Repairing an old rug

DSCF1020When I was choosing rugs to hang in my studio from my vintage collection of hooked rugs, I really wanted to hang this one. I love its graphic beauty. And the holes in it do not detract from my appreciation of it. However, one of the holes was 2″, and I didn’t want to put too much stress on the rug by hanging it with that big of an opening. It needed some support.


The hole in question is in the middle right, where the 2 large fronds meet. Can you see it?

DSCF1014I have scraps of linen backing, and cut a patch that was about 4″ X 5″, and serged the edges. I centered it over the hole on the back of the rug and pinned it in place. With cotton thread I whip-stitched the edges all around the patch, attaching it into the backing and into the loops of hooking.

DSCF1016Then I turned it to the front, and hand stitched the edges of the hole to the linen. The stitches blend in well enough. For a full restoration job I could now re-hook the hole, trying to match the rug. I am choosing to leave it as it is. To truly do it justice, I would want to hook it with scraps culled from another beat up rug. Other wise it would just scream I have a patch!

DSCF1021I am thrilled to have such a rug in my collection. I do not have any information on it, other than it was dry cleaned at some point, and rolled and kept in storage. It looks to me as if the border has been rebound by machine with a heavy fabric. The colors are very strong with little signs of fading. How did it get these holes? A mystery! There is no apparent sign of rot or wear near the holes.

Do you have a guess?  ~ Karen

19 thoughts on “Repairing an old rug

  1. Could it have been a burn from an ember from fireplace?? I really like the primitive handling of the scrolls, gives me an idea for a rug I have been thinking about.
    Polly in CO


  2. I think a mouse saw the frond and decided it looked so tasty, he had to nibble on it only to realize it really wasn’t what he wanted.


  3. Love this old rug. And I think the right person found it as it looks like something you might design. Good idea about the patch. I have a small old rug that I need to look at closer. I am afraid the backing is just dissolving but maybe patches will work.


    • sondra, yes, i have a few rugs that are too fragile, and the backing seems to be brittle. these might still be hung by basting them to another backing, and then hanging from the new backing. maybe a natural colored primitive linen or even another kind of fabric like a cotton duck.


  4. Cigarette burn or a pet ate it?? I have two perfect round holes in an old rug and can’t figure it out either .. Do you have an answer? Love to hear!! Thanks for sharing!


  5. I’d suspect a fireplace ember. Or a spill and repeated dog licks. But it is so gorgeous I think it deserves a rehook when you find the right beat up old rug. Even though “flaws” (AKA love bites”) show up all over my house.


  6. love how you’ve decided to keep the patch for now…it keeps the integrity of the rug without hiding the fact that is has some damage. I agree with Polly in CO ~ an ember from a fireplace just seems to be so romantic!


  7. My guess would be moths. In my home, many months after resolving a moth infestation, I discovered articles throughout my house with clean holes. If your rug had received a burn, I think that the edges would show some evidence of this. With antique rugs, museum staff will freeze a rug for one week, remove for a week, then refreeze for another week. This will kill the larvae.


    • and this rug has been dry cleaned in a previous incarnation, so the damage happened a long time ago. thanks for your input. i did not think that moths would leave such a large and singular hole such as this.


  8. If anyone could match the colors in this old rug, you can, Karen. I think you should hook in the missing part. I bet no one could tell after you finished.


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