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Discussing Deep Buttoning with George Smith

Luxe teams up with George Smith to discuss the ‘craftship’ of deep buttoning…

Why ‘Craftship’?

Craftship is the gender-neutral alternative to ‘Craftsmanship’ the team at George Smith use to recognise the talented individuals in their factory without gender bias. By promoting gender-fair expressions like ‘Craftship’, they aim to change linguistic habits and raise awareness of the beneficial effects of using this terminology.

What is Deep Buttoning?

Once upon a time, when upholstery was filled with loose fibres such as horsehair and straw, deep buttoning was used to hold the fillings in place, stopping them from moving around and deforming the shape of the upholstery. Today, deep buttoning is employed for its aesthetic appeal; the deeper a button can be pulled, the more luxurious the appearance becomes.

Deep buttoning is a traditional technique where they deeply compress buttons into a filled upholstery base at regular intervals, holding them in place with taut stitching at the back or, in some cases, inside the piece. This effect gives a traditional, luxurious look, as seen in the famous Chesterfield Sofa (first commissioned in the mid-18th Century) and many other pieces.

George Smith

The Buttoning Process

George Smith upholster each individual tufted ‘diamond’ by hand using a special 40cm upholstery needle. Each button is handmade using contrast or the same fabric. Afterward, they attach it to a cord and pull it tightly through the upholstery, securing it with a slip knot to hold the button to the back of the jute webbing. George Smith’s buttoned Chesterfield Sofa features approximately 200 buttons, each of which they should tightly secure, making it impossible to get your finger underneath.

George Smith Buttons

Renowned for their meticulous ‘craftship’, George Smith’s buttons are an essential element in creating their signature upholstered pieces. They cut the fabric to size and then insert it into a press to create each button. The bespoke banquettes for the Wild Honey Restaurant in the St. James Hotel in Mayfair required 2,400 buttons. This particular project took the George Smith team of button-makers two days to craft.

Top Tips and Tricks For Deep Buttoned Furniture

  • A deep buttoned piece of furniture will require more fabric than an unbuttoned piece. You can usually safely assume that you will need at least one extra metre of fabric.
  • At George Smith, they don’t make buttoned pieces for outdoor use, due to water pooling in the button dips. For this reason, you should avoid outdoor furniture with deep buttons.
  • Be careful when using patterned fabrics. At George Smith, they pride themselves on their pattern matching skills. However, some just won’t play ball with the pleats on a deep buttoned piece!
  • Deep buttoning adds firmness to the piece, and an extra level of support.
  • Try mixing it up with a contrast button or contrast fabric!

Expert ‘Craftship’

At George Smith, their factory in Northumberland builds the furniture entirely in-house, utilising the largest team of master upholsterers in the UK. Peek beneath the fabric of a buttoned piece, and you will discover a world of care and master ‘craftship’.

From frame to finish, each piece is meticulously handmade to meet the requirements of their clients. George Smith’s expert ‘craftship’ gives their furniture a unique look and feel while providing unrivalled refinement, precision, and luxurious comfort, for which it is renowned.

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