These past few months I have had two mandates in my sewing life: use up stash, and experiment with different weights of Aurifil thread to see what each can do. One thread in particular I've enjoyed is 28 weight, so when I decided to dig into my scraps to make a rag rug, it was my first choice to use. My mat is not yet complete (the end is tucked under for the picture) as I am still unsure how large I'd like it to be, but I've got a good handle on the process now.
Polly and I had a great time going through boxes and boxes of fabric scraps (all cotton) to pull colours to include. The mat will go in a room which has a red and blue quilt on the bed so in addition to those colours, we included grey, black, and a bit of off-white. We were not too picky about what we used, and you can see some of the prints have yellow and orange. Having never braided a mat before, I read lots and lots online about how to proceed. Naturally, there were many different - and sometimes contradictory -suggestions. Nothing to do but jump in and see what works and what doesn't.
We decided to tear our strips, and had a ball doing that. There is something so satisfying about that sharp RIIIIPPPPPP! Polly loved playing with the braided strips.
We braided and braided and kept rolling it together to see how big it was getting. I had no clue how long the braid needed to be.
Finally we decided to start joining. The online instructions I had read all recommended sewing the braids together by hand. Ha! Not this gal. I was hoping for the mat to be oval so I didn't curl the centre into a circle. Next time I will make the centre longer before turning the corner, as my mat is only slightly ovate.
The thread I chose for the job is Aurifil 28 weight, heavy enough to be strong yet not too thick that it will show. The colour is # 2775 Steel Blue. which is now my favourite shade. It blends so well.
Joining with the machine was no problem at all. I set the machine to the widest zigzag possible - in this case only 5.5 mm. If I could have set it wider I would have, as I had to watch carefully to ensure the needle grabbed each side evenly. A 9mm width stitch would be perfect. The key to joining the strips is to make sure you add the braid in a counter-clockwise direction so that the mat grows to the left side.You also need a totally flat surface so the mat doesn't curl up into a big bowl.
We have used almost a full small spool to join 29 m of braid.
The mat measures 26 "x 28", and will no doubt go at least a big larger. After this is finished, I will figure out how much yardage was used. I marked the braids in 3 m increments with a piece of masking tape (you can see the one on the right says 26) and measured the mat after each addition. A bit of math will be involved
I do know it made a noticeable dent in my scrap pile (yay!) and I can't wait to make another. With the raw edges and many threads from ripping, this has a rustic look for sure, but it will be perfect in the intended room.