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, to stop them moving around and deforming the shape of the upholstery. Today, deep buttoning is used to create an aesthetic; the deeper a button can be pulled, the more luxurious the look. Deep Buttoning is a traditional technique, where buttons are deeply compressed onto a filled upholstery base at regular intervals, held in place by 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.
Each individual tufted ‘diamond’ is upholstered by hand, using a special 40cm upholstery needle. Each button is hand made using the same fabric or leather, and a button, attached to a cord, is pulled tightly through the upholstery and secured with a slip knot to keep the button to the back of the jute web. Our buttoned Chesterfield sofa has approximately 200 buttons, each of which should be so tightly secured that you cannot get your finger underneath.
The George Smith Button Makers
The bespoke banquettes for the Wild Honey Restaurant in the St James Hotel in Mayfair required 2,400 buttons, which took our team of button-makers two days to make. The fabric is cut to size and inserted into a press to create the button.
The 'Van Dyke' Method
When a piece of fabric is not wide enough, or needs to be seamlessly sewn together, we use the Van Dyke method for buttoned pieces. The Van Dyke method is a seamless way to deep button a piece whose fabric width is longer than the roll, or where the fabric meets on a round piece. The Soho Baby Buttoned Drum is a perfect example of this, as it is round and will be seen from all sides (unlike a banquette that runs along a wall). The seam needs to be hidden within a pleat using the Van Dyke method.
The Soho Baby Buttoned Drum is a stool, seat or perch, currently scattered all over the world. Its circular form is exquisitely buttoned using the deeply quilted Van Dyke method on the sides of the drum. This sculptural piece sits on a plinth base.
The Making Of The Soho Baby Buttoned Drum
Top Tips When Choosing a Deep Buttoned Piece Of Furniture
A deep buttoned piece of fabric will use more fabric than an unbuttoned piece. We recommend to generally assume a piece will require 1 more metre of fabric.
We do not make buttoned pieces for outdoor due to water pooling in the button dips.
Be careful with patterned fabrics. At George Smith we pride ourselves in our pattern matching skills, however some just won’t play ball with the pleats on a deep buttoned piece!
A buttoned piece brings a firmness to the piece and added level of support.
Try mixing it up with a contrast button or contrast fabric!
The Bar | Bespoke Chesterfield Banquette, Chesterfield Sofa, Brewster Chairs, Soho Baby Buttoned Drum | Image: Nick Hopper
Inside Le Grand Bellevue
Step inside this palace hotel in Gstaad, where exquisite style and eclectic design combine with a lively atmosphere that is vibrant and youthful, embracing all generations.
Behind a stunning neoclassical façade in the heart of London lies an exceptional 5-star hotel. In a prime location on Waterloo Place, surrounded by historic buildings, Sofitel St James is within easy reach of many of London’s main attractions.
At George Smith we build our furniture entirely in-house, at our factory in Northumberland, using 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 craftsmanship. From frame to finish each piece is meticulously handmade to meet the requirements of our clients. This expert craftsmanship creates a look and feel special to George Smith, and delivers the unrivalled refinement, precision and luxurious comfort for which our furniture is renowned.
George Smith Catalogue
Discover our full offering of catalogue furniture and add an element of luxury to your home.