How to make a rug without a tufting gun: 6 alternative techniques

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Rugmaking has come back in a big way in recent years, mostly because of the rising popularity of tufting guns on social media. These simple tools allow you to bang out a rug in an afternoon without any extensive training.

But what if you don’t have or want a tufting gun? They can be loud and abrasive, not to mention a bit pricey compared to other creative hobbies.

Well, I’m happy to inform you that there are plenty of alternatives to using a tufting gun. Here’s a quick rundown of how to make a rug without a tufting gun using six different techniques!

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How to make a rug without a tufting gun

For the sake of simplicity, I’ve listed these rug tufting techniques in order of their similarity to making rugs with a tufting gun. All of them are manual, providing a much more relaxing experience.

Punch needle

Feature image punch needle kits


  • Inexpensive
  • Work scales easily
  • Versatile design-wise


  • Time-consuming
  • Still requires glue

Punch needle is one of my favorite techniques to create a rug without a tufting gun. It uses the same principle as a loop-pile tufting gun, which pushes a continuous thread of yarn in and out of backing material to make loops that create your final design.

That backing material is typically cheap monk’s cloth, but other rug tufting cloth like primary tufting cloth will also work.

What’s great about this technique is that you can tiny rugs (coasters are a popular beginner project) or huge rugs, although larger designs will take a very long time to complete.

Apart from scaling up and down easily, punch needle rugs also allow you to have full control over each loop. As you work, you can manually pull the thread to create higher or lower piles to make some really funky textures.

If you’ve already stocked up on rug tufting supplies, the good news here is that you can use most of the same materials. You only need a punch needle, yarn, glue, and a lot of time. You can use any glue for rug tufting, although for smaller projects simple Elmer’s glue will do the trick.

Check out some of our favorite punch needle kits to get started!

Latch hook

Update Feature image latch hook kits


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy
  • Very durable
  • Versatile design-wise


  • Very time-consuming
  • Requires cut yarn

If you’re more of a cut-pile rug kind of person, let me introduce you to latch hook. This technique uses a special tool to pull short little pieces of yarn through a special gridded backing material to create gorgeous, detailed piled rugs.

Since you pull each individual thread of yarn through the backing, you can create some extremely detailed designs. However, this also makes it the most time-intensive alternative to using a tufting gun.

Still, finished rugs are extremely durable, and you don’t need to glue the yarn when you’re finished.

To start, all you need is a latch hook, backing canvas, and a lot of cut pieces of yarn. Any yarn will do, although yarn for rug tufting will wear better for floor rugs. You can cut any yarn down to size, but if you’re short on time you can also buy pre-cut yarn.

Latch hook designs tend to be a bit old-fashioned compared to punch needle, but we’ve picked the best latch hook kits to save you the trouble of sorting through the chaff.

Manual tufting machine

Manual rug tufting machine


  • Quiet
  • Versatile
  • Relatively fast


  • Requires a frame and glue
  • Cut pile more difficult
  • May require multiple machines

What’s the best way to make a rug without a tufting gun? With a manual tufting machine, of course!

This neat gadget works exactly like a tufting gun but without the motor. If you already have a tufting frame and all of your other tufting supplies, you don’t need anything else.

It’s faster than punch needle or latch hook techniques, but still obviously slower than using a tufting gun.

You can still do both cut and loop pile rugs with this technique, but you will need to buy separate machines for each. Cut pile rugs also require more physical strength, since you are providing all of the power yourself.

There are a few designs to choose from, but the most beginner-friendly is a smaller loop-pile machine like this one.


Feature image best crochet classes


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to start
  • Relaxing


  • Time-consuming
  • Difficult to master
  • Less durable rugs
  • Limited design possibilities

Now we’re getting out of the realm of pile rugs like the ones that tufting guns make and into flat rugs. Intrepid hobbyists may already be familiar with many of these techniques, starting with crochet.

If you’re not already familiar with it (check out our favorite crochet classes to learn), crochet uses a single hook to create interlocking loops of yarn. It’s a classic pastime for many, being both inexpensive and easy to start.

Most crochet projects tend to be more airy than rugs, but if you use a thicker yarn and the right stitches, you can create some incredible rugs without a tufting gun.

Finished rugs tend to be less resistant than other woven rug techniques, but don’t let that stop you. If properly taken care of, they can still last a lifetime!

Bathmats are a good starting point, and typically they use just one or two stitches. Grab yourself some crochet hooks and start today!


Macrame tutorials


  • Easy to start
  • Lots of design possibilities


  • Time-consuming
  • Difficult to master
  • Rugs can be bumpy
  • Cord more expensive than yarn

I absolutely love how versatile macrame is, and it should come as no surprise that it’s a great way to make rugs without a tufting gun.

Most macrame tapestries are destined to be wall hangings, but with a few minor adjustments they can also be used as rugs. Just make sure that you buy a good quality macrame cord, preferably braided since it’s both durable and soft.

Be aware, however, that finished rugs can be quite bumpy. This is due to the nature of macrame knots and the thicker cord, although it can be minimized with the right designs.

To get started, we recommend taking a quick macrame class to familiarize yourself with the basics before hopping into your first rug. We also have a great guide to macrame cord if you’re not sure which one to buy.


Best Weaving Books_FEATURE


  • Very long-lasting rugs
  • Relatively fast


  • Expensive to start
  • Hard to learn
  • Limited design options

Our last method for how to make a rug without a tufting gun is by far the most complicated. Not only do you need a lot of technical knowledge, you also need a lot of supplies to complete your first rug.

Still, weaving is the traditional method of making rugs, and the finished product will be far more resistant than any other tufting technique on the list. It’s also relatively speedy compared to manual rugmaking techniques, at least once you get the hang of it.

I’ve lumped a few different types of weaving together here for simplicity, but there are many ways to weave a rug. All of them will require a loom, lots of materials, and a significant amount of time invested in classes and practice.

If you’re a real masochist, you can also try the knotted rug technique, which is similar to latch hook but instead of a tool you use your fingers to individually tie each string of yarn before weaving it.

It might take you a few months or longer, but you will be left with a rug that lasts forever!

And that’s how to make a rug without a tufting gun using alternative techniques! Are there any methods we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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