Handmade rugs add warmth to a home's floors and comfort for the feet that live there. Rug making is a traditional craft comprising a variety of techniques that create myriad styles of rugs, from time-honoured to modern. After a rug is put together, it must be bound properly to maintain its integrity and durability. Rug-making techniques have not changed much in the craft's history, resulting in an art form that requires only simple tools to achieve stunning results.
Braided rugs are created from strips of fabric, such as wool, that are braided into long strips. These strips are then wound into the shape desired for the rug, often round or oval. The strips are sewn together using a needle and heavy-duty or nylon thread, so that the stitching can't be seen. Crocheted rugs are similar in design, except that they are crocheted with a hook instead of being braided.
Woven rugs are most often created on a loom. They are constructed of yarn or strips of fabric set up in a traditional warp and weft fashion, with one strip going over a perpendicular strip, then under the next. Woven rugs can be simple or very complex, with intricate patterns resembling floral or jacquard designs. Woven rugs from the Middle East are often prized for their beauty and can be quite costly.
Hooked rugs fall into several types, including traditional hooked rugs that use loops of fabric, and latch hook rugs that are created from small lengths of yarn. Unlike braided and woven rugs, hooked rugs require an open-weave backing to which the fabric or yarn is attached. Hooked rugs of both varieties provide the crafter with an opportunity to create a rug based on photos, pictures, or unusual designs since the fabric loops or yarn pieces are inserted into the design individually.
Most rugs will require some type of binding to help the rug keep its shape and for added durability. Braided rugs are the exception, since they are sewn together into a stable shape as they are made. Woven rugs have a tendency to stretch on the bias if not properly bound, and hooked rugs need to have their edges finished. Binding for these two types of rugs is most frequently accomplished by hand-stitching a length of heavy-duty twill tape, a woven cotton ribbon, to the underside of the rug. This twill tape secures the raw edges of the rug in place.
Some mass-manufactured rugs are bound with an overlock stitch, a series of closely spaced sewn stitches ¼ to ½ inch wide. This effect can only be accomplished by the home rug-maker by hand sewing the edges. Another finishing technique for rugs is to add a type of rubber to the underside of the rug, which keeps it from slipping on smooth floors.
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