Last week feels like a dream. The days spent drawing and thinking on the beach, nothing but blue skies and open waters in front of me, seem like years ago. But the rasp in my voice, the slight swell in my ankle, the sour smell of my clothes that still haven’t been washed… it all reminds me it was in fact just days ago that I was still on vacation.
The stories from the week since I last wrote are too many to tell here. But what I will say is that my week ended with the Hillside Festival – a beautiful weekend of music, dancing, food, laughter and inspiration. I’ve been attached to my ipod ever since, trying to maintain a reality where there is always music playing. The new sounds floating past my ears include Horse Feathers, Shane Koyzan, Bent by Elephants, Brasstronaut, The Acorn … the list goes on …
But, it’s back to reality. And right now that reality comes in the form of rag rugs. I will post the end of my self-portrait adventure shortly, a project that unfortunately got derailed last week by the lack of necessary art supplies in the tiny town near my cottage. I did, however, perfect the art of upside down drawing, and experimented with understanding depth and perception through drawing on glass… not half bad, hey?
In any case – rag rugs! Wonderful, glorious rag rugs. This is what my attention turned too after the drawing couldn’t be finished.
A few months back, my sister gave me this book called Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt. For the most part, the transformations involve just changing the style of the shirt, but there are a few wicked how-to’s the create completely different end products. One example? The rag rug.
Now, before I get into this, there needs to be a disclaimer. This project takes FOREVER. Make sure you’re addicted to a really good TV show, or have a marathon of movies to watch before embarking on this.
- Loads of material, wripped into 1″ wide strips
- Needle & Thread
1) You’re going to need lots of fabric scraps. Enough to make a 1000 inch long braid of fabric. So start wripping up those old curtains, t-shirts, and anything else you have lying around. An important note though. It’s really, really, incredibly, super hard to braid with scraps that are too long. The book told me to sew the scraps together and then ball it up, as though you’re making a ball of yarn. This was nearly disasterous, as everything got tangled while I braided. So instead, I would suggest using scraps that are 1″ wide and no more than 2 feet long.
2) Once you’ve got a pile of scraps at your side, it’s time to start braiding. To start, sew the top of your three fabric strands together to anchor it. Then start braiding. If you’ve never braided, check out this clip for instructions.
3) You want to make one continuous braid, so you’ll have to add more fabric strands on. You can either sew them on, or slip knot them. See the picture here? That’s what your slip knot should look like. (Note, you can also use a regular double-knot, but they are bulky and harder to work with later on).
4) Braid, braid, braid. Watching movies while braiding is a good way to pass the time. I watched Arsenic and Old Lace while doing this… highly recommended!
5) When you’ve got about 1000 inches of braiding done (congratulations!) you’re ready to start sewing. This is pretty simple in theory — you’re just spiraling the braid around and sewing it in place so that it lies flat. But it’s deceptively hard. If you sew it together too tightly, the rug will buckle, causing it to not lie flat. This is what happened to me. Make sure you let the material relax and lie flat as much as possible.
This stage also takes ages. Stick another movie on. Do it on the bus. Listen to podcasts. It takes a while. A long, long while.
But… when you’re done, you have a wonderful product! Tie off the ends, and gaze down at your beautiful carpet. You did it! Hurrah!
Ultimately, I was really happy with the outcome of this project, but I really can’t overstate how much time it takes. I would guess I spent upwards of 20 hours on this sucker. A great, but time consuming, way to get rid of those ol’ fabric scraps!