(Editor’s Note: This is part three of a six-part series on rug repair.)
In the last rug repair article we discussed rug-end finishes and simple wash-floor solutions like using fiberglass window screen to stabilize the rug during cleaning. We also discussed whipstitch and blanket stitches that are different solutions to the problem. Let’s take a look at other options for rug-end repair.
Rugs are, to a great extent, fashion. The current trend is away from fringe. (Think Gabbeh, Tibetan, shag, etc.). However, the majority of rugs coming into wash plants have fringe. Customers are often very concerned about the appearance, as they want them white, or clean at the least, and to look new.
Oriental rug fringe can be cotton, wool, silk or rayon and typically light-colored, which will of course easily show soil. The fringe is more delicate than the rugs they are attached to and receive an enormous amount of wear and tear. A well-made rug can still be in near perfect condition long after its fringe has worn away due to careless vacuuming and foot traffic.
The first step is to have a discussion with your customer. Do they like the fringe on the rug? Would trimming it shorter be an option? Would they like it folded under so it does not show? Would a hand-sewn machine-made fringe be a solution? Would they like the fringe re-warped?
Each of the above options is very different. Costs range from inexpensive to very expensive. The client’s taste and personal preferences will vary. Finding out what your customer thinks will suit them best. Explain the costs and how they relate to the value of the rug as well as the pros and cons of the different choices.
Below are a few of the more common approaches to dealing with worn fringes. All presuppose that the end of the rug is secure, or that it will not unravel on its own.
Fringes often wear unevenly. After cleaning, a simple trimming may be enough. Trimming should be very minor, as simply trimming away the last quarter inch of a ragged fringe can really make it look much better. (Image 1 and 2) Fringe should not be trimmed without the client’s consent. It is best not to trim fringes on old or “collectible” rugs without a clear understanding of how it will affect the rug’s value and condition.
Eliminating Fringe Completely
Many new production rugs don’t have fringe and customers often wish to update the look of their rug by removing the fringe.
Your client may ask if the fringe can simply be cut off. Do not do this, as the structural integrity of the rug can be affected. There are simple ways of folding a fringe to the back of a rug and sewing it in place thus “removing” it from sight. (Image 3 and 4)
Adding Machine-Made Fringe
Selections of cotton machine-made fringes are available for attachment to the ends of rugs. It’s not always possible to find a fringe appropriate for every rug, but many match well. Keeping a good selection of fringe types on hand will allow your client to choose what looks best to them. Machine-made fringes can be machine-sewn, but only on machine-made rugs. Skilled hand sewing looks better and can be more secure. It should always be used for hand-knotted rugs. (Image 5)
Repairing and Re-Warping Fringes
This is the most time consuming option and the most expensive, but it does offer the greatest range of choice to your customer. Repairing fringe can be as simple as filling in a worn area with cotton tied or sewn into the original fringe. Though not as durable as re-weaving, this option can look good and provide a reasonable balance between cost and appearance.
Large areas of damage can also be re-warped completely, but this requires very labor-intensive work to recreate all original structure. This approach is often used on small damaged areas, but is prohibitively expensive for entire ends of rugs. (Image 6 and 7)