Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tufting Lessons - Or What NOT To Do

Ok, FIRST OF ALL, I carried that one hundred ton headboard upstairs all by myself. That's the big deal here. Points.

But before I even covered it, I measured (gasp!) and marked the spots for the -- tufting buttons? -- what are they called? And I drilled holes in the MDF before covering. Behold.

Transported upstairs! ALL BY MYSELF!

And it sat there behind the bed sadly untufted for weeks.

I had already made the buttons, which was really fun and slightly mind-blowing. I went to the craft store last month with no clue what to buy for tufting buttons.  After staring at all the actual buttons I found this kit to make fabric covered buttons.  Seriously, guys, I had no idea this technology existed.  I brought it home to give it a try and just LOOK how fun and easy it is.

I finally found a long enough needle to do the tufting. Kind of. Mostly. The longest actual needles I could find in the stores were four inches long. This is something called a Ball Point Bodkin. (A quick Google taught me that bodkins are used for pulling ribbons or elastic or whatever you want I guess through fabric corridors. Fascinating.) I still had to really push it through and then pull out the other side because I clearly made the whole thing too thick.

LESSON ONE: You do not need heavy MDF. Use plywood.

LESSON TWO:  You do not need 4" padding. Use 2". It will be fine. No. It will be BETTER.

For the actual tufting, I turned to the internet. The internet actually had lots of ideas about how to secure the thread to the back of the headboard, because the internet is smart.  My favorite plan suggested I tie a washer to a piece of heavy duty thread, send it through the back with my needle (bodkin), grab the button, push the thread back through, pull taut for the tufting effect, and tie the loose end to the washer to keep it tight. Love it! And I had washers so didn't even need to go to the store.

When I finished with them all, there were buttons evenly spaced, but not really tufted. It was difficult to tie the string to the washer after threading the button while simultaneously keeping it pulled tight through that four inch upholstery foam. (Seriously. Don't use that. Use something else.) Still pretty.  But I wanted that bounce, y'all.

I figured out that I could pull the washers a bit and then duct tape them to the MDF board to get a little more tufting action. Voila.

RECAP: This the opposite of the correct way to tuft a headboard. It doesn't need to be so big. I bought this cool french hook clasp thing to hang it on the wall but it is so big that it just sits on the floor. It doesn't need to be so heavy. Regular plywood is much lighter. It might be a little bendy at first but once you staple the batting around the foam, and then add fabric, I'm sure it will steady itself. Don't use four inch think foam. This headboard is super padded, and that's nice and all, but I think it could be just as padded with half the foam, and I would have been able to use a regular upholstery needle. Learn from my mistakes.

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