Oriental rug owners often ask, “Why are my fringes falling apart?” Rug cleaning customer Joanna B. of Edmonds recently asked this question, and then asked, “What can I do about it?”
There are several options, but first a quick recap of why fringes will deteriorate.
- · Normal wear.
- · Vacuuming.
- · Manufacturing damage.
Fringe shedding can be more noticeable after cleaning, since the sticky gunk that was holding the weak fibers together has been removed. (More on this topic can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page of our website.)
OK, what can be done about the weak fringe?
The weak fiber can’t be made stronger, but can be replaced or hidden. There are four main categories of end repair:
- · Reweaving matching yarn into the body of the rug.
- · Attaching a pre-made fringe.
- · Turning the fringe under the rug.
- · Securing the end with stitching.
New matching yarn is hand-woven into the rug. Sometimes the yarn can be worked into the existing fringe knots, sometimes they will be worked into the end of the rug, and if the wear goes into the nap, the nap can also be re-knotted. The cost and time to complete a repair varies with the complexity of the repair. There is no charge for us to assess a rug and offer the best repair options.
This is the best option to repair any machine woven rug, and can offer a cost-effective way to stop end wear on a hand-knotted rug. This type of fringe is usually sewn on using a fringing machine, but we’ve found that by carefully hand-sewing we can make a pre-made fringe look very attractive on hand-knotted rugs as well.
Turning the fringe under
The most common comment when shown how the end of rug would look with the fringe turned under is, “Oooooh! I like that” and many hand-knotted rugs are sold today with no fringe at all.
For higher value rugs we’d recommend sewing the fringe under and then covering it with a hand-sewn fabric. Stitches can be easily removed if the rug owner decides to show the fringe again. It may also be appropriate to trim the fringe and use an adhesive to hold the end finish in place, a good option for most newer rugs.
Securing the end
Using a hand-stitch or machine stitch, thread is sewn into the end of the rug to keep the nap from falling out. This doesn’t improve the look of the rug, but it is an inexpensive way to preserve a rug until the rug owner is ready to invest the time and money for a more permanent repair. Once the decision is made to do a more thorough repair, those stitches can be easily removed.
It is important to keep an eye on your rug fringes. The fringe weaving is what keeps the neds of the rug from fraying, and reknotting the pile of the rug adds considerably to the cost of end repair.
If you have questions about your rug and possible repair options, we are always happy to do a no-cost assessment. There may be several good levels of repair, and we’ll help you figure out which makes the most sense for your rug and the way you use it.
This photo shows a “healthy” fringe yarn. Notice the individual fibers are spun into yarn bundles. This particualr yarn is made of two “plys.” One ply is spun (twisted) clockwise, the other counter-clockwise, then both are put together and given the spin you see here.
This spin is what give the yarn bundle a greater strength than it would have if the individual fibers were just lined up with no twist.
This fringe is beginning to show the effects of use. The yarn bundle is losing some twist and the individual fibers are now starting to pull away.
This fringe is now weak enough that it should be replaced. Test your fringe by pinching the end of one string and gently tugging on it. If pieces easily come off, the fringe is now weak enough that it needs to be replaced.
At this point sticky soil all that is holding the fringe together, and significant amounts of the brittle fiber may rinse away when the rug is cleaned.
The fringe on this rug has broken off to the knots and in some areas past the knots. Since the fringe and the short strip of weaving (kilim) is what holds the end of the rug together, this needs attention before the ends of the rug begin to fray.
Bad fringe left unattended will eventually result in the loss of face fiber (nap) of the rug. From this point foot traffic and vacuuming will quickly degrade more of the rug.
End repair of this rug will either require removing more nap to get a common line for repair or reweaving the missing nap.
Reweaving is a much more time consuming and difficult repair, so it’s best to avoid by taking care of fringe before it gets to this point.
Now for the solution to weak or worn fringes:
This picture shows a rug that had worn into, and lost, the nap on the end. In this case the rug had worn past the entire border, so reweaving was not a cost-effective option.
The nap was removed to common/straight line and a hand-stitch was worked into the body of the rug to keep from further nap loss.
A machine stitch can also be used but the results are not quite as elegant. It should be considered when the rug owner is not ready to invest in more thorough repair but would like to stop the erosion of the rug nap.
Turning the fringe under is an increasingly popular option, even when the rug has a healthy fringe. Although we traditionally think of an Oriental rug as having fringed ends, many rugs sold today have no fringe.
There are some options for rug owners that like this look:
- Turn the existing fringe under, hand-sew it in place, cover the fringe with a hand-sewn sleeve. This protects the fringe so that clipping a few stitches will allow the fringe to show again.
- Cut the fringe off and glue the end fabric under the end of the rug. This is less expensive and is appropriate for rugs that are made to be enjoyed by the current owner rather than be considered future museum pieces.
Adding a pre-manufactured fringe is appropriate for any machine-woven rug.
The rug shown here is a hand-knotted rug made in India. The rug owner wanted the look of fringe but did not want to invest in hand repair, so we in-sewed a pre-made fringe by hand to make it appear to be a hand-woven fringe.
These are the most popular pre-made fringes used to repair area rug fringe.
Left to right these are: Brush Fringe, Large-knot Fringe, and Small-knot Fringe. We keep each type of fringe in stock and available in the five colors shown at the right of the picture.
We also stock two double-knotted fringes and can special order more.
This rug shows the brittle fringe having been removed prior to hand-weaving a new fringe into the existing strong kilim at the end of the rug.
This large Persian rug was in excellent condition except for the fringe, so was also an excellent candidate for a new hand-woven fringe.
The same rug showing completed reweaving of the fringe before it is removed from the weaving loom.
The skilled craftspeople at D. A. Burns can repair more than fringe. We routinely repair sides, replace missing nap caused by insect damage, reweave or insert sections to repair areas damaged by potted plants (dry rot), or reweave the worn area that was in front of garndpa’s favorite chair.
Repair assessments are always available at no cost. Visit us in Seattle at 4411 Leary Way NW or in Bellevue at 13830 BelRed Road NE.
Or call at 206.782.2268