Use up your scraps and be thrifty

Linen and other backing fabrics for rug hooking are too expensive to waste. Here is an idea for making good use of a piece of backing fabric that is large enough to fit your design, but is not large enough to be stretched onto your frame. I will also be posting the hooked design as a free pattern in a few days. You will get a sneak peek of the pattern today.

Use a piece of burlap or other inexpensive fabric that will grab onto your frame’s gripper teeth. You could even make use of a piece of wool that is too thick or too thin to hook with. Make sure to cut a size that is at least 2″ or 3″ larger than each dimension of your hooking frame.

Center your backing scrap on top of your burlap and pin them together all around to hold them in place.

Machine sew two rows of stitching 1/4″ apart. Sew the first row about 1/4″ from the edge of your backing, and then another row 1/4″ inside of that. I used a yellow bobbin thread that contrasts with the burlap.

Next turn over your piece and with your scissors
cut a hole in the center of the burlap layer only.

Do this by pulling up on the burlap.

Insert your scissors into the hole and cut slits in the burlap to each of the four corners.
Take care not to cut into your linen layer.

Cut the burlap layer away exposing your backing fabric. Cut about 1/4″ away from the row of machine stitching.

Now your piece is ready for rug hooking. Center it on your frame and you are ready to start hooking.

You may have noticed that I had my design drawn on my linen backing before sewing it to the burlap, but you can also draw your design on later.

Have fun with your salvaged project. You might even consider hooking with your leftover strips to make this project even more recycled. There is something very satisfying about using up the scraps. When I scrap craft I feel like I have made something out of nothing.

Soon I will be posting photos of the finished leaf with the pattern as a thank you to my readers. I can’t wait to show you as this simple design came out surprisingly well.

Have a creative day ~ Karen

30 thoughts on “Use up your scraps and be thrifty

  1. Love to use things up. Sometimes I just sew strips of leftover linen or even cotton around the edges of the patterned piece. I’m jealous of your little white Featherweight…cute little machine and a workhorse I’m sure. I’m almost finished with my spiral mat. It’s interesting how different it is from yours. It all has to do with the “personality” of your leftover strips and the colorway you usually work in. Enjoying your blog.


  2. Oh Karen – so nice to see that you use up all those little bits and pieces – I have been doing that also for years although mine dont look quite as neat and pretty as yours. I have a pile of what i call stretcher strips that I recycle constantly by sewing them onto the edges of all my little scrap pieces – once the hooking is finished I rip these “stretcher strips” off again and use them for the next small piece of backing not big enough for my frame. Yours of course is so pretty! mine is pretty messy looking as they are all wonky lengths and dont match – BUT the idea is the same! Yeah for using all those scraps!…Loretta


  3. Thanks for this great idea! I have only been hooking a few years, but have amassed quite a collection of fairly wide strips of linen from the sides of my rugs. This will be a great way to use them. I wonder if it’s possible to overlap pieces and hook them together to make them larger? Have you ever done that?


  4. Thanks for the idea! I have some linen leftover that is narrow and would make a great runner, but it’s not wide enough to fit my frame. Now I can add little bits to it to make it fit. I can’t wait to see your new design hooked up.


  5. Karen,
    It’s so great to know you are as thrifty as I am when using up my left over and odd shaped linen. Thank-you for the tutorial and the pattern looks wonderful! Can’t wait to see the hooked piece….. I already know it is fabulous! Bless your heart for your generosity!!
    Cathy G


  6. Another “Way to go, Karen”! Great Idea and you are correct on saving all the left overs, you just never know when it can come to life again!


  7. Good to see that your Featherweight is still in action. My first sewing machine when they still were metal and not plastic. Yes, I do sew on scraps to the edge to use up pieces of backing. Also, if I have small patterns, I put more than one on the backing to so I have enough to put on the frame. I did that with the chair pads because I knew I wanted two.


  8. I have so many pieces of too-thin wool that I never use…always intended to but with other wool available, I never have. This is a wonderful way to use some of that wool. Thanks! And I’m looking forward to your next class. Maybe I need to do some quick marbelizing?


    • it’s always time to marbleize! remember that too thin wool can be ripped into 1/2″ wide strips, then hooked double to plump it up. there are some unique thin wools that you can’t find in flannel weight on the wool market.


  9. I started doing this for very small patterns I was selling – instead of using a piece of backing 6-8 times bigger than necessary, I bought some coat-weight flannel at the fabric store on clearance for just $2-3/m. Much cheaper than using all linen or rug warp, especially when 80% is just going to be thrown away post-hooking…and hey, no gripper strip bites! 🙂 I also use a wide stretch zig-zag stitch (dotted line zig-zag) to sew the two fabrics together. You can sew right along the edge and it eliminates shredding or fraying – very strong and secure.
    Just my two cents….

    P.S. Love your blog….and I’m still looking for that tea!


  10. I love what you do every time!!! Thank you for starting this blog. I have a list I go to everyday and yours is ALWAYS first. Thanks for all you do. A devoted fan and sort of beginning rug hooker.


  11. I have never tried your method – thanks for sharing.
    I use strips of cotton fabric, sew them along the edges of the burlap on all 4 sides. You can use leftover pieces from quilting, old pillow cases, bedsheets etc. Same idea, same results, just a different technique.
    Love the little pattern – looking forward to the post.


  12. Love this idea! I will definately have to try it. Love your lil Featherwieght, but what I love more is that tweed case! Please tell if its the case for your machine or if its just one that happens to fit it for storage. I am so crazy for vintage tweed suitcases….


  13. Hi Karen, I’ve met you at Tipp City for the 3 in 1 class. Will miss that this year. I love your blog – this is just great. Thank you for the idea of how to use up your scraps of backing materials. What I’ve been doing, but I like your idea better, is sewing strips onto the sides of the backing — your way is much less time consuming.


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