

      06.14.12 at 7:14 pm

      I’d do a test swatch and start with maybe 5 or 6 layers to see what it looks like. You can adjust from there.

      If you go with the twill fabric, try to cut your sections out on the bias (on a diagonal to the grain of the fabric) since twill is a woven fabric. This way, your horizontal stripes will also be cut on the bias and I hear that helps create the best looking faux chenille. If that doesn’t make sense, let me know and I can draw you a diagram.

      If you go with the jersey knit, find out which direction does the “curl up” thing when it has unfinished edges. Then, you choose to incorporate that or avoid it in your rug design.


      • cherisse

        06.14.12 at 8:27 pm

        thank you.


  3. JulieCC

    11.08.12 at 2:43 pm

    What type of fabric did you use? I’ve only done faux chenille with flannel and this one looks interesting.


    • audiohelkuik

      11.10.12 at 1:55 am

      I wanted to see alot of different textures, so I layered cottons, knits, shiny lining fabric, damasks and other ones I’m sure I’m forgetting. The top teal fabric is a damask, which makes the rug look just the right amount of fancy for my house.



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