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Glossary A-D

An apron is a wooden panel that connects the legs of a table, chair or bureau. Originally concieved to add strength to a piece of furniture, Aprons are often used today to add decorative flair to a piece.
The zig-zag spring configuration in seats and backs that form the support of the cushions, Arc Springs are used in most modern chairs and sofas.
Arms extend from the frame of a sofa or chair as a support for, well, your arms... In dining room settings, arms are usually only included on the His & Hers chairs (the chairs at the head of the table). There are many styles of arms, with varying degrees of upholstery used. From bare wood to fully covered in fabric, the arms of sofas and chairs provide a good opportunities for decorative details.
A wooden or metal frame that supports the back springs or cushioning materials in a chair or sofa. The back rail determines the height of a piece, and is an integral part of upholstered construction.
The coating applied to the reverse side of an upholstery weight fabric that is used to strengthen and smooth.
The lowest part of a wooden frame, the base rail provides structural support and anchor points for springs, cushioning and other structural elements.
A double row of sewing that runs along both sides of a seam. Akin to the style of stitching found in the construction of baseballs. A very strong stitch, baseball stitching also adds aesthetic appeal.
Refers to cutting fabric from one corner to the opposite corner on an angle, instead of cutting in a straight line. Bias cuts are used to add flair to construction using patterned fabrics, and allow some types of fabric to drape differently. Bias cuts may require additional yardage, as some waste is inevitable.
Blended fabrics are those who's fiber content contains a mix of several different materials. Cotton-Poly blends are common, as are Wool, Silk and Dacron blends.
A class of richly decorative fabrics woven on a shuttle machine, often made of colored silks.
The use of buttons, at regular intervals, to decorate or accentuate tufting. Button tufting looks phenomenal on custom constructed headboards, and adds a classic look to sofas and occasional chairs.
A decorative and protective cover for the arms of chairs and sofas, caps can be constructed of a matching or complementary fabric, and made fitted or draped.
Small swiveling wheels attached to the bottom of the legs of a chair, couch or cabinet, Casters make furniture easier to move.
Fabric patterns are expensive to create, so manufacturers tend to offer the same pattern in a range of colors. A fabric's colorways can drastically alter visual effects of a pattern. A cream colored swatch of a fabric may look perfect for your needs, but the same pattern in the blue colorway that matches your paint may not be ideal.
Melani's Moods allows customers the option of providing their own materials for any project. Fell in love with a print you found at another store? Unlike some other fabricators and design centers, we're happy to work with it. Generally, there is a small upcharge to work with COM.
Velvet that contains subtle patterns is generally referred to as cut. By trimming the length of the pile to different heights, a pattern emerges that reflects light differently, revealing a beautiful hatch, flourish or linear design.
A reversible fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton or synthetic fibers, Damask fabrics are weaved on a Jacquard loom and produce striking patterns. Named for the city of Damascus, this fabric style traces it's roots back to the silk road.
The deck of a sofa or chair is the flat platform that supports a seat cushion. Usually covered in plain fabric, a deck should be firm enough that you do not feel the springs protruding.
In upholstery, density refers to the firmness of a polyurethane foam insert. Low density foam provides less cushioning and flattens out when sat upon. High density foam supports more weight and generally keeps its shape longer.
A technique used on fabrics and wood finishes that artificially ages the product to appear antiqued. Distressed finishes are a very popular option in modern design themes.
Chairs and sofas that give the appearance of removable cushions and pillows, which are in fact attached to the frame, are commonly identified as Divided Back.
Wooden pegs that are pounded into the frame of high quality furniture, whose purpose is to strengthen the structure. Dowels hold together with friction, in addition to glue which is often used for extra durability.
Feathers of a goose or duck used to fill pillows, cushions and upholstery. Natural down provides many benefits, such as warmth and fluffiness. Down is considerably expensive, so manufacturers have crafted synthetic materials that mimic the quality of down to varying effect. A high quality synthetic is usually a good substitute.
The drape of a fabric describes how it hangs when unimpeded. While most commonly associated with Drapery for windows, we use the term for any free hanging fabric, such as a bed skirt or fabric apron around an occasional chair.

Glossary E-O

A heavy gauge wire that runs the edge around a support frame for coils in a spring cushion. Edge wire is a primary component of upholstery construction.
The goal of ergonomic design is to maximize physical comfort and support to prevent physical injuries from using furniture repetitively. The prevalence of back pain, carpal tunnel and repetitive motion injuries moved designers to make furniture that has less impact on the body.
A style of upholstery design that leaves wood structural elements exposed, and not covered with fabric. The definition of exposed trim does not include the legs of a chair or sofa. Exposed trim can also describe structure that is supposed to be covered, but has been revealed due to a tear or fabric wear.
An extra layer applied to certain fabrics for upholstery applications. Backing ensures that certain types of fabric not suited to upholstery work, can be used without stretching and sagging. Some fabrics come backed, while others can be backed in the production process.
A synthetic fill used in upholstery work to wrap cushions for added comfort, insulation and shaping. Usually, fiber fill is made from Polyester.
The materials used in the cushions, pillows and frames of upholstered furniture is generally referred to as filling. Filling can consist of synthetic foams, polyester batting, natural downs or other materials as needed for strength, shape and durability.
Flat weave fabrics are just that - flat to the touch. They don't have a "pile," which refers to the height of the fibers above the backing. Tweeds, twills and satins are good examples of flat weaves, in contrast to suede of velvet, which is piled.
Foam is the most common filling medium for upholstery work. Generally made from polyurethane, foam give seats and cushions padding while adding shape to the arms, sides and back of a couch or chair.
The basic, unadorned skeleton of any piece of furniture is called a frame. Furniture elements such as springs, decks, cushions and upholstery fabrics are added to the frame to build out the piece.
A stitch that hides the raw edges of a seam. The cloth is sewn on one side, and then on the inverse side, turning the raw edges inward so they are undetectable.
Gimp is a fancy woven trim that resembles a braided ribbon. Gimp is used most commonly on upholstered furniture to conceal tacks where fabric meets an exposed wood frame. Think of gimp almost like a crown molding... It adds style while concealing construction elements.
Plastic or metal caps on the bottom of furniture legs, glides are employed on pieces of furniture that need to be moved often, like kitchen chairs. They generally protect your floors while making moving furniture much easier.
Angled pieces of wood custom cut to corners or joints that add stability to furniture. Usually, only extremely well crafted furniture contains glue blocks, as this added feature is labor and material intensive. If you find a piece of furniture with Glue Blocks, you have a great frame for re-upholstery.
Ground refers to the background color of a printed fabric. Not always the dominant color in a printed pattern, the ground is selected for complementing the print and for the ability for inks to absorb properly and maintain color.
Describing the feel of a fabric, designers often refer to the hand or the handle. Descriptive words like rough, smooth, velvety, soft or silky are most commonly associated with "the hand of the fabric."
The seaming together of two pieces of fabric from the underside. This technique does not produce a welt and looks very smooth. When assessing inverted seams, look for the fabric patterns to match on both sides of the seam to ensure quality workmanship.
Fabric sewn between the inner foundation covering and the outer upholstery fabric is called interlining. This technique is used to stabilize lighter weight fabrics in improve durability.
So named for the Jacquard loom upon which this fabric style is crafted, Jacquard is elaborately patterned weaved fabric of high quality and craftsmanship.
A small chair or sofa pillow that supports the lower back and kidneys, thus improving the ergonomics of a given piece of furniture.
Pillows are considered "loose" when they are not attached to a chair or sofa. In direct opposition to divided back cushions that mimic loose pillows, but are actually attached to the structure.
An ergonomic term, lumbar support refers to the level of rigidity in the lower seating region of a chair or sofa. In many styles, additional foam, or different types of foam, are strategically added to provide additional lumbar support, effectively dampening the effects of long term sitting on the lower back and lumbar.
The historical term for the head and foot chairs in a dining room set. It's common to find arms on the Mr. & Mrs. chair, while seating along the side of the dining room table are armless. A dated term that has fallen out of fashion...
Classic furniture detail, the Nailhead is usually an optional decorative feature, though can be used in the construction of upholstery elements. They can be large or small, spaced tightly together or given room to breathe, and look great as a fancy border accent on chairs, sofas, headboards and even cabinets.
Nailheads come loose, or as Nailhead Trim, a series of nail-heads attached to a finished fabric backing. Used for decorative purposes, this trim adds flair to leather or fabric upholstery projects.
An armless, backless piece of furniture that is basically a padded seat or bench. Traditionally used as a footstool, today Ottomans are serving as everything from storage pieces to coffee tables. Ottoman's are perfect upholstery pieces that can be spruced up with trims, braids, welting, tassels, beads and many other finishing options.

Glossary P-Z

When fabric pieces are laid out in a way that prevents the pattern from being broken. When done correctly, seams are nearly invisible. To apply this technique to large scale patterns, additional yardage may be required.
As the name suggests, this style of base sits under the center of a piece, resembling a pedestal. Furniture types that commonly feature this style of base include pub tables, swivel rockers, and recliners.
Unlike flat weave fabrics, pile weave fabrics tend to have a raised nap or texture.
A synthetic foam that is regularly used as stuffing for cushions and pillows.
Also known as a "stretcher cloth," a pull down is an additional piece of fabric that has been hidden and sewn to the inside back or arms of an upholstered piece of furniture.
An element of furniture design where padding will wrap over and around the back of a piece – as opposed to being squared, trimmed and welted off.
For pieces of furniture with wooden frames, the lowest horizontal pieces – be they on the front, back, or sides of the piece – are often referred to as "rails".
To cut a fabric on the cross grain. This technique is often applied when trying to avoid seams in larger upholstered pieces. A fabric may also be called "railroaded" if its pattern runs horizontal to the bolt. Generally, railroading should not be applied to fabrics with pile or directional patterns.
For wallpapers and fabrics, the dimensions required to view its complete pattern. When using a textile with a larger repeat, significantly more yardage may be required when upholstering larger pieces.
The trademarked name for a water and grease-proof finish that can be applied to certain textiles.
Any place where two piece of fabric, wood, or another material have been joined. Popular fabric seams included french seams, welting, and baseball stitching.
In fabrics, a tightly woven edge that is intended to prevent fraying. If a fabric is to be draped correctly, the selvage must be trimmed.
When working with leather, if a chair is being upholstered with a single hide, as opposed to pieces from multiple hides that have been stitched together, its arms are referred to as "single panel out" arms.
Also known as a flounce, a skirt is piece of fabric intended to cover the legs of an upholstered table, chair or sofa by reaching from the seat of the piece to the floor. These pieces can be made to lie flat, be pleated or feature gathering. For wooden pieces, "skirt" may refer to a structural or decorative panel running between the two front legs.
Traditionally, metal springs have been used to provide upholstered pieces, especially cushions, with additional structure and support. The two of the most common types of springs are coil springs, which are cone shaped and convoluted springs, which a flat and "S" shaped.
It's not uncommon for higher quality materials to be finished with a chemical compound that repels water and dirt in order to prevent stains. See also: "Scotchguard™"
A small, sample-sized piece of a upholstery material used by designers and manufacturers to help customers choose and compare materials.
Named for their ability to swivel, "swivel rockers" are rocking chairs that have the ability to move forward, backwards, and a circular motion.
Additional strips of material (usually metal or cardboard) that are embedded with tacks.
A heavily-tailored style of upholstering that typically does not feature any loose cushions. Noted for its strong visual aesthetic, this style may be more difficult to clean and less comfortable when used applied to "everyday" pieces.
Serving to anchor an upholstered material to the foam of a cushion while also providing stylistic flair, tufting requires drawing a cord through both the material and the cushion. When tufting, a number of patterns can be applied including diamonds and squares. Accents for tufted pieces include buttons and tassels.
The opposite of "railroading," to "up the roll" is to cut a fabric on its straight grain or apply a fabric so that its pile or texture runs vertically.
Usually decorative, a "veneer" is typically made of thin slices of wood (usually 1/8th of an inch thick) that are cut and adhered to existing panels of wood, fiberboard or particleboard.
For cushions or pillows, being upholstered in a way that allows air to escape when the piece is compressed.
The counterpart to "weft," threads that run the vertical length of a fabric are known as "warp" threads.
Used to describe the texture of a fabric and how tightly its threads have been woven together.
The counterpart to "warp," threads that run the horizontal length of a fabric are known as "weft" threads.
Typically sewn into the seams of cushions or pillows, a fabric covered cord is known as a "welt." These welts provide structural benefits by strengthening the seams and aesthetic benefits. Welts can be made to a number of different diameters and with almost any fabric, providing plenty of room for stylistic flair.
Originally designed to help protect from winter drafts, the large wing-like arms of today's armchairs generally serve a purely aesthetic purpose.
Typically a "wrapped cushion" will have an outer layer of softer, more comfortable fiberfill that surrounds an inner layer of foam core. The technique is commonly used with back and seat cushions.