How rug makers turned a trendy pandemic hobby into a business - 3 minutes read
There are a few ways to make a rug by hand. Latch hooks and punch needles are very manual, creating one loop at a time. These methods are relatively affordable, but it'll take quite a bit of time to finish a full-sized rug — we’re talking multiple days or weeks for one rug, depending on size.
The method you’ve probably seen on TikTok or Instagram is rug making with a tufting gun. You know those oddly satisfying videos of yarn being punched through a cloth, rapid-fire? Those makers are using tufting guns.
Tufting is significantly faster than other methods. With a gun, smaller rugs can be tufted in just a few hours. The caveat: Tufting guns are not cheap. On Tuftinggun.com, a popular tufting site run by textiles artist Tim Eads (he also runs the tufting forum Tuft the World), the cheapest one costs $275.
But that hasn't stopped people from buying them. From the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, Eads said he saw his business’s sales grow more than 600 percent.
Rug making with a tufting machine is not something you can pull off on the fly in a small bedroom. You'll need a frame to stretch out your tufting cloth, and unless you’re making a small wall hanging or bath mat-sized rug, you’re going to need a large enough space to stretch that cloth out.
Using a tufting gun also takes some trial and error. Ohana’s first rug was “a whole mess,” she said — she accidentally put a hole in it. She tells people the first rug is just for playing around and figuring out what you’re doing. Don’t expect it to be perfect and don’t use the nicest yarn you have. Wielding a tufting gun also takes more physical exertion than you might think. You’ve got to put your whole body into it — it’s not quite like a real gun, but it does have some kick behind it. You might get gnarly blisters and calluses on your hands from gripping the machine.
The amount of time that goes into making a rug varies, especially depending on the rug's size. In general, though, you'll follow the same steps: Finalize your design, trace the design onto stretched tufting cloth (and make sure it’s backwards because you’ll be tufting from the back side), fill in the design using the tufting machine, glue the back, cut it down to size, add backing, and trim the fibers.
Watch Peterson create one of her rugs:
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