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Rug Repair Part 2: Rug-End Securing

The most common repair request is correcting damage to a rug’s ends.

Last time we discussed general principles of rug repair and how to get started. So if you are reading this, it is a sign you want to be a “rug fixer.”

The most common repair request is correcting damage to a rug’s ends. Most consumers have an infatuation with their rug fringe. They want them to look new after cleaning, which is of course impossible. This begins a discussion of rug fringe repair options. 

Rug-ends can be finished in a variety of ways. The rug may or may not have fringe. If the rug does have fringe, it may have a simple chainstitch between the pile and fringe (See Image 1). Or, the end may have a kelim created by the warps and wefts (See Image 2). The type of end finish is often based on the area’s rug weaving tradition.

There are a number of ways the ends can be damaged. Everything from pets to vacuum cleaners all contribute to their demise, but the main source is foot traffic over time.

When the end of the rug is worn into the pile, this needs to be stabilized before cleaning - even if no further repair is requested by the customer. If this is not done, the rug will lose pile during the cleaning process resulting in further deterioration. A basic whipstitch (See Image 3) or a buttonhole (aka blanket stitch) can be used to stabilize the rug-end. This is a very simple and profitable remedy.  

To execute a buttonhole stitch, lay the rug facedown with the end towards you. Work from either direction, depending on whether you are left- or right-handed with a waxed thread (linen, cotton or polyester) of a color that matches the rug pile. The purpose of any of these end stitches is to secure the last weft and thereby secure the end from further deterioration.

It is important that the stitches are uniform, both in the distance into the body of the rug and the distance between each stitch not pulled too tightly. 

The whipstitch is faster than the blanket/buttonhole stitch, and is used by many rug cleaning plant repair operations.

Also, sewing fiberglass window screen over damaged areas can stabilize weak rug ends prior to repair (Image 4). The fiberglass is removed after washing and just prior to the rug-end being repaired. Rugs should always be washed before starting a repair project. This creates a sanitary environment for the technician.

In the next part of the six-part series, we will look at fringe replacement.


Part 1: An Introduction to Rug Conservation, Restoration and Repair

Part 2: Rug-End Securing

Part 3: How to Deal with Worn Fringes

Part 4: Sides and Selvages

Part 5: Curling Edges – Why Rugs Won’t Lay Flat and How to Correct it

Part 6: Torn Corners and How to Repair the Problem


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