|Tufted-back armchair - link to my pinterest board - Upholstery Treatments|
Tufting is the practice of pulling, folding or sewing in a contoured pattern, in two basic geometric shapes—diamond and square (biscuit). Like the majority of upholstery work, you are taking a two-dimensional item, fabric, and putting it on a three-dimensional item, a piece of furniture. To achieve the desired end result, the fabric must be sewn, tucked, gathered, pleated or folded. link to articleThe description above does give a sense of the difficulty of this technique. First of all, why use this technique in the first place:
- Tufting allows the piece to have a natural curve that would be hard to duplicate without tufting. The chair above provides a good example of this principle - it it hard to imagine this chair without the tufting - it would, in essence, be a much different style chair.
- Tufting provides for texture and interest in an otherwise simpler piece of furniture. Tufting used on top of a round or other-shaped ottoman is an example of this principle - without the tufting, the pieces would be quite plain. This is also a good reason many upholstered headboards are tufted.
|Tufted ottoman - link to source|
The issue of fabric selection is quite critical. It must be right in terms of scale (either solid or small pattern because tufting will distort any pattern) and right in terms of texture (neither too stiff or too loose - soft, loose chenilles do not make good tufting fabrics). The fabric must also "give" meaning that it can be stretched which eliminates silks since they do not stretch at all.
A moderate tufting technique is to use buttons on the back to achieve some of the same "rounding" and "shaping" options that can be achieved by a deeper tufting technique but can be done more easily. This is often the compromise I reach with Mr. Lee if it makes sense for a piece.
Here are some examples of tufted pieces - both from my pinterest board - check here and from my own photo archives. I do not ask for tufting unless the piece I am redoing is already tufted. It is a nice technique but not necessary on most pieces. It is also a premium technique meaning I pay more (and have to charge more) for the furniture.
|I have not "done" one of these type of chaises but after seeing this one decided I need to be on the "look-out" for one - love how this looks - see source above.|
|Here is an example of a more subtle tufting technique. Since the tufting is not required to create a rounded look on the back, a simpler button approach with less depth can be used - see source above.|
|This chair illustrates the deeper tufting as well as another premium technique - use of nailheads as accents - see source above.|
|Only the round chairs from my 2012 collection shown here really "needed" the tufting to achieve the rounded back - the others were just decorative.|
|Here are some examples of the deeper tufting technique including on a round ottoman which was custom made for a client.|
I found some good sources of "how to's" and further descriptions of this technique: