Surely it was the alluring power of the shaggy bear that pushed me to have my first DIY rug project done in just under a month. Inspired by xoelle’s tutorial, I went a little wild making this guy, devoting afternoons and evenings to sitting hunched over hooking strips of gray one-by-one. Thoroughly time-consuming, but worth it.
Even though I gave 4 mini-updates throughout the duration of the project (day 1, day 8, day 15, and day 22), I’m ready to show you a little more detail on how the little rug came to be, because I now consider myself a latch hooking/money-saving/rug-makin’ pro. The whole handmade rug cost less than $100. Not bad.
The raw jersey cotton fabric (white) was purchased in 2-4 yard batches based on how much was available at my local JoAnn’s… I did deplete their limited inventory twice. Priced at $9.99/yard, I always bought fabric when it wasn’t on sale so that I could reap the benefit of using 50% off coupons (the store doesn’t let you redeem coupons on top of sale prices, and the sale prices were never as good as my couponed price). And in the end, my 14 yards of fabric originally priced at a total $139.86 was brought down to $69.93 (taxes not included). I also invested in latch hooking fabric, the special tool, rug binding tape, and dye. The costs totalled $95, broken down as follows:
Each piece of fabric was dyed in the washing machine using an un-exacting combination of Silver Gray iDye and bleach, and on average, spent 3 rounds/one full day in the washing machine until the color acheieved was “close” to previous batches. Fabric dying and cutting hours were not included in my total 35 hooking hours, and easily added another 15 to the project, no exagguration. (Note: No dyed batches matched exactly, like xoelle, it might be wise to dye it all at once if you’re going to try this. I did the dying in 5 batches only because I underestimated how much fabric I’d actually need by 400%.)
For those not familiar with the latch hooking process, there are a few ways to do it. Because these fabric swatches were so thick, this overview works best and allows you to move at the quickest clip with little margin of error:
(You can click on the thumbnails for a larger view.)
Step 1: Thread the latch hooking tool beneath a single section of the grid.
Step 2: Loop a piece of fabric evenly over the end of the hook.
Step 3: Pull the fabric halfway back through the fabric.
Step 4: Hook the tails of the fabric.
Step 5: Pull the tails through to create a knot. Because of the thickness of this fabric, I had to hold the knotted end pry a bit.
Step 6: Wiggle the knot to tighten it up.
The act of hooking became much more bearable (pun totally intended) by week 2. Make sure when you cut the strips into 1″x4″ pieces, you cut the fabric on a bias so that it remains stretchy lengthwise; cut the wrong way (no lengthwise stretchy) and you’ll be sorry.
When the bear’s shape itself was completely filled in, I carefully trimmed along the taped line that I had made leaving a 1/2″ edge to prevent fraying.
The 1/2″ overhang was also to allow room to wrap the edge in a rug binding, per the recommendation of other latch hook rug makers. I opted for an iron-on variety even though it was a little pricier than the sew-on kind ($2.99 for 2-yards, and I did have a coupon, but because I needed nearly 8 yards to finish the wrap around the entire bear perimeter, it still cost $12). The cost seemed worth it, because I wasn’t sure if my little sewing machine would get all knotted up trying to punch through the waxed latch hook canvas. The iron-on strips wrapped around the edge and melted together really easily – it was a breeze.
As you can see, the binding is visible on the underside, but the shag is still floppy enough to disguise any goings-on when it’s laying flat. Also, while you’re peering at the underside of the rug, you can pretty clearly see how I didn’t hook in every space or in any particular pattern, only hooking every 1-in-4 spots for the most part (half as lush as the rug that inspired me, but still mighty fine).
The only visible issue was the lack of consistency in the dying. I considered leaving it as you see it above, believing that if I dyed the whole rug, it would still look inconsistent, just end up a little darker, but I had to try it and not be left to wonder. So I took it to the basement. Filled a container with dye (the same container I used for the dip-dyed Octo art). Side note: Compared to 5’9″ me, it’s big, right? Also, heavy.
I mushed it in. Saturated and rotated it for consistency, and then rinsed three times with clear water to try and remove extra dye.
Left to dry over the sink on a strategically positioned drying rack, I proceeded to furiously scrub my still-stained hands before leaving for a New Year’s Eve par-tay. Awesome.
Said, done, and dried, I’d vote the second dying attempt worthwhile; it looks good. Definitely a little darker than before, but more consistently darker. Best of all, it eliminated most of the purple-y pieces that really felt out of place to me.
And positioned where it was intended to lay in the office, it’s very cool. A fun addition to the space.