GOOD QUESTION! Is it related to a tuft of grass? You're not wrong. Tuft (according to the dictionary) refers to a number of short pieces of something, such as grass, hair etc. that grow closely together or held together at the base. Tufting hence is a type of textile weaving in which thread/yarn is inserted into its primary base.
We'll take you on a journey to revisit this traditional craft form now coupled with modern technology to make the process faster with something we call a 'Tufting Gun'.
And.. for now the terms you need to know are..
Bottom(s)-Up (Gun Direction)
All sounds like Greek to you? No worries, let's learn!
Tufting begins with the main star of the show → the Tufting Gun! It's a handheld machine which shoots out tufts of yarn threads into a primary fabric that creates the fluffy rug effect.
All you have to learn is how to position and angle the gun to apply consistent pressure onto the taut fabric in order to create a firm hold. Make sure the foot of the gun is always pressed perpendicular against the primary fabric at any time while you are tufting. If too little pressure, the fabric will tend to jump and flap against the gun and the yarn will dance off the cloth. Always try to maintain at 90 degrees too or else it might rip the cloth out.
Gun Direction/Row Distance: These are also intricately important. Remember the 'Cheers! approach'; we always go Bottoms-up with the gun and always in One Direction (no, not the boyband!) for a uniformed look and texture.
Depending on your preference, you can choose to leave a gap between 2 tufted lines or keep them closely knit together for a more firm finish. Leaving a gap will create a softer, fluffier feel of the yarn on the flipside of the fabric, though if tufted too far apart will end up making them feel too sparse and weakly held.
Pile Types - There are 2 types of pile when differentiating the tufting guns - Cut Pile and Loop pile.
A Cut pile tufting gun has a scissor embedded inside the needle of the gun. The small scissor will push forward and automatically cuts the yarn when it is being pushed though the tufting cloth creating short tufts of yarn.
Here at Cutloop Studio, we mainly use a Cut Pile tufting gun as it's beginner-friendly and allows easy handling of the yarn. Fret not, no prior experience is necessary.
The Loop pile gun is often referred to as low pile height. The loop pile machine will create loops instead of open frayed yarn that the cut pile offers. For a loop pile, you'll notice it's an ongoing weave look as the yarn is not being cut by the gun. Instead, when you wish to start a new line, you'll need to manually cut the yarn with thread cutters before starting. Otherwise it might get tangled and messy or even pull off the entire line of yarn from the fabric.
Yarns, it is the realm of endless possibilities. There are MANY different types of yarns/yarn weight/colours. Yarn types differ from Acrylic, Cotton, Blended, Wool, and the list goes on. The colors are also determined by the company who manufactures them and the dye colour code or batch number can differ from one to the other. Skeins are often referred to as a unit of yarn.
What about the cloth that's stretched on the frame? This is the Primary fabric. Think of it as the tufting gun is the brush, the yarn is your paint, and the primary fabric is the canvas. There are many types that can be used e.g. jute, primary tufting cloth, monk's cloth, etc. At our studio, we use Monk's Cloth for its durability and suited for our yarn choice.
And finally! Now that all the hard yards have been put in and your masterpiece is almost ready, the final icing of the cake is the backing fabric is as important as the tufting (if not more!). Hence, for the backing, you may choose to put on a non-slip backing especially if you choose to display these rugs on the floor, you won't slip on it like a banana peel! Once the rug is ready, the backing fabric is trimmed to the size and shape of the rug piece and glued onto the back using carpet glue to securely fasten the tufts so they do not drop off like feathers as you use it.
Now, ARE YOU RARING TO GO?