How to Use Gimp in Upholstery?

With so many different trims available for upholstery and curtaining, gimp trim is a somewhat surprising phrase for an ornamental section or strip that is used to hide joints and seams. Unlike the unpleasant associations that the word has, gimp is something quite beautiful. 

Gimp is actually a special strip of beautiful trim that has been reinforced with wire and tape to make a sturdy trim that can be glued to hide seams and fabric joints. 

When upholstering a chair or sofa with staples or nails, adding an edge of gimp trim will hide the ugly joints. This would, of course, not apply to nail-head trim that has been specially designed to make the upholstered piece more appealing. 

For a DIY upholstery job, the challenge can sometimes be how you hide your upholstery edges or flaws from sight. Folding the edges of the upholstery fabric or neatly joining seams that are under pressure when the fabric is stapled or nailed onto the frame is challenging. Thankfully, with a few yards of gimp, your upholstery flaws are hidden from view. 

How to Attach Gimp Trim to Your Upholstery Project

When you are still learning about the finer tricks of the upholstery trade, you will soon make gimp trimmings your friend. It’s not all that difficult to attach gimp trimmings to your upholstery projects. 

Step One: Gather Supplies

You will need the following supplies to attach gimp to your upholstery project:

  • Enough gimp trim to cover the area you need to hide with the gimp trim
  • Sharp scissors or sewing shears
  • Sewing pins 
  • Painter’s tape 
  • A glue gun and glue sticks 
  • Upholstery tacks
  • A hammer 

Step Two: Plan Your Design

When you are attaching gimp trim to your upholstery project, examine the placement for the gimp carefully. Notice any sudden edges where the gimp meets the fabric or wooden frame of the chair or sofa. 

Using the sewing pins, pin the gimp into place. It’s a good idea to start your gimp trim in an unobtrusive area such as the back of the chair or underneath the sofa. Pin the gimp in place by just pushing the sewing pins through the gimp and into the padding of the upholstery. 

If you are using gimp to cover a line where you tacked upholstery edges with tacks or nails, be sure you are using a broad enough gimp to effectively cover this edge. 

Step Three: Shape the Gimp

Gimp is often manufactured with a fine wire frame. This helps you shape the gimp to fold into corners, around chair legs, or under frames. Shape the gimp into the tight corners or around the bends of the upholstery project. Use pins where possible to attach the gimp. 

Step away from your project every so often to evaluate the balance and finish of the project. When you are entirely happy, it is time to start gluing. 

Step Four: Glue the Gimp

Starting at the beginning of the gimp trim, remove the first three sewing pins. Use the glue gun to deposit a reasonable amount of glue onto the edge or seam you will be hiding. Press the gimp trim back into place on the glue. 

Don’t use too much glue as this can cause the glue to press past the edges of the gimp. Be sure to use caution when pressing the gimp into the heated glue. Glue guns are handy, but the super heated glue can create ugly burns. 

When you are happy the gimp is completely attached in this small section, move onto the next section. Again, remove a few pins, then glue, and press the gimp back into the glue.

Continue the process of removing a few pins, gluing, and then pressing the gimp back into place. Take your time and try to glue a small section into place before you glue the next section. 

Step Five: Take Care on the Corners

The corners, bends, and odd shapes where the gimp needs to be attached can be a challenge. Luckily, you have already shaped the gimp correctly. Now it’s only a matter of placing the glue, pressing the gimp in place, and holding it for a few seconds. 

For corners where there may be a lot of traffic such as the fronts of chair legs or on the arms of sofas, it may be a better idea to secure the gimp with glue and with an additional upholstery tack. Using a small piece of tack, you can avoid it looking ugly. 

Step Six: Finish off the Gimp

When you have attached all of the areas where the gimp should fit, you can move on to the last section of gimp. When you reach a hand’s width distance before the end of the gimp, you can remove the last pins. Shape the gimp, folding the edge back where it overlaps with the start of the gimp. 

You can also use an upholstery tack to secure the beginning and end of the gimp trim. Now step back and admire. Check the entire length of the gimp, making sure that all the sections are properly attached. 

Trim That can Be Used as Gimp

Knowing what trim you can consider using as a gimp is a treat. There are many different trims for use as upholstery. Consider the practical nature of some of these gimps. A corded trim makes an excellent gimp 

If you want a little more finesse, consider these trim types:

  • Corded Tape—with cord, you have a very structured look. Be sure to only select a plain cord with no tape when choosing this option. 
  • Pom Pom Cord—for a fun choice, opt for the pom pom braid type. The pom poms add some extra length to the final look. 
  • Tassels and Fringes—most tassels and fringes are attached to a tape or braid that is then glued to cover an unsightly edge. This is why trim or gimp is often called edging when applied to upholstery. 

Final Word on Gimp

Gimp may be one of the best inventions when it comes to finishing upholstery. Adding high quality trim can really add a professional finish to your DIY upholstery project.

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