One of the great things about hand-hooked rugs (and why they last so long) is that they can be repaired. Whether they are stained, snagged or moth-eaten, they can always be fixed. Last month we talked about cleaning and vacuuming your rugs. In this post, we’ll go over some techniques for repairing hooked rugs.
What if you have cleaned your rug and you notice some of it has become stained or snagged, or that (yikes) some of the backing is damaged? Not a problem. I’ll cover some of the typical wear-and-tear stuff, and even walk you through the process of doing a major repair.
This is by far the most common wear issue with a hooked rug, and the easiest to fix; when a small amount of yarn has become snagged. Just pull that yarn through to the back, and go ahead and rehook.
What if you notice a stain that can’t be washed out? In the rug above, on the left, you can see a stain in the white border. I was able to unhook the stain and rehook with a similar yarn. Since I have a sizable yarn stash, matching this yarn color wasn’t too difficult.
What if you can’t get an exact match? In the Salmon rug above, you can see just to the left of the Claire Murray signature, a small amount of yarn had been pulled out. Since I couldn’t match that color exactly, we had two choices; unhook the whole blue border and rehook with new yarn, or bring in a slightly different yarn (the strand you see in the upper left picture), peppering it throughout the blue border, creating a variegated effect. We chose the latter option, so when I unhooked some of the original yarn from other spots, I was able to bring that over to the original unhooked patch so it wouldn’t stand out, and when completed, you see a variegated outer border instead of the original solid color.
This is also a pretty typical wear-and-tear issue, especially with old rugs without bound edges. If the backing is just folded down along the edge, over time those fibers can break, and cause the hooking to come unraveled.
In this case, our choice was either to reduce the overall size of the rug, say, removing the red hooked border and replacing it with a red bound edge to salvage the healthy backing remaining, or to unhook the original red border, sew in a patch to make it possible to rehook to the original size, and then bind the edge to prevent further damage. We chose the latter option for this rug.
Here you see the red border has been completely unhooked, and a new backing has been sewn in place. That made it possible for me to hook a new border through the old and new backing, with new yarn.
So here you can see that I bound the edge and completed the hem. If you have an old rug with a simple folded-over hem in your house and the backing on the edge is in good shape, bind the edge now to prevent damage. And of course, if you’re making a new rug, take a little time to do this extra step and you’ll ensure that rug will last a long long time!
Need a primer on how to bind the edges on your rugs? Check out this post for how you can protect your new and old rugs from wear and tear here.
I wanted to share a recent repair job, just to show you that even severe damage can be repaired fairly easily. This old beauty, probably around 80 years old, was in pretty good shape except for some serious damage in the center. Notice that the edges of this old rug were bound, which explains why it has lasted this long. I suspect that the damage in the center could have been caused by embers from the fire popping out and burning small holes, and those holes just started getting bigger and bigger.
It looked like there were some efforts to repair the rug, but they may have made it worse. Once there is a raw edge of the backing fabric, unless the rug is properly patched, the unraveling will just get worse. A piece of burlap had been sewn into the back, and some sections were rehooked through the new piece, but without doing anything to hold the raw edges (the holes) together, the damage just continued.
Above left is a close up of the damaged area from the top. Above right is what the rug looked like in the back.
I carefully unsewed the patch and removed the parts that had been hooked through it (above left). Once the patch was removed, it was easy to see where the holes were in the backing. I decided that instead of trying to match the colors and keep any of the old hooking in the center, I would just come in with new yarn for that section. I carefully unhooked the center section.
So here’s what I mean by a good, secure patch. Above left you can see that I have pinned some backing fabric to the back of the rug, at least 1″ outside of any of the holes. Above right shows that I marked that area with a sharpie pen.
I then zig-zagged along the sharpie line to protect the patch from unraveling through the hooking process. Above right, you can see that I trimmed the patch close to the stitching line and pinned the patch into place into the back of the rug.
Above left shows hand-stitching the patch into the back of the rug. Above right shows tacking down all of the raw edges of the original burlap on the top of the rug. The hole on the right is getting tacked down, the hole on the left hasn’t been tacked down yet. I trimmed away any stray strands of burlap.
Here you can see all the holes have been patched, all the raw edges tacked down, protected from future unraveling. At this point, I rehooked the center section.
Old Rug, 45″x27″ Repaired
Ta da! Now this lovely old rug can be enjoyed for many more years to come.
So if your hooked rugs start to show wear and tear, no problem. You can fix them!
Happy Hooking Everyone!