From Carpet Stitching to Carpet Gluing

                                                           Example of a stitching “pattern”
   Throughout the years the techniques for carpet seaming and repairing split seams have changed drastically. Fifty years ago we needed to hand sew seams in carpeting. It was done from the back side with the carpet turned face down. We stitched left to right, and then right to left until it looked something  like a “baseball stitch” It wasn’t exactly the same baseball pattern, but acted as a good image to help people understand what stitches looked like. The pattern was a series of x’s down the carpet backings underside where it could not be seen from the top.
   As if hand seaming wasn’t a slow enough process, if we needed to put a patch into a  damaged  area we used a large curved needle and stitched from the carpets top side. This was done much like a surgeon stitching up wounds. To do  the simplest of carpet stain  patching repairs required even greater skill then basic seaming.
   As the 1960’s rolled in newer carpet repair technology in the manufacturing of carpeting forced the needle and thread techniques  into oblivion. Changes in carpeting backings  to synthetic materials demanded a new way to make a seam and also a new way to stretch them. The new  seaming/patching tool is called a “carpet seaming iron” and the new stretching tool is the “power stretcher”.  I’ll address stretching in another post


   It took a decade to perfect the iron and its’ accompanying hot melt tape. Temperature controls were added, a heat shield, heavy duty electrical cords, a directional cord outlet from the iron itself,etc. The tape eventually came with a silicone backing to keep it from sticking to the pad when the carpet was stretched especially when the power carpet stretching was used. The tape  also needed just the right amount of wax added in it by its manufacturer. Too little an amount of glue and it would not hold tight when stretched. It now comes in grades of thickness and with or without grooves.   A seam line is cut from the carpets backside on the adjoining pieces. The carpet is then laid flat with the seam pushed together. The tape is unrolled under the seams joining line. The hot iron is  placed on the tape and moved across it when it can be pushed as though sliding through thick butter on a plate.  In five minutes a typical bedroom doorway can be hot melted after all the prep work. A temporary weight is placed on it for a minute or two, and ten minutes later it can be power stretched.  The hot melt iron technique works well on any kind of patch that is large enough to fit it in the cut open area, such as an iron carpet burn repair. 
   Power stretching was another necessary innovation when the carpet backs became synthetic, and the carpet widths changed from narrow  runners to 9, 12, and 15 foot widths. Stretching will be discussed at a later time.
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