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A month or so ago, I was on theFCIWeb site to see what was new on the FCIMessage Board. A question was asked about runners on a curving staircase; in particular, whether or not there was a way to make a woven-bordered runner follow the curve. Well there is not an easy or a cheap way, but there is way. Last year, one of my columns was on making a runner for a curving staircase from a patterned broad loam carpet.

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We will use the same starting point for this staircase, because making a template of the stairs is the same.

The first order of business is to make a template or a pattern of the stair.

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For this I use scribing felt, which is normally used for pattern scribing sheet vinyl floors. If scribing felt is not available, any heavy building paper such as roofing felt, or rosin paper for hardwood floors will do.

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Secure the scribing felt to the stair with staples or tape. Mark the location of the centered runner on the scribing felt. I like to use at least four reference points on the stair: one at the base of the rise, one at the nose, at least one if not two in the middle of the tread, and one where the tread meets the riser. Also mark where the stair starts and stops, as well as the top (Photo 1).

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On most curving staircases, each of the stairs are the same so only one template is needed; just to be safe I always make a pattern of a second stair to be sure they are the same. On this staircase, the bottom two stairs were different, needing their own template.

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After the patterns are made (Photo 2), cut away the excess paper. This will leave you with the exact size of the finished piece of carpet for the stair. When you cut up the carpet, pick one point in the pattern to be the center on each stair (Photo 3).

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This is the way you can curve the pattern up the staircase in an eye-pleasing manner. Now tape the paper pattern to a piece of cardboard (Photos 4 and 4A) and transfer the shape to the cardboard.

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Once the pattern is cut out of the cardboard I like to protect the edges with duct tape (Photo 5).

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When transferring the pattern to the back of the carpet make sure the side of your template marked TOP is face down. It is also a good idea to mark one edge of your template and the corresponding edge on the pieces of carpet with an X to assure the pattern remains in proper position (Photo 6).

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OK, now here is where it gets tricky or I guess a little trickier. Cut off the borders of the runner (sorry no picture). Then cut down your paper pattern on each side of the template the width of the border, in this case 4 inches.

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Be sure to maintain the curve of the pattern. This runner was 31 inches over all to start. Making the curve, it came in 1 inch on the outside edge at the top of the tread, so that meant it had to come over an inch on the inside edge.

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To accomplish this we reduced the field 1inch on the riser portion of the inside of the curve. This gave us an extra inch for the inside of the tread to extend.

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The end effect was that when the borders were sewn back on to the shaped field, the finished runner was now 30 inches instead of the original 31 inches (Photo 7).

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We also used the template, after cutting it down to the size of the tread and reducing the width 3 inches (11/2 inches on each side), as a pattern for cutting the stair pads (Photo 8). Being concerned with the carpet fraying, I sealed the bottom edge with hot glue (Photo 9).

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A little trick we use to keep our spacing straight is to cut a spacer out of cardboard, in this case from the tackless box (Photo 10). We also use a spacer like this when nailing the tackless strip on the stairs and yes I do use a couple of staples when starting the stair (Photo 11). After the stairs were all stretched in, Jon trimmed them with a wall trimmer (Photo 12), taking care to cut the serging at each edge with scissors so it wouldn't fray (Photo 13).

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This carpet was a very soft face-to-face Wilton and we were very concerned about fraying, especially the serging. The problem was how to seal the cut edges with out getting latex or hot glue on the riser of the next stair. Here's what we came up with.

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Cut a four-inch strip of cardboard (from the tackstrip box again) a few inches longer than the width of the stair, then cover it completely with duct tape (so it won't get soggy from the latex). Slide the cardboard shield behind the trimmed edge of the carpet (Photo 14).

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Apply latex to the cut edge and rub it in (Photo 15). Using a stair tool, tuck the carpet and remove the shield (Photo 16). Any latex on the shield will wipe off with a scrap, leaving it clean for the next stair.

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I almost forgot, the pattern on this runner was 39 inches and had what I called a major and a minor theme to the pattern. As we needed 26 inches for each stair we could only get 1 stair per pattern. To try and maintain the look of the full pattern, we ordered one pattern for each stair and one extra for a shift. The stairs were cut so the major and minor theme fell at the same place on each stair, thus maintaining the look of the original runner (Photo 17). The finished staircase created a dramatic entryway into the home (Photos 18 and 19).

Many thanks to Tom Budetti and his extremely talented group of craftsmen at Carpet Fabrications International for their help fabricating the carpet exactly to my specifications. You guys are the best!