Actually I have made rugs, so I should really say “why I don’t make rugs anymore.” The first time I tried it (40 years ago) I had cut fabric into strips, sewed them end to end, ran it through a piece of metal that folded the fabric so I could iron it just so, braided it and proceeded to sew it into shape. By hand, because what else does a bored housewife have to do — especially since I had not acquired a sewing machine yet. Do you know what I got for all my effort? I real mess, that’s what. I vowed never again.
But about 10 years ago I saw a video where you ripped old flowered bedsheets into strips, braided them without sewing them end to end (you just worked it in) and wove them into a rectangle that was pinned to cardboard. I did all of the above just as I was told and again had a mess on my hands. I swore off rugs forever.
A couple of years ago it was all the rage to make oval rugs out of jelly roll strips. Jelly rolls are a collection of 40 fabrics that go together, pre-cut into 2.5-inch wide strips for your convenience. I turned my back to these rugs. I would not get interested. Not a chance Lance. And I didn’t — but so many of my friends were falling for it that I began to feel like an outsider.
What kept me strong was that I knew from experience that homemade rugs never lay as flat as they do in the photos. But also, I just don’t find those oval rugs attractive. I laughed out loud when one of my friends posted a picture on FB of her attempt at sewing her strips into placemats and the result was a giant ocean wave. Nope, I was staying away.
And then it happened. The designers created a rug that was rectangle, and in my colors! I showed it to my friends and said that if I was ever going to make a jelly roll rug, this would be the one. Well these so-called friends double-dog dared me to do it. What else can you do when you’ve been double-dog dared? I ordered the pattern.
It sounded easy-peasy but I wasn’t putting forth real money for this. I scrounged through my scraps until I had 40 2.5-inch strips (a free jelly roll) in blues and browns. I happily cut up all my errant pieces of left over batting into 2.5-inch strips and paired them with the jelly roll strips. It took me weeks to fold and sew each strip closed, and another two weeks to zigzag those strips into four somewhat wavy sets of 10. Then I stopped. Houston, we have a problem.
The pattern wanted me to cut these long strips into 6.5-inch squares to be staggered horizontally and vertically to make it look woven. However, my strips were 7 inches wide, not 6.5. So I figured I’d cut them 7-inch square instead, making the rug even bigger — except that the strips weren’t long enough to do that. To get the 6.5-inch squares I would have to rip off the tenth strip on all four of them.
No quilter likes ripping out. They have other terms that sound nicer to take the sting out of it like reverse sewing, un-sewing, etc. We even buy pretty seam rippers to make us feel better about it. One woman called it like it is by naming her tool Jack the Ripper, and I have a sign by my machine that says “If you see me with a seam ripper, now is not the time.” Ripping out is just so counter-productive.
I was also losing heart because of the slight waving. Therefore I already knew I was going to be disappointed but I forged on and by gum, I finished it. It’s real pretty to look at as long as you squint your eyes a little bit but I’ve ironed it three times and can’t get it to stay flat.
In my professional opinion it’s a true trip hazard and as such I don’t need more things to trip over around here. No more rug making. I mean it. So if you catch me trying it again just shoot me.