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Once you have finished hooking your rug you are ready to finish the edges. Now I have to admit, most rug hookers do not like this part of rug hooking and many people actually pay others to do the hand sewing. If I were not so frugal (not "cheap" mind you...there's a BIG difference), I would be one of those people. I am not much of a sewer and really , really dont like it, but thankfully you really only need basic sewing skills to finish a rug quite beautifully.
Now, there are MANY, MANY ways to bind or "finish" your rug. If you are a seasoned rug hooker and reading this tutorial and you're thinking..."That's not the way I learned it"...It's ok, relax, I'm not trying to talk old hookers into doing things a different way (but you can teach an old hooker a new trick). I am trying to teach new hookers some easy steps to hooking beautiful rugs. So, no pressure. Okay, that being said, lets get started.
Rug Binding Tape Method This method is very easy and requires very little skill (hooray). Rug binding tape is an all cotton product that comes in all kinds of different widths and colors, although you can purchase cream or white and hand dye it to match your rug. You are wlecome to purchase it from me or there are loads of folks who sell it online and maybe you're even lucky enough to have a rug hooking shop near you ! Here is a picture of some of the bindings I have on hand right now.
Now, the easiest way is to attatch the rug biding in the desired length BEFORE you start your project...before you ever pull that first loop. You want to lay it right on along the edge of the border so that you can, in essence, hook right up to it. This is a picture of a corner of the pattern before adding the tape...
You would then hook your rug, remembering to hook right up to that tape, then trim back your foundation fabric so that it fits under the binding tape, fold over the binding tape and stitch to the backside making sure to catch the wool in your needle with each stitch. (more complete directions on this step to follow in next method)
The downside to this method is that, if you are like me, you may decide to change the color of your background or maybe even add a border, depending on how much foundation fabric you have. Once you sew that binding tape on...you're kinda locked it. That's fine and is does give you a perfect edge, but I like the flexibility of changing my mind, so let me exlplain how to leave yourself some options...
Adapted Rug Binding Tape Method With this method you still use the binding tape, but you sew it on after you've hooked your rug. Once again you will be working on the top side of your piece. Simply lay the binding tape as close to your last row of hooking as possible. I use heavy duty thread or sometimes even embroidery floss. I use a whip stitch to attach the binding tape to the foundation like this...
Once you have sewn around the entire rug it will look like this...
Now I learned another method that I have just fallen in love with, even though it takes a little more time, the finished edge is just so beautiful.
Wool Strip Whipstitch Binding Method Now this method is really cool and still pretty easy and allows you to have an exact match to your hooking without any extra steps...because you're going to bind your rug with the wool that you used in your rug. For this example I used a color that was in my hooked design, but you could also use the same color as your background. You will need long strips of wool cut into 1/4" (#8) strips. My strips were about 30" long...you can use shorter strips, it just takes longer. With your hooked piece rigth side up, roll foundation from outside edge toward the hooking like this...
Now thread a tapestry needle, or any needle with a large opening, with one of your long wool strips Like this
Plunge your needle down through from the top as close to the hooking as possible like this...
Yarn Whipstitch Method I owe this method tutorial from Robin over at The Cranky Crow. She shared that she rolls up her edges and then whipstitches with wool yarn following the same basic idea as the wool strip whip stitching. Others add a cotton cord, which they roll up and whip around.
Now, you can modify any of these methods to suit your needs/abilities/moods. Some folks literally just fold their foundation over, presss it and sew it down.....some then cover it with a piece of wool, similar to penny rugs...I havent done this since it seems not quite strong enough to hold for me, but I did check several sources and many folks do this...I will definately try if for a small project like coasters...I think the backing would work well in that scenario.
Alrighty...there you have a few ideas of how to finish your rugs. All that's left is to sign your rug. I didn't sign my first few rugs (that I gave as gifts) and I sure wish that I had now. I know it might sound a little conceited, but folks, rug hooking is ART and just like a painter would sign a canvas, you should sign your rug...if for no other reason than someone, someday, possibly a decendent of yours 100 years from now may wonder who hooked this beautiful rug? Or it could be because you are going to be a well known rug hooker and the value of the rug will increase because it can be proven you made the rug...whatever the reason, please just sign your rugs...I like to use acid free slim markers to sign my name on a piece of fabric..could be anything, any shape (I tend to try to have it reference the subject of the rug i.e. a star or sheep) that I will sew onto the back of my piece. I try to include my name, date and where applicable, the name of the rug and who drew the pattern (if it wasnt me). Some people actually work their initials into the hooking itself !
As always, my main point is to share what works well for me and encourage you to find out what works best for you !!! I truly feel there are no hard and fast rules to rug hooking...everytime I think I have seen it all, someone amazes me with a new trick or new adaptation. I have seen rugs hooked with every type of fabric...not just wool...Oh yeah, I hear the gears turning in your heads. One of you is already thinking about going way off script and thinking of cutting up those jeans that you know you will NEVER fit into again and are just taking up space (What ? I'm, the only one who has those ??? Seriously ???) Or maybe you just thought of a really pretty scarf you got as a gift that you would never really wear, but you love the colors and you're already seeing it hooked up. Maybe you have______fill in the blank, that you want to try. Go ahead, try it. Be creative and dont let anyone say "You cant do that...That's not really rug hooking". Listen politely, and then just smile and say "It's the way I hook rugs !!! Imagine how boring the world would be if people didn't think outside the box ? Well, think outside of the rug.
Ok...sermon over cuz I think you all get my drift. Dont let rug hooking intimidate you. It should be FUN. We dont live in the 18th century. We dont need these rugs to keep from freezing to death this winter (well, I sure hope not). No one is judging you...well unless you enter your rug in a competition. Just relax and have a good time. I know some of you are reading this and are still sitting on the sidelines ...Get up and go that rug hooking project and get started. What ? You dont have a rug hooking project ??? Well, then check out the new space on my blog where I have wool, patterns and kits for sale (wink, wink) !!!
Until next time,
Grace to you,