Behind The Scenes at Black Sheep: All About Tufting

In this series, learn how our mattresses are made - with a focus on a different process each time. Today, it's tufting!

How do the layers in our mattresses stay in place? For our spring core mattresses, tufting is the key - a traditional method for securing bedding materials.

Tufting creates the indentations characteristic of some mattresses and upholstered furniture.  

What is it?

The term tufting refers to a sewing technique in which loops of string or yarn are pulled through layers of one or more materials to secure them together.

In mattress-making, this is done with a very long, sturdy needle that guides a heavy thread through the thick layers of mattress materials - including the springs! - and is then tied down tightly. The ties create depressions in the mattress surface, giving the characteristic “tufted” look. They are sometimes embellished with items such as buttons - also seen in upholstered furniture like cushions and headboards.

A tufting needle for mattresses is much longer and sturdier than a typical sewing needle! 

Just how "traditional" is it?

Tufting has appeared in various cultures for centuries, though its use in mattress-making didn’t catch on until the mid 18th century. By the end of the 19th century, tufting, like so many processes, had become industrialized, with the invention of the first tufting machine.

While most tufted mattresses available today are machine-tufted using modern machinery, hand-tufting remains the gold standard after all these years - it’s just that good! Hand-tufting requires an attention to detail you just don’t get with machines. This is especially important for natural materials like wool, which vary with the seasons. It means that each mattress is slightly unique - so each requires slightly unique tufting!

Tying the thread tightly to keep it secured.

Tying the thread tightly to keep that tufting in place.


Why tufting?

Tufting keeps the layered materials of the mattress in place. It prevents things from moving or shifting during the night, as well as when the mattress is moved or flipped. By ensuring the even distribution and anchoring of the materials, tufting also extends the life of the mattress. Finally, many people find the indentations caused by tufting provide increased comfort, and can even relieve pressure points.



Why not tufting?

We love tufting for our spring-based mattresses, since the various weights and characteristics of the materials require something to keep them in place and consistent. However, we choose to skip tufting with our Oxford (all natural latex) mattresses for good reasons too!

For example, the heavy nature and extremely uniform density of natural latex means that it isn’t prone to shifting or changing shape with movement. Each latex layer is also wrapped in an organic cotton muslin casing, which increases friction and further prevents any minor shift that might occur. There are other considerations with the all-latex mattress we could talk about too - but that’s a blog for another day!

The Oxford cover is quilted rather than tufted... more on that another time!  


  • Brenda Davis

    Such good information, Chris. Thanks for keeping us on your network.

  • Susan MacDonald

    I really enjoyed reading your blog on Tufting.
    Very informative.

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