Picking out a tufting gun is the first big step toward making your own rugs, but choosing tufting yarn is every bit as important!
Although you can make rugs from just about any yarn, the best yarn for tufting is resistant enough to use as a floor rug, wall hanging, or anything in between!
Here’s a quick breakdown of which yarn to use for tufting projects, as well as a few recommendations on where to buy it. For more buying tips, check out our list of essential tufting supplies!
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Best tufting yarn for beginners: Acrylic yarn
While it’s not the best yarn for tufting long term, acrylic yarn has the huge benefit of being cheap and easy to find. Any craft store or hobby website will stock this in tons of colors.
That’s great news for newly minted tufters, since you will be making a lot of mistakes on your first few rugs. Colors are also typically very vibrant (at least at first), so early results should help encourage you along the way.
It’s also very soft, which makes it easy to shape and carve once you’re finished tufting. It brushes up very full and soft, for gorgeous-looking rugs that really make designs pop.
However, acrylic yarn is the least resistant yarn for tufting, and well-tread floor rugs made from it will quickly flatten into ugliness. Wall hangings should be fine, but make sure it doesn’t get too much direct sunlight because it will fade quickly. They also tend to shed more.
As mentioned above, this yarn is everywhere. I’ve linked a few of my favorite brands (Red Heart Super Saver and Paintbox) below, but the most important thing to remember is that you need DK weight or higher. The two linked below are worsted/aran weight.
Also, I highly recommend picking up two of the same color and double threading to prevent the yarn from falling out of the needle as you tuft. The most convenient way to do this is to use a yarn winder on two threads at once to get a perfect, pre-prepared, double-threaded yarn ball or cone.
Best yarn for tufting floor rugs: Wool yarn
It’s the most expensive option by far, but wool yarn for rugs is by far the best yarn for tufting, especially when it comes to floor rugs. It’s still easy to tuft with both loop and cut-pile machines, but the material itself is just better quality.
Thanks to natural oils from the sheep it comes from, wool is naturally stain and flame resistant. It’s also extremely durable and easy to clean, so even high-traffic floor rugs should stand the test of time.
Wool rugs are somewhere between acrylic rugs and cotton rugs when it comes to softness. Personally, I think a cut-pile rug tufted with wool yarn feels and looks the best out of any other material I’ve tried.
Now for the bad part: wool yarn for tufting is the most expensive option you can find.
You can use regular wool yarn, but it might not be quite as thick and resistant as yarn made specifically for tufting. Thinner yarns run the risk of showing your backing material, so you’ll want to use three or even four strands at once in that case.
My favorite place to buy this is Tuft the World. Their Reflect Wool Yarn is specifically designed for tufting, and it’s made from high-quality New Zealand wool. It comes in 32 different color options and is sold in one-pound cones.
This particular yarn is small-batch dyed in the US, so if you’re going to work on a big project you should buy as much as you’ll need in one go. Restocks might not be exactly the same color.
Plus, you can get 15% off by using the code TINY at checkout (or clicking the link below).
It comes in an eye-watering 80 color options. Make sure you get the 4-ply yarn for better longevity. You can buy it in 200g, 500g, or 1kg. I’d recommend getting two 200g (or 500g) cones of the same color because again, you’ll want to double-thread these for the best results.
Best budget yarn for tufting: Cotton yarn
Finally, I wanted to touch on cotton yarn, which can also be a good choice for rug tufting. However, it’s important to know which one to get.
Cotton yarn is super popular for crochet and knitting, but the yarn sold for this isn’t always ideal for tufting. It’s super soft and breathable, which is great for baby blankets or sweaters, but not so good for rugs.
There are, of course, specialized cotton yarns for tufting. These tend to be rougher and are often a blend of cotton and other fibers.
One of my favorites is Tuft the World’s Eco-Cotton, which is made from off-cuts of the t-shirt industry. It’s also not re-dyed, which means it doesn’t pollute nearly as much as standard yarns.
However, this also means that colors can vary slightly between lots, so you’ll want to buy all of the color you’ll need for your project at the same time.
Again, you can save 15% with the code TINY at checkout.
A cheaper option is Knit Picks’ Dishie yarn, which comes in fewer colors but is still sold on cones. It’s also worsted weight so you’ll want to double-thread while tufting, but it’s still a very resistant option. It’s often cheaper on the Knit Picks’ website, so check both links before buying.
What kind of yarn can I use for tufting?
There aren’t too many restrictions on which yarns you can use, as long as they fit in your tufting gun. However, choosing different materials will have a big impact on the quality and longevity of your rugs.
Acrylic yarn is great for your first few rugs, but won’t last for long. If you want a floor rug to last longer than 6 months, forget about acrylic.
Wool yarn is the best yarn for tufting overall, but it tends to be more expensive.
Cotton yarn is a solid alternative that’s easy to find, but you’ll want to use a rougher, more resistant brand.
No matter which yarn you choose, you’ll want to buy worsted (aran) weight or higher. You can use heavier yarns, but I’ve found that double-threading worsted yarn gives the best coverage. It also prevents that yarn from falling out when using a cut pile tufting gun, which can be very annoying.
Speaking of types of tufting machines, cut pile machines are by far more finicky when it comes to yarn. Loop pile machines will accept just about anything, but the knives on the cut pile machine make it a bit more complicated.
Finally, if you’re on a super low budget I highly recommend buying yarn second-hand. There are plenty of grannies out there with way more yarn than they could ever use.
That’s it for our list of the best yarns for tufting! Do you have any other products you’d recommend? Let everyone know in the comments below!