HM Nabavian Rug Fringe

Rug Fringe. What is it? And how to repair (or replace) it.

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Rug fringe is a decorative element that is typically found on the ends of hand-woven rugs. It consists of strands of material, usually cotton, that are woven into the structure of the rug and extend from one end to the other. These strands, called warps, provide the foundation for the rug and support the wool or silk knots that give the rug its texture and design.

While rug fringe is often seen as a decorative feature, it is important to keep it in good condition. If the rug fringe becomes damaged or unravels, it can cause the knots of the rug to loosen and unravel, which can significantly decrease the value of the rug. This is particularly true for hand-woven rugs, where the fringe serves an important structural role.

If the rug fringe on your hand-woven rug becomes dirty or damaged, you have a few options for repairing or replacing it. One option is to seek out a professional rug repair specialist who can carefully repair or replace the damaged fringe. Alternatively, you could remove the damaged fringe and replace it with new fringe, either by attaching it by hand or with a sewing machine (we strongly suggest by hand). If you choose to do this yourself, it is important to be careful and follow proper techniques to ensure that the repair is done correctly and the integrity of the rug is maintained.

Cleaning Rug Fringe

Cotton foundations are often used in rugs today, but they can be difficult to clean due to their inability to hide dirt and soil. Wool, on the other hand, has layers of cuticles that help to conceal dirt and dust, making it a better fiber for rugs. When cleaning cotton fringe, it’s important to scrub thoroughly to remove dirt and soil, as the fibers have no place to hide it. Bleaching the fringe can make it appear white and bright, but this process can also weaken the fibers and cause damage. If the rug fringe is already damaged or weak, even gentle cleaning methods can cause the fibers to break off. In these cases, rug owners may need to consider other options, such as trimming the fringe or replacing it entirely, to improve the appearance of their rug and prevent unraveling.

Cutting (and reinforcing) the rug fringe

The fringe on a rug, or the tassels that hang off the edges, can sometimes be long and get in the way. While it may be tempting to trim them as short as possible, this can lead to the unraveling of the rug if the fringe is made up of the warp foundation threads. Instead, it is important to cut the tassels shorter, but not too short, to avoid damaging the rug. If the tassels are knotted, these knots help hold the end of the rug together. However, if the knots are higher than the rest of the tassels, they can become weakened and tear off due to foot traffic, causing the rug to unravel. To prevent this, a repair technique known as an overcast or endstop stitch can be used to secure the end of the rug and prevent unraveling. This involves hand-tying the fringe and trimming the tassels shorter. If done properly, this repair should not need to be done again. However, if the overcast stitch is executed poorly, it can actually cause more damage by repeatedly anchoring to the same weft thread and pulling away the end of the rug. To ensure a long-lasting repair, it is important to use a strong overcast stitch with varying stitch lengths every few stitches. The goal of all of these repairs is to improve the appearance of the fringe and protect the integrity of the rug weave.

Protecting the Rug Fringe (Warp) by hiding them

To protect a rug’s fringe from being torn off, you can hide it by wrapping the end of the rug in the same material used to wrap the sides (rug binding/edging), or by folding the tassels behind the rug and covering them with a binding material. This can be especially useful for High-quality wool rugs, but may not be framed well by the white fringe. Alternatively, as a quicker (not really recommended for higher end rugs) you can use masking tape to attach the rug fringe to the back of the rug, though be mindful that using stronger tape or removing it from weakened fringe may result in the loss of tassels. Overall, hiding the fringe preserves the integrity of the rug while still achieving the desired aesthetic.

Replacing the Rug Fringe

Many people dislike fake fringe on rugs because it is often added using a sewing or serging machine, which can damage hand-woven rugs. They also (we disagree) believe add-on fringe to be unauthentic. Sewing machines repeatedly pierce the warps and wefts of the rug, causing damage that cannot be undone. In contrast, hand sewn fringe repairs can be done carefully, without causing harm to the foundation of the rug. Machine work is particularly destructive to collectible rugs and should be avoided. On the other hand, prefabricated oriental rug fringe can be added by hand, without causing any damage. This can be a good option for restoring the appearance of a rug, as true restoration of fringe tassels can be time consuming, difficult, costly and may even cause further harm. Prefabricated rug fringe can be chosen in a variety of styles and colors, and can be made to look natural on the rug. It will also protect the original fringe from wear and make the rug more attractive. Ultimately, the choice between a pre-fab fringe, rebuilding the fringe, or any combination of the above steps will depend on the preferences and budget of the rug owner.

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