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Brief History Of Upholstery
Tools And Workshop Requirements
Types And Styles Of Frames
Springs And Spring Units
Measuring, Cutting, And Preparing Covers
Basic Principles Of
Types Of Stitched Edges And Fronts
Making An Easy Chair With Cushion Seat
Second Stuffing-Calico Covers
Cable Springing And Latex Cushions
Occasional Chair-Cable Sprung
A Bedroom Chair
Modern Tensile-Sprung Easy-Chair
Adaptable Settee Unit
( Originally Published 1961 )
One of the most popular types of easy-chair amongst men has always been the long, deep-sprung easy-chair. Sometimes this had side pieces added which are known as `wings'. A chair that one could relax in, sprawl in and generally find comfort and ease. They can be seen in abundance in almost every club room and indeed came to be known and described as `club' chairs. These chairs were always a fully upholstered piece of furniture that entailed many hours working time, considerable stuffing amounts and a good yardage of covering material. Made with a `platform' type of seat and finished off with a feather cushion, they were in great demand. The chairs that did find their way into the clubs were invariably finished in cowhide covering and sometimes in goodquality leathercloth with the feather cushion in the same material or in a good-grade velour of matching colour.
However, the average housewife didn't take to it at all, and at best only looked with favour upon it because of her husband. The reason of course was obvious; it was too big and clumsy and took up far too much room. It certainly was heavy to move around when cleaning the room. The tastes of the housewife and her needs probably influence the furniture manufacturers as much as any other industry and there seems little doubt that the ladies approve very much the modern line that is so much admired in upholstery today. Easy to move because of its lightness in construction, it also presents the minimum of work and expense when covers need replacing, also a reduced yardage in the case of loose covers. All these improvements are achieved without any loss of comfort whatsoever, and the lifetime of the suite or chair is about the same.
Most of these improvements are brought about by smaller frame dimensions, mainly in height, and the adoption of modern hygienic stuffings like rubberized hair, foam rubber and the like. The foundations too have taken advantage of newer and more up-to-date methods of springing. In place of the coil spring there is now either cable springing or tensile webbing and of course the spring unit of all types.
The following chair incorporates one or other of these materials and methods and is an example of the general trend of easy chairs particularly in respect of the qualities of the `club' chair.
A simple hardwood frame to one's own dimensions, is wanted, and a set of modern legs either in wood or metal can be fixed very easily. These legs usually include some form of ball-bearing castor or metal `glide plate' for easy movement. These modern castors also protect the carpeting.
The seat and back will be sprung with tensile webbing. The back webbing is put on first and tacked, or rather nailed with fine but fairly large-headed nails, directly on to the frame, on the inside. With this rubber webbing a hem of course is not necessary but it is better to nail through some kind of tough material before the web. In this case, as it will not be seen, strips of ordinary webbing about 1 in. wide could be placed over the rubber webbing where the nails have to pierce. Some four or five webs each way, interlaced, will do the back. The sides or inside arms are next webbed, but with orthodox webbing. Four pieces of webbing are stretched vertically on the inside of the rails, placing the last web about 2 in. from the back rail. This will form the opening or `gap' through which the cover and flys will go. Cover now with a piece of spring canvas, tacking on the inside rails and again leaving the opening at the last web free. Two straight cuts here and the surplus canvas is taken through the gap and tucked behind the web temporarily. The edges of the long arm should now be rasped both inside and outside. On the inside arm a shallow layer of rubberized hair or foam rubber is tacked just reaching to the level of the arm-rest. On top of the arm-rest an inch-thick layer of rubber is laid extending from the back to the bottom of the facing. This can be kept in position by bands of adhesive tape or again tacking to the framework. Cover the inside arm and arm-rest with calico, tacking to the inside bottom rail and on the outside of the arm-rest rail. Both arms should be brought to this stage before returning to the back. The back is designed to have a preformed foam-rubber stuffing. This will be shaped as the back frame but with the front area slightly bigger overall, which will mean the outside line is slightly proud of the back rail dimensions. The thickness of this preformed rubber back can be from 2 to 3 in. and is enclosed in a calico casing to which a tape has been sewn into the seams. This tape, which is on the smaller panel of the casing, is used to attach the foam rubber to the frame by tacking it on to the outside of the back rails all round.
The seat edge is a little wider than on the majority of chairs as far as the frame goes, and this is also covered with a layer of foam rubber with a piece of calico put over, thus forming a `platform' edge to match the subsequent foam cushion.
The cutting and preparing of the cover material is now done. The inside back is cut to the shape of the front panel of foam rubber, and piped on to it is a border extending from one arm-rest, around the top, to the next arm-rest. The piping of this back panel, however, starts from the corner of the seat, curves around the shape of the armrest, around the top border to continue and end at the opposite corner of the seat. Where the piping commences to curve around the arms a `fly' consisting of half material,half canvas is sewn. This pulls out of sight into the tuckaway adjoining arm and back, and goes through the `gap' to be tacked against the face of the main back rail. The inside arms, the long arm-rests and facings, and the outside arms are made in one, jacket style. The inside arm panel is cut to go from the top arm rail to the tacking rail only, where it is turned and tacked either on the inside face of the rail or out of sight underneath. The cushion panels are cut along with the borders and also a piece for the front border, which should match in line with the cushion, which in turn has been matched with the back panel. To keep a desired softness to the arm line, it will be better to make up the arm jackets without piping them but just stitching the seams twice for added strength. Before machining these pieces it is necessary to position them on the arm and to notch them here and there so that they can be matched in place on the machine.
The piece of cover for the front edge and border is now put on. This can be back-tacked along the edge of the front rail, covering the nailed ends of the rubber webbings of the seat. Bring over the cover and tack under the front rail. The sides on top of the edge are turned under but those on the face are allowed to extend on to the facing and are tacked. The prepared inside back can now be put on over a layer of wadding. This is set in position with one or two tacks holding it until the right position is attained. The first consideration is to see that the piped edging lies over the line of the foam-rubber unit. When this is accomplished, tack the base of the cover to the bottom rail, either underneath or on the face of the tacking rail. Next take the flys through the gap and tack off against the face of the main back rail, making sure there are no rucks, and if necessary stuffing out with wadding any hollow spots around the curved piping. The top border will require building up with a layer or two of wadding before pulling taut and tacking off. Now the outside arm can have a piece of canvas tacked over the area between the top rail and the tacking rail. This will act as a strengthening lining for the outside arm cover. Cover with wadding the whole area and pull on the jacketed cover. Set in position with the seams along the arm line and stretch from the back of the arm to the base of the facing or top arm. When satisfied with the fitting, turn in the edge of the inside panel and tack along the face of the tacking rail. This rail is almost on the same level as the front rail so the finished edge of this panel will rest and meet the turnedin side edge of the front border. At this point also you will have to turn in the raw edge of the top arm and temporary-tack it for the last few inches to the bottom rail. Later it is slip-stitched. Next go to the back, make two straight cuts, take the cover through the gap and tack off on top of the back fly. Finish the adjusting of the rest of the cover by tacking off under the side rail and on the outside of the back rail. The outside back cover is temporarily tacked on and later slip-stitched, whilst the cushion has its cover pulled on and the mouth sewn up. Remember to plug out the corners of the cushion if necessary with cotton wool to maintain the sharp clean lines of the chair. The bottom will need no black hessian, for the rubber webbings like the back webs are tacked on top of their respective rails.
It is much neater to turn in the edges of the material that has been taken under the base rail to be tacked. This is a chair well within the range even of the amateur and one that will give pleasure and a great amount of comfortable relaxation.
There are many Places where foam rubber can be bought at reasonable prices, especially off-cuts, end ofrange shapes, etc. If the cost of ordering specially shaped
pieces seems too much one can, with a little patience (and the upholsterer has a lot of this), a 3 in. roll of adhesive tape and liquid latex rubber, make up almost any shape required.