The word 'Raid' according to Websters is a 'sudden and hostile attack with the intent of looting'. Well, I kind of did that, with no hostility of course, but I did surprise the talented Sandy Skidmore during her "Braiding Rugs" class held in the huge old dairy barn this past Saturday and performed an informational 'loot' of sorts. I loved asking her questions and watch her teach this old method of creating rugs. What a treat for me as my Grammie braided rugs and thankfully I have two of hers! Do you own a braided rug?
The old barn is amazing in itself with five inch thick heavy doors that are almost hidden if you don't look carefully. The smell of the aged wood will permeate your senses and warm memories of my own farm past danced around for a brief moment. Upon entering, I was not expecting to see beautiful antique furniture. Pristine settees decorated the cherry colored plank flooring. Old pianos with aged ivories and an organ were positioned farther back. I soooo wanted to nose around, but I had a job to do!
'Hello!' Sandy greeted me with her friendly voice as she could hear me creaking up the steps. I purposely arrived in the afternoon so that I could see the students' progress since the class began in the morning. Sandy learned this craft on her own resulting from Mike Perry pointing to an old thickly braided rug in need of repair and asked her if she could bring it back to life. So with her own research, she learned the art of braiding rugs! She gives each student a rug kit but they provided their own fabric strips.
She immediately made the introductions and I soon felt at quite at home! One student in particular caught my attention. Her braiding strips were all from blue jeans. Huh? Grammie's were made of wool, could you do this? The lovely person had just lost her fiance in June to cancer and these were his and her jeans, all mixed together. Wow, what a momento, how savvy and how cool is that? I was quietly impressed so with her permission, I chose to photograph her work.
To begin with you needs lots of fabric strips about an inch wide. Don't worry about the length as Sandy had a trick...in fact she had lots of tricks up her sleeve! She placed one strip horizontally, the other vertically and sewed across the diagonal. It is called a miter. What a magician, but my mind couldn't wrap around that one, wouldn't it still come out at a 45 degree angle? Nope, she trimmed the excess in the back and a very long strip was now waiting to be braided...but wait, all those long flowing pieces, aren't they going to get tangled?
Ah, Sandy had another trick....go to the very end of each strip and begin rolling and just secure with some elastic! Ta daa! It worked like a charm. As you need more room, the roll just gently slides through the elastic allowing you space to work. Perfect!
How do you keep the braid in place? Use a clothes pin, it will keep them tight!
Sandy's other tips include...
1. Braid tightly, this allows the rug to curve naturally and lie flat.
2. Use the sewing machine to anchor your work so it doesn't slide
3. Use matching crochet thread instead of the creme cord that accompanies the kits.
4. Use a slip knot when in need of continuing with more thread when you are sewing the braids together. It blends in very well!
5. When sewing the braids, thread between the fabric instead of through it. It hides the stitching.
I wish L.L. Bean knew that trick! My rug braids began splitting almost as soon as I got it! Now I know how to fix it.
To finish off your rug, follow the instructions as the booklet states. Think you can now braid a rug? Not me...I agree with the blue jean student's assessment "you have to come to the class because the hands on experience is invaluable." To explore upcoming classes be sure to click on this link. Heritage Farm is amazing! I am so pleased I got to 'raid' the braiding class and see first hand how my Grammie braided all of her rugs!
Have a wondeful day!
Jill from Farm Girl Digital Designs