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low budget rodder 07-10-2007 05:53 AM

Diamond Tufting?
Does anyone know how to do Diamond Tufting? and can they explain it w/o sending me to some website that sells videos?

I would like to do Diamond Tufting in black leather on an early teens hotrod as well as in an early teen restoration.

Any help would be appreciated!



DanTwoLakes 07-10-2007 07:14 AM

This is no easy one to answer. Do you want the tufts sewn in or folded in? In a nutshell: decide how big you want the tufts, both side to side and top to bottom. Usually tufts are a little taller than they are wide. Lay this out on the foam you are tufting the fabric to and mark the location of each button. After you cut the holes in the foam, the foam needs a good solid backing to hold the buttons. Using an arch punch, or some form of hole saw, cut a hole in each button location slightly larger than the buttons you plan to use. At the outside edges of the tufted area, you need to score the foam and let the excess fabric fold into the scoring, or fold the fabric on top of the foam without scoring the foam. It is trial and error to get the right distance of the fabric between the holes in the foam in both directions. Different fabrics tuft differently, and it has to look good to you, and there is no magic formula to determine that. Once you figure this out, transfer these dimensions to your fabric, put a button through the fabric and then through the hole in the foam and through the backing material. If you use eye buttons, do not tie off the buttons too tightly at this point, (use a mattress knot) or if you're using prong buttons, bend the prongs too tightly yet. Fold in all your tufts until they are uniform and then tighten down the buttons. Sewing in the tufts is different. If that's what you want to do I'll have to take some pictures to explain it. Are you talking about using real leather? Practice A LOT with some vinyl first. Buttons are hard to make out of real leather, and a lot of vinyls. The button dies have to be set up for it. If you have more questions, just ask. Good luck.

low budget rodder 07-10-2007 10:58 AM

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I appreciate the assistance. As I get into the project, I may be asking for more advise (I hope you don't mind) I am attaching what I hope the upholstery would look like.

Thanks again,


DanTwoLakes 07-10-2007 11:10 AM

That's a piece of cake compared to what I was envisioning. It's not sewed in, it's just folded in. No, I don't mind if you ask more questions.

low budget rodder 07-10-2007 11:47 AM

So I just want to be sure that I understand correctly, I attempt the tufting on vinyl first, so I can figure out how to fold the material into the desired tuft sizes, then go to a leather. And you say that the type of tufting in the photo is easy? Then I will come to you when I get stuck (with a needle or otherwise :D ).

If you have more details, I would appreciate it. I have a feeling that I have to jump in with both feet to get a true understanding of it.

Thanks again.


DanTwoLakes 07-10-2007 01:41 PM

No, not easy, but way easier than I envisioned without knowing what you wanted to do. Tufting is not hard once you have the dimensions figured out, but that can take some time. It is tedious and time consuming, though, especially a long involved piece. I did a vehicle that was a combination of a motorcycle in the front and a Volkswagen rear end. The whole inside of it was tufted.......... walls, ceiling, and part of the seats. I thought I was going to lose my mind putting in over 400 buttons.
If I were you, I would practice on a piece of vinyl that closely resembles the leather you are going to use. It's a good way to get the hang of it, and screwing up $25 worth of vinyl is no big deal compared to screwing up $300 worth of leather.

I will do a small section and take pictures so you can see what you're up against. I can't get to it for a few days, I'll try to do it by next Monday.

horvath 07-10-2007 05:00 PM

Hey, Dan

If, say, the buttons are to be 4-inches apart (horizontally) and, say, 6-inches apart (vertically), then those measurements go on the foam and the holes are cut at those locations.

If I understand this right, the tough part is figuring where the buttons will be located on the leather because of the folded part of the design. So, where do you start? For starters, do you figure the buttons locations on the leather to be, say, 8-inches apart (horizontally) and, say, 12-inches apart (vertically)?

DanTwoLakes 07-11-2007 05:45 AM

That's right, the holes go in the foam right where you want the buttons to be. Then you determine the spacing on the fabric by trial and error. If your holes are 4" by 6", then add the thickness of the foam to those dimensions and start there. In other words, if you have 2" thick foam add 2" to make the dimensions on the fabric 6" by 8". Every fabric tufts differently. Those dimensions may work perfectly, may need to be added to slightly, or reduced slightly. The firmness of the foam can also be a factor. If your foam is real soft, the spacing might need to be narrower. I would suggest using at least 35 to 40 compression foam to tuft, which is considered medium. The thicker the foam is the softer it can be, but I wouldn't go lower than 30 compression. Remember, a 1/4" difference in the dimensions can really make a huge difference in how your tufting looks, so take your time with your original trial and error process.

DanTwoLakes 07-11-2007 07:57 AM

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Here's some pics of the tufting process. Explanation to follow. Now remember, I threw this together in about 45 minutes this morning, so don't expect much.
Low budget rodder: The way to do your specific seat is as follows: Determine how thick the foam padding needs to be to duplicate what's in the car now. Then you need to put the foam onto the seat and attach it so that you can take it back off without wrecking it. Once it's in the car, lay out the hole pattern you want and mark it on the foam. It is very important to do this on the seat in the car because if the seat curves backward or in any other direction, it can change the spacing of the buttons on the fabric. Cut out your holes in the foam. You can use either arch punches, or the longer silver "tool" is a piece of 3/4" electrical conduit that I ground an edge on. I like to put a layer of dacron polyester over the foam because it lets the fabric slip easier. This needs to have holes in it also. Here's where you start your trial and error. Mark diamonds on a piece of scrap fabric, and tuft a small section onto the foam. Once you have it the way you want it, take it back apart and measure the spacing side to side and top to bottom and use those dimensions to lay out the whole piece. There are two ways to terminate the tufting top, bottom, and sides. One way is to fold the fabric like I did, and lay it on top of the foam. The other way is to cut vertical and horizontal scoring lines in the foam from the top, bottom, and side button holes to the top, bottom and sides of the foam, and work the fabric into them. I used prong buttons to tuft this sample with, obviously without covering the button tops. Another option is threaded nails which attach by sliding a metal washer down the shaft until the button is tight. Another option is to use eye buttons and tie the buttns off with a mattress (figure 8) knot. The good news is that all your tufting can be done out of the car once you have fitted the foam to the seat.

DanTwoLakes 07-11-2007 07:59 AM

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the rest of the pics. You can see where I marked the pattern on the back of the vinyl, and then pushed a sharp point through the fabric to mark the fabric on the front side. This also makes pushing the buttons through the vinyl easier. Start tufting from the center row and work out to the ends. Then work up and down from the center out. Don't tighten the buttons down as tight as they'll go at first. Adjust the tufts and then tighten the buttons all the way. Like I said, this was done hurriedly, and could have been tweeked to let the fabric lay better, but you should get the idea.

DanTwoLakes 07-13-2007 07:02 AM

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I forgot to mention when I updated the posts that you need a solid backing to attach the buttons to. This can be cardboard strips, wood, heavy synthetic backing, a combination of the strips and backing material,whatever, but if the backing is weak, the tufts have no depth and look bad. I use a fabric called Versare to cover the back springs which makes an excellent backing, or I have also used Flex Pad, which is used more for seat springs than back springs. The first pic is Versare, which comes in 40" wide rolls. The second pic is the Flex Pad, which is made to be a padding over seat spring construction and comes in 20" and 24" wide rolls.

Also: I went back and edited my answer to Alan's question. Go back and take a look.

Marc Anthony 08-09-2009 01:28 PM

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Hey guys, I stumbled on this site by accident and have also been approaching a tufting job that I am not sure if I am prepared for. After reading your conversation however, I think Im ready to gitter done. I would like to ask Dan one question if thats ok.

Attached is pic of what I am trying to replicate. Is the tufting process described in this thread the same for my project? My board and hole design is done but thats as far as I got. THank you for any input!

Marc Anthony :cool:

DanTwoLakes 08-09-2009 07:46 PM

They are the same. You need to figure out how far apart the holes in the fabric are and you'll be all set. One tip for you...don't tighten down the buttons right away, leave them a little loose in the beginning to help with the fine tuning. Once the fabric is just so, then tighten them down all the way.

Marc Anthony 08-09-2009 08:24 PM

Yes, they are 6 inches apart. My foam is 3 inches thick and the material is fake suede. I hope to get it right. grin.

RayL 04-28-2010 04:34 PM

Tufting an antique fainting couch?
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I came upon this posting late, but I hope Dan still watches it because his description on the tufting process was excellent.

I'm wondering if the same technique used in car seats could be used on an antique oak fainting couch I have.

I've included pictures so folks can see what it is. It was tufted in leather, and the technique seems to have been done with folding.

They didn't have foam, so horse hair was used to stuff the folds and the buttons seem to go through a canvas covering that contains the springs for the couch.

I can follow most of what Dan says, but I'm wondering this.. Since most of the original leather covering is intact, could I simply remove it and make a template from it? What confuses me the most is how to actually work the tufts as "folds". When I look at the original, they are tight and deep. They almost look like they were sewn, but as the photo demonstrates, they were not. Is it only a function of the tightness of the buttons and the amount of fabric (in this case leather) and stuffing that determines this folding? How difficult is it when the material is leather?

I'm wondering if I'd be able to use the original covering, once opened up to my advantage -- somehow?

These questions are daunting. When I first bough the sofa I had in mind to try my luck at its restoration. Now however, I wonder if it's beyond my abilities.

If anyone is still reading this thread, any insight would be appreciated.


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