Want a New Rug

February 2023 View more

By Susan L. Follett

Get creative at Illinois’s first tufting workshop

Tuft-A-Rug, 2368 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora

Like many people, Keaton Wade picked up a novel hobby amid the pandemic. But then he decided to turn it into a full-blown business. “I got started in rug making during COVID and developed the idea for the store after doing some research and wanting to develop something similar to Build-A-Bear,” he explains. “A place for people to come and be creative and have a good time while doing it.”

He opened Tuft-A-Rug in November at Aurora’s Fox Valley Mall. It’s the first brick-and-mortar operation for Wade, who previously owned an online shoe retail company. It’s also the first tufting workshop in Illinois.

A young man creating a rug
Tuft-A-Rug, 2368 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora

For the uninitiated, tufting involves using a machine to needle-punch yarn into cloth. The result is reminiscent of the old-school craft of latch-hooking on a canvas grid you may have tried as a kid, except much speedier and more professional thanks to power tools.

No experience is necessary for customers walking into Wade’s workshop. Tufting is easy to learn—so easy, in fact, that even the chronically uncrafty can pick it up quickly after a demo by one of the shop’s onsite instuctors.

“It’s a fun activity for a date night or a ladies’ night, and we’ve had people of all ages come in,” Wade says. “I originally thought a lot of our customers would be adults, but I’ve been happy to see kids and teenagers come in and try it out as well. Overall, the response from the community has been great.”

A girl creating a rug

Before you start your own rug, you need to upload a design idea—an image, a logo, clip art—or you can sketch your own. (The designs that work best are those with colors clearly separated and the details easily distinguished. Shaded and highly detailed images are harder to make.) The image is projected onto a tufting cloth mounted in a wood frame. The outline is traced onto the cloth, and a handheld needle-punch machine attaches the yarn to the cloth to create the design.

Rugs can be made in two sizes: 18 by 18 inches or 35 by 32 inches. On average, it takes about two and a half hours to tuft a smaller rug and four hours for a larger one. Costs vary by size and the number of rugs created, from $65 for one small rug up to $250 for two larger rugs. Be sure to book a tufting station online (tuftarug.com) in advance. The shop can accommodate groups as large as 10 people, with costs ranging from $46 to $115 per person. Note that tufters under the age of 15 must have a guardian present.

People showing off their rugs

When you’re done tufting, the shop will glue, back, and finish your creation. Rugs will be ready for in-store pick up in about a week or two, or they can be shipped up to two addresses at no charge.

Not feeling crafty? The shop also sells premade rugs or can make a design to your specifications.


Photos courtesy of Keaton Wade