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Old 04-28-2010, 07:10 PM
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Yes, it's the exact same process, only it's easier with a piece of furniture. However, this should probably not be your first attempt at upholstery, tufting takes practice to have it come out correctly.
The only way the old covering would be of use to you is if you use exactly the same kind of leather, and exactly the same kind of filling. Leather, if it is soft and supple, would actually be to your advantage. The older leather was a lot stiffer than it is now days. It's a lot simpler to do now days having a nice consistent piece of foam to go over.

The depth of the tufts is only dependent on the thickness of the foam you use and how tight you pull the button strings.

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Old 04-29-2010, 01:13 PM
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Diamond Tufting for the fainting couch ...

Thanks Dan, for your reply.

My question about using the original covering was centered around the notion that if somehow I were able to take it off (relatively undamaged), then spread it out flat, wouldn't I then have a complete template?

My thought was to get a modern piece of leather and mark it on the back with the locations of the holes using the original covering placed back to back.

Three issues arise when I think about this.

1) This thing is huge, 8' or 9' of leather lengthwise, 4 or 5' width wise, so i'm worried if I can get an appropriate skin that size, or if it would need to be sewn together first. Do you have any suggestions for good suppliers of leather that would work for this type of project? A large skin that folds easy, soft and subtle I imagine.

2) In your discussion you mention that a firm backing is necessary for the tufts to appear well formed. Since the original had buttons that went through a canvas covering, into the spring foundation, I wonder if I'd be better off creating my own padded top-piece, separate from the springs and work it as a separate piece, then attach it to the springs when finished. What type of material would be firm enough, yet still allow me to attach it to springs? Of course I don't know how involved it would be until I took it all apart.

3) I certainly don't want to ruin an expensive piece of leather, so yes I'd try this out with vynal or something similar first. Would you recommend using foam, as opposed to attempting to "stuff" using fibers and horse hair it, as the original seems to have done? What type of foam would be best for a couch like this?

Thanks so much for your help

-ray
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:20 PM
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Trust me when I tell you that tufting is immensely easier using foam for the base. I would use 2 1/2" or 3" thick foam in the firmer range from 45 to 65. Then what you have to do is cut the foam to the size of the piece you're working on and mark out the hole pattern you decide to use on the foam.
The basic concept of tufting is that there is a mathematical correlation between the holes in the foam and where the buttons go through the leather. The correlation is based on two factors, the thickness of the foam and the spacing of the holes in the foam. Where the buttons go through the leather would be larger than the holes in the foam and deck pad. That correlation stays the same for the entire piece, it never changes. You don't tuft the piece right to the furniture frame, you would tuft the leather through the foam and attach it to a deck pad that has the same hole spacing marked on it as the foam. That whole assembly would then go over the springs. You don't attach that deck pad, foam, leather assembly to the furniture until after it has been tufted. This way you can do your tufting on a flat surface instead of right to the furniture.

The old leather will not do you any good unless you can duplicate the tufting exactly as it was done in the first place, including the filling. Because this would be next to impossible, it would be easier to start from scratch. What would happen is that you would try to duplicate it and then have to do it over and over and still probably not have it come out right.

There is no way to find a hide that is as long and as wide as you need. That in itself is not an easy proposition. In order to tuft a large piece, two or more pieces of leather would have to be cut in a zig zag pattern and then sewn together. The seams would be hidden by the folds in the tufts.
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:35 PM
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Diamond Tufting for the fainting couch ...

Dan,

Wow, you've been really great in clearing some things up. We should call this a tutorial on Tufting 101!

I think I see what you mean about the mathematical relationship between the foam thickness and hole spacing.

The only thing I'm still a bit foggy about is when you said, "Where the buttons go through the leather would be larger than the holes in the foam and deck pad."

I don't follow why the hole sizes would be different?

I think you are trying to tell me something important here and I may be missing it. I'm thinking a hole is a hole? I mark the foam and leather with the hole spacing, then I punch a hole through it (a very thin hole) for the button and the tie down (perhaps using an awl?). Then when I place the leather over the foam, I poke a button through the hole and tie it through.

I think you said earlier not to pull these tight at first, but concentrate on folding the tufts and then work it across horizontally, tightening as you go?
Is that the general idea?

It sounds like a process that's learned as you go.

Do you have any recommendations on suppliers for foam, deck pad and leather hides? Probably buttons as well, since whatever hide I use will require leather buttons of the same material.

-thanks so much
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:13 PM
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Now you're getting it, all except this part....The hole spacing is what is different, not the hole size. The hole spacing for the fabric (in this case leather) has to be bigger than the hole spacing on the foam (these holes are where the buttons are going to be) and the deck pad to account for the depth of the holes as well as the folds in the fabric. In other words, if the hole spacing for the foam is 6" tall and 5" wide, the spacing on the fabric needs to be say 9" tall and 8" wide depending on the thickness of the foam you use. The fabric has to not only span the 6" and 5" distances horizontally, it has to also go down a certain distance into the foam. This extra fabric needs to be folded under accordingly and is what makes the tufts. Also, the holes in the foam need to be about 3/4" to accept the buttons and the surrounding leather more readily.

I don't know what to tell you about the suppliers of foam, leather, and buttons. Most upholsterers make their own buttons, which should be size 22, by the way, which is a little bigger than 1/2" in diameter. I would suggest finding a local upholstery shop to make the buttons and get all the other supplies you'll need. Leather can be bought on line at a lot of different places. Just search for leather and don't be surprised at how much this will cost. If you can do what you want to do for under $1000 I will be very surprised. To cut down some of the cost, have the buttons made from a matching vinyl. Making leather covered buttons is very difficult because of the thickness of the leather, and you'll be charged accordingly if you can even find someone to make that many leather covered buttons for you. I know I wouldn't do it for any price.

Just tighten the buttons down slightly to hold them in place at first, and then start to tighten them down completely in stages, a little tighter at a time. As you do this, you will be able to tell exactly how tight to pull them by the way the tufting looks. It also would be easier to use prong style buttons than eye style buttons. I'll post some pictures of the difference tomorrow and tell you why the prongs are easier.
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:09 AM
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Buttons are made in three parts. A small piece of fabric cut in a circle, a shell, and a back. The back can be a nail, an eye, a threaded nail, or a prong. There are other kinds of backs, but these are the most common ones. Tufting can be done with any of these backs depending on where the tufting is going. For example, if you were to tuft the headboard of a bed, you might want to use a nail button and just pound the nails into the headboard. Eye buttons are the most used type of button, but if you've ever pulled 100 button strings tight and tied them off with a mattress knot you can't imagine how sore your hands will get. That leaves the other two alternatives, the threaded nail and the prong. My personal preference for tufting is the threaded nail held in place with a spring washer, but the spring washers are getting hard to find. The last alternative is the prong button which is shown in the middle of the picture with the red head on it. The round thing in the front is a spring washer, and the button on the left is a nail button with a spring washer attached. The other part in the picture is the round button shell. The sleigh was tufted with eye buttons through a piece of 1/4" plywood shaped to fit the sleigh back. (Santa was really happy with the sleigh, BTW) Threaded nails are as long as a prong buttons and have a shaft that has threads on it. The shaft is not as thick as the nail button. With a threaded nail, you push the button through and slip on a spring washer. You don't have to tighten the tuft by pushing the washer all the way on until the very end of the tufting process. With the prong button, you simply push the button through and bend out the prongs in different directions. There again, you can bend the prongs in the middle instead of all the way up by the button head before the final tufting process. Both the threaded nails and prongs come in a variety of lengths depending on how thick the foam is that you're using.
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:45 AM
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Diamond Tufting the fainting couch

Dan ...

Thanks so much for that last clarification. Yep, that's what I didn't get, the "depth" of the foam issue. Now it makes perfect sense! It's the last piece to this puzzel.

You're not kidding when you say leather hides are expensive - wow. I'm setting up a much safer test with cheap materials until I develop a skill at this long before I put any money into the hides. (even getting a supplier to zig, zag stitch a few hides together is outrageous).

Also, I like your tip on the button coverings. A synthetic material would be just as good and cut down cost and time.

I know it will be a lot of work, but dang will it look good if I can do it right and I will have learned a valuable skill in the process.

By the way, the Santa Sleigh looks great! My Mom's influence on me -- she would have loved to see something like that.

I'll hunt around for foam suppliers and there is an upholster's shop nearby, I may pay them a visit as well.

Thanks so much for your help and guidance

-ray
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayL
........even getting a supplier to zig, zag stitch a few hides together is outrageous).
You understand that the seaming of the leather has to be done according to the pattern you lay out for the buttons, right?
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:04 PM
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Diamond Tufting the fainting couch

Hummmm...

The way I envisioned the seams was that they would follow the shape of the diamond. So, for my couch, the spacing between the buttons (horizontally) is 3" and vertically 9" (measuring center button to button and *not* yet accounting for the depth of the foam).

So the zig-zag seam would lie in a horizontal line, but within the depth of the tufting? I think that's how we'd want the seam, so an opportunity would exist to hide it under a fold?

Now to actually arrive at the precise pattern to do that isn't exactly making itself obvious to me.

-ray
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Old 05-06-2010, 07:34 AM
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From the pictures you posted before, I would say the diamonds are 4 1/2" by 3". So.........if the pattern on the fabric is say 7" by 5 1/2" you have to cut the zig zag pattern those dimensions plus 1/2" seam allowance on both sides of the cut.

Look at the pictures. If the layout on the leather is 7" tall by 5 1/2" wide, the black dots on the cardboard represent those dimensions and are where the buttons go. The left side is how the fabric needs to be cut on the left half of the leather being sewed together. The right side is how the right half of the leather needs to be cut so that when they are sewed together, the two pieces interlock. When the final piece is tufted, the stitch lines will be hidden under the folds of the tufts.

There is another way to do it that involves sewing all the tufts in place and leaving small pockets where the buttons go.
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:31 PM
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Tufting an antique fainting couch?

Dan,

That's a perfect illustration on how to seam a hide into the Diamond Pattern. Once seamed according to the diamond pattern + 1/2" allowance on left and right sides, would I trim off that excess leather (make it a very tight seam)?

It seems like a large seam would add bulk to the folds, especially leather, but I certainly see how we could hide it in the folds now.

I'm looking for some backing material for the foam right now. I think this needs to be substantial, yet flexible since it will lay on top of the springs for the couch and require enough resistance to oppose the button tension.

Any suggestions on a sturdy enough material?

-thanks again

-ray
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:57 PM
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No, you don't need to trim the extra leather off the seams, the folds will hide the seam, and the seam will sink into the foam.

I use a product called Flex Pad to go over springs, but I have not seen it available anywhere other than one of my local suppliers. If you want some, just let me know how much you need in a PM and I will send it to you.
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