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So the other day I mentioned that I was in the process of fixing the edges of a few vintage and antique rugs for Carol. Margie asked if I could explain how I fixed them as there are a lot of antique rugs out there that have damage along the edges because most of them were hooked on burlap and the burlap has become brittle with time. But also the most traditional way of finishing the rug edge was to just turn under or to put on a twill tape and turn under thus exposing the burlap edge to a lot of wear and tear resulting after time in breakage and loss of loops!

The most traditional way of fixing the edge – and I have done this – would be to undo the binding tape, pull out loops around the affected area, graft a new piece of backing to the back and then rehook, resew the binding tape and hope for the best. The problem I have always found is that if there is one spot! there will be more in the future! so you will be fixing again (and again and again). Carol wanted the rugs fixed PERIOD! So what we decided was to put on a show binding – covering the last few rows of loops and the damaged areas and preventing further future damage.

So here is my process:

1.  I try to match the background or border colour however if it is reallllly toooo difficult to match the colour I prefer to pick a darker colour from the interior of the rug and use that as the border. That way it does not look like I TRIED to match and failed! Plus I have always loved the way a darker outer border draws the eye back into the interior of the rug – your eyes don’t slide off the edges.

2.  I tear across the bolt so that I have nice long strips – about 2.5 inches wide – wider if I need to cover a lot of damage along the edge – enough strips to go all the way around the rug allowing for joining. Some people join on the diagonal – I just butt join together so that in the end I have one really long strip.

3.  With the steam iron I press under 1/4 inch all along ONE long side of the strip.

4.  I pin the turned under edge of the strip to the rug covering the damaged areas starting from the middle of one side of the rug and the middle of the long strip all the way around the rug and then butt join the ends together.

5.  I sew this on by hand taking a little bite into the edge of the show binding and then a bite into the rug using doubled, matching GOOD thread.

6. Once I am done I fold the strip to the back and either stitch it as is to the back mitering at the corners or fold the strip back in on itself and stitch the thicker piece to the back.

So now that this is clear as mud I have a couple of pix of the finished rugs with the show binding attached that may make this clearer.

Finished rug with show binding covering the damaged edges…HPIM5923


View of the front with the show binding edge stitched over TOP of the hooking…HPIM5921

Back view with show binding sewn in on itself – this gives a very nice thicker edge which will protect the rug for years to come…HPIM5922

Antique rug that had a lot of damage up to an inch into the rug so I attached a much wider show binding…HPIM5930

Front view of the rug with show binding… HPIM5931

Back view of the rug with show binding just sewn flat and about an inch into the back of the rug…HPIM5932





10 responses »

  1. Good one Loretta. Saves doing it again.

  2. Marjorie Duizer

    Love how you repaired these.
    Would you consider writing an article for the OHCG newsletter about this—it’s such a commonly asked question—who will repair and how to repair.

  3. Loretta, this second one reminds me so much of an old Cheticamp rug I have. Same soft colours and shading. It badly needs rehabilitation – the edges are ravelling out and I have a couple of holes in the middle – which I think I can repair, but I am not brave enough to tackle the edges. I`m a hopeless seamstress, so a show binding is beyond my talents. You did a beautiful job on these.
    Linda on the Rock

  4. Beautiful antique rugs. Your instructions are right on Loretta. I remember you walking me through my first show binding. I love to finish my rugs with this particular method as the show binding always seems to “hug” the rug.

  5. Thanks for this info!
    The sunrises in your last post are breathtaking!
    LOVE that fish bone rug. So not me but so much fun!!!
    Hugs 🙂

  6. You showed me your method of Show Binding the first year I met you at a Craft Fair in a beautifully wooded location North West, I think, of Westport. I think that event is no longer held. In any event, it is what I always use now. Love the look & the ease of application. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise. Nancy

    Sent from my iPad


  7. Gorgeous old rugs.

    You have explained this process quite well I think. Even I could understand it!

  8. Hi Loretta:

    Thanks for the post on repairing rugs. I have another ‘fixit’ problem. Seems I am always having to fix stuff. Would be nice if I had the imagination and the ability to dream up a solution on my own. When in doubt ask I say!

    I purchased a proddy rug for a bathroom which has been prodded with cotton tea shirts while in NFL this summer. It is a fun rug BUT it is finished badly. The outer edge of proddy comes out of the burlap. I was wondering if I could finish it the way you have described in order to be able to use the rug? The burlap has been zigzagged leaving no room at all for turning under but if I take out two rows of proddy there would be a 1” turn under. The seller in the museum said that this rug would be just fine in a bathroom because of the cotton proddy but I am having doubts.

    Now of course the second option is that it doesn’t need finishing at all and I am creating a tempest in a teapot. So as always I am looking to seek your wisdom and advice on this.

    Hope all is well with you. Your family has had a challenging time of late and you are not far from my thoughts. Hope your mum si doing well under the circumstances.

    hugs, trish _____________ Trish Strung

  9. Hi from Nova Scotia,

    I just saw your blog on the repairing of older rug edges. Thanks so much!
    I was so surprised when I saw it. The explanation with the added pictures helped so much!
    I really appreciate you taking up the “challenge”.

    Some rugs I have inherited will benefit from your assistance and I will think of you
    every time I look at them!
    More snow & rain on the way!

  10. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this Loretta. It looks good and should as you say, protect for quite some time.


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