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October 4, 2011

Tufted Tuesday

We can thank 18th century carriage makers for the comfortable chairs we sit on today.  With the introduction of upholstery springs, travel was drastically improved and furniture makers were influenced by the craftsmanship and comfort of the improved carriages.   

The technique of tufting was introduced in the 1820's in part to camouflage the use of coiled springs. 

By the 1860's the art of upholstery rivaled that of fine cabinet makers and "tufting" - threading cording through layers of fabric or stuffing to form folded patterns within the cushion design - was in high demand. 

Following the introduction of tufted chairs, headboards, ottomans and other types of upholstered furniture were sculpted using this sophisticated technique.  

By the end of the Victorian period, the art of tufting became obsolete.  The commercialization of machine manufactured furniture introduced plainer designs such as the Mission style.  Only custom designers and high-end furniture makers produced labor-intensive, hand-tufted pieces.

The 1950's introduced a resurgence in the popularity of tufted furniture. 

 The large, tufted ottoman provides a focal point in the 'conversation pit' arrangement.

Almost all furniture manufacturers today offer a variety of tufted pieces at affordable prices.

Many tufting DYI tutorials are available online but the more complicated patterns are hard for novice upholsterers to duplicate.  Due to the high cost of reupholstering older pieces of furniture, thrift stores are a good source for finding vintage, elegant tufted sofas and chairs.

Images:  deBeche Mode; Acres of Diamonds;; Seducing Serendipity; Urban Eclectic; Vanessa DeVargas Designs

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