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A Guide to Upholstery Terms

   
 
Are you exploring the world of reupholstering because you want to reupholster a treasured piece of furniture but remain confused by the industry jargon? Part of the successful restoration of a valuable antique or family heirloom lies with the customer knowing exactly what he or she wants regarding the finished product. The other part, of course, rests with the expertise of the company you choose to reupholster your item.

Here are definitions of terms frequently heard within the upholstery business that may help you in deciding how you want your furniture reupholstered:

When you hear someone talking about ground, they are referring to the background color (not always the main color) of a piece of printed material. Therefore, if an upholsterer states that the "ground" of a fabric is red, he means that any patterns or prints decorating the fabric are placed in contrast to the color red.

Railroading means avoiding unsightly seams in larger pieces of upholstery pieces by trimming the material on the cross grain. Railroaded indicates fabric exhibiting patterns running off the bolt in a horizontal rather than vertical manner. Material such as velvet, which contains directional pile or patters, should never be railroaded. Professional New York City upholsterers like Premier Decorators would never railroad certain fabrics because it creates visible seams on the back of sofas.

A cord sewn into a seam and covered with fabric is called a welting. Edges that have been welted contour a piece of furniture's silhouette, in addition to strengthening seams. Patterned material is usually cut just for welting. Reupholstered furniture exhibiting flowing, smooth welted seams indicates that a professional, experienced upholstery company has performed the work.

Color combinations or range of color variety for designated fabrics is called the colorway. Discussing the colorways about a specific fabric is important because a print's style may be altered dramatically when applied to assorted colorways.

Chenille is often applied as another layer for fabrics during the reupholstering process. The term fabric backing indicates any fabric used as an extra layer that is often necessary because certain upholstery fabrics will sag and stretch unless supported by fabric backing. If you prefer fabrics that do not need fabric backing, search for fabrics marked "all-purpose" or "upholstery weight".

When a fabric is cut from one corner to the diagonally opposite corner, upholsterers refer to this as a bias-cut. Checkered material is bias-cut just to energize the appearance of the fabric on furniture pieces. In addition, cutting certain fabrics in this manner will cause them to drape untraditionally, which may require the reupholsterer to employ substantially more material.

Professional reupholstery technicians will often use a gimp to hide unsightly tacks that are visible where wood frames meet the fabric. Gimps are trims resembling tightly woven, braided ribbons that enhance the appearance of antique chairs and sofas.

Many more terms define the reupholstery industry, such as interlining, pattern match, selvage and tight-back. Although the general public considers reupholstering to consist of just placing new fabric over old fabric, this is definitely not the case. Often, antique furniture needs repairs that involve replacement or refurbishing of delicate parts. Only a reupholstery expert should be trusted with handling heirloom furniture because these types of antiques will lose value if not properly renovated.
 
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