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.
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…