Upholstery Accessories: Working with Gimp and Tacks

If at any time you find yourself getting serious about doing your own upholstery, you may very well find yourself dealing with gimp and tacks. These accessories are particularly common if you are working with antique or old fashioned furniture, or just want to achieve the same look. In upholstery, gimp is the gathered fabric border that is often found near the base of chairs and sofas. The gimp is typically attached to the piece of furniture with decorative tacks. Working with gimp and tacks can be challenging if you are not familiar with the process, so here are some guidelines for those of you just starting out.

The Old Method of Working With Gimp and Tacks

In the past, gimp was secured to the furniture by placing the first tack at one end of the gimp and then running the gimp along the edge of the seat front or base of the furniture. Much care was needed in order to place tacks at uniform distances in order to create a polished look. This cumbersome process, which required careful precision and dexterity, has thankfully been streamlined in recent years and is now much more manageable for amateur upholsterers.

The Modern Method of Working With Gimp and Tacks

The main advancement that has made the incorporation of gimp and tacks to furniture simpler is the hot glue gun. Hot glue is nice because it is relatively inexpensive and it effectively secures the gimp to the furniture initially, and allows you to tack later. In the past, tacks were the main connector used to hold the gimp in place. Now, however, the tacks themselves can serve as purely aesthetic flourishes to the piece of furniture, allowing for more creativity and greater structural integrity. 

Cautions About Using Hot Glue

There are several things that are important to remember when using hot glue to gimp. First, only apply as much glue as you will need to hold the gimp in place. Remember that the tacks themselves, although less important to structural integrity than in the past, will provide permanent attachment between the gimp and furniture when you are done. If too much glue is used initially, it can run down below the gimp and leave unsightly marks on your finished furniture.

Even worse, once glue comes in contact with the gimp or any other fabric, it is nearly impossible to remove, which can also be potentially unsightly.  Always remember to use caution when applying the gimp to the furniture with hot glue, because the glue is very hot and can easily burn you. It is common for professional upholsterers to use a small piece of metal or plastic to apply the gimp smoothly and avoid burning.

Feel Free To Add Personality To Your Project

Once your gimp is secured to the furniture with hot glue, you are free to apply decorative tacks at your discretion. Be creative and let your imagination be your guide, you can create many attractive patterns and effects with gimp and tacks.