Friday, January 9, 2015

Rag Yarn Tutorial

As a sewist/crafter/thrifty lady, I am frequently gifted spare fabric, some of which is either too ugly or the wrong type for my usual projects.  I also have a tough time throwing away ruined clothing or other useful fabric.  There just ought to be SOME way to use it, right?
This is my solution.

I make "yarn" from old fabric.  Anything from poly/cotton yardage that I don't want for quilts to old t-shirts, to the purple corduroy upholstery that was on an ottoman I made over.  Here's how it goes.

***This tutorial is a work in progress, any suggestions or questions are welcome and I'll edit accordingly.
Making Rag Yarn

1. Wash it.  Whatever it is, an old sheet, t-shirt, towel, etc.
Use the hottest water and hottest dryer setting - this ensures all shrinking and dye bleeding are done.  This way your finished product will be machine washable.

2. Make a pile.  I have a constant collection going.
 This pile has been picked over for a rainbow rug - looks like a neutral rug or basket is next on the list...
3. Sort by color.

This just makes it easier to make patterns if desired.
4. Cut or tear it into strips.

I cut stretch materials with a rotary cutter.  Most woven materials are easier to tear along the grain.  The goal is to do as little sewing as possible, so get long strips of the right thickness whenever possible.  What is the "right" thickness? This is partially personal preference, but when I twist my yarn up tight so that it's round, it's about 1/4" in diameter.

5. Zig-Zag stitch to keep it together.

I use #3, the elastic stitch.  Set at its widest zig zag and a medium stitch length.  Regular zig zag stitch would work as well.

I try to tuck any loose ends inside so that my finished product doesn't have odd bits hanging out.

Any time I have a stretch fabric, I pair it with a strip of woven fabric so that my final yarn isn't stretchy.  Stretchy yarn can lead to wonky results when crocheting.

I try to cut my fabrics to a good width so that I can use a single ply whenever possible, but some of my scraps are thin strips from quilting and other projects.  I just bundle these together until they are the right thickness for a consistent yarn and zig zag stitch them all together.

It doesn't matter if things are twisted or not perfectly uniform.  The variations even each other out in the end.

6. Wind it all up.

7. Crochet it into a rug or basket.

Here's a link for A Common Thread's alternative method of making yarn instead of sewing all of the fabric together.  This works especially well if you have nice yardage that is easily torn into strips (like a sheet or just ugly fabric).

This yarn can be used with any basic crochet pattern.  You just need a BIG hook (I have a size Q).  You can find them easily at any craft store, or order them through Amazon.  Better yet, for some handmade wooden goodness, try these Etsy Sellers: