How to Make Tufts in Upholstery Projects

What You'll Need
Old Chair Cushion
Tapestry Needle
Upholstery Thread
Sewing Chalk
Staple Gun
Needle Nose Pliers

Upholstery tufts can add a professional, finished look to your next furniture project. Tufting is a moderately difficult upholstery task, so the perspective DIYer will want to have some experience in upholstering.

Step 1 – Make a Practice Pillow

Because adding upholstery tufts involves changing the shape of the underlying foam pad, a small practice project is usually the best way to start. Take an old removable chair cushion that has no tufting, and thread your tapestry needle, using a thread that either complements or matches the color of the upholstery.

Choose the type of tufting pattern that you will use; usually tufting is done in either diamond or square patterns. Use chalk to mark where you will place the buttons. Pull the needle through from the back end, and push it out a few millimeters from the marked button location. Thread the button onto the needle. Return the needle through the other side of the marked position, the same distance from the desired button location, effectively centering it.

Repeat this process 3 to 4 time to make sure your button is secured properly. Tighten the button for the desired level of indentation, resulting in the tufts. Tie off the thread, and try another one. Once you are comfortable with the appearance of these tufts, it is time to move on to the real upholstery project.

Step 2 – Gain Access to the Furniture

While the back side of your removable chair cushion was easily accessible, most furniture items require work to access the cushions. To upholster a chair, it is necessary to remove bolts from the underside of the chair, and pry out the staples that hold the upholstery in place in order to access the underside of the seat cushion. For sofas, you may have to remove staples from the back side.

Make sure that all of the tools needed to reassemble the furniture are readily available. Remove any staples or bolts that impede access to the cushion carefully, so as not to damage the fabric. If you are completing a full reupholstery of a chair cushion, this task will be easier, because there will be nothing to remove!

Step 3 – Mark the Pattern

Mark the locations where the buttons will go in the same manner as the sample project. Use sewing chalk for this purpose, so that it will easily come off of your fabric later.

Step 4 – Sew the Tufts

Repeat the process from the sample project by threading your tapestry needle, pulling it through from the back end, attaching the button, and pulling it through again, making each hole a few millimeters on either side of the chalk mark to ensure a centered, finished look.

Step 5 – Reassemble Furniture

Once the tufting is finished, stretch the fabric back into place and replace any staples and bolts that were removed earlier. Enjoy your newly tufted furniture!