Country Craft Instructions

Country craft instructions: In Colonial times, old woolens and cottons were cut into strips and rolled into rag balls Today you can make beautiful baskets of rag balls to decorate your country home.

Country decorating gathers its warm trational flavors from textiles and crafts that remind us of yesteryear. What we now use as decorative accessories that signify treasures of the past, were utility items of early settlers and pioneers. Hanging wicker baskets were useful in gathering crops or organizing the women's daily mending and sewing. Displays of dried herbs hanging upside down on a hook was to preserve the plants for cooking.

Just as those items of our heritage have become a part of country decorating, so have displaying old-fashioned rag balls. Textile scraps were always looked at with recycling and creative options in mind. In Colonial times, old woolens and cottons were cut into strips and rolled into rag balls to be used for braided rag rugs or even to make a cherished rag doll.

Today, many country stores sell beautiful baskets of rag balls to decorate your country home. These balls are very easy to make yourself with fabric scraps and scissors.



FABRIC AND CUTTING METHOD

You will need 1/2 - 1 1/2 yards of woven fabric per ball to make a 4" to 6" diameter ball. Generally your fabric will be cut into 1 1/2 - 2" strips but the actual width will depend on the weight of your fabric. Begin cutting lengthwise along the grain. To avoid piecing the fabric together, cut the yardage in a continuous long strip stopping 1" from the end. Begin cutting your second line starting on the opposite side parallel to your first line. Continuing this pattern will prevent you from needing to sew the cut strips together. Instead you will have a long continuous rag strip.

Cotton fabrics will naturally tear in a straight line by starting the rip with a sharp snip with a pair of scissors. Then grasp both sides of your fabric and rip it apart within 1" from the end as discussed above. Ripping the fabric in this manner may stretch the fabric and cause it to roll in on itself but this will create a nice look to your finished rag balls that many people actually prefer.

ROLLING YOUR RAG BALLS

Starting at one end, wrap your about 8 strips around the inside of your hand holding it close with your thumb. Slide the loops off your hand and wrap the loops the opposite direction keeping the new winding centered in the middle. Your initial ball will look like a oval cylinder. Keep winding until the center loops are even and as high as your beginning loops were long. When the loops start to slide off the end, change your wrapping method to wrap on the diagonal. Switch from one side to the other every 5 or 6 wraps in an even pattern. Remember to wrap on ALL sides horizontal and vertical too. If you run out of fabric before the ball is the size you want, simply tie a new length on if it is a thin fabric or for heavier fabric where the knot would create a bump in your pattern simply tuck the end into your ball and continue winding.

When you are finished tuck the tail end of fabric into the other strands tightly or stitch it with matching thread.

DISPLAYING YOUR RAG BALLS

Make individual balls from fabric scraps in your room to bring out your decorative colors. Your eye will bounce around the room and pick up coordinating colors spontaneously to create harmony in the room. Group balls of several complimenting colors together and arrange them in a basket near a antique rocking chair or country shelf. You could add a pair of antique knitting needles, embroidery hoop, sampler or other needlecraft to create a reminder of the talents that were once passed from mother to daughter.

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