Fun with Rug Hanging

Christine here.  In preparation for submitting rugs to the Schwenkfelder museum, I have finally started working on various hanging techniques.  Although I detailed several of the options before, in my post on the Guild Meeting 9/13/14, I have found that 2 of the techniques seem to be the easiest for me:

1.  Foam Board Backing

2.  Sleeves or Casings.

The foam board is 3/8″ deep; I purchased a couple sizes at a local hobby store (Michael’s)  along with an exacto knife and a metal ruler.  I already had a quilter’s rotary cutting mat which seems to be holding up well against the knife cuts.

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Photo above shows my equipment for working with foam board:  cutting mat, metal ruler, packing tape for taping sections of foam board together, metal ruler, exacto knife, pencil, scissors for stabbing holes through the foam board, and a tapestry needle with lacing thread for lacing through the back loops and the foam board.  Also in the upper right are my reading glasses, which are an essential part of any kit!

As you can see, I chose 2 shapes to back with foam board:  a circle that was too floppy to hang neatly from a top mount only, and a flower.  I’m also going to hang a long shape with a triangular top on foam board.  I think it works best for the floppy and irregularly shaped items.

When cutting out the foam board, always cut along a ruler edge.  I traced the outline of the rug onto the foam board (make sure the rug is face down on the board for tracing, and that the shiny side of the foam board is up).  Then I sketched 1″ inside the outline and cut it out.

When making the lacing holes, be sure to space the sets of holes at least 1/2 to 3/4″ apart, and about 1″ inside the edge.  Any closer and they could tear through the foam.  Make the holes with an awl or, as I did, the point of long skinny scissors.  Stab the threaded tapestry needle down through a hole, grab a back loop on the rug, and back up through the next hole in the foam.  Yes, it is a bit awkward, but it’s not that difficult.

Tighten up your lacing thread, and tie off at the beginning.  Not one loop of lacing thread showed on the front.

For hanging, I cut small triangles out of the top and covered the sides with tape.  I also tried putting lacing thread back and forth through two spaced holes, but it didn’t look quite as neat.

A couple times I taped the edges of foam board together, front and back and around the edges, with clear packing tape and it seemed to be very stable.

One other nice tip about foam board:  if you’re like me and always put off burying your tapered ends and other nonsense on the back of the rug, these flaws will be completely covered over and you never have to deal with them again!

The second method I used was sewing a sleeve or casing onto the back of the rug.  This worked better for 1.  Rugs with a straight edge or 2.  Really big rugs with multiple casings.

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Above photo shows a casing sewn onto the back of a square chair pad, with dowel ends cut to protrude beyond the casing but short of the edges of the rug.

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The trick to a casing is to sew it loosely by hand to the back loops of the rug, and to leave enough room in the outer portion of the casing so that it will accommodate a 3/8″ or 1/2″ dowel without tenting the front of the rug.  Also, make sure the casing is wide enough so that you’re catching the rug about 3″ apart — it makes the support of the rug more stable this way.

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With a really big rug, you may have to sew on two casings to support the rug sufficiently.  In the above photo, you can see that I sewed 2 casings onto the back of my carnation rug.

For cutting the dowels, I went to the hardware store and spoke to a very nice lady.  I wanted a small sawing option that did not involve the big heavy hand-held saw that is down in the basement.  The lady told me that a nice, neat option that is very light was to purchase a mitre saw with a box.

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This turned out to be just perfect for cutting dowels!  It’s very easy to trap the dowel against the inside of the box with a couple fingers, then cut straight across with the nice, sharp, not-heavy-at-all saw.  A few saws and voila, perfect cut!  Found it on sale for $7.98 at Home Depot.

Christine Manges

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