Whether you’re working in a factory doing upholstery work, or you’ve considered starting in the business, you’ll have plenty of hurdles to get over before you’re expert at what you do. There are many challenging tasks when it comes to upholstering and one of them is gimp. Gimp is the decorative border that’s often seen on antique chairs and sofas. The gimp is generally held in place by decorative tacks. Old gimp techniques are just too time-consuming, though, so make way for the newer techniques.
In days gone by gimp was attached to the furniture piece by placing the first tack at the end of the gimp and positioning the gimp right at the edge of the seat front or other area. The gimp was unrolled as more and more tacks were inserted – in just the right place. An exact amount of space is needed in between each tack so that the finished look is uniform and professional.
It was somewhat of a daunting task to apply gimp and tacks. One, because of the positioning of the tacks, and two, because you had to hold the gimp in one hand while using the other hand to hammer in the tack. If you let the roll of gimp go it could put just enough pull on the gimp to make it uneven. But, it’s nearly impossible to tack something with one hand. Many upholsterers upgraded to magnetic tack hammers that could pick a tack up with one hand and get it started.
A guide was also held to measure how much space was to go between each tack. With all this going on it was very difficult to attach welt and, many times, the tacks had to be removed and adjusted to get the perfect look.
There are now a couple of techniques that make adding gimp much easier and quicker. Hot glue guns is the answer to all your gimp problems. Hot glue is cheap, goes a long way, and holds the gimp in place while you tack – if you tack. Tacking was, remember, used to hold the gimp in place. Many customers, though, prefer to have the gimp attached without the use of tacks. Hot glue is easy to use and holds most any gimp design to most any fabric.
As a guide, many upholsterers now use the pattern in the gimp as their guide, rather than trying to hold a measure. Looking closely at the gimp you’ll notice a particular design which can often be used as the guide. For example, if the gimp has a rose design, place a tack on every-other rose. Look closely at the design to see if this method will work for you.
A couple of things to remember when using hot glue for gimp: use just enough to hold the gimp – which isn’t much. Using too much glue will cause it to run down below the gimp area and will be plainly visible and noticeable. Glue cannot be easily removed from fabric – if at all. Also, because of the way gimp is made it’s easy for the glue to seep through and burn as you apply it. Be careful when pressing the gimp to the glue. Some upholsterers use a small piece of plastic or metal to smooth the gimp onto the glue without getting burned.
Now that your gimp issues are over, you’ll have plenty of time to concentrate on other challenging matters – like learning to use the web puller or how to set springs. Upholstery work is fun and challenging and each idea you master gets you closer to being an upholstery professional.