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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

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

Making An Easy Chair - The Seat

( Originally Published 1961 )

Turn over the chair and rest the arms upon the trestles ready for webbing the seat. Space out on the front rail the number of webs required, probably five or six, and anchor at this front rail using five tacks over the folded webbing. Stretch to the back as tightly as possible without buckling the frame or taking too much out of the webbing. Take the initial strain and then pull the web through the strainer a little farther ready for the second bite at it. The side webbings are interlaced and stretched across, finishing off in the same manner, four tacks with a further two to keep the hem down. The chair is then turned up to stand on the trestles ready for springing the seat.

Nine 10-in. springs by 8-gauge will serve for the seat. Here again personal choice comes into it. Some craftsmen would prefer to use six 10 x 8 and three 9 x 8, the latter being used in the back row. It is rarely a good scheme however to mix the size of springs. Like even spacing in webbing it is the unity that gives strength. Four springs are usually sufficient for the edge springing and the height of these will be governed by the front rail. If, for example, they are going directly on to the front rail then you will need an edge spring about 2 in. smaller than the main seat springs which would bring them about level with the seat. However, if there is a subsidiary front rail as in the photograph then a much smaller spring is needed. Most frames do have an extra rail for the spring edge, particularly if it is to be a deep seat. Place the main seat springs just by standing them on the webbing, starting with the front row, the position of which is governed by the distance from the edge springs. So hold an edge spring on the rail where it will eventually be stapled, and place the front row of springs about one inch behind the top rung of the edge spring. The rest of the springs can be placed and the webs marked or one can deal with them as the spring sewing proceeds. Do remember, however, to keep the `wire knots' of the springs to the inside and so save the canvas from the danger of tearing. Sew in the springs in the same manner as described in the chapter on springing, i.e. every spring caught at three points and the twine hitched with a single knot until finished when it is tied off with a double knot. Then the lacing is carried out, starting from the back rail first and lacing towards the front rail. It is essential that the cord is tied well down the rungs of the front row, that is the last knot, and tacked on to the base rail and not, perhaps, on to the extra rail for the edge springs. The twine then does not interfere with the edge springs as they are depressed. The top rungs of the front row springs are pulled down with the end of the laid cord that was allowed before cutting. Complete the side lacings before starting on the spring edge.

The first job on the edge is to line the rail with a piece of felt or webbing to stop any noise as the rungs of the springs hit the woodwork. Staple the edge springs in position securely, for staples have a habit of springing out if they are on the short side, remembering again to keep the `wire knots' on the inside. This is to ensure that an even line is kept when attaching the cane around the top rungs. The springs are now laced to assume their fixed position as described previously, by lacing from the back and over the top after the front lengths of webbing have pulled them forward slightly. Next notch the piece of cane at the appropriate points and bend it by holding a flame under the notch, and attach this to the top rungs of the spring edge. Make a nice firm and neat job of this, keeping the cane in position and a constant height from the base rail. At this stage any discrepancies in lacing the edge springs will be shown up. For example, if one has been pulled down too far it will pull the level of the cane out of true.

With a tape, measure the amount of spring canvas needed to go from the back rail to the front rail, allowing at least six inches to go down between the main seat springs and the edge springs, to form a guttering. Also, of course, allow a little for hemming. Don't skimp this piece of canvas!

Fix on to the back rail with three or four temporary tacks and pull over the seat allowing it to hang over the front edge springs. A piece of cord is cut a little longer than the width of the seat. Anchor this with a tack just behind the facing and in line with the space between the main springs and the edge springs. Fetch the cord over the canvas to the other side rail, pull it tightly to form the gutter in the canvas and tack off, again on the base rail just behind the facing. Next throw back the piece of canvas lying over the front edge springs and, with a needle and twine and tacks, catch the cord forming the guttering and tack to front rail. In detail this is done by tacking a piece of twine at the left-hand side of the front rail, threading through a spring needle which passes through the underside of the canvas, catching the cord. The twine is then pulled to the front rail, missing the springs of course, and tacked. About three or four of these catches are required and they help to keep the guttering in position and form a firm separation between the main seat and edge springing. This then gives the independent spring edge. The spring canvas is now pulled taut and tacked off. You will find the scissors are required here to nick the corners where the rails meet in order to get any rucks or fullness out, although a pleat even might be necessary here and there. A pleated corner is necessary in front of the spring edge and this is slip-stitched with twine and generally a nice clean job made of this operation. When finished the canvas should be tight without having any effect on the lacing of the springs.

The sewing of the springs to the canvas is now carried out, including the edge springs and the cane edge, which is caught about every inch along its length. The inside top rungs of the edge springs are connected to the top rungs of the front row springs by twine, bridging the gutter, but no tension is applied.

The foundation of the seating is now complete-a foundation that will give comfort and stand up to almost any kind of treatment without breaking down. The twine bridles are now inserted in the same way as in the back and the stuffing commenced, the first job being to pack in the guttering. This is carried out firmly but without straining the ties between the springs. Here again an even stuffing is aimed at with the fibre overlapping the front edge and plenty in the inside corners of the seat. A piece of burlap is cut to cover from back to the front cane edge and placed in position. The centre of the seat has the necessary holding ties and the back and side rails are tacked to the base rail, having first packed up with more fibre any places with insufficient stuffing. This mainly applies to the corners. The edge is built up ready for stitching in the same way, lifting the hessian and packing under any extra fibre required, tucking under the scrim and then keeping in position with a skewer. When the edge is ready for stitching the burlap is sewn on to the canvas and under the cane by the blind stitch, this blind stitch doing two jobs at a time. The roll formed should be about 1 in. in diameter. The important job of regulating applies here in the same way.

The chair is now complete to the first stuffing construction, usually described as `scrim stuffing' stage. At this point if a three-piece suite were being made one would proceed with the other two pieces and bring them to the same state of readiness. This would be necessary in order to cut the covers as economically as possible. The next stage is to measure off the covers and to prepare them in readiness after the second stuffing has been applied.

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