Stair Runners

I have woven several stair runners for clients. The one that I know about in  particular lasted for 13 years. It was made from corduroy strips, one and  one-half inches wide, woven into about 4 ppi. The warp was 8/4 cotton, sett  at 12 epi. The rug was installed using the stair rods that are held in place  with the screw thingeys. I know that the woman took the rug up after seven  years and flipped it over -- and then used it for another six years.
After 13 years she asked me to weave her  another -- just like the old one. We had agreed that the rug would be longer than necessary so that the  extra would fold under itself at the top of the stairs and form a padding  (the first one was that way and she really liked it).

Deb Sharpee

  I just wanted to share a pretty neat way of keeping the runner in place. You need screw eyes and skinny rods (from a welding shop) about 2" longer than the width of the rug. The screw eyes goes into the corner of each step and the rod goes over the rug and into the screw eyes. No wear and tear on the rug and easy to disassemble for laundering the rug. In an environment that might cause rusting, try adding a coat of polyurethane to the rods.
  My suggestion for the top is to weave a rather wide header (I used warp). When that is hemmed I make sure it is wide enough for a flat piece of metal with however many holes you think you need for flat screws to hold the rug. (The screws will disappear when tightened down through the top layer of rug). Beat that header real tight and make sure it is at least double where the metal piece touches at the very far end. Flat metal plates may be obtained from a welding shop. ( I have found welding shops wonderful resources for many things).


Here are some sources for steel rods:
   Hardware stores
   The large lumber yards
   Fab (Fabrication) Shops
   Welding Shops

  The hardware stores and lumber yards usually have display racks with a variety of steel rods, angle irons, and threaded rods. There is usually a selection of aluminum pieces too. A Fab Shop might be more a economical choice. If you like, they can also cut to length.
There are lots of internet sites that sell brass rods and hardware specifically for stair runners.

I've not made stair runners, but here are a few ideas that might be worth trying.

o Place a piece of non-slip material on each
   step to limit shifting of runner.

o To hold runner in place below bottom step,
   hem over and slip the rod through opening.
   Kind of like hanging a curtain, but upside
   down, and fastened to the floor at the
   bottom of lowest step.

Rod, t.f.c.
  Instead of buying the metal rods, I bought oak dowels; stained them to match the woodwork. Bought cheap copper pipe holders for the ends. All very inexpensive and turned out looking quite special.


   I have woven many stair runners and coordinating rugs for clients and the design trade.  Rag runners from rag would be ok.  The Victorian era was later in the U.S. than in England and styles often overlapped.  I suggest wool weft (rag) and a tight warp spacing---15 epi. if using 8/4 cotton rug warp.  You don't want any bumps that may cause someone to slip esp. if you have an elderly or young child visiting.  Often the warp was tightly spun singles wool and the weft could be burlap strips or other very evenly cut rag strips.  You must measure the stairs carefully and also the runner while weaving so that you don't run short.
   You don't want too bulky a runner.  If you are used to weaving thick rag rugs that are for a flat surface, you need to have thinner but tightly woven runners for a curved surface.  Remember the runner has to bend around the edge of the stairs and must be fastened securely so it does not bulge or pull away from the edge of the stairs.
   The design should not be too wild either.  When you are coming down the stairs, you don't want to see a dizzy effect.  The stair edge should have some line of  either color change or design change to show the edge of the step visually.
   Having a relatively smooth surfaced runner makes it easier to clean.  As a child I used to clean my widow uncle's stairs using a damp cloth and a wisk brush.
   If your loom does not have a lot of space between the breast beam and the front warp beam, the build up of rug thickness can hamper your weaving by rubbing against your knees while weaving.  Consider the thickness of the rug and multiply by the yardage around the beam to get an approximate total thickness.
   I am currently designing a runner for a house built in 1907.  This is for another home I own and I will use vintage rug fasteners that were used in my in-laws house in England.  They are heavy, ornate metal Victorian fasteners that go only on the edges of the rug next to the riser and can be slid back and forth when tapped with a hammer to remove the rug for cleaning.  They are really neat.  The landings will have coordinated rugs which will be
   I hope this info helps you and other beginning stair runner weavers.  Nothing says more to a visitor when seeing a hand woven runner by the front door---that "hey, a weaver lives here". 

Kathleen Stevens

   We have a new house with lots of natural oak flooring.  At the time, I did not own a loom that would make sturdy rag rugs, so I commissioned a friend who weaves rag rugs as her business.  I wanted a "new" fabric rug for three flights.  We figured that we had best buy 27 lbs of fabric to be sure of having enough.  She used the standard double warp at 6 epi.   I asked her to make 3 inch headings instead of 6 shots with fringe.  I zig-zagged the ends really well.  I used carpet warp to baste in a rod pocket at each end.  1/2 dowel in each end to keep the rug in place.  If you have extra inches of rug, then just fold over to the right spot to make the rod pocket.
   We bought the brass brackets that are about 3" long that swing into place or away to remove the rug.  BIG MISTAKE.  We saved about 1700 dollars over brass rods.  We should have looked into wooden rods or something else.  The brackets would hold stiff carpet just fine, but the rag rugs soften over time--and the first one we put up just wasn't safe.  I ended up getting the rolls of rubber-like shelf liner mesh to go on the wood stairs--don't cut it (rolls up in a ball after a while)  just start at the top and have a continuous run.  Then I got 3/8" dowels and cut to the width of the runner.  At the point where the bracket would hit the rug, I used carpet warp and whip-stitched the dowel to the back side of the rug.  It was like boning on a corset.  Three flights of this, over the course of a few weeks, and I would not recommend following my example!!  Another good idea is to lay out the rug before installing and spraying really well with spray starch on both sides.  Dirt won't stick as easily.
   I love my stairs, now--they look wonderful and are nice to walk on (safe, too).  It does, indeed tell any visitor that this is the home of a fiber-fan.  We were lucky to have extra fabric left over, so I have three regular rag rugs made of the same fabric around the house--ties in nicely.
   It's a wonderful project---research the rod-thing carefully!!

Judy in MN