Barbed Tape

Barbs exist naturally in the wild.  The Burdock plant contains barbs, curled hooks, which is why they attach so annoyingly to your clothing.  This natural occurring barb was the inspiration for a popular product called Velcro. Many companies manufacture and sell barbed tape, but Velcro is the most known brand.  Many believe NASA invented the product for use with the space program, but design and use of the product had been in existence since the 40’s.  NASA has used the re-attachable Velcro design in many applications for their space program from astronaut shoes to small pieces of Velcro on game pieces for playing Chess in space.


As legend has it, in 1948 a Swiss hiker named George de Mestral was hiking with his dog when his dog got tangled in a Burdock patch.  While taking the Burdocks off his pet, he noticed a zipper sound.  Curious, later that week he glanced at the portable seed pocket of a Burdock plant under a microscope and noticed that each Burdock pocket had hundreds of barbs (or burrs) in the shape of a hook.  As these hooks rubbed against clothing (looped string in the form of fabric), the hooks of the Burdock pocket attached the barbs to fabric creating an adhesion effect.  Interestingly, the tighter the density of the barbs, the more effort it took to “rip” the Burdocks from the material.

This invention (observation) led to many products.  The most common known products are sold under the Velcro brand.  The design of the Velcro adhesive strip is a simple one.  On one side exists rows of hooks and the other side contains rows of looped fabric.  When the opposite sides rub together the hooks “grab” or interlock with the fabric loops.  The term “velcro” came when George creatively combined the words velour and crochet.  Today, the Velcro trademark as a brand name still is in effect, however, George’s original patent for his self-adhesive invention has since expired.

Other Products

Barbed Tape

Additionally, barbed tape was invented and is commonly used with rug hooking frames to adhere burlap mesh to a frame. The barbs are thin wire hooks attached to a strip of adhesive tape or strip of leather.  This leather or plastic tape is then mounted to a rug hooking frame.   One value of barbed tape is that you do not need to align the connectors as they can be randomly overlaid and attached.

Other Techniques

Previous techniques for holding burlap or a cloth mesh in place was a row of tacks or glue.  The tacks didn’t provide a consistent pull to the burlap and glue, as you would guess, was extremely messy and required a clean-up process after use. Another approach to hold the burlap in place during rug hooking was to staple it to the frame.  The problem with this approach was stapling became expensive and the fames would chip over time from extensive stapling.  Many times the wood would crack with overuse of stabling or using tacks.  Additionally, the wood began to splinter and splinters became a painful way to end a rug hooking session.

Further Reading

Rug Hooking Patterns

Rug Hooking Frame Designs