Fringe. People love it. They either love it or hate it.
Some rugs are short, so they’re not an issue.
Some rug owners are irritated by the length of some rugs. I’ve seen more than one person cut them with scissors in frustration, only to discover the cost of their actions later in this blog. Please HIDE your scissors until later.
Rug cleaners hate fringe.
This is the dirtiest part of the rug, it takes the most time to clean, and the owner will be unhappy if the job is not done perfectly.
Let’s talk about the fringe. You’ll learn what you need to know about fringe tassels and how to solve the most common problems.
What is fringe
The fringe tassels on hand-woven rugs are called the WARPS of the carpet. The carpet strands are where the pile knots (made from wool or silk) are twisted around.
It means that each tassel (usually made of cotton) runs through the rug’s middle and the other side. This is the skeleton that makes up a rug.
In most cases, fringe has little to no impact on a rug’s value because it is an unavoidable by-product of weaving. If the fringe tassels come untied, tear, or fall off, the knots in the rug will unravel and pull away. This WILL affect the value.
The fringe is usually added after the rug has been woven, either by machine sewing or gluing. When the fringe of these rugs becomes dirty or damaged, you can easily replace it with a new one.
It’s difficult to knot hand-woven rugs where the fringe tassels form the foundation around which the rug knots are tied. The fringe torn off by the vacuum, chewed by your dog, or worn away by foot traffic needs to be dealt with immediately… and the right way.
What happens when the fringe of a “real” woven rug gets dirty and damaged?
Your options are listed below.
The majority of rugs are made on a foundation of cotton. The fringe usually prompts people to have their rugs professionally cleaned.
Wool is The best fiber for a rug because it hides dirt so well. The fibers are covered with cuticles that hide dirt and grit. As the rug gets dirty, it begins to appear dull.
The COTTON, however, is a different story. Cotton does not have a place to hide dirt, so the soil gets embedded and is ground into the strands.
Cleaning cotton fringe tassels is similar to cleaning heavily soiled shoes. It is impossible to spray a solution on it and magically disappear. You need to scrub and scrub and scrub until it is clean.
If the fringe on a new rug is super white, it was bleached before it was sold.
The fringe looks great but at a price. The cotton fibers are damaged by bleaches and oxidizers, such as hydrogen peroxide, to achieve that “white” appearance.
The damage can be minor or severe, depending on the strength and effectiveness of the solution and whether the damage was done in the past so that it is worsening.
It is a warning sign for past chemical exposure if you notice cotton fringes that break easily when you pull a strand off.
Tassels torn off when you walk on them are either old/worn out fringe or fringe damaged by chemicals.
Rug cleaners who receive fringe in such a condition have difficulty cleaning it without breaking the fibers.
You will still lose fibers, even with gentle cleaning. And you won’t get the fringes to look great without a good scrub. The rug cleaner cannot clean the fringe if it is fragile.
Rug owners with this kind of damage may want to consider other options for cleaning up worn/torn/weak edges and ensuring that the base of the tassels does not tear and cause the rug to unravel and fall apart.
If cleaning isn’t enough, here are some ideas to help you with “Fringe Frustrations.”
FRINGE: CUT THOSE SHORTER
If fringe tassels are long, they can be cut to make them shorter. This will reduce the chance that they are snagged or grabbed by a shoe or vacuum.
If you cut them too short, they will unravel the rug knots and lose value. You don’t want to make them too short.
This knotting helps hold the rug end together. If you want to shorten the tassels, don’t cut them too short so the knots come undone.
The fringe tassels can be the cause of the problem. The knots may be higher than other tassels. This can cause the rug to unravel because shoes can pull and press on the knots.
Our shop will often repair torn fringe by untying the fringe and securing the end with a hand stitch (an overcast or “end-stop” stitch). Then, we trim the tassels to resize them. The fringe tassels will no longer be torn.
The same procedure applies if the tassels were unknotted at the beginning. The fringe should be trimmed after the rug repair specialist has secured the end. This type of repair, also known as an end stop or overcast, should never need to be repeated if it is done correctly. Our rug shop guarantees our end overcasting for the lifetime of the rug because it is a permanent fix.
An end overcast is used to secure the unraveling rug. This piece uses an angled buttonhole stitch to preserve as many of the original knots as possible. View of the BACK of the rug. The backside of the rug shows the securing stitch that prevents unraveling.
Poorly executed overcasts/end-stops (usually done by someone who has only seen the stitch in books and never attended a weaving class to learn it) may end up causing more damage than what was originally caused. This is a bad idea because it anchors the stitches to a common weft (the foundation threads that run the width of the rug are WEFTS). Repeated stitching on the same weft will pull the rug end away and cause several rows of knots to be lost.