August 2013

Quilting methods: need to know

This post follows on from mattress detailing to show that for all the thousands of mattresses out there, there can only logically be so many that can be deemed to be significantly different. The main difference between all these mattresses can only be the fabric and finish!

quilting john ryan

Quilting is by far the most prolific method of finish as it offers the manufacturer and retailer the opportunity to provide more of a ‘difference’ between mattresses even though the insides will be identical.  Once you steer away from looking at a design and how the mattress physically looks – and be in no doubt they can be made to look very appealing indeed – and concentrate your efforts on what is actually inside, you will be far less inclined to make a mistake.

What is quilting?

This applies to the outer surface of the fabric.  Fabrics obtained by the manufacturer from various sources can come in either pre-quilted or plain.  Many manufacturers like to buy in their fabrics ‘plain’ which gives them the opportunity to produce short runs of various designs.  The quilting machines they use can be altered at a flick of a switch to produce completely different designs within minutes.

There are just three methods of mattress quilting

1. Deep quilted:
2. Light quilted or micro quilted:
3. Tack and jump:

Deep quilted: This process involves making quite a deep surface layer by stitching the fabric to polyester sheeting and other wadding to create a surface that looks deep and sumptuous.  This is the process that will more often than not be used on a mattress to be ‘perceived’ by you as mid-range.  This will be laid on to further elements of upholstery (usually polyester) to give a further element of substance.

Deep Quilted

Light quilted or micro quilted: This process is used for budget or economy models.  The outer fabric is quilted to a minimal layer of polyester or at the very worst a recycled material ‘Polypad’.  To add an element of comfort there may be a minimal layer of polyester between this ‘top’ and the springs, but the actual weight of polyester used will be in the region of 600 gsm or 800 gsm.

The actual quilting pattern on these models is the giveaway to the value – as it will usually be basic diamond shaped or heart shaped – using the least amount of thread to speed up the quilting process.

Light Quilted

Tack and jump: This is another process to add visual value to a not so good product.  Whereas in Deep Quilting you can follow the pattern continuously, this method gives separation to the design.  The machine will stitch a section (tack) and raise (jump) to start another section.  Descriptions that describe a mattress with ‘concealed tufting’ will also be utilising this method.

Tack and Jump

Like Deep Quilting, this is a technique to give you the impression of a well-made mattress.  When viewed in the store it is more likely you are going to be basing your selection on how a mattress looks rather than how it is going to perform.

Incidentally, the ‘branded mattress’ on the opening video above shows a mattress that utilises this method.  You will see that when the layers are peeled back the whole top section is in one piece held together by the tacks.  The ‘benefit‘ of this type of finish is that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of design combinations which is why it is a popular method of construction by nearly all major mattress manufacturers.  It enables them to be able to sell ‘exclusive’ models to a variety of retailers.  The difference is only in the fabric and the design of the tack and jump.  The insides will, usually, be the same!

Here’s one of our original videos which help put the quilting into context by looking inside a mattress.


The finish and look of the mattress are a retailer’s best friend, knowing that it is this look that will sway you towards a particular model without giving too much thought as to what is actually on the inside!

If you keep in mind that all quilted mattresses can be deemed to be a cheap method of manufacturing you will not go far wrong. This is not to say that all tufted models are ‘better’. They too can be just bags of springs, or all fur coat no knickers, as my gran would say!  The message here is to be aware of what you are looking at and not be taken in by the look.  Be careful out there and if in doubt give our friendly team a call on 0161 437 4419 for more advice.