So you want to give your rug a haircut... Before doing so, make sure your rug is a good candidate by giving it the "Tug Test." The following procedure involves covering your fringe with tape, which may cause premature release of tassels in poor condition. If you pass the tug test, go ahead and proceed.
Never cut your fringe other than a simple trim to groom it (see demo at bottom of page.) The fringe is part of the oriental rug skeleton. If the rug is older and is thought to have a high value, do not cut the fringe as originality is a factor in collector carpets. Carpets with deteriorating fringe or those of investment quality should not be altered other than by a trusted professional. Carpets with deteriorating fringe or those of investment quality should not be altered other than by a trusted professional. If you feel the fringe should be removed, consult a local reputable rug dealer. Their repair specialist may be able to reduce it or eliminate it altogether. Otherwise, there are efficient and simple alternatives to hide your fringe.
One of the most effective and non-permanent ways to deal with unwanted fringe is to straighten it, cover it with packing tape, and fold it behind the rug. Fasten the taped fringe to the back of the rug with an additional piece of tape. This may result in tape residue which can usually be removed with a solvent. Be sure to use clear tape as brown packing tape will leave behind a permanent discoloration on the fringe. When you hide the fringe, should you decide to sell the rug or pass it on to someone else, original fringe will be a future option.
As shown below, this rug's fringe is particularly long. This rug has an "apron" known as a kilim at the top of the fringe. Note the slight "blooming" of the tassels at their tips.
Cover the fringe both front and back with packing tape. Be sure to turn the fringe close to the corner inward as pointed out by the green arrow below. Otherwise, the fringe may show from underneath. Keep the fringe as straight as possible to avoid overlapping, which would increase the thickness and cause the carpet to sit higher off the ground.
Go ahead and fold the fringe to the reverse side of the rug, and fasten it to the back of the rug with additional tape and proper tension.
You're all done!
Please note: Read this entire section prior to starting the process of cutting.
The following excerpt is one method of trimming fringe. Prior to cutting. be certain of your decision to trim as shortened fringe is irreversible. Should you make a mistake, it could be very costly to have fringe re-attached.
The following rug is from my own home. It is a sample piece from India (notice the border does not go all around) made from 100% mohair, single ply and hand spun wool. The carpet is in good condition except for slight fringe blooming. The rug gave excellent service in my kitchen. When I decided to use the rug in another area, the fringe was roughly 1" too long, so I decided to cut it.
As you can see, the tips of the tassels are blooming ever so slightly. Trimming the fringe makes it neat as new.
Shown below are all the tools needed to properly trim your fringe. Note the cardboard, permanent marker, scissors and packing tape.
First, flip your carpet back and brush all fringe off the reverse side of the rug. If your rug is large, you may need a second hand on the other end to assist this motion. If it is done unevenly, the fringe may tuck under the rug. Done in unison on either side, the fringe will fall flat.
Drop the end of the rug back down at the same time as your assistant. While the fringe is all straight, you may brush it straighter with your fingertips, or for best results, gently use a wide toothed comb.
Once your fringe has been brushed straight, use the packing tape to cover both the front side and reverse side of your carpet's fringe.
Then, take the piece of cardboard (no longer than 6") and a marker to determine the fringe's final length. A good gauge is the edge of the rug pile. You will be following the shape of the carpet, which may not mean cutting the fringe in a straight line. One way to decide how short you want your carpet's fringe is to determine where it has receded the most, or how far back the "blooming" goes. If your carpet's fringe is extremely short or extremely long in some areas, you may want to reconsider trimming it to the shorter length. You may determine that it is best not to cut the fringe at all. Remember that trimming fringe is permanent. Decide with several people in your house or think about it over a period of time.
In the photograph below, you can see the carpet has enough pile to prop the cardboard up against the rug edge to create a guide. Make sure the area you will be markering is covered with tape. Mark along the edge of the cardboard while ensuring that both cardboard and marker are moving simultaneously, and with the shape of the rug.
Double check your line. Then go ahead and snip!
Finally, view your newly trimmed fringe! Any stray tassels which escaped clipping can be re-trimmed. Remove the tape and you're all set.
5 Min Video on How to Trim your Fringe, Shorten your Fringe, or Hide your Fringe!