The Difference between Machine-Made & Hand-Made Rugs: A Guide on the Real Value of Rugs

November 17, 2020 6 min read

There are a variety of ways of constructing both hand made and machine made rugs. In fact, hand-tufted, flat-wave, hand loomed are often made with a combination of hand and machine.  To help provide a truthful and trustworthy answer to the value of each rug, we outline the production processes for the types of rugs on the market. 

 

Hand-Made Rugs & Their Varieties

Hand-made rugs are made in a variety of ways, including hand-knotted, hand-tufted, hand-hooked, flat-weave, and hand loomed. 

Hand-knotted Rugs:

Of all the hand-made rug varieties, hand-knotted rugs are known to be the most time-consuming, as well as the most intricate, longest-lasting and highest quality rugs. The explanation of the construction of the rug below explains why this is. 

 

One hand-knotted rug can easily take months, if not years, to produce. There are critical elements invested in the construction of this rug: 

The Loom: A frame or machine used to hold one set of threads called warp in order while other threads, called weft, are interlaced with the warp.

The Warp: The vertical yarn attached the upper and bottom beam.

The Weft:The yarn passed through the rug.

Pile/Knot:The thickness of the rug from the base of the rug, determined by the type of yarn used.

 

Structure of different components that make a rug: warp, weft and pile, otherwise known as knot.

  

To make the rug,  an artist prepares the design of the rug on special graph paper, where each square of the graph represents a “knot” on the rug. 

 

Once the design is drafted, the graph is placed on a loom, where the rug can begin to be constructed.

 

A piece of yarn is tied around two warp strands that are already resting on the loom, thus creating the “knot” or “pile” of the rug. After completing a row of knots, a weft strand is passed through the warp strands from end to end, as to secure the knots in place and create the structure of the rug.Thereafter, the knots and weft strands are tightened and secured with a comb that applies pressure by beating the structure into place.  

 

Comb used to pressure weft strands in place after creating a row of knots..

 

 The warp and weft interlock to create the foundation of the rug. Through the weaver’s tying of the knots into the foundation, and cutting off the thread by hand, thepile of the rug is created. These elements together create the core of the rug, and all that remains is sowing on the the FINISH RESEARCH ON THIS STATEMENT. 

 

While this outlines the construction process, an additional note to keep in mind when purchasing a hand-knotted rug is there are many different types of knots. The type of knots change the look and feel of the rug. Two in particular dominate: the Persian knot and the Turkish knot. 

 

 The Persian knot  is an asymmetrical knot, that is more suitable for more intricate designs. To create this knot, yarn is brought around one warp strand and above and under the neighboring warp strand and brought back to the surface. This type of weave creates a finer, more intricate design, as is indicated by the image to the right of the Persian knot example. 

Persian knot in between weft and warp yarns. Persian rug demonstrating the intricate designs Persian rugs create.

 

The Turkish knot, on the other hand, is symmetrical. The thread of this knot is passed through two warp strands, where each end of the yarn is brought back to the surface in the middle of the two warps. This creates the symmetrical effect on a micro-level and becomes a very effective method in creating beautiful symmetrical designs on rugs.

 

Intricacies of Turkish knot demonstrated in between weft and warp strands. A Turkish rug created with Turkish knots, demonstrating the symmetry present in design.

 

Now that we’ve outlined the construction process, lets outline the benefits of a hand-knotted rug:

  1. Hand-knotted rugs can take years to make, and cost thousands of dollars. Yet, the benefit of these rugs is they often last generations, and are considered “family heirlooms”. They are often passed down from generation to generation, and with it, the family curates a story of their own around the rug
  2. Because of the extreme time investment in the rug, hand-knotted rugs are often made from the best materials: wool, silk, and the like. Click THIS link <HYBER-LINK> to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of different materials in rug construction. 

 

Interested in hand-knotted rugs? Shop Hand-knotted HERE.

 

Hand-Tufted 

Hand-tufted rugs are made with a loop of yarn pulled through a rug’s backing with what is known as a “tufting gun”. The use of the tufting gun makes for a more efficient, thus cheaper production. 

 

How a tufting gun inserts the yarn through a rug canvas.

To enable this production process, an artist creates the design of the rug on a canvas-like backing to guide the tufting process. The canvas like backing is inserted on a loom to hold in place.

 

A canvas-like backing, with a printed pattern to guide the tufting process of the rug.

 

The tufting gun is automatically fed yarn from its base to the tip that is inserted into the canvas. This machine automatically inserts the yarns through in continuous loops.

 

 

A tufting gun being used to tuft a design onto a rug.

 

After all the “tufts” are inserted, the manufacturers apply a latex coating to the backing to ensure the tufts are secured in place.  Another protective layer is applied to secure the threads.

 

 

A latex backing is being applied by workers to the back-side of a fully tufted rug to secure its fibers in place.
A fringe is added by either or sewing or gluing it on. 
A fringe is being pressed onto the backing of a tufted rug by a native worker.

 

The surface layer of the rug is then sheared off excess threads to even out the threads.

A surface layer of the rug is being sheared by a worker, with a pair of scissors.

 

While hand-tufted rugs can highly resemble hand-knotted rugs, hand -tufted rugs have their unique benefits and drawbacks: 

  1. Due to the automation of the hand-tufted rugs, hand-tufted rugs can be made in a matter of days, weeks at most, for a high quality rug. This in turn creates a much more affordable rug for the consumer to purchase. 
  2. Hand-tufted rugs can try to mimic the hand-knotted rugs, and where they are successful, they will still not last as long, and due to their replicable nature, nor are they as valuable on the market. 
  3. Hand-tufted are often made of valuable materials, and can last decades, given proper care and attention is granted. 

Hand-Hooked

Hand-hooked rug construction process similarly follows that of the hand-tufted process. In the hand-hooked process, the weaver uses a crochet hook yarn to construct the rug and its unique design. 

A hand-hook is being showcased as a way of explaining what the process of making a hand-hooked rug looks like.

 

 The main point of differentiation between the tufted rugs and the hooked rugs is that the tufted have a cut pile surface and hooked rugs have a looped pile surface. 

 

A completed hand-hooked rug is on the floor, demonstrating the unique loop-like features the rug creates. A closeup of a hand-hooked rug, demonstrating the loop pile in a loop pile.

In other instances, hand hooked machines can handle finer needle points, allowing for more intricate and colorful designs. 

 

BENEFITS OF HAND-HOOKED RUGS: 

Flat-Weave 

Flat-weave rugs have a no-pile construction, due the fact they are made without knots. Instead, flat-weave rugs are made by interweaving the weft and warps  into a single piece. As demonstrated in the image below, the weft is taken above and below the warps across in the construction of the rug.

An outline showcasing how the weaving of a flat-weave rug looks like at its foundation.

There are different methods of weaving the different colors into the rug. The texture and design of the rug depends on colors, size and texture of the weft strands.

A fully-woven flat-weave rug demonstrates the flexible, wear and tear nature of these rug woven types.         A close up of the flatweave rug shows the intricate details of the flat-weave construction process.

 

Hand-Loomed

The hand-loomed rug has the same construction structure as the flat weave rug, with the main difference being that a hand-loomed rug has a pile.To make the pile, the wavers put a pipe through the middle of the warp, which lifts the yarn and creates the pile. The loops created by the pipe are either left alone or cut for a soft surface pile.

A piple is placed in between two warps to uplift the yarn and create the height of the pile in the hand-loomed rug.

 

MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THE BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF THE RUG <USE STAY AWAY FROM INDIAN HAND-LOOMED RUGS TO INTEGRATE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE DRAWBACKS OF THIS RUG>. 

 

Machine-Made Rugs

Machine made rugs are made by power looms. A power loom is either  powered by hand, machine or controlled by computers to construct different types. 

These machines operate by following a “computer card” that is created by the designer, telling the machine exactly how to handle the different variables in making the rug, including the size, design and color. The loom is strung with a warp of jute or cotton, and the rug is woven using yarn constructed of different materials, in accordance with the design demands of the specific rug. Edges of these rugs are put in with a special machine that either stitches them, or melts them rather than tying the rug. The standard lifespan of such rugs is 20 years or less.

There are two main types of looms used to create rugs: Wilton and Axminster. Each of these power looms can vary in their ability to create pile heights, densities, finishes and qualities.

 

A machine that manufactures rugs of many sizes and makes is showcased.  

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