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Tonight I'm going to walk you through a rug hooked stool cover project. The photo links that I have are all about 30 kb or smaller, with dialup users (like me!) in mind.

First of all, I'll tell you what you will need. Next, I'll go through the preparation steps. I'll be giving you instruction in how to hook, and how to finish the rug. This project goes a little beyond a basic rug, so for those of you who are interested, please stay around for the finishing of the stool cover. Lastly, I will recommend a couple of key resources, and then the floor is yours for questions. Let's begin!

Materials You Will Need

  • Ground Fabric (fabric you will be hooking...usually burlap, but I will use white monk's cloth because I have allergies to burlap)
  • Simple (primitive) hook (no latch)

  • Scissors (or you can use a rotary cutter)
  • Frame (to hold the ground fabric taut) (I use canvas stretcher bars)
  • Sewing needle and thread (you can use latex adhesive and fabric glue if you don't want to sew)
  • Permanent marker
  • Staple gun or thumbtacks
  • Rug hooking materials (old clothes, used blankets, towels, sweaters, rugs, yarns, elastic bands, twisted paper, plastic bags, tape, straw, wrapping foils, dental floss, food packaging, fur, feathers, leather, wire, etc....whatever gives you the look you want) If you are using thin fabrics, it's best to combine these with thicker ones to help hold them in place. My favourite hooking fabrics are polar fleece and old sweatshirts (they hook easily and don't fray).

Here's a composite photo of some of the supplies I use:

Mounting the Backing Fabric on the Frame

Lay your ground fabric (I'll refer to it as burlap) on the floor and put your frame on top, allowing enough fabric for folding over all sides (the process is the same as for stretching a canvas, so if you have a preferred technique for stretching canvas, you can use the same technique here). Line up the fabric grain with one side of the frame. Staple or pin the fabric at one corner of the frame, pull the fabric tightly and parallel to one stapled side, adding staples every 2 inches. After a few staples, pull the burlap across to the other side and add a few staples directly across from the others. Then start on a new side and work in the other direction. Keep stretching and adding staples to the four sides (alternating sides), until your fabric is stretched tightly and neatly. It's much easier to hook a stretched piece of burlap.

Transferring a Design

There are many ways to do this. You can use the grid method and scale it up onto a larger piece of paper, use an opaque projector, or draw your design freehand in pencil, and then go over it with a Sharpie (this is what I will do). I trace around my stool first onto a piece of paper:

Then I draw my design onto the paper (after roughly sketching out some ideas first). I cut out my design and tape it to the back side of the burlap (this is much easier if your entire design fits inside your frame):

Hold the design against your vertical light box (a bright window) and draw the design onto the front of your burlap with Sharpie:

Since you are not reversing your image, what you draw is what your finished rug will look like.

Getting Ready to Hook

I like to buy bulk bags of fabric scraps from my local VV Boutique (Value Village). Sometimes second hand stores will have bag sales, and you can gather all the old clothes you want in a garbage bag for a few dollars.

For this piece, because it's not very large (about 16" across), I will work on my lap while sitting comfortably. If you start to get sore, take a break, then change your working position.

Preparing Your Fabric Strips

Strips that are too narrow will fall out. Too wide, and the strips will be too bulky to pull through. I start with a strip of about ¼" wide and about 12" long, then adjust as necessary depending on the material. The strips should displace the burlap fibers. That's how you know your rug will be...rugged. Sorry. (The jokes can get much worse: "It's important to be a good stripper to be a good hooker"). Once you are happy with the width, many normally unproductive hours in the car can be spent cutting fabric strips with your scissors. I think colour mixtures look more interesting than a single block of one colour. It's for this reason I like to hook with patterned or blotchy fabrics. Here's a photo of two of the fabrics I will be using, shown next to what they will look like when hooked:

Sometimes I add dots of contrasting colour afterwards. ZipLoc bags make storage easy.

I never calculate how much fabric I need. I just cut strips as I go along and use whatever I have. But to figure out how much fabric you need, first approximate the area (l x w) of each different colour you need, then multiply by 4-5 (depending on your loop height and width). If you’re dyeing a special colour, it's wise to have a little extra.

How to Hook

Take the hook in your writing hand (I'm left handed, so my apologies to you righties for the "reversed" photos). The hook hand stays on the top (good) side of the burlap:

Hold a fabric strip underneath the burlap with your other hand:

Start with the outline of your rug, and always work inside the lines. Poke the hook down through a hole in the fabric where you'd like to start. Grab the strip of fabric from between the thumb and forefinger of your strip hand, and pull it up through the hole to the top. Pull one end of the strip all the way up, and adjust it to a length of ½-1". This is a tail. You can trim all the tails at the end of your project (note: it's better to keep all tails on top...pull these and your rug won't unravel. If tails on the underside are pulled, all your loops will be easily pulled out). Poke your hook down a hole next to the tail and grab the strip. Pull it up about ½" (enough to make a teardrop shaped loop, rather than a stubby bump that might pull out). If you're right handed, it's easiest to work right to left. Hook the outlines of the shapes:

Then fill in the shapes afterward. Skip more holes when you're filling in shapes; the loops will take up more space than you think. When you have an awkward space to fill, start with narrow, pointy areas first:

Corrections are easy...just pull out the loops you don’t want from underneath.

I realize that I will run out of the blue space fabric before being finished . Knowing that I have some light blue fabric kicking around, I will hook the rest of the space strips in such a way that all of the light blue fabric won't be blobbed together:

Trim your tails, cut off stray threads, and tidy up the design by nudging the loops of fabric around (like smoothing out edges in a painting).

Finishing the Rug

Leave 2" of burlap around your project when you cut off excess burlap. If your piece is rectangular, fold the edges over the back (you can trim away the corners - mitre - so they're not as bulky). At this point you can either sew down the edges using a flat stitch like the herringbone (making little "X"s all the way along), or glue down the flaps with latex used for rugs. Spread latex on the back, let dry, and you're done. Or, you could glue or sew on a backing fabric (of your choice).

For a round design like mine, I use a basting stitch all the way around:

Then pull it tight around the back (like a drawstring):

I tuck under the fraying edges and sew it down:

Spread latex or add a backing to make your rug more durable.

Congratulations! A basic rug is finished at this point!

If you want to hang your piece, a rectangular rug hangs nicely if you leave one of the back flaps open for a rod of dowel to go through. Otherwise, you could glue a strip of wood to the back and hang like a regular picture, or frame it with a float frame...endless possibilities!

Continuing with the Stool Cover

If you have an old stool, you could glue your rug directly onto the seat, or use sticky Velcro pieces, if you're worried about the stool surface. Since I want mine to wrap around the piano stool, I'm going to attach a fabric edge to my stool cover. For this, I use a long strip of felt, about 7" wide and a couple inches longer than the circumference of the rug. I hem both edges: to be used for piping around the rug (like those edges you see on couch cushions), and the other for a drawstring to tie underneath the stool seat.

Once you have your hems (and you could probably use fabric glue if you don't want to sew), you can thread your piping. I have a length of chunky yarn that I will use. I attach one end of the yarn to a large paperclip (make sure this is don't want it coming apart inside the pipe!) Insert the paperclip into one end of the pipe, and walk it along the inside (like an inchworm) with both of your hands.

Here it is at the other end:

Trim off the paperclip and slipstitch the piping to the rug (this is a stitch where you don't see the thread):

When you get to the end, tuck the extra piping and fabric under and secure down with a few stitches:

For the drawstring, you'll need to cut a slit on either side of the seam (since you can't pass through the seam) in the bottom hem. Thread your drawstring (I will use an old bootlace) the same way you did the piping.

Place the cover on your stool, pull and tie the drawstring, and you're done! If you want foam underneath for extra cushioning, this design accommodates that nicely.

Finally, here's a composite image of my finished "Cow Jumped over the Moon" hooked rug stool cover:

Recommended reading:  Rag Rugs: Contemporary Projects in a Traditional Craft, by Juju Vail

This book is full of beautiful photos and diagrams. There are many projects in this book that you can try as shown, but this book will inspire you to develop your own ideas.

Recommended Web Site: - A comprehensive online rug hooking site.

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