Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crafting How-Tos: Turn a rug into a wall hanging

I may have mentioned earlier that part of my going crazy at the end of this summer was because I spent a lot of time remodeling my dining room. It wasn't that the dining room was hideously ugly or out of date or not to my taste—I chose the carpet and curtains, after all—but it was the preferred site for my former feline's misbehaviors. So the carpet had an unfortunate aroma and needed to be replaced. We decided to install bamboo flooring, and so while the floor was bare, why not paint as well?

In choosing the new color scheme, I decided to take my inspiration from a beautiful silk rug we purchased during a visit to Turkey. Because of  prior unfortunate feline encounters, however, we decided the rug should be displayed on the wall, not the floor, safe from our cats' unerring ability to aim their vomit at the most difficult place to clean. The rug was only around 27x48 inches and weighed less than five pounds, making it a good candidate for a velcro mounting. I read on the interwebz that many museums prefer the velcro method, and it looked like a relatively easy thing I could do myself. Just sew a strip of velcro to the back of the carpet; attach the other side of velcro to a board; mount the board on the wall; and voila! Let the velcro work its magic!

These were the materials I used:

  • 2-inch wide velcro, the width of my rug
  • a wooden board, same width, that could be screwed into the wall
  • enough undyed muslin to back the velcro and cover the board
  • heavy upholstery/carpet thread in a color to blend with the rug
  • a darning needle
  • staple gun and staples

The muslin was necessary to protect the carpet from touching the velcro, untreated wood, or staples, possibly causing discoloration. So the first step was to sew the fuzzy side of the velcro to a piece of muslin. There should be around a quarter-inch of overlap on each side, and you can see my math went a little fuzzy and I ended up with a very small margin around my velcro. It was enough to hand-stitch it to the carpet, however, and that was the most labor-intensive part of the process. I very painstakingly used a darning needle and heavy upholstery thread to attach my velcro strip to the rug. I placed a stitch every three to four knots, and at around 16 knots per linear inch, that meant four to five stitches per inch. When placing the needle, I had to seek out the natural gaps in the weaving, and keep the stitches from crossing rows and becoming visible. Bending the carpet helped me find these spaces, and you can see from the next pictures that this careful placement helped the stitches disappear:

Yes, the stitches were that small.
I very carefully drew the thread to the other side...
... and poof! The thread is invisible!
It took me several hours and one very sore thumb, but I got the strip attached to the back of the carpet, as you see in the initial photo. Putting the velcro and muslin on the wooden board was much easier. I took out my trusty staple gun (used previously to recover the dining room chairs) and sproing! snap! bam! I had a board ready for mounting on the wall.

That's when I turned things over to TSU. Along with other important jobs, like Killing Ceiling Spiders and Changing Light Bulbs, he is in charge of Putting Things Up On Walls. He has special tools and it makes him feel useful. In this case he even took out little pieces of muslin before screwing the board in, then glued the muslin on top of the screws so they wouldn't touch the carpet.

All that was left was to put the two velcro parts together. It did take me a few tries and a level to get the carpet hanging exactly how I wanted it, and then I had to use a string to get the fringe on the top to flip behind the edge of the carpet, rather than hang down all willy-nilly. But that required minor effort, and the result was majorly cool!

Oooo, pretty, shiny carpet on the wall! See how the teal-ish accents in the carpet are picked up by the light blue paint? My cats will have to work extremely hard to try to vomit on this baby!

I was very pleased with how this turned out, considering it was something I'd never tried doing before. I don't think it would work with the 4x6-foot carpet we have, as it's too heavy, but in that case the carpet has turned into a sofa drape, visible yet somewhat protected from our varmints.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Photo of the Week--9/27/10

We had most of a day to ourselves in Ushuaia, which purports to be the most southernmost city (not village) in the world. It's nestled in the foothills along the tail end of the Andes Mountains, and we took a little jaunt up into these foothills, where the glaciers were starting to melt in the southern summer. It was cloudy but still a beautiful day to be out and about among nature.