Rug tufting guides and tutorials

How to thread a tufting gun featured
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Rug tufting has taken off in a big way in recent years, and there’s never been a better time to get started! Here’s what you need to know about the hobby.

What is rug tufting?

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Rug tufting is a textile art that allows you to create custom rugs by pushing yarn through a backing fabric. Most often, this is done with a tufting gun, although there are alternative methods.

It’s different from most textile arts in that it’s very free-form. In many ways, it’s like painting with yarn.

What do I need to start tufting?

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Rug tufting can be a bit expensive to start, but once you have the basic toolset, supplies are very easy to come by.

We have a full list of essential tufting supplies, but here’s a short list of what you need.

Tufting gun

Tufting gun ak I
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

A tufting gun is a handheld machine that’s similar to a sewing machine. It pushes your yarn through the backing fabric, leaving either hoops (loop-pile) or strands (cut-pile).

Most modern machines are capable of both, although a simple machine like the AK-I is perfect for beginners.

Check out our in-depth tufting gun buyer’s guide to learn more, and whatever you do don’t buy a tufting gun on Amazon!

Tufting frame

Finished tufting frame with gun
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

A tufting frame is essentially a large square or rectangle that you use to stretch your backing fabric, holding your work vertical while you tuft.

Check out our guide to how to build a tufting frame for DIY tips, or purchase one from a specialty shop online.

Other supplies

Tufting gun on primary tufting cloth
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

The rest of the supplies you need for tufting are things you use during the tufting process. Most of these can be found online at specialty stores, but click through to see our recommendations for each!

How do I use a tufting gun?

How to thread a tufting gun step 3 pull
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

There is a slight learning curve for beginners, but by the time you finish your first rug you’ll be well on your way! Here are a few tips:

  • Tuft in short bursts, tapping the trigger
  • Keep the tufting gun perpendicular to your fabric
  • Apply good pressure to your fabric while tufting
  • Thread two or more strings of yarn at once for better coverage
  • Don’t forget to reverse your image before you start

If you’re looking for more specific advice, check our our guides below.

Can I make rugs without a tufting gun?

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There are plenty of ways to make a rug without a tufting gun. Here’s a quick list, and feel free to click through for some of our favorite starter kits and other resources!

Where can I get some rug tufting inspiration?

Social media platforms like TikTok are largely responsible for the popularity of rug tufting today. Check out some of our favorite rugtok artists to learn more!

For a closer look, check out some of our Tiny Workshops interviews below!

Tiny Workshops tufting interviews