Lesson 4: Needles for upholstery Work

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Dear learner in this section, I will look at the special types of needle used by the upholsterer to put pieces of fabrics together when stuffing upholstered furniture. These needles are manufactured in different sizes and designed to suit their usage.

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It is hoped that at the end of this section you will be able to:

  • name the basic types of needle the upholster use
  • describe and explain how they are used


Upholsterers usually use several types of hand sewing needles designed for specific use. Some needles are most suitable for some works than others. For example the double pointed straight needle is more suitable for sewing buttons into cushions than the single point type.

There are about three basic types of needles used for upholstery works. These are: Straight needles Curved needles Packing or stuffing needles

Straight needle

The straight needle, which is also called the button needle, is produced in different sizes with length ranging from 10cm to 50cm. They are usually used to fasten button to cushion and other stuffed parts of the upholstered furniture and also to stitch through padding to secure it to a foundation. The straight needles can be single pointed, Fig 4.1a or double pointed as shown in Fig 4.1b.

Also the points may either be round or triangular (spear points) in shape. The advantage of the double point’s needle is that it can be pushed through the material and be made to come back without having to reverse the needle. This helps to save time when working with it.

Curved needles

The curved needle comes with both round and triangular points. They are usually preferred because it can be pushed through the material and returned without being reversed. Their length, which is the measure of the outer circumference, varies from 5cm to 25cm. They are also available in light or heavy weight, which are used on thin and thicker materials respectively. Curved needles as shown in fig 4.2 are used for blind stitching of fabric in places where stapling or tacking are not possible. In addition they are used to secure springs to webbings.

Stuffing regulators

The stuffing regulator is used to smoothen irregularities on padded materials under a muslin or temporary cover. In this case the sharp end of the regulator is used to make a hole in the fabric by gently separating the yarns in the weave. Once the padding has been moved the hole can be closed by gently closing the yarns back. The flattened end of the regulator is used for forcing padding into tight corners. Fig 4.3 shows stuffing regulators.

Stuffing regulators are not used in sewing cover materials because they will leave holes on the cover. Regulators, though they are similar to needles are heavier, ranging from 15cm to 30cm in length.

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What are the similarities and differences between the curved and straight needles?

Packing needles

Packing needles have thicker shaft near the point. Their length ranges from 7.5cm to 25cm. Packing needles are used for heavier sewing that is sewing which requires heavier needle. There are varieties of these packing needles in use. We have the bent type, Fig 4.4a and the straight type, Fig 4.4b

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Why do you think it is not advisable to use the packing needle on a final fabric?

Tufting needles

These are needles, which are specially designed for tufting process. Tufting needles are produced in different designs. They are made with steel and ranges from 30cm to 36cm in length. In the use of this needle it goes through several thick layers of stuffing and webbing materials hence has been made to withstand this difficult process. Fig4.5 shows a tufting needle designed to carry a metal clip, and also serve as an anchor when fastening buttons.

Using the tufting needle

The following steps can be followed when using this needle in the tufting process. First pass a twine in the round hole at the middle of the clip and tie it firmly. Hook the clip to the needle using the square hole Push the needle through the material at where you want to fasten the button. When it gets to the point you want it to be withdrawing the needle. By withdrawing the needle the clip will fall off and stay behind the webbing hence acting as an anchor for the twine. The loose end of the twine is fastened to the underside of the button using a slip knot The knot is then slided until the button gets to the expected compression level against the cover. The excess twine is then cut-off

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In this section have I looked at the basic types of hand sewing needles used in the upholstery industry? With this I considered the straight needles, curved needles, and the stuffing needles. The curved needle is most preferred when blind stitching a fabric in place.

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  1. State four types of needles used in upholstery
  2. Discuss the straight needle