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Upholstery Dictionary

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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.
A detached covering for backs of chairs and settees originally intended as a protection against macassar oil.
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.
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.
A long cushion. Can be rectangular or cylindrical.
A projection from the back of an upholstery button. Made of cloth to enable a needle and twine to pass through.
A coarse woven cloth of natural or synthetic yarn, sometimes dyed black placed over webs on bottom of chairs.
A looped, highly textural fabric woven from curly knotted yarn.
A square seat front with either welting or a sewn seam on the top and bottom.
Narrow woven material used to decorate upholstery and curtains.
Bridle ties
Loops of twine to hold filling in place.
A series of twine loops about six inches long which are put in canvases to carry the stuffing and keep it in position.
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.
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.
The rubbing or buffing with carborundum to remove any blemishes that may be in hides.
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.
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.
Name given to a hammer with a small driving area. Used mainly on show-wood furniture.
A plain weave cloth of various weights available either bleached or unbleached. Used in upholstery mainly for covering the second stuffing.
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.
For upholstering, an inexpensive cotton fabric which resembles a fine linen fabric of higher quality.
The breaking down or teasing of upholstery stuffing fibers.
Carriage Bolt
A bolt with a thin dome-shaped head.
Small swiveling wheels attached to the bottom of furniture, to make it easier to move the piece.
An extremely soft fabric created from tufted, velvety yarns.
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.
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 and 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 and may be printed on both sides and 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.
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.
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.
The front of the arm-rests. Can also be on the arms of the backrest.
Spun synthetic fill for furniture cushions and throw pillows.
Flared arm
An upholstered arm, which arches away from the sofa or chair.
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.
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.
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.
Surplus covering causing wrinkling.
An old name for various kinds of braid used in upholstery.
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.
A mixture of powdered chalk in a thin base of animal glue.
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.
A style of monochrome decoration in shades of grey used especially for the presentation of relief sculpture or to simulate one.
A long narrow channel. In furniture making a square U-shaped channel running parallel to the grain is known as a groove.
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.
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”.
One or more parts joined together to form a tailored finish.
A machine -stitched seam used to connect two pieces of fabric.
A fiber of an Indian plant of the genus Corchorus Spun into a yarn. Used to manufacture hessian.
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.
The lacing and knotting together of spring coils with laid cord to prevent movement.
Foam manufactured from natural rubber.
Lead Molding
Trimming for leather upholstery to hide tacks or gimp pins.
The side the arm is on when you are facing the sofa.
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.
Front edge of cushion seat.
Loose back
Back cushions on an upholstered piece that can be removed.
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-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.
Pin stuffed
An upholstery seat using one layer of filling only.
A tool sometimes used to extract small tacks and staples from furniture frames.
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.
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.
Repairing or renewing.
The moving about of stuffing to the required place for stitching.
An upholsterers metal tool with a point at one end and flat at the other, chiefly used to adjust stuffing.
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.
A decorative trimming with a heading and a cut or a looped surface. Used in place of piping around cushions and edges.
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.
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.
Long upholsterers' pins with a ring at the end.
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.
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.
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.
Standard wire gauge.
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.
Applies to rubber webbing or cable-springing.
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.
Usually found on mattresses. Same procedure as in buttoning.
Several loops of silk, wool, or cotton yarn each approximately 2.5cms (1”) in length, tied at the center.
A form of cord for use in upholstery made from flax or hemp.
Under the edge
An overlapping roll at the front of the seat.
Unit spring
An assembly of springs to fit a seat or back.
A method of hiding joins in the covering material when deep buttoning..
Threads running down length of fabric, parallel to selvedge.
Strips woven from jute fiber to provide support for suspensions and/or filling materials.
Threads running across width of fabric from selvedge to selvedge.
A depression formed behind the spring edge of a cushion seat
Cord wrapped in fabric used to trim upholstery seams and create detail.
Wire knots
The finish of the metal coil on a spring.
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