A Brief History of Rag Rugs

We thought it was about time we shared a bit on the background, heritage and history of rag rugs and proddy rug making so here it goes!

Whilst we adapt to modern day and the trend for recycling, upcycling and all the -yclings, rag rug making in the past was a thrifty way to repurpose old cloth from mostly woollen clothes.  Cotton material from shirts was mostly used for patchwork quilts, but thicker materials also served their purpose.  Before fitted carpets, flagstone floors and floorboards were kept warmer with old rags rugged onto old sacks. How nifty!

Not only was the practice of rag rugging practical but it was also social. Rag rugging inspired a strong community spirit with family, friends and neighbours meeting to make the rugs together.  In this way they could share the candlelight and rushlight, again a thrifty saving.

Women would time things so the rug would usually be finished by Christmas. It would then be laid in front of the fire while the old hearthrug was demoted to the kitchen, that one to the back door and the old doormat thrown on the compost heap or in the dog kennel.

We love the tactile element of the shaggy rugs and the association with particular clothes that have gone into them – even today any material goes – from swimming costumes to bin bags – whatever takes your fancy.

Cushions are also a modern addition to the rag rug revival and are usually much quicker to complete for a first project.

Hope that was informative and if you’ve got any further details to share we’d love to hear from you!

3 thoughts

  1. Here in Cumbria I understand that a new rug could start life as bedding before starting it’s journey through the floors of the house.

    • That’s so interesting Ruth! I’ve heard that one before but wasn’t sure where they did it. I bet the rag rugs kept them nice and warm in bed 🙂

  2. Pingback: Ragged Life Blog | A People's History of Rag Rugging - Ragged Life Blog

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