Basket Overview

Rag Rug Techniques

Rag Rug Techniques

Here in the UK, I grew up thinking that rag rugs were only made using a hessian (burlap) base. Those were the rugs I’d grown up with after all! The more I travelled and the more people I spoke to, the more I realised that rag rugging is a huge craft done in different ways and in different places all across the world. Below are just a few of the rag rug techniques that exist and some of their characteristics. If you’d like to learn how to do any of these techniques then check out our Ragged Life Workshops, buy Elspeth’s second book “Rag Rug Techniques for Beginners” or browse our Rag Rug Kits.

Shaggy Technique

The shaggy technique of rag rugging is sometimes called proddy, proggy, peggy, clippy, clouthie… the list goes on. It has the thickest pile of all the rag rug techniques and is arguably the best one for foot feel. Sooo cushy! We think a shaggy rag rug is one of the best projects for a rag rug beginner, as it is incredibly easy to do and only requires a Rag Rug Spring Tool, Cutting Gauge and some hessian.

As well as classic rugs and cushions, we use the shaggy technique for our Rag Rug Wreaths and Rag Rug Bouquets, where the long pieces are able to mimic petals and foliage

Loopy Technique

The loopy technique of rag rugging is also known as “Hooked” or “Hooky” rag rugging. It is one of the neatest and most satisfying forms of rag rug making, as you can create very pictorial pieces with it. That’s why it’s beloved by textile artists for wall hangings. 

The loopy technique is done with a Rug Hook into Hessian and works best with thin, flexible fabrics. That’s why sari silk ribbon is a particular favourite of ours for this technique. 

This technique works best for rugs, cushions, wall hangings and decorative pieces with a distinct pattern. 

Short Shaggy Technique

This is a hybrid form of rag rugging that my mum and I have somewhat invented. It is a mix of the shaggy and loopy techniques and combines some of the best characteristics of both. For example, it has some of the fluffy, soft texture of the shaggy technique, but isn't as long and wild. This means that lines will remain relatively crisp in this technique.

If you fancy giving this technique a go, all you need is a Rag Rug Spring Tool, Cutting Gauge and some hessian

Peg Loom Weaving

Peg loom weaving is a great way to dip your toe into weaving for the first time without having to invest in expensive looms and tools. It is probably the easiest of all the rag rug techniques and builds very quickly – you can make a runner in just a few days! 

The resulting rugs and cushions are generally square or rectangular and striped in pattern. You can make projects using any weight of fabric. However, it looks better when you work with similar weight fabrics in a single project.

Head over to the Ragged Life Shop to take a look at our 50cm wide wooden peg loom and materials. 

Coiled rope rag rugs

This technique of rag rugging is probably the most popular one from my second book “Rag Rug Techniques for Beginners". I think students like the fact that you can create bowls, baskets and any number of 3D objects in this way. The sky’s the limit really! 

With the coiled rope technique, you wrap cotton cord in fabric before assembling it in various ways. You can cover plant pots and bowls for a no-sew version, but if you’d like to really unleash its full potential, you’ll need a sewing machine that is able to do a zig zag stitch. 

Look out for coiled rope rag rug workshops here or check out our cord and instructions listing on the Ragged Life Shop here

Locker Hooking

Locker hooking looks similar to the loopy style of rag rugging, but has the added benefit that the loops cannot be pulled out / fall out over time (they're locked in place, hence the name).

It’s a lovely technique if you like the tight, neat appearance of the loopy technique, but are looking for something a bit more robust. 

Design-wise, locker hooking is quite interesting as the loops from channels, which show the direction a piece was hooked in. Neat, huh!

Crocheters tend to get on very well with this technique as the hooking up of loops is similar in motion.

To get going with this technique, you need a Locker Hook, Rug Canvas and some form of ‘Locking Medium’ to pass through all the loops.


Twining is an ancient form of basketry that was traditionally done with reeds, fronds and natural materials. It’s like classic weaving, but the main difference is that the “warp” is completely enclosed, and you always work with two “wefts’ at once. 

The style of rug created is flat and similar to knitting in appearance, and you can create complex patterns through different “stitches” and turns.

Twining became popular in America after fabric production was mechanised.  Women used the technique to make fabric rag rugs on a simple wooden frame with dowels and metal rods… a twining loom.

Browse upcoming twining workshops here or enquire about renting / buying a twining loom here.

Two-string loom rugs

A two-string loom is used to create long strands of fluffy rag rugging that can be shaped and sewn into various shapes and projects. I used this technique to make the iconic rag rug Christmas tree in “Rag Rug Techniques for Beginners”. 

It’s very easy to do and only requires a simple two-string loom. This technique is particularly great for using up very small scraps of fabric and is mindful to do in front of the TV.

Stitched Rag Rugs

In some places in the world, the most common form of rag rugs are stitched ones. This means the process is somewhat similar to patchworking. In “Rag Rug Techniques for Beginners”, you can see four different stitched projects, including a Klackmatta from Sweden and “Tapete de Retalho” from Brazil. 

Woven Rag Rugs

Here at Ragged Life, we don’t teach more complicated forms of weaving on floor looms as it’s an absolute beast of a topic. However, it seemed silly to do a section on rag rug techniques without mentioning woven rag rugs as they’re on the most common forms of rag rug found across the world. 

Rag rugs from Scandinavia, India and Morocco tend to be woven and the final appearance comes down to the waste materials available in the country and the complexity of the design. In Sweden, it isn’t uncommon to see rag rugs with denim in, for example, where as in India the fabrics used tend to be lighter synthetic sari remnants.

Other Techniques

I would be silly to think that I know all the forms of rag rugging from across the world. As well as the ones above, I’ve had a go “Shuttle Hooking” and Toothbrush rugs / Amish Knot Rugs, but have yet to teach them. 

If you’ve come across other forms of rag rugging which you’d like to share with us, please do share with us on our social media below – we’d love to hear from you!