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Upholstery Terminology and Abbreviations

Upholstery Terminology and Abbreviations

As in any other craft or trade there are a number of words or phrases that are either outside normal language or perhaps known words that convey a completely different meaning. Many technical words and terms never find their way into the ordinary dictionary and unless ready reference is available it sometimes means that interest can be lost or a wrong interpretation put on a word that means lost time in study. In this chapter I have drawn up a list of such words.

Pull Down (also called a "Stretcher Cloth"): A strip of cloth sewed to the bottom of the inside arms and inside back in areas that don't show.

Deck: the area under the seat cushions

Arc springs: zig zag springs that are in the seats and backs most modern sofas and chairs.

Tack strips: strips of cardboard or metal that have tacks embedded.

Fabric Cutting Direction

  • Railroad the fabric: this means that you are cutting from the side of the fabric. The top of the fabric is across the other side of the fabric.

  • Up the roll: the top of the fabric is up the roll. You cut all the fabric pieces with the top pointed up towards the roll of fabric.


Use these abbreviations to mark the back of the fabric pieces after they are cut.

IA  Inside Arm

OA  Outside Arm

AF  Arm Face

IB   Inside Backrest

OB  Outside Back 

IW   Inside Wing

OW  Outside Wing

FDK  Front Deck

FB    Front Band

TB    Top Band

CUSH  Cushion top and bottom

Box   Cushion Boxing

Zip   Cushion Zipper

Item Abbreviation and/or description

BORDER Bdr. Can be in front or along top of back.

FACINGS Fegs. The front of the arm-rests. Can also be on the sides of a back.

PLATFORM SEAT Pl. St. A Platform Seat is one that has a guttering and has a cushion

BLACK AND WHITE WEBBING Best English webbing with herring bone design.

Bos A projection from the back of an upholstery button. Made of cloth to enable a needle and twine to pass through.

BRIDLING A series of twine loops about six inches long which are put in canvases to carry the stuffing and keep it in position.

BUFFED The rubbing or buffing with carborundum to obviate any blemishes that may be in hides.

BUTTONING The insertion of upholstery buttons. Two methods used are `Float' Buttoning and `Deep' Buttoning. The former method leaves the button on the face of the cover, whilst the latter is pulled into the cover deeply and forms a pleated diamond.

CABRIOLE Name given to a hammer with a small driving area. Used mainly on show-wood furniture.

FLYS Pieces of hessian or any old material sewn on to the inside edges of the cover material to save material and give added strength for pulling cover into position. Known as `Pullthroughs' in U.S.A.

GAP Name used in describing the opening between the arm web and the back upright rail. Left free for passing through flys, etc., to be tacked against rail.

GAUGE Applied to the thickness of the steel wire in the manufacture of coil springs.

HOLDING TIE A stitch between the spring canvas and scrim. Keeps the first stuffing firmly in place. Also known as `Through Stitch'.

JACKETS One or more parts joined together to form a tailored finish, e.g. inside arm and facing.

LACING A term applied to the stringing together of coil springs in which a `laid' cord is used.

LININGS Pieces of old canvas tacked on to the outsides before the outside covers are put on. Gives 

extra resistance to pressure, especially needed in the case of leather covering. Not to be confused with the outside covers proper, which are known as `linings' in America.

PIPING FOOT An attachment for the sewing machine to enable piped edges to be sewn on to joins.

PULLTHROUGH Meaning the same as a FLY. An American Term.

RAILS STRETCHER A supporting rail on a settee or divan base.

TACKING The lighter rails for tacking foundations and covers to.

BASE The main foundation rail at floor level.

REBATED Where a groove is put in the edge of a rail, and the lower edge used for tacking, or where cable springing is fixed.

REGULATING The `working about' of stuffing to the required place for stitching, etc.

RIPPING OUT Procedure for stripping chairs for repair.

SCRIM STUFFING Another term for the first stuffing enclosed in scrim or hessian.

SHOW-WOOD Polished wood surrounding to stuffed or upholstered part of furniture, as with a dining-chair or occasional chair.

SKIVING The art of chamfering a piece of hide in order to join together two pieces by gluing.

SPRING EDGE Mostly applies to the front edge of chairs, but also to all edges where an independent springing is adopted.

SPRING INTERIOR The inside springing of a cushion or mattress.

SPRING UNIT A collection of springs to form foundations for seats, arms and backs. Wired and clipped together.

STITCHING The stitching by twine of edges and rolls to form a shape to stuffing.

STRAPS Metal bands or webs upon which spring units are mounted and fixed to the frame by clout nails.

TACK DRAWS The `shadowed' furrow caused by the strain of a tack. Particularly on silk covers.

TEMPORARY TACKS - Tacks only half driven in. Easily removed.

TENSILE Applies to rubber webbing or cable-springing.

THUMBROLL An alternative to a stitched edge. Known as a cordroll by the American upholsterer.

TUFTING Carried out on mattresses. Same procedure as in buttoning.

WIRE KNOTS The finish of the metal coil on a spring.

These represent the majority of terms used in the upholstery trade. Once again T must point out that this book is dealing purely with the part of the trade known as the `Stuffers'. The soft furnishing and carpet departments also have their own particular terminology.

Special Terminology

Perhaps a recapitulation of the names and abbreviations of the cover pieces of an average chair or suite would be as well to start off such a chapter. These names I shall keep together in a group regardless of alphabetical order. Most are self-explanatory.


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