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,


  • linda says:

    You are so right. One of my students did a rag rug in 36″strips then we sewed them together like a braided rug. She got a 9×12 rug out of it. She used old jeans cut into strips for the weft . The rug resides on the Cape in a summer home, and the washed out denim works well in the sea side community.
    I still have the first item I wove: a raya mixed with warp faced. too bad I didn’t choose a better yarn for the weft. Next rug will make use of venition blind twill tape. why not. (new computer can’t find spell check) linda

Leave a Reply

Tools Day: Graph Paper

I am using graph paper and colored pencils again to design double-binding rag rugs. Twill double-binding rag rugs this time. The draft comes from Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs, by Lillemor Johansson. The graph paper squares are great for playing out my own ideas. I am not aiming for specific color combinations with this exercise. And I don’t strictly follow my colored design when I weave, but instead use it as a guide that suggests a design pathway. This allows me to improvise at the loom as I see the cloth taking shape.

Graph paper and colored pencils for rag rug design ideas.

Graph paper for playing with design ideas, using Prismacolor pencils.

Rag rug design experiments on graph paper.

Experiments with wide and thin blocks of color, unevenly spaced.

Twill double-binding rag rug on the loom.

Putting design experiments to the test. The twill structure gives more substance to the rug than plain weave, as well as adding to the textural appearance in the design.

May your best designs materialize.


Leave a Reply

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.

Leave a Reply

Can I Cut it Off Now?

Four rugs woven, with hardly enough warp left to weave anything worthwhile. I am eager to cut off the planned and finished rugs, and move on to the next thing. There is only a short span of warp left, so why waste time weaving a runt-sized rug? It won’t hurt to cut it off now. I am not losing that much of the warp.

Coming to the end of the warp.

When the back tie-on bar comes up over the back beam, you know you are at the end of the warp. I have heard that there is a saying in Sweden that when the end of the warp comes over the back beam you must complete the remainder of the weaving in one sitting.

All I have left are scraps–fabric strips that were cut for previous rug designs. …Wait a minute… Could this be an opportunity in disguise? A chance try out another design idea, using fabric strips that are already cut? If I think of this as a welcome challenge, instead of a waste of time, I start seeing everything differently.

Little square rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Design limitations help expand creative ideas. This piece uses only fabric leftovers from previous rugs, and is limited to about 26 inches / 66 cm of warp.

The natural progression of a negative thought goes from bad to worse. Unless something intervenes to stop the progression, it can end in results far worse than cutting off a rug warp too soon. Giving thanks to God breaks the negative progression, and opens us up to an unseen world. A world of beauty and purpose. A place where scraps are used to make new and beautiful things. And where using the rest of the warp is never seen as wasted time.

May your Thanks-giving celebration begin early and continue far beyond the norm.

With gratitude,


Leave a Reply

This Takes Effort

The cloth beam is filling up with rugs. The fuller the cloth beam gets, the more muscle it takes for me to crank up the warp tension. I put all my weight into it. Literally. First, I agressively turn the wheel at the back beam to tighten the ratchet. Then, I grab two spokes of the breast beam‘s wheel, put a knee or foot on another spoke, and pull back with all my might, adding an appropriate grunt!

Simple block design for patterned rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Because of tight warp tension, it is possible to firmly pull the weft around the selvedge ends, creating snug edges on the sides of the rug.

Why keep the tension so extremely tight? Because of the outcome–good rugs. Rugs that are sturdy, have snug selvedges, and lay completely flat. Hopefully, my effort will outlast me, as the rugs continue to serve people long after I’m gone.

It takes tremendous effort to hold on to courage when hope is slipping. After cranking up the tension for so long, the thought of keeping it up becomes overwhelming. One word of en-courage-ment from a friend breaks through hopelessness: God will see you through. Hope is restored, not based on feelings or positive thoughts, but based on believing God.

Keep up your courage. Only a few more turns and you’ll be there. The rugs will be finished; and you will know you did what you were called to do. Keep up your courage, friend.

May your good efforts outlast you.

Pulling for you,


Leave a Reply