Rug Tufting: The Beginners Guide
Today I’m going to show you what it what’s tufting and what you’ll need to get started.
I remember when I first started to discover tufting. I’d scour the net to find anything or everything to find out how tufting actually worked. It was both amazing and confusing as I learnt to understand this new art form.
And in this no nonsense guide I'm going to show you exactly what you need and how it works.
What is tufting, exactly?
Tufting is the process of passing a thread through a primary fabric material. Primarily used to make rugs, its uses are limited to your imagination.
For example, here are some awesome rugs that have been made by tufting.
Tufting is a great way to make a rug on your own with new equipment that has never before been possible.
Now that you understand what tufting is, it’s time for me to explain how to get started in it.
Your first step is to assemble the right tools for the job. To get started you’ll need:
- A Rug Tufting Machine
- A Tufting Frame
- Primary Backing Fabric
- Secondary Backing Fabric
- Rug Tufting Yarn
- Primary Backing Glue
- Secondary Backing Glue
We also recommend to finish off your rug with a clean, crisp finish:
- Shaping Shears
- Electric Clippers
- Finishing Scissors
Rug Tufting Machine
This is one of the most important pieces of equipment. There are a few models going around, Aus Tufting Supplies carry the Easy Tufter which is a genuine Ak Model. The Easy Tufter comes in both Loop & Cut pile Variants.
There are plenty of counterfeit models going around, the most common being the “red trigger models”. These have much lower quality and are often reported to break after a few uses.
Now you’ve decided on the type of machine you want, it’s time to get to work on your tufting frame (or make your mind up at least).
The Tufting Frame
The Tufting Frame is something that should be made by you to suit your needs. We like to construct our frames using 90x35mm pine lengths and securing them together with L brackets. Then to keep the fabric tight we like to use 35mm bullet nails hammered in on an angle. We have a video tutorial here to give you some tips on setting up your own frame.
We can’t recommend more to start with the proper supplies, then only once you get going, get experimental.
Primary Backing Fabric
One of the most common starting mistakes…
The role of primary backing fabric is to provide a material that securely holds short cuts or loops of yarn that have been punched through it. The tufting process is hard on fabric, where it has constant pressure from the machine foot, along with the needle shooting in and out. If you have the wrong stuff you’ll find plenty of holes and uneven cuts.
Tufters often try to go for a cheaper alternative when starting out to practice on before using the nice stuff. We think they should do the opposite! You wouldn’t try tennis for the first time with a cricket bat, yes, it is possible, but you’re not setting yourself up for success.
Secondary Backing Fabric
This is where we like to get creative.
The role of the Secondary Backing Fabric is to cover and protect your PBF, Yarn and PTG, while adding stiffness/strength/rigidity to your rug.
Because of this, there are a huge amount of fabrics that we can use. The criteria being High gsm (thick), durable, and great looking! Bonus points if you find some fabric with non-slip dots on it.
When shopping at my local fabric shop, I like to use Cotton/Polyester Canvas that is usually uses for upholstery (they usually have it in funky patterns)
Rug Tufting Yarn
Do you really need it? The truth is no, but also yes?
Machine Tufting is a relatively new process, so it can sometimes be tricky finding the right supplies for the job. The hardest of which is most likely yarn.
Having yarn that is wound on cones will speed up your tufting 10x your tufting speed while reducing frustration by the same amount.
The truth is, almost any kind of yarn can be used when tufting, what matters more is how many threads are being fed into the machine at a time and how it’s being fed.
ATS Tufting Yarn adds to this with an industrial rug yarn that is a lot more durable,
We go more in depth into this here
Primary Backing Glue
Primary Tufting Glue is the thing that keeps our tufting family together, along with our tufts.
Once you’ve finished up with your machine and given the back a trim with some scissors. It’s time to get sticky. ATS Primary Tufting Glue can be painted, rolled or scraped onto your tufts where it locks them in place for many years to come.
You can see a video of ATS glue in action here
Secondary Backing Glue
More Glue? We’re going to need some way to attach the Secondary Backing Fabric to our masterpiece. This is where our secondary backing glue comes in.
I like to use Spray Contact Adhesive, by applying some to the tufted rug and some to the Secondary Backing Fabric, then when tacky, stick ‘em together.
More than just a great pair of scissors.
Shaping shears are the difference between a fuzzy fuzz ball and a crisp coconut. By using the ATS Shaping Shears you can trust that you’ll have a great looking rug that you’ll hardly believe can come from your own two hands.
*before fuzzy pic pig*
*after crisp rug pic*
(don’t worry, we love fuzzy fuzz balls too)
Electric clippers are a cheap alternative to a rug shearing machine where you can get very similar results. Some people like to use animal clippers, however, ATS have the perfect pair that will make sure your rug will be looking clean and trim just like the first day of school.
Duckbill Finishing Scissors
DBFS are the perfect tool to make accurate cuts without getting too close to your precious tufted rug back. These can be used to trim loose yarn ends after tuft passes or for quick touch ups on the front of your rug
*image DBS in use*
Now we have the tools, it’s time to get started.
We’ve already made a starter tutorial over here, but we’ll give you a little summary here.
Top Tufting Tips:
- Make sure your fabric is stretched tightly over your tufting frame (like a drum)
- Ensure that your yarn can be fed effortlessly into the machine
- Set your tufting machine to it lowest speed
- Once threaded, firmly press the needle head and foot into the fabric
- Press the trigger and let the machine slowey move up
Let’s hope “Rug Tufting: A Beginners Guide” has saved you hours of scouring the internet to learn about this awesome artform . Everything you need has been compiled in one place.
As you saw in the guide, having the right equipment, supplies and setup can make or break your tufting journey before you even start. Without these essential ingredients, your chances of tufting success is slim. But when you get started the right way you can quickly leapfrog into amazing rugs.
Now you’ve seen what you need, it’s time to jump in! Head to Australian Tufting Supplies to kit up and rug up.
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