Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Life Cycle of a Blue Jean Rag Rug

Actually, I'm not going to show you the complete life cycle of a blue jean rag rug. I suspect most of you are familiar enough with the intended use of jeans that I don't have to go over that. 

But once they're worn out...

First I fillet the jeans--I cut away everything but the front and back leg panels. A friend uses pockets for her creations, so she and I trade bits of jeans that we don't want. I discard any leg panels that are extremely stained or worn. 

Because I like a lot of different color sprinkled throughout my rugs, I obsessively lay out random colors and work around a circle. I figure I'm getting some exercise at the same time. 

The Fraser rag cutter is primarily meant to cut narrow wool strips for hooked wool rugs, but I find it works very well for my purposes, too. The strips fall into a box on the floor, and I mix them up in the box as I cut.

Then I (or my dear mother) sew them end to end to make one very long chain of blue jeans strips. Each seam has to be clipped and trimmed.

Once the sewing, clipping and trimming is finished, I wind the long strips on to shuttles, and begin weaving. This is my favorite part of the process. I love seeing how the colors work together as the rug is created.

My two Union looms are very basic, sturdy machines--perfect for rug weaving.

When I cut the rug off the loom (carefully!), I sew each end three times for strength and stability. The blue jeans are now ready for stage two of their lives. I have rewoven old blue jean rugs after many years. The warp (string) eventually gives out, but the blue jeans seem to last forever.

The traditions of thrift and frugality live on in rag weaving. The old saying, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," could be the theme here. We could all stand to reuse a bit more, to take the pressures off the landfills.

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