Thursday, March 28, 2013

To Zig and Zag or Not?

I'm getting ready to whip the edges of my Big Dog Hollow rug and commented to Rose, a fellow hooker follower of Three Sheep Studio, that I dreaded the prep of the rug before the whipping with the stitching and zig zag around the perimeter.  With my best interest at heart she asked me if I'd ever read this article by Cindi Gay  Actually I had read it several months ago and went with my gut and personal preferences so continue the stitching and zig zag.  No I don't think that I know more than Cindi, it is just my personal preference to do this to protect the edges from unraveling.

Sometimes I do the straight stitch and zig zag stitch before hooking to make it easier to manipulate the rug without all the weight of the hooking.  That is what I did with the Red Bird of Pennsylvania rug, and if you look closely can see the stitching in white thread.

Since I wasn't sure if I'd make changes to Big Dog Hollow I chose to not do the stitching until after I was done hooking.  And, it so happened that I did extend the right hand side by two rows of hooking so it was wise that I held off until the rug was done.

So I drew a line 1 1/2" away from the last row of hooking and did two rows of straight stitching and then one row all the way around of the zig zag to connect the stitch lines together.  Note that I shortened the corner to make the corner less bulky.
And then I cut away the excess foundation so it can be rolled forward.
After having read Cindi's tutorial and what others may have done, realized that I would never cut my backing away without the edges being secure first.  And even tho the ends will be rolled forward and tucked inside do not want teasing to occur over the years.  And I have purchased rug patterns from people who use the fray check on the ends (vs. serging) and that makes the ends stiff and non flexible so don't want a rigid chunk along the perimeter of my rug tucked in or not.  I believe that would be more abrasive on the linen fibers than having sewn the edges.

The article mentions the needles penetrating the foundation and perhaps weakening the fibers.   Frankly, before having read this article wondered just how secure my rugs were even with the precautions I was taking with the straight stitch and zig zag.  I mean, how likely is it that a thin sewing machine needle would penetrate the middle of a thread of linen?  My concern was that the stitches were going in the hole between the linen weave and how secure is that?

Additionally, the stitches and zig zag are 1 1/2" away from the main rug itself so just how is the penetration of a single linen thread (or rug warp, or monks cloth) going to jeopardize the strength of the hooked rug at that distance?  Those fibers are flexible and not like a piece of glass that will shatter across the distance.

And I know first hand how not protecting edge of rugs are important.  I was given a beautiful rug from a departed friend and hooker.  On occasion I would lift the rug off the floor (from it's out of the way location) and air it out.  Because she had not secured her edges of linen in any way noticed it starting to tease away.

So, take this as food for thought on whether you think you should or should not zig zag your rugs.  But for certain you should do something to the ends to protect all the hard work that went into your heirloom piece.

Have a great evening everyone and enjoy this Holy holiday with family and friends.



  1. I think there are as many schools of thought on finishing rugs a there are rug hookers. I was taught by a very old lady who had definate ways of finishing a rug.
    So over the years I do what is right for me. I also know a lot of people would not put a rug on a floor. I do that is their true purpose. I may save some pieces for the wall but we walk on my rugs.

  2. Saundra ~
    As much as I hate to drag out the machine, I always zig and zag :)
    Hey, I am actually in the process of binding two small rugs!!!
    Hugs and Happy Easter :)

  3. I haven't hooked for very long, but I do think for as long as I continue to hook, I will probably zig zag my edges before I bind the rug, because I'm just plain afraid of it unraveling somehow....
    I do like what you do as far as the 2 straight sewing lines then the zig zag...extra protection....

  4. Here, I have a serger ~ but if I didn't, I would definitely zig and zag, as you say! After all the work, why risk that the backing could ravel? That big rug deserves the extra touches!!

  5. I do the zig-zag with a row of straight stitch.... but, I have decided that doing this before hooking makes the task a lot easier. (no wrestling the weight of the hooked piece)

  6. I always zig zag several times.Saundra your hooking gets better and better, Have a Happy Easter, Cheri


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