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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 - Pin Cushion Seats And Stools

( Originally Published 1961 )

Many chairs, like bedroom chairs, occasional and office chairs, are lightly upholstered on the seat and always have a surround of wood. They are usually referred to as showwood chairs, and the upholstery as pin-cushion seats. Sometimes one sees the backs also upholstered in a similar manner. Wherever this kind of seat or back is adopted, the main frame is slightly rebated in depth so that the completed upholstery comes level with the surrounding polished frame. The width of the actual tacking space on the rail is limited and one must be very careful when tacking, using the right-size tacks, which must be spaced evenly and as far away from the inside edge as possible without making a bulky rim against the rebated edge of the frame.

It is the simplest of upholstered seating, being just a stuffing over the foundation and a cover put on. No rolls are made and no stitching. As all the tackiny is done on top of the chair frame it is necessary to first put on the black hessian bottom. This is tacked or with three-eighths tacks which are used for everything except the webbing where a half-inch-long tack is used. Two or three webs are stretched and interlaced each way. Extreme care must be taken when straining the webbing to ensure that the frame is not buckled or weakened in any way. Anchorage with four 2-in. tacks is sufficient, with three at the opposite end; one tack being all that is needed to keep the hem down. These tacks should be in the middle of the tacking space, which will leave room for the cover tacks against the rebate. A piece of spring canvas is then put over the webs and a couple of rows of bridle loops stitched on the canvas top. Place the stuffing in position making a comparative shallow padding and `tease' it out evenly. A double layer of wadding is then put over andthe cover tacked on turning in the edges. (In the case of a leather cover no turning-in is required.) The cover is put on `hand tight' but not so tight as to show the `tack draws', i.e. where the strain of the tack makes a slight depression on the face of the cover. Temporary-tack the cover to check for pattern, straightness, etc., before finishing off. Soft covers are finished off with a gimp or braid which hides the tacked edge and also finishes off the job. Leather seats have a similar banding which is fixed with round-headed nails, of which there are various finishes. The gimp or braid can be put on with gimp pins or alternatively glued on. This is the type of upholstery that calls for the use of the `cabriole' hammer with the small driving head. With the ordinary upholsterer's hammer the woodwork is almost certain to be bruised and damaged.


It is a fairly simple job to make an attractive dressingtable stool. Obviously the chosen style and dimensions would have to blend with the dressing-table, but whatever style is decided upon, the upholstering of it is very much the same. If you decide to make the frame then use a hardwood. Stools are rarely sprung, so consequently the webbing is done on top of the frame in the normal way and covered with a piece of spring, canvas. The edges of the rails should be rasped to take the sharpness off and leave a facet which tacks can be driven into. As the seat frame will be about 2 in. or 3 in. high a thumbroll is all that is necessary to form the edge. When cutting the canvas to cover the webbing, allow an extra 6 in. in length and width and let 3 in. overlap all round the frame. The canvas can be tacked on to the rasped edge closely and the extra 3 in. is used to fold over and make the thumbroll. This is done in the manner described in chapter 11. A roll of about 4 in. in diameter is thick enough, made as smooth as possible. Insert two rows of `bridles' and fill in with stuffing. In this case fibre is suitable with a thin layer of hair on top. Cover with a piece of linters felt and tack a covering of calico over, making sure that the edge roll is clear of any pieces of stuffing. A layer of wadding precedes the cover which is tacked underneath, and then a gimp or fringe around the stool gives it a finish. A piece of black burlap underneath is optional.

The long footstool

Here is a piece of furniture that is years old in origin but still one of the most popular small pieces in the drawing-room. Its use, however, seems to have changed. Instead of a footrest one is more likely to see it covered with the current smart magazines laid out neatly, one overlapping the other. Nevertheless they are attractive pieces in the furnishing of the sitting-room. The length of these stools varies between 3 ft. 6 in. and 4 ft. Some of the older types can be seen with loose seats covered in grospoint material. This is very suitable covering and in keeping with the period. Another popular cover is a handworked tapestry. The frame can be made out of almost any kind of timber, a simple rectangular frame with four legs screwed on through the top of the frame. An alternative, and very popular, is six short cabriole legs that help to relieve the severe long lines of the frame. Glue and cramp the frame together and cover the top with a piece of ply or laminated wood. Rasp the edges and tack a 3-in. strip of canvas all round. Lay along the edge some flock or wool and make an ordinary thumbroll about an inch in diameter. Tack two rows of twine bridles along the wooden top and work in the stuffing. Black wool or even rag flock is suitable for a job such as this. Stuff rather firmly and cover with a piece of calico ready for the final cover. If a tapestry or a gros-point cover is used it is better to sew on a linen border around the top panel. This focuses the cover design and also gives height to the stool. A black burlap bottom completes the job that will give great pleasure to the skilled upholsterer or the amateur.

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