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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 Cover Materials

( Originally Published 1961 )

In choosing the type and quality of material to cover upholstered furniture, previous thought should be given to the value of the furniture and the usage to which it will be subjected, also to the general decor of the room it is to occupy. In the hey-day of upholstery the drawing-room was furnished with the finest linens and silks and the living-room with more robust materials such as tapestries and moquettes; or as they are called in America, mohairs.

Such rooms as libraries and studies had hide coverings for their chairs and settees and the `club' chair was stamped by its size and hide covers. And indeed it still is a favourite in these days,

The drawing-room as such is almost extinct and its place taken by the combined dining-room and lounge. Smaller houses and shortage of staff have changed the layout of most family houses. The living-room is the centre of all family activity which in itself is probably a good thing.

With this in mind, the reader who has a family may well think that the only common-sense cover for his suite is real leather. However, owing to advanced methods of cleaning and maintaining materials, any hesitation or doubt is unwarranted.

Covers might be classified into three groups: hides, moroccos and leathercloth-pile materials-non-pile materials. The first group by their very nature are suitable only for certain kinds of jobs, such as already mentioned, club chairs, public house seating, transport furniture and so on. These can be covered in cowhide and sometimes pigskin or the manufactured leathercloth. Moroccos, however, are used more for finer pieces of furniture. Unfortunately they are out of fashion.

The area of a full cowhide skin is between 40 and 65 sq. ft. These are the largest skins and consequently give much less waste when cutting. They are very durable and modern methods of polishing and dyeing produce a beautifully soft hide. They are classified into two groups known as full-grained hides and buffed skins. The latter is the less costly of the two grades. It gets its name `buffed' from the process of rubbing or buffing the hide with carborundum stone. This is carried out to obviate blemishes in the skin.

Cowhide can be purchased by the `skin' or square foot. Morocco skins are the most durable and the finest of all skins used in the upholstery trade. They are the skins of goats and the best specimens come from the mountainous district of middle Europe. These animals carry very little fat content in their skins and this makes for very good wearing. From twenty-five years and upwards is a fair estimate of a morocco. They can be used with sheep skins which cover the outsides of a suite, i.e. the outside arms and outside back. Modern upholstery doesn't seem to find much use for them unfortunately.

The cutting of hides will be dealt with in a later chapter.

A product that has supplanted hide, or real leather, as the layman calls it, to a great extent is leathercloth. This is a fabric with a leather appearance and very often grained. It is bought off the roll like other materials in the soft-cover group. The best qualities of this material have a good finish and give first-class service. Hides and leathercloths require a very firm upholstery foundation. Pile materials include velours and velvets and moquettes, of which there is a variety. Velours, the most robust type of velvet material, always produces an elegantlooking job. Its disadvantage is `marking' with pile pressure. To minimize this, daily maintenance by a suction cleaner or soft brush is very helpful. Always finish this maintenance by brushing down the sweep of the pile. This can easily be detected by the palm of the hand and should always be sweeping towards the floor. The inside arms sweep into the seat.

Moquettes are manufactured in many designs and different finishes to the surface. The embossed moquette had great popularity in the thirties. The pile was cut away (or it appeared to be cut away) to leave a design in relief to the back of the cloth. Another popular covering and a very hard-wearing cloth was the uncut moquette.

Damasks and tapestries. What visions of luxury and good taste these names conjure up in the mind! These are the materials that stamp class on to many jobs. They are great favourites and of course they come in a long quality range. A good-quality damask with a self-colour design is probably the best choice to anyone aiming for good wearing qualities combined with elegance. Tapestries are not quite so durable but can be very attractive. A cheap quality is not to be recommended for furniture covering. Linens and cretonnes are used for certain pieces of furniture but they are mostly used in making loose covers, or slip covers as they are called in Canada and America.

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