Wednesday, June 01, 2011

fast finishing

••PLEASE NOTE•• I have since revised and updated my finishing technique.....and you can read all about it HERE.

The longer I hook rugs, the more I loathe the act of whipping the edge.

I dabbled with putting on tape last year....and a couple of weeks ago, I did a little more experimentation and I think that maybe, just maybe, I’ve settled on a method that I will be using for a while. I definitely don’t want to sacrifice any functionality, but I guess the proof will be in the pudding. I won’t really know until some undefined time in the future how it will wear....but for now I'm really loving the reduced time spent post-hooking.

So here is what I did....

After pressing my rug, I count 12 threads out from the last row of hooking and pull the 13th thread from the backing. I use the stretch zigzag stitch (marked with a dotted line) and sew (on the hooking side) of the pulled thread), going all of the way around the rug twice. At the corners, I do lots of reinforcing, as shown, so that when I later cut away some of the excess, it's very stable and secure.

Why do I use the stretch zigzag for any sewing I do, regardless of the backing? Because it’s made up of 3 little stitches in each direction instead of just one, and all of these stitches work to hold the backing together much better than a regular zig-zag or straight stitch.

I trim away the excess rug warp (cutting along the line created by the pulled thread), fold over the edge, and baste it in place. For this step, I like to use upholstery thread and a leather/glovers needle, and find that I need to make a conscious effort to just fold back the rug warp, and not to pull it back. If you pull it back, the edge will actually start to roll under and your outer loops will splay....and you don't want that!

As I sew, I make sure that I am catching more than just the backs of my loops in my stitches, and I also catch a generous amount of the seam allowance, as you can see in the following picture....

I wait until I am ready to sew each corner before I trim away the excess rug warp, one corner at a time.

I sew down one side first, then sew the adjoining side on top, sewing a little bit of a whip stitch along the outside edge. I don't want the corners to shift at all while the rug is in use, since I consider this cutting weakens the backing....and this extra reinforcement helps to stabilize things, while also allowing me to reduce some of the bulk that would otherwise result.

Once all of the rug warp seam allowance is secure, it's time to start sewing on the rug tape. For starters, I don’t cut the rug tape from the roll until it’s mostly sewn into place. This way I don’t waste any unnecessarily, nor do I accidentally cut it too short and have to add in a piece.

Again, I like to use the upholstery thread and a leather/glovers needle, and usually by this time, I've resorted to using a thimble or band-aid to help protect my finger....

I begin by attaching the tape right next to the hooking, on the top side of the rug, so that there is no visible backing between the tape and the last row of hooking. I catch a small amount of tape (directly across from where my thread came out on my previous stitch), and bring up my needle in between my loops of hooking (sewing on an angle). I've found that if I hold the tape where I want it to end up -- before I pull the thread tight -- then it usually stays there.

I pin the tape in place as I work, using just 1-2 pins and moving them over as I come upon each one. I pull the tape fairly tightly, and pin every 3-4". At the corners, I simply wrap the tape around -- nothing fancy.

Once it's attached on the front side, I fold the tape over and sew it down on the back of the rug, mitering the corners as I come upon them (and stitching them down to close up the fold).

Where the cut edges meet, I fold the cut edge underneath the top piece and over lap both pieces by about 1/2" or so. Again, I stitch this edge down, all along the fold.

Finito bambito! .....and in a fraction of the time it takes me to whip -- believe it or not!

••PLEASE NOTE•• I have since revised and updated my finishing technique.....and you can read all about it HERE.