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Upholstery Dictionary
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A
 
Adhesive Glue or cement used to attach one surface to another. There are many types of adhesive used in furniture making and upholstery. PVA is both popular and effective for bonding two wooden surfaces together. Epoxy resins are often used for joining timbers which can be difficult to glue. Cyanoacrylate (or super glue) is good to use for quick or easy jobs but it’s expensive. Hot melt glues and contact adhesive are most popular for upholstery work.
 
Advantage Fabric Stain-resistant properties are penetrated through the fibers, not just applied to the surface. That means spills don't get a chance to sink in before you get a chance to wipe them up. Liquids actually bead up, making them easy to clean. Advantage fabrics are noted in the Product Details of individual sofas and chairs.
 
Algerian Fiber A type of fiber used in bedding or upholstery. Palm leaves that are shredded into filaments, dried, and curled, come into this country in the form of rope. The natural color is green, but it is boiled and dyed black to repel mites.
 
Antimacassar A detached covering for backs of chairs and settees originally intended as a protection against macassar oil.
 
B
 
Back-tacking Method of attaching covering to conceal tacking on outside arms and backs.(See also tacking strips)
 
Bed Bolt An iron bolt used to fasten the long horizontal rails to the posts of a four-poster bed.
 
Bed Bolt Cover A small brass ornament used to cover the head of a bed bolt.
 
Bench seat cushions A single seat cushion that runs the width of the seating area.
 
Bias cutting Cutting fabric diagonally across threads
 
Biblefront A bold rounded edge to the front of seat.
 
Blend-down cushion An upholstery cushion made up of a foam, wrapped with a down and feather blend. The down and feather blend wrap create a soft silhouette with slightly rounded corners on the cushion.
 
Blind stitch A stitch used in upholstering so the stitching will not show. The stitch first goes into the cloth underneath the overlapping layer whose edge, when stitched fast to it, is pulled over the top of the place where the stitch first went into the cloth, then hiding the stitch.
 
Bolster A long cushion. Can be rectangular or cylindrical.
 
Bos A projection from the back of an upholstery button. Made of cloth to enable a needle and twine to pass through.
 
Bottoming A coarse woven cloth of natural or synthetic yarn, sometimes dyed black placed over webs on bottom of chairs
 
Bouclé A looped, highly textural fabric woven from curly knotted yarn.
 
Box-edged A square seat front with either welting or a sewn seam on the top and bottom.
 
Braid Narrow woven material used to decorate upholstery & curtains.
 
Bridle ties Loops of twine to hold filling in place.
 
Bridling A series of twine loops about six inches long which are put in canvases to carry the stuffing and keep it in position.
 
Brocade A type of woven upholstery material in which the design is raised and resembles fine Chinese embroidery. It is often made in colored silks and with or without gold and silver threads. Brocade is typically woven on a draw loom. It is a supplementary weft technique, meaning, the ornamental brocading is produced by a supplementary, non-structural, weft in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp threads together. The purpose of this is to give the appearance that the weave actually was embroidered on.
 
Brocatelle A patterned fabric with a linen or cotton weft and a silk warp. The warp forms the design and the weft is the background, giving the cloth an embossed effect
 
Buffed The rubbing or buffing with carborundum to remove any blemishes that may be in hides.
 
Burlap A material used in upholstering to hold the filling. It is woven from jute yarn and produced mostly in India.
 
Button back Fabric covered buttons sewn through the upholstery surface and tied down. The folds made from the button placement produce geometric patterns.
 
Buttoning The insertion of upholstery buttons. Two methods used are `Float' Buttoning and `Deep' Buttoning. The first method leaves the button on the face of the cover, deep buttoning is pulled into the cover deeply and forms a pleated diamond.
 
C
 
 
Cabriole Name given to a hammer with a small driving area. Used mainly on show-wood furniture.
 
Calico A plain weave cloth of various weights available either bleached or unbleached. Used in upholstery mainly for covering the second stuffing.
 
Calipers A measuring instrument with two jaws which are used to measure diameters, or distances between two surfaces. There are two kinds: outside and inside calipers.
 
Cambric For upholstering, an inexpensive cotton fabric which resembles a fine linen fabric of higher quality.
 
Carding The breaking down or teasing of upholstery stuffing fibers.
 
Carriage Bolt A bolt with a thin dome-shaped head.
 
Castors Small swiveling wheels attached to the bottom of furniture, to make it easier to move the piece.
 
Chenille An extremely soft fabric created from tufted, velvety yarns.
 
Chintz Cotton or calico with a printed pattern which is sometimes glazed.
 
Coil spring Steel wire spirals.
 
Contact Cement An adhesive with a neoprene rubber base that bonds two surfaces. Once applied, the surfaces bond together on contact, without the use of pressure.
 
Cord Roll An alternative to a stitched edge.
 
Cording An edging cord used around upholstery material during stitching. It is used as trim, or to round sharp edges on upholstered chairs.
 
Cored foam Foam made with openings on one side. The weight and resilience is determined by thickness, and by diameter of cores. For reversible cushions, two pieces are glued together with cored sides facing.
 
Cotton wadding Cotton felt used to cover loose upholstery fillings to create a soft smooth surface. Available in rolls or by the yard; thickness is determined by weight per yard.
 
Cretonne Strong Unglazed cotton with a printed pattern. Originally a strong white fabric w/a hempen warp & linen weft. Said to be derived from Creton, a village in Normandy where the manufacturing of linen took place. It is now applied to a strong, printed cotton cloth, more robust than chintz but used for very much the same purposes. It is usually unglazed & may be printed on both sides & even with different patterns. Often the cretonne has a woven fancy pattern of some kind which is modified by the printed design. It is sometimes made with a weft of cotton waste.
 
Crop in seat A loose seat that fits into the rebate of a dining chair or bedroom stool.
 
Curled Hair A high-grade filling material for upholstered furniture. It is manufactured for this purpose from horsetails and manes, cattle switches, and hog bristles.
 
D
 
Doming The amount of rise in the center of a seat or cushion.
 
Double cone spring A spring with a large top and bottom coil and narrow waist. Also called an hour-glass. Spring. Used for suspension in traditional upholstery
 
Double-wrapped cushion A foam cushion insert wrapped with a double layer of synthetic filler that softens the boxy look of the foam block inside the cushion.
 
E
 
Easy Chair Originally the name given to winged upholstered armchairs, now applied to upholstered arm-chairs generally. The seat is usually 13” (33cms) – 16” (40.6cms) high, 21” (53.3cms) –23”( 58.5cms) deep, and at least 19” (48cms) wide.
 
Edge Roll Made by wrapping a roll of stuffing material in a strip of burlap, muslin, or tough paper. Stitching holds the stuffing material in place. Edge roll is tacked to edges of frames to keep loose stuffing materials coming out of place.
 
F
 
Facings The front of the arm-rests. Can also be on the arms of the backrest.
 
Fiber Spun synthetic fill for furniture cushions and throw pillows.
 
Flared arm An upholstered arm, which arches away from the sofa or chair.
 
Flax A strong lustrous base fiber taken from the flax plant formed into a yarn, from which linen is woven.
 
Float buttoning The use of buttons followed by the use of tufts.
 
Float tufting Tufts lightly pulled down into the cover of seats and backs of chairs and sofa to produce slight indentations. A form of decoration used from 16th to 18th century.
 
Flocking Fibers made of shredded cloth or felt, applied to a surface and held there by a special adhesive to imitate a felt-like finish. It is forcefully blown on the adhesive with a flocking gun.
 
Flocking Gun A tool used to blow shredded felt upon a surface that has had special adhesive spread to hold it. A piston in a cylinder forces it from the gun with air.
 
Fly A hidden extension of a cheaper piece of material stitched to the final cover, to reduce the amount of covering material required.
 
Foam Rubber A spongy, fine-textured rubber made of latex, used as a stuffing material in upholstered furniture.
 
Fullness Surplus covering causing wrinkling.
 
G
 
Galloon An old name for various kinds of braid used in upholstery.
 
Gauge Thickness of wire used to make spiral springs, the lowest number representing the thickest wire and the highest number the finest.
 
Genoa velvet Was notable for designs formed by contrasts of cut and uncut pile.
 
Gesso A mixture of powdered chalk in a thin base of animal glue.
 
Gimp Narrow woven tape used to cover the heads of tacks and raw edges on show wood furniture.
 
Gimp pins Small fine pins with flat heads to hold gimp in place. Also used for delicate areas where a tack would be too heavy.
 
Grisaille A style of monochrome decoration in shades of grey used especially for the presentation of relief sculpture or to simulate one.
 
Groove A long narrow channel. In furniture making a square U-shaped channel running parallel to the grain is known as a groove.
 
Gutter A channel formed in the spring canvas across the width of a sprung seat between the spring edge and the springs in the bed of the seat.
 
H
 
Helical spring A closely wound small diameter elongated spring used to clip together the cone shaped springs of a bed spring.
 
Hide Glue Glue made from hides and other by products of slaughterhouses.
 
Holding tie A stitch between the spring canvas and scrim. Keeps the first stuffing firmly in place. Also known as “through stitch”.
 
 
J
 
Jackets One or more parts joined together to form a tailored finish.
 
Join A machine -stitched seam used to connect two pieces of fabric.
 
Jute A fiber of an Indian plant of the genus Corchorus Spun into a yarn. Used to manufacture hessian.
 
 
L
 
Lacing A term applied to the stringing together of coil springs in which a `laid' cord is used.
 
Laid cord Heavy cord made from flax or hemp fiber for lashing springs. 'Laid' refers to the way it is manufactured that makes the cord stretch - resistant.
 
Laminated webbing Rubber webbing with rayon threads within layers of rubber.
 
Lashing The lacing and knotting together of spring coils with laid cord to prevent movement.
 
Latex Foam manufactured from natural rubber.
 
Lead Molding Trimming for leather upholstery to hide tacks or gimp pins.
 
Left-arm/Right-arm The side the arm is on when you are facing the sofa.
 
Linings Pieces of old canvas tacked on to the outsides before the outside covers are put on. Gives extra resistance to pressure, especially needed in the case of leather covering. Not to be confused with the outside covers proper, which are known as linings.
 
Lip Front edge of cushion seat.
 
Loose back Back cushions on an upholstered piece that can be removed.
 
M
 
Memory Foam A temperature-sensitive foam developed by NASA that molds to your body, then slowly recovers after pressure is removed.
 
Metaline nails Enamel-coated round headed tacks used for fastening plastic or leather corners. Some have flared or flattened edges for use on plastics or light fabrics to prevent cutting the material.
 
Micro-fabrics (micro-chenille, micro-twill, micro-weave) Stain resistant fabric composed of a blend of micro denure yarns or threads.
 
Mock cushion Construction of seat that imitates a cushion.
 
 
 
P
 
Pin stuffed An upholstery seat using one layer of filling only.
 
Pincers A tool sometimes used to extract small tacks and staples from furniture frames.
 
Piping A narrow strip of fabric folded around a cord and sewn into a seam.
 
Piping foot An attachment for the sewing machine to enable piped edges to be sewn into joins.
 
Pull-over edge A seat front edge with covering 'pulled' straight over.
 
Pullthrough Pieces of hessian or any old material sewn to the inside of edges of the covered material to save material and give added strength for pulling a cover into position.
 
 
R
 
Refurbishing Repairing or renewing.
 
Regulating The moving about of stuffing to the required place for stitching.
 
Regulator An upholsterers metal tool with a point at one end and flat at the other, chiefly used to adjust stuffing.
 
Ripping The stripping of the cover and/or upholstery from a frame
 
Ripping out Procedure for stripping chairs for repair.
 
Roll edge See Tack Roll
 
Rolled arms Refers to upholstered arms that curve outward creating a softened classic appearance.
 
Ruche A decorative trimming with a heading and a cut or a looped surface. Used in place of piping around cushions and edges.
 
S
 
 
 
Scrim A woven fabric made from rounded flax or jute yarn used for covering 1st stuffing's of upholstered furniture.
 
Seat Platform An area on top of the seat where the seat cushion is placed
 
Serpentine spring Continuous wire upholstery suspension spring formed as a zigzag strip. Eliminating the need for webs.
 
Silencer A strip of webbing or sturdy material placed between the lower coil of a spring and the frame to prevent the spring from hitting the wood when it’s pressed down.
 
Single cone spring A spring with a large top coil tapering to the base.
 
Single-wrapped cushion A foam cushion insert wrapped with a single layer of synthetic filler that softens the boxy look of the foam block inside the cushion.
 
Sinuous spring See Serpentine spring.
 
Skewers Long upholsterers' pins with a ring at the end.
 
Skivering Shaving the underside of leather to reduce its thickness.
 
Slipping thread Fine linen thread used for slip stitching.
 
Spring canvas A tightly woven heavyweight hessian with flat threads used for covering springs
 
Spring edge A flexible edge for seats or backs.
 
Spring interior The inside springing of a cushion or mattress.
 
Spring unit A collection of springs to form foundations for seats, arms and backs. Wired and clipped together.
 
Squab A flat firmly-stuffed cushion.
 
Stitched edge A firm walled edge around the exposed contours of the upholstery, formed by blind and top stitches molding the first stuffing.
 
Stitching The stitching by twine of edges and rolls to form a shape to the stuffing.
 
Stuffing ties Running stitches through the first stuffing cover (scrim) to keep first stuffing in place.
 
SWG Standard wire gauge.
 
T
 
 
Tack draws The `shadowed' furrow caused by the strain of a tack. Particularly on silk covers.
 
Tack roll A firm edge made with hessian or scrim rolled tightly around a hair or fiber core and secured with tacks to the edge of the frame.
 
Tack ties Lines mostly in fine silk materials caused by tacks or staples nipping a weft thread while covering an item.
 
Tacking strips Narrow cardboard strips hidden under the top of the outside back and outside arm cover that allows a straight edge to be seen.
 
Temporary tacking To lightly secure material so that it can easily be adjusted.
 
Tensile Applies to rubber webbing or cable-springing.
 
Terylene A man-made polyester fiber
 
Tight back Upholstered back without a removable back cushion.
 
Tight cushion Upholstered seat without a detachable cushion.
 
Top Stuffed Top stuffed interior upholstery applied to top surface of seat members only and not inside the frame.
 
Tuck in Access space between seat back and inside arm, where fabric tucks out of sight
 
Tufting Usually found on mattresses. Same procedure as in buttoning.
 
Tufts Several loops of silk, wool, or cotton yarn each approximately 2.5cms (1”) in length, tied at the center.
 
Twine A form of cord for use in upholstery made from flax or hemp.
 
U
 
Under the edge An overlapping roll at the front of the seat.
 
Unit spring An assembly of springs to fit a seat or back.
 
V
 
Vandyking A method of hiding joins in the covering material when deep buttoning..
 
W
 
Warp Threads running down length of fabric, parallel to selvedge.
 
Webbing Strips woven from jute fiber to provide support for suspensions and/or filling materials.
 
Weft Threads running across width of fabric from selvedge to selvedge.
 
Well A depression formed behind the spring edge of a cushion seat
 
Welting Cord wrapped in fabric used to trim upholstery seams and create detail.
 
Wire knots The finish of the metal coil on a spring.