Hello Rug Chick readers!
I’ve been getting a few questions about rug repair, and my mother Kate and I recently spoke at the San Diego Weavers Guild meeting speaking specifically to rug repairs and our philosophies on them.
Here’s a simple little rug repair of field wear. Not reweaving, but selective embroidery stitching (to protect the original foundation fibers) and a little dye work to blend it in.
Several years ago we had a few sold-out hands-on rug repair clinics to train the basics of rug maintenance and specialty repairs. Not reweaving and reknotting rugs, but the most requested repairs: ends, sides, and field wear work (including patches).
After our presentation at this workshop we wondered – is it time to have some more Rug Repair Workshops?
So – if you are interested, let me know by posting down below in the COMMENTS. If there is enough interest then we will work together a curriculum, set some dates at our rug facility in San Diego, and let you know how to register.
Enjoy your weekend!
An interesting photo sent to me today – take a look:
Yep – it’s tape. Tape used to hold the fringe tassels in place so you don’t have to keep straightening them.
Pros and cons of this. One – it does keep the fringe tassels, especially hefty fringe like on this Karastan rug, in place.
Cons – you can’t reuse the tape, it leaves residue (and a clean spot) where the adhesive was, and if the fringe tassels are weak with age or past bleaching, the tape will easily tear away those tassels.
On a machine woven rug like this one (you can see the machine work on the edges, and that this fringe is clearly added on after the fact) – torn away tassels are not a big deal. In fact, on this rug you can pull off the fringe entirely with your hands (no scissors required).
But on a hand woven rug – torn away tassels will lead to the rug unraveling and losing its value. This will need to be repaired quickly when this happens. Read about getting rug ends repaired right on this prior post.
So, if you HATE your fringe – do NOT cut the tassels off of an oriental rug. Just say no.
But, no worries, because you can hide the fringe.
The poor-boy route is to simply use masking tape and tape the tassels under the rug. I choose masking tape because it has the least amount of adhesive, so you do not create a huge mess to clean up versus using packing tape or duct tape.
It’s not the ideal choice, but it’s an option that is much better than cutting off the tassels.
The other option is to hide the fringe professionally, with something that does not damage the tassels with adhesive, and keeps them clean in case you decide you suddenly LOVE fringe again.
We use at our rug shop a burlap material to do this. We sew it by hand at the base of the rug, and fold the tassels underneath the rug safely. Take a look on this Tibetan woven rug:
Rug friends don’t let friends cut their rug fringe off… ever. Spread the word!
The most common repair needed by rugs in our town (and EVERY town with rug owners) is END repairs.
With hand woven rugs, when the fringe is torn or worn, the knots of the rug start to slide away and off.
You rug starts slowly shrinking, and gets shorter and shorter. Like this:
Once a knot has pulled loose, you cannot resecure it… it is lost FOREVER.
That’s why when your fringe gets VERY short, you need to pay attention.
The value of your rug is in those tiny little knots. You want to keep them in tact. But sometimes when you try to do good and grab some wool and thread, you might actually cause more damage than good.
This rug has fringe that is way too short, and you can see someone’s attempt to tie off the tassels is actually sliding off, and pulling some knots with it. Too little too late.
Another attempt at trying to use a whip stitch to darn this end is doing no good either. By pulling that thick wool through the foundation to try to hold the edge together, the person has actually loosened those rows of knots and this edge will pull apart sooner as a result.
Good intentions, bad results.
Sometimes you take your rug to someone who decides that using an industrial serging machine to machine repair the edge is a good option. This also is a very BAD choice.
This is heartbreaking… a sewing machine happy idiot decided to machine repair a hand woven rug. Not only is the color choice ugly, but this type of machine work causes structural damage to the rug that cannot be reversed.
The reason hand woven rugs are repaired by hand is so that the Rug Repair Specialist can slip the needle around, and inbetween the foundation fibers (warps and wefts).
A serging machine does not go around fibers – it powers right through them, over and over and over again.
Over time these repairs will tear away, and pull away inches of the rug that could have been saved if it had been repaired by hand.
If you are talking about an investment textile, the more inches you lose, the more value you lose. Simple as that.
When this machine repair tears away, the rug will need to be reduced further to provide enough warp length to anchor a solid repair with. (Remember those VERY short fringe tassel stubs up top in photo #2? You need more length than that to hold a good end repair in place.)
What does a good end repair look like? There are several styles, but this is my favorite – an overcast stitch:
Your stitch should use a strong upholstery thread that will not get brittle over time. Your stitch should vary now and then to lower weft threads so that the tension of the stitch is evenly distributed so it will not unnecessarily pull the edge loose. Your buttonhole stitch, flat along the top, should be close to the outermost weft thread to hold the edge tightly in place.
Many rug repair facilities, like ours, guarantee their overcast repairs for the life of the rug. This is because, when it is done properly, it should never need to be done again.
Now… if your vacuum cleaner sucks up and tears off the edge, that is a different matter. There are no guarantees to help someone not paying attention. 🙂
If you have a hand woven rug, and the edge is unraveling, make sure the repair is done by hand.
If you have a rug cleaning facility, and want to know some rug repairs that you can do without having to be trained by a rug repair specialist, be sure to opt-in for the Simple Rug Repairs Report I’ve made available. The opt-in box is at the top of this blog, over to the right. Enjoy!
I’ve seen braided rugs come in all colors, sizes, and ages. New product from stores like Pier One, and some from the 1930’s with a story from the owner about how their neighborhood tore clothing into strips to create a community rug when she was a child.
These rugs are braided. Fabric strips braided into long braids, and then crafted into a rug like this one:
Many are very sturdy rugs, but some of the older ones can pose some problems for both rug owners and rug cleaners. Here are a few items to check for:
Rug dye problems. You want to test the dyes of your rug to see if they are not colorfast. If you own the rug and a damp cloth shows dye transfer, then you will want to be careful what type of surface you place the rug on top of as dye may transfer onto other surfaces. If you are nervous about a vibrant braided rug being on top of light colored wall-to-wall carpeting, then use a pad underneath as a barrier between the rug and the carpeting. (Rugs are meant to be placed on HARD surfaces, so this is only if you have no choice but placing it over a soft flooring.)
If you are a rug cleaner, and the dyes are highly fugitive, then instead of giving the rug a proper wash, you will be forced to lessen the amount of water during the cleaning and treat the rug as you would tricky upholstery and use a tool such as the Drimaster tool to clean, rinse, and immediately extract the cleaning solutions.
Rug braid filler threads. Sometimes the inside of the braids are supported with filler materials to make the braids more stiff. These filler materials, if they are dyed, may create “bleeding” problems when wet. You will want to open up the braids a bit and see of this filler material exists. This is a blurred photo – but this is what the filler material can look like:
Broken braids. With especially older braided rugs, the thread holding the braids along side of one another can weaken and break. This ends up making the rug fall apart. If you own the rug, tripping on broken areas can make the problem worse, and if the rug is given a bath, moving the rug around can create more and more broken areas.
The problem of broken connecting threads needs to be addressed BEFORE the cleaning process as it will become worse. If the rug is heavily soiled however, hand sewing the braids together will not be possible (it’s unsanitary to the rug repair specialists to be handling and breathing in the contaminants in a heavily soiled rug).
In this case, you can sandwich the rug between two plastic screens, sew these screens to one another to press the rug tightly inside of them, and then soak the rug, scrub, and rinse the rug as that “braided rug sandwich.” Then after complete drying it can be repaired.
When you send a braided rug off for repair, be sure to make sure they use very strong upholstery thread for those connecting threads so that you do not have to have the rug repaired yet again in a few more years.
These are colorful and fun rugs – and the older ones have some great stories attached to them. Just be sure to inspect them very carefully before cleaning so that you do not create any unexpected problems.