Being Framed

Several readers have asked about the frame that I use for my rugs. My mother's frame was made from rough 1 x 3 boards. The rods were scrap metal rods from somewhere on the farm. I own three frames (other than my mother's), but I use only two of them: a plain Jane made from 1 x 2 boards and a fancy, adjustable one made from oak.

The basic frame is easy to make, and the components are common to any lumber yard.

The photos that may be helpful, but keep in mind these photos are of a small place mat frame. The larger frames are made the same way.
The rug frame has a series of finishing nails (26 on each end). The top and bottom boards are 27 inches wide. The sides are 39 inches long. (Lumber yards will cut boards to any length that you request) The nails are 1 inch apart, but the end nails are 1/2 inch from the metal rod and 1/2 inch from the inside edge of the boards, but 1 inch from the outside edge. Purchase and use the longest finishing nails you can find. The longer the nail the easier it is to start the rug and to avoid the warp from popping off of the nails.

The rod (technically known as pencil rod by those who frequent Home Depot) is 1 inch from the side edge of the top and bottom pieces. The eyelet that holds the rod is 3/4 inch from the top and bottom of the frame. The rod is supported by eyelets along the side, too. The place mat frame has only three eyelets on the side, but the rug frame has five. Make sure that the screws on the eyelets are long enough to allow the rod to be level.

The place mat frame (shown in the photos as the empty frame) has a 15 inch board at the top and bottom, a 20 inch board on each side with 13 nails on each end (spaced 1 inch apart, but 1/2 inch from the rod and from the inside edge of the top and bottom board). Again the eyelets for the rods are 1 inch from the outside edge and 1/2 inch from the last nail.

My frame, nor my mother’s frame, are fancy or finished wood. Actually, mom’s frame has crayon marks all over it. Hmmm, I wonder who could have done that?

A few years ago, I saw an adjustable frame. The sides were routed out on the inside and a bar (with the nails) was tooled to fit inside. That bar slid up and down to change the size of the rug. The side boards had holes drilled strategically for nails to be pushed through and secure the nailed bar. I don’t know how well it would work.

I dragged by brother-in-law into the store to see the frame and begged him to make one for me. The next Christmas, he presented me with an adjustable frame made from oak. He had created his own design, and it works very well. I can made a wide variety of lengths and widths on that frame. I call it my "Cadillac" frame.

If you do not want to make your own frame, you can purchase one here. The book on this site Rugs from Rags by Country Threads is also helpful as it explains the technique of twining. It is a good book for someone who just wants to learn the twining process. The booklet includes instructions on how to make the rug frame.

Bobbie Irwin's book Twined Rag Rugs gives more history of the technique and explains how to make different designs in the rugs as well as round twined rugs. I would recommend this book for those who are truly serious about making rugs. The book is filled with color photographs and feature stories of those who twine rugs. This book shows a variety of frames, but it does not give instructions on how to make them. It is informative and a good read.

Fabulous Rag Rugs from Simple Frames by Diana Blake Gray offers even more of a variety of rugs to make on a basic frame. I haven't made any of the adaptations of the basic twined rug, but this book certainly tempts me when I look at it. The frame featured in this book does not have the side rods, but it is very similar. I am certain that I could use my frames to make the rugs discussed in this book.


  1. I'm told, my grandmother use to make rugs from rags. I'll have to do some asking and find out if she had a frame. I've always wanted to make rugs, I even knit one fron sheets,cut in strips, sewn together, then knitted. I have an old regid hettle lap loom, but, I really don't know have to warp it or weave. Always wanted to make my own placemats.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Nancy, thanks for the tutorial. I made my own looms from the book, also. I have rug, placemat and tablerunner sizes. You inspired me to try twining again. I'm using your denim warp and balls of strips method. How wide do you cut the denim? Do you sew together all the strips in the ball before you wind them up? I've alway just torn as I went and tried to do balanced stripe pattern, so I'm looking forward to using prints and going "freestyle".

    I hope you have a great weekend. Mary

  3. I would LOVE to know how to make the frame to make different size rugs. Thanks for your tutorial.

  4. Just found this article recently. I can’t find a pencil rod in any home store and not any rod with an elbow bend like the one in your loom. Did you bend the rod yourself.

    1. The rod may be identified in the store by another name, so ask the clerks. Yes, the rod needs to be bent. I bent it in a vise. Perhaps the store can bend it for you after it is cut.


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