This post will give you a very clear idea of what it takes to make your first tufted rug.
Before You Make Your First Tufted Rug
If you haven’t already looked into this step, you’ll need several things to begin. This isn’t as simple as buying some yarn and crochet hooks.
Before you can make your first rug, you’ll need:
- A tufting gun or punch needle (if you want to make a small rug)
- A tufting frame (you can buy all the needed materials from your local hardware store)
- Primary backing fabric
- Final backing fabric
- Carpet tack strips, tacks, or a staple gun
- A carpet carving machine
- Carpet glue (AAT1132 or Roberts 6700)
- Spray adhesive (Loctite or Scotch)
- Hot glue
- A mask to protect yourself from rug tufting dust
Unless you plan to hand draw or freestyle your designs, you’ll also need a projector.
It’s also great to have a fan to blow on the glue to speed up the drying process.
Step-by-step Guide to Make Your First Tufted Rug
Choose your design
Determine if you’ll be freestyling or drawing your design or if you’ll be using an existing design like a logo or an image of a celebrity or fictional character.
You can project images with an easily tuftable number of colors onto the fabric.
Make sure to flip any design that isn’t symmetrical so it is like a mirror image.
More complex images can be made cartoonish (called posterizing) in image processing software or you can hire someone to do this for you. Adobe Capture is a common way to do it yourself.
Put the fabric on the frame
Stretch the primary backing fabric on the frame. Attach it on carpet tack strips or with tacks or staples to hold it in place.
You need the fabric to be straight and evenly taut. It doesn’t need to be 100% as tight as it can get, but it needs to feel firm to your touch so the tufting gun can push the yarn through the fabric correctly.
Apply the design
Draw the design onto the front of the fabric or project it onto the back of the fabric and trace the design.
Load the tufting gun
Get out the first color of yarn you wish to use. How you do the next step varies. You could look at rug tufting photos and videos to see what other tufters are doing, but you basically need to have the yarn coming down to the gun somehow, with the yarn suspended above the frame or with a guide higher than the frame for the yarn to go through. You need the yarn to be able to move freely into the gun.
There is an eye or spring on the top of the tufting gun. Slip the yarn through that eye moving from the back of the gun to the front. The foot or nose of the gun has a hole in it that you will feed the yarn through from top to bottom or a little tunnel you feed the yarn through from back to front.
Always tuft with at least two strands of yarn. Two is the best general recommendation.
Press the gun into the fabric where you want that color and press the trigger. Move at a slow pace so you feel you are in control of the gun. It’s best to use only straight lines, even when you’re working in curved designs. The more carefully and deliberately you tuft, the more perfect your finished rug can look. When you want to stop, release the trigger and stop moving at the same time. It takes practice to learn to do all these things well, so don’t worry if you struggle with it at first.
You need to trim rugs made with cut pile guns. It is possible to wait until you’re done to trim, but many tufters have found that it’s much easier to carve out designs and lettering as they go and do their final shave for evenness at the end.
To carve as you go, tuft everything in one color or in one area and then stop and carve the edges of it so it’s neat before you tuft the color next to it.
Take your carpet glue and spread it all over the back of the rug. You want each fiber held by the glue without making peanut butter all over the back of the rug because that is a waste of glue and makes the rug too heavy.
It usually needs to dry 24 hours, but you can speed this up with a fan.
It’s best to leave it to dry on the frame.
Trim & vacuum
Do your final trim around all the details, if needed, and over the entire surface to make it look even.
You’ll need to vacuum the excess yarn bits off.
When the glue is dry, cut around the design of your rug leaving around an inch of excess fabric to fold down onto the back of the rug.
Fold the edges back and attach them to the back of the rug with the hot glue. If you’re working with a square or rectangular rug, this is super easy. Just fold and stick. If you’re working with a round or oddly shaped rug, you’ll need to cut the excess fabric into a bunch of little tabs to fold down and glue.
Cut your final backing fabric just a tiny bit smaller than the rug and use spray adhesive to stick it to the back of the rug and cover the glue and folded fabric.
Voila! Your first rug is done!