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What Are the Best Tips for Rug Binding?

By G. D. Palmer
Updated May 16, 2024
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Binding rugs or carpet remnants protects their raw edges, allowing them to look neater and last longer, but each rug is a little different. To create a durable, attractive product, binders should choose a rug binding material appropriate for the rug or carpet weight, and grade heavier rugs to reduce bulk. Conventional rugs can use either machine-sewn binding or ready-made glued binding strips, but hand-hooked rugs do best when bound using hand sewing techniques.

Rug binding involves wrapping the raw edge of a carpet or rug with a strip of fabric, serging it with yarn or applying a piece of fringe. Many of these techniques require special tools and machinery, but some rugs can be bound by hand. Special quick rug binding can be applied using hot glue or other adhesive materials, but this carpet binding is a less durable than other types though it requires much less expertise to apply.

Lightweight rugs and carpets are the easiest to bind, and work with hand or machine-sewn fabric binding, serging, fringe, or stick-on binding. Heavier rugs do best with a cloth or glue-on binding, though some can be serged. Their reduced flexibility and heavier feel makes them a poor choice for fringe. If the carpet is very thick, grading it, or cutting away part of the pile close to the edge, can make the binding lie more neatly and attractively.

Most commercial rugs can be bound on a heavy-weight sewing machine using a single pass, though very heavy rugs may require a professional rug binding machine. Ordinary home sewing machines usually cannot handle the thickness of a rug, and may suffer damage to their motors or mechanisms if used to make bound carpets. If an appropriate sewing machine isn't available, self-adhesive binding or binding applied with a hot glue gun can keep the edges of the carpet neat without the need to call a professional.

Hand-hooked rugs require more care in binding than rugs made from commercially-produced carpet remnants. These rugs can be bound with wool fabric, similar to that used for the rug itself, wrapped around a piece of cotton cord for stiffness, or with cotton rug binding tape. The binding should be sewn in two steps, rather than just one. One edge is attached to the front of the rug, either by hand or using a sewing machine, and then the binding is wrapped around the edge and hand-sewn onto the back with whip stitches. Hand-sewing binding for hand-hooked rugs provides greater control and flexibility, resulting in a more attractive finished product.

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