Tufters with little to no experience face many hurdles that can be quite discouraging. From learning how to pick a good tufting gun for beginners to choosing the right tufting cloth and mastering the various techniques. Much like any other hobby, rug tufting requires plenty of practice and learning the basic skills.
As a tufting beginner, you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself. You can expect to waste plenty of material during your training period. So you should choose your materials wisely to avoid wasting a lot of money. The following tips are aimed at rug tufting beginners taking their first steps in the wonderful and complex tufting world.
1. Maintain Pressure
The first time you hold a tufting gun in your hand it will feel alien, and maybe even heavy. But before long it will become as familiar in your hand as your smartphone. But it’s one thing to feel as one with the machine, and it’s a totally different matter to know how to use it. In the beginning, the gun will jump over the canvas and the thread will unravel easily.
The rule of thumb when using the tufting gun is to apply pressure evenly as you move the gun across the canvas. Never lift the foot of the tufting gun off the cloth. Doing so would lead to tears in the canvas and flaws in the final product. The trickiest part is to maintain the pressure while the gun is moving. So keep your hand steady and lean toward applying more pressure than less.
2. Use the Right Angle
To help you maintain the right pressure while moving the machine, always set it at a 90 degree angle on the canvas. If your hand shakes or you don’t have a firm grasp on the tufting gun, you would have holes in the canvas and the string will not hold on to the cloth. The weave will end up uneven and the design will look awry.
This requires that you’re sitting in a comfortable position and that your back is straight. Keep the workspace clutter-free and don’t have any distractions that would impact your concentration.
3. One Direction
The tufting gun always has one direction. That direction is up and forward. Don’t try to get creative with your movements and there’s no turning back. As a beginner, you need to practice with simple designs with straight lines and basic geometrical shapes. Curves, ellipses, and circles are considered advanced shapes to experiment with.
But for now, you can have straight lines and corners. When you want to turn a corner with the machine, adjust your position while maintaining the same pressure before executing the tricky maneuver. It will get easier the more you do it.
4. Row Distance Awareness
One of the common mistakes beginner tufters make is to have gaps in their canvas. The design on paper looks great, but by the time they’re done with the rug, the rows look uneven with varying distances between them. This often results from not applying consistent pressure on the canvas and not having proper row distance awareness.
To remedy this situation, you can always tuft between the rows. It’s a little tricky to stay on the row and not veer into an existing row. Also, you should keep the front of the rug dense but not too dense. High density comes at the cost of fluffiness. Different yarn types require adequate distances between the rows depending on the number of strings you feed the gun with at a time.
5. Be Patient
Besides knowing the basics of rug tufting and how to handle the machine, your mental game should be top-notch as well. You might wake up in the morning, sit in front of the canvas, and think to yourself that by the end of the day you’d have a complete rug. But it doesn’t work that way. It takes time to master the different techniques and maneuvers of handling the machine.
Learning your way around the canvas takes time and dedication as well. The tufting gun has a steep learning curve. There’s also a lot to learn about the different yarn types and how to set up the canvas around the frame. So always be patient.
6. Stay Focused
Focus is the name of the game as far as rug tufting is concerned. It’s true that with experience comes muscle memory where your hand will know where to go and how to keep the tufting gun at the right angle while you engage in a conversation. But as a beginner, you need to stay focused on what you’re doing.
You can have music in the background to help you concentrate. But having the TV on or taking part in a group chat on your phone at the same time while tufting is the kind of distraction you don’t need.
7. Temper your Expectations
Most tufting beginners like to bite more than they can chew. They set for themselves targets and deadlines which are hard to achieve. The problem with these tufting goals is that they don’t take into account the various problems you might come across while tufting. From rips in the canvas to the machine not cutting the strings as expected or the need to adjust the settings too often.
Instead of setting yourself a tall order such as finishing a rug in a few hours, your goal should be along the lines of mastering a certain technique or learning to work with wool yarn without making too many expensive mistakes. Set yourself small goals and work on achieving them. This will work wonders in boosting your morale and help you progress faster.
8. Practice with Cheap Supplies
Speaking of wool yarn, yarn types are not created equal. Some yarn types like wool are quite expensive to work with. When you’re still in the training phase, you should work with synthetic yarn which is cheap. You can expect to waste a lot of canvas and yarn before you finish the first rug that makes you proud.
Knowing that it’s okay to make mistakes with disposable materials allows you to be daring and take risks. But if you’re working with costly materials, you will be too cautious which would slow down your learning. Check our online shop for the best tufting supplies according to your budget.
9. A Cut Pile is the Right Tufting Gun for Beginners
If you’re wondering about the best tufting gun for beginners, I recommend using a cut pile tufting gun. For one thing, it’s easy to work with and doesn’t have the steep learning curve that the loop pile tufting gun has. The cut pile machine has built-in scissors that cut the pile as you go which saves you the trouble of manually doing the cutting yourself.
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The loop pile machine as the name implies creates continuous loops of string. You’ll need to have a pair of scissors and clippers handy to cut the threads once you have reached the end of each row. Not only does this add to your responsibilities, but it can also create problems if you forget to cut the loop and move on to the next row.
10. Practice Tufting Gun Safety
The tufting gun is not called a gun for no reason. It’s a complex machine that can create a lot of hazards if not handled properly. If your hand gets sweaty and you lose your grip over the machine, that could cause an accident. And since you’re still a beginner, you should set the machine to the speed you’re comfortable with. And never set it to a speed over the maximum setting.
Your workspace should be clutter-free and brightly lit. Don’t keep flammable materials around you. And it’s always a good idea to keep your pets and children out of the room while operating the tufting gun.
11. Flip your Design
And last but not least, you should always remember that you’re working on the backside of the rug. If you have words or logos in the design, you’re tufting them backward. So to avoid throwing away a good piece after spending hours on it, take the time to flip the rug and look at the front.
This will also give you the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate the whole picture. You might get bogged down in the nitty-gritty details that you forget about the overall design and where it’s going. Take the time to adjust your design and amend any flaws or mistakes you’ve made before continuing your tufting.
Rug tufting doesn’t have to be a struggle. It’s fun and enjoyable as long as you pace yourself, learn the basics first, and take your time to wrap your head around the tufting gun and how to use it safely and efficiently. Make sure to keep your work area clean and distraction-free every time you start your tufting.
Visit our online shop to find all the tufting supplies and get great savings on the best tufting guns for beginners.