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Second Hand Susie

Meet the Author

Hey there, can you introduce yourself?

Medium elspeth jackson

Hello, I'm Elspeth, rag rug designer, maker, teacher and fabric hoarder at Ragged Life. My mum taught me how to rag rug when I was just fourteen and I’ve been making rag rug homeware, art and fashion ever since. I’m a craft-lover to the core but love rag rugging for its texture, simplicity and sustainable nature. Over the past few years, I’ve been spreading rag rug cheer through my business, Ragged Life where I run rag rug workshops, sell rag rug kits and make one-off rag rug commissions. My aim is to modernise rag rugging and make it accessible to everyone with simple, yet beautiful projects that anyone can make with a few basic tools. Once you’ve tried rag rugging, chances are you’ll be hooked!

Tell us a bit about the book?

Rag Rugs, Pillows & More is the ideal book for anyone looking to learn how to rag rug for the first time. I start off with the very basics of rag rugging – what the tools are, how you use them and how to prepare materials for rag rugging before moving on to how to do the various rag rugging techniques. The rest of the book is then dedicated to over thirty rag rug projects for readers to hone their new-found skills. The projects range from the very simple to more complex, and cover everything from rag rug baubles and wreaths to rag rug bags and pouffes. All the techniques and projects have step-by-step illustrations and beautiful photography. I’ve tried to include a real mix of designs that would look lovely in traditional and modern homes alike.

What was the inspiration behind it?

Rag rugging is a simple and affordable craft but you wouldn’t necessarily think it from some of the materials that are out there, which overcomplicate the subject and make it look daunting. With that in mind, what I really wanted to achieve with Rag Rugs, Pillows & More was a book that would teach people how to rag rug in the simplest way with only a few basic tools.

I wanted to showcase how versatile rag rugging is, with a range of different homeware, gift and rug projects to choose from. The inspiration for each individual project often came out of a need at the time. For example, I made my first rag rug draft excluder, to keep out the winter chill in my old flat and I made my first rag rug baubles because my family cat used to bat our beautiful glass ones off the bottom of the Christmas tree. Proof that things can be both beautiful and practical!

Which is your favourite project?

One of my favourite projects in my book is the “Spring is in the Air” Basket. It’s quite a quick project that can transform a simple basket into something beautiful and unique. I love how fresh and vibrant the colours look and the fact that you can practice both the main rag rugging techniques (loopy and shaggy) with one project.

What is your craft space like?

As you can probably imagine, my craft space is choc full of fabric. Like most crafters, I love hoarding odds and ends because I’m absolutely sure that they’ll come in handy some day. In terms of décor, I particularly love mixing vintage pieces with modern ones so I surround myself with everything from rustic baskets and old teacups to exhibition postcards and Moroccan tiles. I love an eclectic space.

Have you always been creative?

I’ve always been into making things. There’s something so therapeutic about using your hands to create something from scratch, particularly when so much of our time is spent on technology.

When did you first start crafting?

The first thing I ever made was a picture frame made out of old twigs and, although it was extremely environmentally friendly, it was pretty offensive to the eye. I find that whenever I start a new craft, there’s always a bit of a learning curve. For example, when I was at university, I knitted my first ever scarf. Unfortunately I knitted it so tightly that it would barely bend around a person’s neck. I gave it to my boyfriend as a Christmas gift but unsurprisingly never saw him wear it.

Who are your crafty heroes?

My favourite craft author is crochet master, Erika Knight. I think her projects are so beautifully simple and gorgeous. Other than Erika, I love H and Sammy at craft blog, Live It. Love It. Make It. They absolutely live and breathe crafts and always know what’s new and interesting. Kaffe Fassett is also right at the top of my list. What many people don’t know about Kaffe is that he loves the medium of rag rug and has designed many a piece in the past. Of course, I’d also like to give a shout out to the original rag rug guru, my mother Victoria, who taught me how to rag rug many years ago and is the most cleverly-crafty lady I know.

Where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration comes from a number of sources but I really enjoy going to art galleries and museums. The Iznik Rug in Rag Rugs, Pillows & More was inspired by an Iznik plate I saw in the British Museum and I rag rug lots of pieces based on Matisse’s cut outs. Other than that, you can’t really beat Pinterest for design ideas. I have all sorts of boards ranging from rag rugs and crafts to interiors and prints (

What's next for you?

With Christmas coming up, I've been keeping myself busy with Rag Rug Wreath workshops and Christmas present commissions but my next big project is creating a rag rug piece to submit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Watch this space!

Publisher's Description

In this stunning new book, young crafter Elspeth Jackson reinvents the old (and somewhat forgotten) technique of rag rugging to create contemporary and sustainable homeware items from leftover fabrics.Â

You’ll be amazed at how simple and enjoyable it is to upcycle old and well-loved garments into beautiful rugs, pillows, artworks, bags, and other gifts, using just a few basic tools and some simple techniques. The book is arranged into three chapters: Home includes a selection of projects for fun and easy rugs in a range of colors and styles, as well as a shaggy pillow, draft excluder, wall hanging, and chalkboard frame. Gifts has wonderful ideas for unique items that you can make for friends and family, from a clutch bag to flower hair clips and even a brooch. Finally, Seasonal will inspire you to turn your strips of fabric into decorations and gifts to use at certain times of the year, from a rag-rugged heart for Valentine’s Day, to an unusual spring wreath, and some gorgeous Christmas baubles. With lavish color photographs and clear, step-by-step instructions and artworks, crafters of all ages will enjoy making these projects. A comprehensive section at the start of the book covers everything you need to know about which fabrics to choose, what tools you will need, and what the essential techniques are, allowing you to discover how to update this traditional craft with endless possibilities of color and fabric combinations.