The Short Shaggy Rag Rug Technique

A couple of week’s ago, I shared a blog post showcasing my mum’s beautiful new rag rug made of jewel coloured sari silk. Well, this is the first rug that we’ve ever done in the “Short Shaggy” technique of rag rugging… a new method of rag rugging that we actually invented. Here’s what it looks like:

Beautiful handmade rag rug - great idea for reducing textile waste

My mum’s sari silk “Short Shaggy” rag rug.

Well, after the rug’s warm reception, we thought that it was only right to share with you how we do this new method of rag rugging and some of the reasons why we think it deserves its place in your rag rug repertoire. We hope you find it useful and that it inspires lots of gorgeous new rag rug creations 🙂

Why did we invent Short Shaggy Rag Rugging?

When you rag rug in the traditional shaggy technique of rag rugging, designs tend to become distorted. This can be pretty annoying when you’ve put a lot of effort into creating an intricate design…

Circular rag rug based on an Iznik plate design with blue, white and orange. Back of rag rug

This rag rug had a very distinctive design…

Circular shaggy rag rug in blue, white and orange with triangles of colour

But the design completely disappeared when I shaggy rag rugged it, which was a shame…

We wanted a solution to this problem. Loopy rag rugging is the obvious choice, but sometimes you just don’t feel like playing around with the latch hook. We knew from experience that shaggy rag rugging with shorter pieces of fabric or trimming a rug after it’s finished helps to make the design stand out more…

Pink rag rug in scallop design with white borders made of old t-shirts

I trimmed this rug after it was made to make the pattern slightly more defined.

But, trimming isn’t ideal as it wastes fabric, and cutting the pieces shorter in the first place is time-consuming and labour-intensive as you can’t use a Rag Rug Gauge.

So, we needed to create a form of rag rugging that kept our designs defined, without generating unnecessary wastage or work for ourselves…

The solution… Short Shaggy Rag Rugging!   Here’s how it’s done…

How to do Short Shaggy Rag Rugging:

Firstly, we recommend watching our How To Make a Short Shaggy Rag Rug video on YouTube to see the technique in action, but below we’ve also included step by step photos and instructions 🙂

What you will need:

Step by Step Instructions: 

Step 1: Cut your fabric into short strips that are roughly 1cm wide and 7-8cm long using your Rag Rug Scissors and Gauge. A tutorial for how this is done can be found on our YouTube channel here.

Cutting strips of fabric for rag rugging with rag rug scissors

Step 1: Cutting your strips

how to use the rag rug gauge

Cutting your strips short using the gauge

Cutting your strips short using the rag rug gauge

Cutting your strips short using the gauge

Tip: It is important to cut the strips narrower than normal (approx. 1cm wide as opposed to 1.5cm) as the Short Shaggy Technique adds thickness to the fabric that can make it harder to pull through the hessian. When in doubt, it is better to cut your fabric slightly narrower as opposed to too wide.

Step 2: From the top of the hessian, weave the pointed end of the tool down into a hole in the hessian and up through a hole two holes away. You should now have two strands of the hessian on top of the lever of the tool.

Rag Rug Spring Tool Closed inside the hessian

Step 2: Short Shaggy Technique

Step 3: Squeeze the wooden handle and spring handle together to raise the lever at the end of the tool.A Ragged Life Rag Rug Spring Tool Lever Open in Hessian

Step 4: Pick up a short piece of fabric and fold it in half lengthwise.

How to do short shaggy rag rugging with short fabric strips

Step 4: Fold your Strip Lengthways

Step 5: Place the folded edge of the fabric piece between the lever and the barrel and release the spring lever to clench the rag.

Short shaggy rag rugging with the rag rug spring tool

Step 5: Place the strip into the end of the spring tool

Step 6: Holding the hessian still with one hand, pull the Spring Tool back through the hessian (I find that it helps to wiggle it a bit), so that half of the folded strip is on one side of the strands of hessian and half is on the other. You will have a loop on one end and cut edges on the other side.

Short shaggy rag rugging with the Ragged Life rag rug spring tool

Step 6: Pull the strip through the hessian

One piece of short shaggy rag rug

This is your first piece of short shaggy rag rugging.

Step 7: Leaving approximately two or three holes between each rag and the next, repeat steps 2 to 6 to continue the method.

A row of Short Shaggy Rag Rugging

Step 7: Keep going with your short shaggy rag rugging

Back of short shaggy rag rug on hessian made with old clothing

This is what the back should look like vaguely.

And that’s all there is to it! How easy is that 🙂 So, it may be easy, but why else should you think about trying the short shaggy technique?

Why choose Short Shaggy Rag Rugging?

  • It makes rag rug designs more defined and crisp. Where patterns can disappear with the traditional shaggy technique of rag rugging, Short Shaggy rag rugging keeps lines crisp and designs clear.
  • It uses less fabric than the traditional form of rag rugging. Our Sari Silk Rag Rug used less than 1kg of fabric in the Short Shaggy technique, where as the same size rug can take 2-3kg in other fabrics in the traditional shaggy style.
  • It’s a very simple and forgiving technique. The Rag Rug Spring Tool is very easy to use and the Rag Rug Gauge makes cutting the strips much much quicker!
  • As with all the rag rug techniques, short shaggy rag rugging still gives a beautiful plush feel. You’d be surprised by how comfy and cosy they feel.


So, that’s all there is to it. If you’re already familiar with the traditional shaggy form of rag rugging using the Rag Rug Spring Tool then you’ll be whizzing along in no time. We hope you found the tutorial interesting and stay tuned for more short shaggy rag rug creations. Do let us know what you think by commenting below or, if you’d like to be the first to find out about new techniques, why not join our Rag Rug Community on Facebook join our fortnightly newsletter here.






As always, happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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[…] 9cm is a decent length for most projects, but you can also play around with and deliberately cut your strips shorter or longer for texture and design. In the Ragged Life Rag Rug Mini Wreath below I cut my strips 3cm in length for a shorter pile. However, the shorter the shaggy rag rug pieces, the more likely they are to fall out over time, so I wouldn’t recommend this for practical projects, such as rugs and cushions. If you’d like a shorter pile for those projects, I’d recommend doing the “Short Shaggy” technique of rag rugging. […]


[…] silk ribbon comes in pre-cut strips. These tend to be the perfect width to loopy rag rug and short shaggy rag rug with, reducing the time taken to prep your […]

Jane Draisey
Jane Draisey
2 years ago

I’ve realised that my spring hook gets clogged with fibres preventing it closing properly and catching on the hessian. To combat this I clean the little trough with an interdent tooth pick! Works a treat…amazing how much fluff comes out too!

Heather Wright
Heather Wright
3 years ago

I’ve started my first rag rug and find it really relaxing , though I am surprised at how long it is taking.
It’s exciting too as I don’t know what the finished article will look like.!!!


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