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Brief History Of Upholstery
Tools And Workshop Requirements
Types And Styles Of Frames
Springs And Spring Units
Stuffing Materials
Cover Materials
Measuring, Cutting, And Preparing Covers
Basic Principles Of
Types Of Stitched Edges And Fronts
Making An Easy Chair With Cushion Seat
The Arm
The Back
The Seat
Second Stuffing-Calico Covers
Pin-Cushion Seat-Stools
Dining-Chairs-Loose Seats
Cable Springing And Latex Cushions
Occasional Chair-Cable Sprung
A Bedroom Chair
Modern Tensile-Sprung Easy-Chair
Adaptable Settee Unit
Upholstery Repairs
Upholstery Terminology

Upholstery - Types Of Stiched Edges And Fronts

( Originally Published 1961 )

The outside edges of upholstered furniture are usually made into a roll to give firmness and a smooth edge. The edge of a seat is normally called the `front'. Edges are labelled `stitched edge' and `thumbroll' and in America the terms are `stuffed roll' and `cordroll'. When edges are required on the less expensive furniture the thumbroll is made, as it is one of the simplest forms of making a roll to soften the frame edges. A piece of spring canvas is cut off, the length of the required roll and about 4 in. wide. This is tacked on to the frame edge which has been prepared by rasping the sharpness away and leaving a narrow-angled edge, into which the tacks are driven. The tacks, fiveeighths fine, pierce a double thickness of canvas, for this too has a hem, and are spaced closely about 4 in. apart. The stuffing is then laid along the edge in an even thickness and the canvas rolled tightly over it and at the same time kept right on the edge of the frame. When it is rolled to the required thickness tack through the canvas on the inside and straight down into the rail again, keeping as close to the edge as possible without splintering the wood. Here again close tacking is needed. Start from the centre and proceed along each side in sections of about 4 in. at a time. If a tack is driven in about this distance whilst the canvas is being pulled by hand the intervening space can be filled without giving the roll a corrugated appearance caused by individual tack-draws (the strain where the tack is driven home). One soon gets the feel of how much stuffing to roll into the canvas. Remember the aim is to get a smooth firm edge without a bumpy finish which of course would show through the cover.

Black or ginger fibres make a good roll and also wool or the cheaper flock or wood-wool which makes for a nice hard edge. This might be desirable when doing leathercloth covering jobs.

The thumbroll is used mainly when the furniture calls only for a shallow stuffing and of course actually saves the task of doing a first stuffing. The height of the frame edge is invariably built up to compensate for the higher stitched edge that comes with a first stuffing.

The `stitched edge' is achieved by regulating and stitching three or four rows of twine along the edge of the first stuffing. After the first hessian or scrim has been put over the fibre, or whatever stuffing is used, the `front' or edge is built up to a level of the top of the springing. This of course applies to jobs without spring edges such as dining-chairs, etc., and any hard-edge seating. In the case of spring edges the first-stuffing scrim is brought over the cane edge and sewn on before a roll is stitched into it.

Using the `Regulator' tool, the fibre is brought to the front evenly and the edge-to-be formed with the hand as you move along. With the four fingers on top of the hessian and the thumb slightly underneath forming the shape, it is surprising how sensitive and what an excellent guide the hand can be.

The stitching, which is done with an upholsterer's needle and fine twine, consists of two forms. The first is known as a `blind stitch' and the other as a `top stitch'. The former holds in position the stuffing brought forward by regulating. This is done by inserting the needle near the base of the stuffed edge, and pushing it well into the seat until it comes out on the top. The grip is changed to grasp the needle on top and to continue withdrawing it until the eye of the needle almost appears. It is then returned to the point about an inch farther along from the point of insertion, taken completely out and a slip knot tied and pulled tightly. Moving from left to right the needle is again inserted about an inch along and the procedure repeated but this time bringing the needle point out half-way between insertion point and last knot. As the point emerges loop the twine around the needle once and withdraw it. This forms a knot that is pulled tightly, again using the left hand to help form the shape. This is repeated until the whole length of the edge is completed. There will now be a row of stitching along the base of the stuffing but none showing on top, hence the term `blind stitch'.

The regulator is once more brought into use, fetching the stuffing again forward ready to take the `top stitch'. This is started at the same place and again with a slip knot but this time the needle is completely withdrawn when it emerges from the top of the seat and then inserted about 8 in. back to come out about the same distance from the original entry point. Again moving from left to right the same process continues as with the blind stitch. Two differences are that the twine is shown on top and forms the `roll' and a double hitch is made around the needle when forming the knot. This helps to keep the knot tighter. The insertion of the needle at the right point each time is important, for like the thumbroll the finished task must be even and without lumps. After the first stitch or two one is able to visualize the line the roll will take after pulling tight the knot. However, it will now be apparent what help can be gained in tacking the hessian along a thread line whenever possible. For instance along the front and back of the dining-chair. Of course some dining-chairs may require more than one `blind' and one top stitch. An example could be a chair to be covered in hide. Now this will require a very firm edge mainly to withstand the pressure put upon it when covering it, and in this case two of each type of stitch is not unusual.

The same principle can be applied to an easy-chair without a spring edge. In fact the higher the finished edge the more stitches required to give it the necessary support. The sprung-edge furniture requires only a blind stitch and a fairly wide top stitch to give it a much more rounded roll.

The stitched edge can also be applied in a more economical way and is used extensively in American upholstery. Instead of a complete first stuffing all over the springs a border of burlap about 12 in. wide is sewn on to the canvas with a curved needle and twine, and then the edge built up in the same way. The burlap is sewn about 4 or 5 in. in from the edge. With jobs like bar seating already mentioned, it is tacked on to the wooden base, the edge stitched and a second stuffing bridled in ready for the cover, which is nearly always a good-quality leathercloth.

This is also an excellent method when a shallow seat is called for with a good edge. A very crude way of attaining a rounded edge is by nailing a piece of quarter-round wooden beading along the frame edge. Loose seats because of their shallowness of stuffing merely have the edges of the frame rasped `round' the wadding covering giving it the softness required for the cover to go against.

The fibre group of stuffings give the firmest type of edges and are less costly than horse-hair which of course has all the qualities required for upholstery stuffing.

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