Featured Rug of the Month                 December 2019

Note: this article doesn't show up well if you're reading it on your phone. Better to follow the step-by-step instructions up on your pc or laptop!

You might think this rug is past help, but that's far from the truth! What's happening to this glorious old rug is actually very common. Most old rugs were finished with a simple turned under hem, but that folded over hem is vulnerable to wear and tear. The inevitable result is that the backing fiber eventually breaks, and when that happens, the backing unravels and rug begins to unhook. In this post, I will show you the tried and true methods to repair this kind of damage, and to prevent it from happening again in the future.
First, I carefully removed what was left of the hem.

Here's what the rug looked like from the back, once the ragged hem was removed.

The next step is to unhook the edge until I get to healthy backing. This photo shows the rug from the back.

Here I am reinforcing the raw edge of the backing at my sewing machine.

Sewing in a patch:
Next I put new backing over the back of the rug, pinned it down close to the unhooked edge, and marked the edge where I would cut out the middle of the patch.

Here you can see the patch pinned down to the back of the rug and marked all around. The center of the patch will be cut out, then I'll sew both layers together and rehook the rug.

Once I have marked the inside edge of the patch, I have to reinforce it with a zig-zag stitch. Then I can carefully cut out the middle.

Looking at the back of the rug, here you see I'm sewing the trimmed-away patch to the original backing, close to the hooked edge.

Here you see the rug with the patch sewn in. This view is from the back.

Now looking at the front of the rug, I need to tack down the original backing, so I can rehook through both layers.

​And here you see the rug rehooked, hooking through both layers.

Hemming the rug:
To prevent the kind of damage we started with, I will bind the edge, beginning with wrapping the backing around a cotton cord, extending beyond the hooked edge. This will prevent the backing from ever getting folded along the hooked edge.

Once I have stitched the cording in all around the edge, I will fold the corners down with a mitered edge to get rid of added bulk. (Before I sewed in the cord, I trimmed off the corners of the backing, leaving at least one inch of backing from the hooked corner)

I push the corner down flat and hold it there.

Then I turn the edge under diagonally, and put a pin in.

I do the same on the other side, pinning down the edge.

(After I whip-stitch the corded edge, I'll fold the raw edge down and hem it to the backing, but I like to do the whip-stitching first. When I sew down the folded edge, I take deep stitches, making sure to grab the backing, not the hooking)

Whip-stitching the edge: Using a large embroidery needle and matching yarn, I first bring my needle in from the back to the front, and leave a 1" tail in the back. You see I have brought the needle around to do the next stitch.

With my thumb covering the tail, I bring the needle in from the back to the front. Then I continue whip-stitching for several stitches.

Now I need to turn the needle around (so the tail end will come out of the back). Rather than bringing my needle around to the back with the next stitch, I bring it through from the front to the back. When I run out of yarn, I will start the next needle in the back, whip-stitch over both tails, and then turn the needle around and keep going.

Once I come to the starting point, I put my needle through about 1" of the stitching. Then I trim off the yarn (so now the last tail is held down as well)

Washing the rug: 
Use two pans of cold water. One has a tablespoon of laundry detergent (no suds) and the other has a splash of white vinegar. With a rag from the soapy pot, squeeze almost all the way out, then with a twisting motion, gently scrub. Then squeeze out another rag from the rinse pot, and go over the same section. Lay the rug where it can get plenty of air to dry. On a sunny day, a rug will dry in an hour or two.

Good as new!