Teens and twenty-somethings pick up all kinds of weird tips from TikTok, ranging from the harmless and sweet (like cottagecore style) to downright dangerous (like DIY dental work). During the COVID lockdowns of 2020, Gen Z and millennials turned their attention to honing a host of new skills and hobbies, but the most adorable of them all might just be the tufted rug trend. Social media, home decor, pandemic-induced boredom, and unfettered creativity crashed together to create a perfect storm of homemade rug designs, and many of them are seriously cool.
Nicholas Ferrara of Orlando is one of the TikTok users who first sparked the trend. In early 2020, the 22-year-old happened upon a YouTube tutorial for creating rugs with a tufting gun, a yarn stitching tool that looks sort of like a handheld drill. He ordered one and started experimenting, and before long he was churning out one brilliant creation after another, posting clips of his process to TikTok and Instagram. Suddenly besieged by followers requesting custom rugs, he set up shop under the name RugSoda, selling his designs for up to $250 a pop.
Ferrara’s rugs are definitely unique. Where else are you going to find a “Flat Tom” rug featuring the cat from classic cartoon Tom and Jerry? Other designs include “Squashed Squidward,” inspired by the character from SpongeBob Squarepants, the Grateful Dead dancing bear, Converse sneakers, and Ferrara’s own abstracted designs.
Other users who have skyrocketed to TikTok fame with DIY tufted rugs include Claire Molenda @clairemolenda, Anfernee Abad @pennyiech, and Miffy Hornsby @miffyhornsby. Abad has an endearingly cartoonish style, and Molenda has since expanded her vintage rug-making style to tufted jackets, with some of her videos getting upwards of a million views and her designs often selling out within minutes of posting. And of course, Hornsby’s “F#ck 2020” rug probably did the best job of capturing how we all feel about the year of the global pandemic.
If your style leans more toward midcentury modern than anime, you’ll want to check out Tim Eads @tufttheworld, a designer who founded an online community for tufters and started selling tufting guns and yarn back in 2018. TikTokers eager to participate in the new trend often flock to Eads’ website TuftingGun.com to order supplies, get help, and discuss the craft in greater detail than a social media comments section allows.
Trish Andersen is another artist credited with reigniting interest in the craft of tufting before it was cool. Hailing from Dalton, Georgia, where the tufting gun was invented, Anderson is an alum of the fiber program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. After her first rug went viral on social media, she launched a career making highly sought-after, large-scale painterly pieces. “Me and my fiancé were just fixing up our apartment and I just made that for the hell of it. I don’t even make rugs,” she tells Metropolis. Compared to other forms of fiber arts, “tufting, for me, is much more like painting and drawing. You’re able to jump around the canvas, play with your colors, and move around your piece as a whole rather than line by line.”
This is one TikTok trend all generations of crafters and the crafting-curious should get on ASAP. Check out all the DIY rugs TikTok has to offer and discover your new favorite makers through the hashtag #rugtiktok.