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Sewing Welting

lisamarie | Posted in General Discussion on

I am a novice, teaching myself how to sew.  I’ve been successful, have a problem now.

I have reupholstered a chair and the last step is welting.  I have my upholstery fabric and welting inside, sewing with a zipper foot. 

I have googled needle size because my needles keep breaking.  It’s a chenile fabric and am wondering if anyone has experience with this.

What needle size do I need?  Also, the threads on the bottom, don’t know the terminology, but loose, then the needle breaks.

Would appreciate any advisement.  Wanting to finish this project.

Thank you!!






  1. meg | | #1

    I must preface my comment by saying that I've never done upholstery:
    Are you using an upholstery needle? Have you been using the correct thread for the job? Or, is the thread hitting a snag on the spool, causing too much tension and therefore pulling the needle, causing it to break? You've gotten to a point where you are stitching lots of layers and that can magnify an itty bitty problem which you might not normally notice into a huge issue.
    Maybe you could try re-threading the machine, but putting the spool of thread on the table (I use an old coffee mug to hold the spool) to keep the thread from catching on any snag on the spool or falling off the spool and puddling around the spindle.Good luck!

    1. Tatsy | | #4

      Try increasing the stitch length. Every extra layer of fabric means a further distance the  thread has to reach and hold. What was an adequate length with two layers of fabric may be way too close together with four. Also make sure you're using a sharp needle, not a universal, in at least a size 14 or 16. You may also want to decrease the speed at which you're sewing as this allows more time for the machine to sort itself out on each stitch.

  2. Susan -homedecsewing | | #2

    Sounds like it could be a few different things. A new needle ,  size 11 may help. Re thread , you may have missed a thread guide.Change the bobbin thread, use a longer stitch, check the tension. What kind of machine are you using?When I do upholstery I use my industrial Phaff which has a walking foot. If its a project for yourself, you should be ok with a home type machine , but if you are doing this as a business, I'd suggest an industrial machine because it will be hard on your machine. Hope this helps.

  3. Josefly | | #3

    Congratulations on trying to do your own upholstery. I have enjoyed doing some of that myself, and find it very satisfying.Are you having trouble while covering the welting cord with fabric, or while sewing the covered cord to other parts of the upholstery? What kind of thread are you using? Needle size and stitch length are both important. I would use a size 16 needle or even an 18 if your fabric is very thick or stiff. A longer stitch is needed also, so that there's enough thread to go through the fabric. If those changes don't help, and you're still getting loops on the bobbin thread, try adjusting your upper tension. Several things could be causing the needle to break. Is your machine struggling to feed the thick fabric through? If you're pulling the fabric as it feeds through your machine, you may be causing the needle to bend and break. And this tip: If you're still at the point of covering the welt cord, using your zipper foot, make sure your needle is placed so that you're not stitching right up against the cord. It's usually better to stitch a little bit away from the cord at this point, then crowd closer to the cord when you're actually applying it to the cushions or other upholstery. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.One other thing - check your bobbin to be sure it's sitting in place correctly.

    Edited 6/21/2008 9:55 am ET by Josefly

  4. Ralphetta | | #5

    Usually, whenever the bottom stitch is loose or messy the problem is somewhere in the upper part of the machine. Just unthreading and rethreading will many times correct the problem. Any time the mess is on top of the stitching, the problem is usually with your bobbin. This info may help you solve problems in the future, if not this one. Hange in there, if you've gotten this far you can work it out!

  5. Susan -homedecsewing | | #6

    And another thing you can learn from my latest mistake. I'm making some jumbo welt for an upholstered cornice, so I cut my fabric on the bias, carefully join 9 yards together, stitch them up and low and behold they are all very wavy and wrinkled , and look twisted !!?? So what did I do wrong ? Looks like when stitching close my needle caught a bit of the edge of the bulky fuzzy welt filler, so that little nuisance ruined them ! I just finished ripping them apart, without one slip or cut of the face fabric, so I'm good at something ! LoL I'll stitch the fabric empty then pull the welt filler thru leaving it free inside to slide around. I guess I have to learn the hard way. This better work ! I'll let you know when I finish. Anyway...And I thought I knew it all ?

    1. AAC | | #7

      I made a large round top to floor table cover  It took a long time to cover all the diameter with jumbo welt.  After all that work and before I attached it to the skirt I saw that it had twisted as I was sewing and covering the welt.  Riped it all out and started again.  This time I pinned!  Would you believe I had to fight that thing all the way??  For some reason this wants to run on the bias.  What should have been easy became exasperating and very time consuming.  I was using (just lost my mind here, lol) that shiny fabric with what looks like water marks.  What's that called?  It's not   fun being old and losing your mind.  :-(


      1. Ralphetta | | #8

        Did I spell that right?

        1. AAC | | #11

            Thanks, I hate when that happens and it's becoming more frequently with each birthday.  Yes, you spelled it right.

          Edited 7/21/2008 3:43 pm ET by AAC

      2. Susan -homedecsewing | | #9

        Well I just pulled the welt thru the bias tube and it looks great ! A couple of things to avoid , as this just happened to me. I wound the heavy duty thread around the cut end of the welt very tightly and and tied it well as you really have to pull and at the other end secure the thread to a seam ripper . useing the cap to hold the first threads in place, close the cap and start winding the thread, this way you won't be in a hurry and start tugging at the thread as it cuts into your fingers , only to .opps let go and have it lost in the middle of the caseing,as I did first !Just as easy to start over as the second attempt was a winner ! Yeah. Also a husband on the other end walking it out would help to keep it from wrinkling as it is gathered as it slides on.

  6. Teaf5 | | #10

    On upholstery, you need at least a 16 or 18 needle, and that will take care of the bobbin thread problem.

    To prevent the twisting, lighten the pressure foot tension if you can; you need it only to guide the fabric under the needle, not actually pressing hard onto the fabric.

    Twisting on circular hems is almost inevitable, as you are going from on-grain at one point, through infinite biases, the cross grain, and then more biases as you work your way around the circle.  Again, a lighter foot pressure and working in sections helps.

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