Vintage Rugs, over dying – The technique

Posted in: Method & Making

While Trenton and I [Christin] were in Central Anatolia this summer we had the privilege of touring the open air facility where many of these rugs are sheared, dyed and sometimes pieced together to form these rugs termed Over Dyes. The process of over dying a vintage rug is extremely labor intensive.


It is the repurposing of rugs or rug fragments that are otherwise unusable that has taken the rug industry by storm in recent years. These one-of -a-kind vintage rugs used here have become unusable due to damaged or worn areas.  Why not  punch them up with color or artistically piece the fragments to add interest?  I like to think that it was a very crafty individual sitting on a pile of unusable rugs one day that conceptualized these fun and colorful rugs that have become all the rage in Europe and the United States.


The process of taking a vintage rug and over dying it is extremely labor intensive.


The rugs are quickly stitched together end to end and passed through a shearing machine. (This is not the way you shear a finer rug. It gets the job done much more efficiently and the slightly uneven texture turns out nicely in these over dyed rugs since it causes the fibers to absorb the dyes slightly differently.)

Photo of the rugs sunning more neutral:


The rugs have a bleaching agent applied and they sit in the sun which further activates the bleaching process. This process does not take away the patterns but makes the pattern more of a dark, tracery outline on a lighter field.


The rugs are then soaked in a vat of dye until they reach the desired color. The rugs soaking in this vat were to become a deep yellow.


Above: Photo of the rugs being pieced together in a pattern. Some over dyed rugs are individual carpets and others are made up of a series of patches.

Below: Photo of the final products


The King’s House has sourced the best workshops to over dye single piece and patchwork rugs. For more information on these or to see specific color ways please contact us.