The Upside of Knowing Upholstery Terms


There it sits in your basement:  the heirloom chair from grandma that you remember sitting on as a child, and maybe even spilling a glass of milk or two while you ate your cookies. You’d hate to part with it but the fabric is so not you. What to do? You decide to preserve granny’s grand chair by reupholstering it. But before you start considering linens and linings and welting (oh my!) it’s a good idea to brush up on some upholstery lingo so that you can make an informed decision.

Colorway:  The range of color combinations available in a specific fabric.

Deck:  A flat platform underneath an upholstered chair’s seat cushion, usually covered in plain fabric, that’s firm and resilient enough so that you don’t feel the underlying springs.

Gimp:  Resembling a braided ribbon, gimp is a tightly woven trim often used to conceal tacks holding together an exposed wood frame and fabric.

Railroading:  Refers to cutting fabric on the cross grain, often to avoid creating seams in large upholstered pieces. Fabrics such as velvet that have directional pile shouldn’t be railroaded.

Repeat:  One complete cycle of a pattern in fabric or wallpaper. Something to consider:  Choosing a fabric with a large repeat may require substantially more yardage to completely upholster a piece.

Salvage:  Tightly woven edges that prevent a fabric from fraying on the roll.

Tight-back:  Having no semi-attached or loose back cushions, which can create a smooth, tailored look.
This style of upholstery can be less comfortable for sitting back and lounging comfortably, and is more difficult to clean than a piece with loose cushions.

Welting:  A cord covered in fabric that’s sewn into an upholstery seam, welting helps to define the edges and silhouette of a piece while also strengthening the seams.

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