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Cut or tear strips of material from 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide on the straight of the material. Place right sides together. Stitch on bias. Make sure each strip is the same thickness.
Fold raw edges of material to the center. Bring folded sides together.
To begin braid, stitch two strips together. Join third folded strip at right angle forming a "T". When braiding keep all open edges to the same side and lace against next braid. Join new strands at different points to avoid a bulky seam. For a tight braid pull strips sideways, not down.
Center of rug is one long braid bent back to form two parallel braids. Length of center braid is determined by size of rug you want to make. Subtract the width from the length to arrive at figure for center braid. For example, in a 4' X 6' rug, the center braid would be two feet.
Center of rug is sewn together. Use carpet thread and a long, thin needle. Start at the bend and go through the folds of the two inside loops from side to side hiding the thread. Continue back and forth along the length of the braid until you have gone around the second bend.
Transfer the thread to a blunt-pointed needle. Go under inside loop of braid with needle bringing it up and out. Go back and forth from one braid to another never penetrating the material but rather lacing the braids together.
To finish rug, taper each strip from 5 to 7 inches. For smooth gradual finish, each strip should be trimmed to a different length. Turn the edges under and blindstitch each strip with matching thread. Braid the small strips to the end and lace to the rug as far as possible. Sew the shortest strip under one of the others with matching thread. Wrap the two remaining strips around each other and sew together
Shape of Rug - For an oval rug, begin with center braid which measures as long as the difference between width and length of finished rug. As an example: a 6 x 9-foot rug would require a 3-foot center braid. An 8 x 10-foot or 4 x 6-foot rug would require a center braid of two feet. Turn braid and fold back an equal length in hairpin shape. Sew these two together side by side. Lacing together makes rug reversible. Sew round and round this core with a large needle and carpet thread. Be careful and do not pull or stretch braiding strip when sewing or lacing.
To make a rectangular rug, make beginning braid more than twice as long as finished length or rug. As this length is measured for beginning braid, allow at least one inch per foot extra which may be lost in first lacing. Pin braid at mark indicating length of first braid and cut braid near pin. Lift second braid to beginning of first braid and lace first and second braids together, being sure to match loops of braids to achieve pattern effect desired. It is best to lace third braid to opposite side of first braid and continue to lace to alternate sides as braids are added. This will result in a straight flat rug if braiding is firm and even. When desired size is reached, stitch across each end to secure braids. Stitch rug binding tape across both ends.
Lacing: Along straight sides of rug the loops of each braid are side by side to form an open "V". Using a curved needle or bodkin and carpet (linen) thread, lace through alternate loops of adjoining braids. When rug begins to curve another method is used. To allow fullness needed to keep rug flat it is necessary to increase by lacing thread through 2 loops on new braid and continuing to lace through alternate loops on rug. Be sure to increase enough at each curve to allow rug to lie flat.
Tricks for a Flat and Smooth Center -- Even the most experiences rug braiders often find it difficult to squeeze the first bend in a braid so that it lies flat. However that bulky bend can be eliminated with a slight variation in the braiding. When you have braided the length needed for your center strip, stop and mentally number each strand from left to right as 1, 2, and 3.
Tips for a Flat Rug -- Use the same amount of tension for all your braiding. Each new row of the rug is larger than the previous one, anywhere from 5 to 7 inches. To accommodate the additional length of braid, skip some loops on the outside braid when lacing. If this isn't done, the rug will buckle. Always skip on the curve of the rug. If done on the straight sides, the rug will ripple. After the run is complete, it may require light pressing with a damp cloth and hot iron.
Source: Text by Bryan Wright
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