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Victorian Armchairs

We buy and sell Victorian armchairs and Edwardian armchairs, Victorian sofas and Edwardian sofas, Victorian settees and Edwardian settees, Victorian couches and Edwardian couches, Victorian ottomans and Edwardian ottomans, and Victorian stools and Edwardian stools.

We offer a full re-upholstery service, with renovation and restoration of your own upholstery, all in our traditional workshop. John, our upholsterer, has over 35 years experience.

We have a large selection of unrestored armchairs and sofas in stock.

See below for our range of fine replica Victorian armchairs and sofas.


Very large and fine easy library armchair, by Howard and Sons

Height 0.870, Width 0.870, Depth 1.030

Price SOLD (VA4)


Fine easy library armchair, by Howard & Sons

Height 0.830, Width 0.670, Depth 0.970

Price SOLD (VA3)


Fine and large Edwardian wing library armchair, with Mahogany legs.

Height 1.180, Width 0.840, Depth 0.840

Price £1150.00 (VA2)


Fine and large Victorian easy chair, by Howard and Sons.

Height 0.810, width 0.820, Depth 1.020

Price £1450.00 (VA1)


The price for an original Victorian armchair, fully renovated and re-upholstered starts at £850.00 (includes VAT and excludes fabric 7m and delivery).

The price for an orginal Victorian sofa, fully renovated and re-upholstered starts at £1400.00 (includes VAR and excludes fabric 13m and delivery).

We can replicate any arm-chair or sofa you have, and can upholster in any of our extensive range of fabrics, or we can use your own choice of fabric. Please email for prices.



Each sofa and armchair are made to order, and the sizes listed can be adapted for clients specifications. We can adapt the height width and depth of any of our armchairs and sofas, and we are able to match any existing armchair or sofa you may wish to copy.

We can email larger images and further details upon request email.





Magnetic tacking hammer
This is the most basic of all upholstery tools. There are two main types.

1 A hammer with a plain 12 mm diameter head at one end, and an 8 mm diameter magnetized cabriole head at the other. The cabriole head is smaller and is used in places which are difficult to locate with the larger head. The un-magnetized head is also useful for nailing.

2 A hammer with a magnetized head at one end and a tack removing claw at the other end. Care should be taken not to damage the fabric when using this claw.
Tacks are still traditionally held in the mouth for convenience. The beginner may be put off by the danger of swallowing one, but this risk is minimized if only about six are held at one time and they are stored beneath the tongue, to be brought forward as required. Each tack can be withdrawn directly from the mouth on to the magnetized end of the hammer provided the tack is turned by the tongue so that the head faces outwards from the mouth. Accuracy in placing comes with practice.

Staple gun
This is used by manufacturers for speeding up production. It is not necessary for the home upholsterer. Guns are obtainable either air powered from a compressor, or they can be plugged in to the normal electricity mains.

A flexible 2 m metal tape is required for general upholstery work. One which is graduated in both metric and imperial units will be useful in helping the reader to convert from one system to the other. The reader should accustom himself to think directly in metric rather than convert continuously between the scales. A straight wooden rule is more convenient for cutting fabric on a flat table.
A pair of pincers is required for extracting nails and staples when stripping a frame.
A pair of shears is necessary to cut out fabric and for general upholstery work. Heavy duty shears for cutting fabric are usually 300 mm long but a pair 250 mm is suitable for both operations. It is worth investing in a pair with a good brand name.

Bench or trestles
A bench, or a pair of trestles, is required to support the work at a height suitable for easy working, usually about 700 from the ground. The bench size should be about 750 mm square, and the trestles about 750 mm by 200 mm. A padded roll is often tacked round the perimeter of the trestles to prevent damaging the work.

Mallet and ripping chisel
The ripping chisel is used for extracting tacks. Although there arc many types available, an ordinary screwdriver with a plastic or wooden flat-topped handle will serve the purpose adequately. A mallet should always be used with the chisel to prevent damaging the handle. Hold the blade on the edge of the tack head and hit the chisel handle with the mallet. A few blows may be required before the tack is lifted. The tack should be ripped out in the direction of the grain to avoid splitting the timber.

Staple extractor
Because of the ease with which staples can be put into a frame, there are usually more of them to extract than if tacks had been used. There arc many tools available for extracting staples. The one illustrated is one of the more successful types. It works by prizing the staple up with one of the end points. A final twist pulls the staple free.

Webbing stretcher
This is used for stretching webbing tightly on a scat or back. There are several types available. If the stretcher is needed infrequently, a plain block of wood can be used. The webbing is wound around the block which is then levered against the frame to strain the webbing. Other specially made stretchers have grooved edges which fit against the rail to prevent the stretcher from slipping. One type uses a metal lever to hold the webbing, while the bat type has a slot through which the webbing is held by means of a peg. Another type has a series of spikes at one end by which the webbing is held. The disadvantage of the latter is that webbing is wasted due to the damage caused by the spikes.

There are four basic types of needle required by the upholsterer.

1 Regulator. This is used to even stuffing. It should not be used over a fabric because holes may result. Skewers are safer for this purpose as they produce smaller holes, but care needs to be taken. The flattened end of the regulator can be used for moving stuffing beneath a fabric where a hand can not reach. The needles come in different lengths, but one 250 mm long should be adequate.

2 Skewers. These are not only used for regulating, but also for temporarily holding material in position before slip stitching. They are also used when making a spring edge for attaching the scrim to the edge wire prior to sewing.

3 Straight stitching needle. This is used for stitching edges, and for threading buttons through the upholstery. Both ends of the needle are pointed.
A bayonet needle is similar, but is triangular in section down one third of its length. The purpose of this needle is to cut through stuffing which a stitching needle cannot penetrate. It can be obtained in different lengths, but one stitching needle about 300 mm long is satisfactory for most purposes.

4 Circular needle. This is semi-circular and is used when the stitching needle is not practical, such as for sewing hessian around a spring unit. This needle is about 100 mm long, but smaller ones used for slip stitching are about 50 mm long.

A spring needle is bayonet pointed, and is used, as its name implies, for sewing hour glass springs to webbing. This, too, is used for sewing through stuffing which an ordinary circular needle cannot penetrate.

Button making machine
This machine converts a two-piece metal mould and a disc of fabric into a button. The top half of the mould forms the shape of the button and the lower half contains the fixing. This may be by a metal loop, a cloth tuft or a spike.
A peddle operated machine can be used more efficiently than a hand machine. The object of both types is to bring the moulds together, trapping the fabric between them. Automatic electric machines are being used increasingly in factories.
Buttons can be obtained in different sizes, ranging from small ones suitable for deep buttoning work, to the larger ones of which very few arc needed for each job.

Loose seat machine

This is used in mass production to simplify the upholstering of dining chair type loose seats. The machine consists essentially of a jig to hold the frame, and a rain to compress the stuffing.
The cover is placed upside down in the machine, followed by the stuffing, and then the base which, if necessary, has been previously covered with webbing and hessian. The ram, which usually works by compressed air, is brought down. This presses the frame on to the stuffing. All that is now required is to tack or staple the overhanging cover to the frame.

Cushion filling machine
This machine was common when spring interior cushions were used. Now the use of dacron in cushions has created again a demand for the machine. It can be worked manually by handles or it can be air or electrically powered. The cushion is placed in the machine and the lid is closed. The sides of the cushion are compressed by the machine and the cover is slipped over the mouth of the machine. A ram then forces the cushion forward into the cover. The filling of the cushion is completed by hand.

Electrical cutters
Special cutters can be obtained to cut anything from flexible foams to layers of fabrics. There are two main types of electrical cutter.

1 The straight knife which operates by the oscillation of a vertical blade, and can cut greater thicknesses than the round knife but is slightly slower.
2 The round knife which cuts by the rotation of a circular cutting wheel, is usually fitted with an automatic knife sharpener.


There arc two types of tack: 1 improved and 2 fine. Improved tacks are stouter, and are used where greater holding power is necessary, such as for tacking webbing and hessian. Fine tacks are used mainly on fabric.
Both types of tack can be obtained in a variety of sizes, from 6 mm which are used on thin plywood facings, to 15 mm which are used on webbing, and where many thicknesses of material are to be penetrated. Rail thickness should be taken into account when choosing tack sizes, because too large a tack may split a narrow rail.

Gimp pins
These are obtainable in different colours to match a fabric. They arc 12 mm long and are cut with a small head to be inconspicuous in use. They are used for fixing cover along the edge of a show wood frame, such as may be found at the top of a chair leg. They arc also used for fixing gimp in place.
1 No-sag nails These are used for fixing serpentine spring clips to the frame. They are 21 mm long and are serrated down their length to prevent them loosening in use.

2 Clout nails These are 25 mm long and are much thicker than no-sag nails. They are blue, have serrations down their length and are used mainly for fixing spring units to the frame.

These are made mainly from flax and hemp, but synthetic twines are gaining popularity for certain purposes where a greater strength is needed such as for fixing buttons.

1 Stitching twine was originally used for stitching roll edges but it can be used wherever a thin but strong twine is required such as for fixing buttons.

2 Spring twine is thicker and stronger than stitching twine. Its original use was for sewing loose springs to webbing but is now used more widely.

3 Laid cord is not frequently used. It is a thick cord for lashing springs together to form an integral unit. It is made by laying the fibres side by side to prevent the cord from stretching.

4 Piping cord is used in making upholstery with self-piped seams. The cord is attached to strips of the fabric, which is then sewn to the main fabric panel. See CHAPTER 7 page 48. Piping cord is made from synthetic fibres, cotton and compressed paper, in different diameters and with different stiffness ratios for different types of fabric.


This is used as a platform to support hour glass springs and other fillings. It is not being used as widely as in the past owing to new springing systems which are available.
There are two main types of webbing.

1 Brown webbing which is made from jute in a plain weave and can be obtained in rolls of different widths.

2 Black and white webbing which is more expensive but is of better quality. It is made from flax, woven with a twill weave.

This is a loosely woven jute cloth used for covering springs, loose stuffings and webbing. It is also used for making flies (which are extension pieces, sewn to a fabric, and are hidden inside the upholstery, therefore saving material). Hessians are available in different weights, the heavier hessians being known as tarpaulins.
When fitting hessian, keep warp and weft lines straight, as with a fabric. Hessian can be cut in a straight line by withdrawing a thread and cutting along this line. All hessian edges should be turned over for tacking, unless neatness is of more importance than strength, in which case they should be folded in.

This is also made from jute. It is similar to hessian except that it has a more open weave and the threads are flat in cross section as opposed to the hessian's round threads. It is generally lighter than hessian. It is used for covering the first stuffing through which a stitched edge is sewn. Keeping the lines straight on the scrim aids the stitching of a straight edge because one thread can be followed as a guide for the line of stitching.

This is a light, bleached cotton fabric. Strips of calico are used for attaching foam to a frame and as a base cover for upholstery. It is also used for covering upholstery prior to fitting the fabric, as described under Sewing a spring edge.

Rubber webbing
This is a form of springing, as opposed to the webbing previously mentioned. It consists of a core of rubber sandwiched between two layers of rayon cord which have been cut on the bias (diagonally). When the webbing is stretched, the cords control the amount of elongation in the webbing and, as the cords draw closer together, the webbing retains its strength. By varying the internal arrangements of cords, rubber and the angle of cut, it is possible to alter the characteristics of webbing.

All-rubber webbings are also available but, as they have no woven reinforcement, they do not retain their strength when stretched. They give a greater deflection of the cushion than reinforced webbing.
Different webbings have different characteristics. By selecting the appropriate type, the required degree of resilience can be obtained. The depth of spring can be determined by:
(a) controlling the initial tension on the webbing
(b) using a specified width of webbing
(c) adapting the spacing of the webbing to conform with the loading on specific points.
The type and thickness of the cushion should conform with the characteristics of the base.

Fitting rubber webbing
There is wide scope for individual ingenuity when applying webbing to produce seats and backs which can be adapted anthropometrically to the user. Webbing which is applied from front to back on a seat has the advantage that the width, and therefore the weight of the sitter, is distributed across all the straps by the cushion. The cushion is also free to rise and fall between the sides of the frame without being tilted inwards around the sitter.
Disadvantages of this method are that a soft front edge can not be obtained, and the support given by the webbing is no greater at the points of maximum load than in less loaded areas.
Webbing stretched from side to side can be given a soft front edge; and as the zone of heaviest load occupies the rear half of the seat, increased support can be incorporated in this area, by giving the straps greater initial tension or by using wider or more closely spaced straps. Where additional support is needed the straps can be run in both directions.
Fitting straps on the back can be treated in a similar manner. Loads encountered here are less than on a seat. When the webbing is placed from side to side it is possible to provide firmness for the lumbar region and the head rest while retaining greater softness in other parts of the back. Concave backs can be made by using cross webs in low tension, pulled into shape by verticals under higher tension.
Webbing can be obtained in a continuous roll and can be applied by direct tacking or stapling. It should not be turned over at the ends. There are many types of clips available for attaching webbing to both wooden and metal frames. These clips are responsible, to a greater extent, for the successful introduction of the webbing because they simplify its application. The neatest and most popular clip is the one which fits into a grooved rail and ensures equal tension on all straps.
Rubber platforms
These area variation to rubber webbing. They are made from a synthetic rubber, and provide the newest form of springing system. They can be obtained in different sizes, and are attached to the frame at four points. The platform is fitted under a tension of between 8 to 15% in order to function correctly. This percentage has to be worked out when calculating the size of platform required.

Spring systems

1 Loose hour-glass springs. This is a traditional type of spring which was used in all sprung upholstery before 1920. Its use is associated with traditional hand stitched work which is very expensive in labour. The springs are double cone in form and are made from
copper-plated wire. The springs arc coiled and knotted at both ends by machine.

2 Patent spring units. These arc assembled units, available for seats, backs and arms. They have a flexible wire mesh surface into which conical springs are threaded. The mesh may have a framing of rigid wire. The single cone springs arc riveted to steel laths at the base of the spring. Some units arc fitted with tension springs which arc fixed at intervals between the cone springs and arc attached to steel strips between the laths. Tension springs provide added comfort to the unit.
Double spring units arc not very popular, but they give added luxury to a seat. The base layer of springs is similar to the single spring unit, but the upper layer contains hour glass springs which may or may not be covered in calico or hessian pockets to muffle any spring noise.
3 Tension springs. These are suitable for seats and backs where the design does not allow for a full spring unit. Although rubber webbing is a strong competitor to tension springs, they are still being widely used. The plain metal spring is used where they are to be covered by upholstery, but when they arc exposed or in contact with a cushion, they can be obtained with a PVC or woven fabric covering. They arc supplied in 1-22 to 2-03 mm SWG (14 to 18 gauge) wire, and in a variety of lengths. They are fitted under slight tension, usually between 35 mm to 50 mm and 45 mm length. The tension on these springs has an opposite mechanical action to the compression which coil springs undergo. Tension springs are fitted by direct nailing, hooking around nails, fixing to metal plates and by nailing them into a groove.

4 Serpentine or 'o-sag' springs Serpentine springs can be supplied cut to length, in a continuous roll or made up into units. A thicker gauge spring should be used on the seat than on a back. They do not exist as a spring until they arc uncoiled and fixed to the frame. They are constantly trying to return to their original circular form which gives them a permanent arc.
Five springs fixed from front to back or bottom to top, are normally used in chair seats and backs. They arc fixed to the frame by means of special clips of which there is a variety for different applications. Connecting links can be used to join the springs together so that they perform as a single unit. If connecting links are not available, the springs should be tied together with a thick twine across the centre of the springs.

5 Pullmalex suspension unit This is another recent springing system which is suitable for seats and backs. It consists of a Hexolator, a wire platform cross gridded with twisted kraft paper centre ropes, which is fastened to the frame by tension springs. They are quick and easy to fix by means of anchors which are attached to the tension springs. Only thin upholstering is required over this spring.
Flexible foams

The manufacture of latex foam
Natural latex, containing the rubber molecule polyisoprene, is obtained from the rubber tree, and once was the only source of rubber. Today, synthetic rubber, styrene butadiene latex, is usually blended with natural latex to extract the best properties of both types of foam.
Natural latex is obtained as a juice from the hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree which is cultivated in Malaysia, Indonesia, Ceylon, West Africa and Brazil. After extracting the latex by tapping the tree, ammonia is added to the latex to prevent it from drying. The latex is concentrated by extracting water, which accounts for about 65% of the liquid tapped from the tree. The latex is shipped to the site where it is to be manufactured. Ammonia is extracted by blowing air through the latex. There arc two main processes of manufacture.
The first process mechanically foams the latex before its poured into the moulds. Various chemicals are dispersed in water and are then mixed with the latex. The most important of these chemicals is sulphur, a yellow solid, which, later in the process with the action of heat, brings about the change known as vulcanization or curing. The sulphur causes the latex molecules to crosslink, which prevents the latex from becoming soft and loosing its shape during hot weather, and going hard in cold weather. Other chemicals mixed in are soap which helps with the foaming, and anti-oxidants which protect against oxygen in the air. The mixture is then allowed to mature under controlled time_and temperature.
After maturing, foaming takes place. Foaming is continuous, by passing the mixture with air through a mixing head. The action through the rotor causes the air to be uniformly mixed with the foam. Various degrees of firmness can be produced at this stage. The foam passes through a hose to where an operator fills the moulds. Gelling or solidification of the foam in the mould is brought about by two additives, zinc oxide and sodium silicofluoride, which are added after frothing the foam. It is during gelling that the air bubbles are interconnected.
The moulds pass through a steam chamber for 25 minutes, which causes the sulphur to vulcanize the rubber. The foam cushion is extracted from the mould, washed, dried and inspected.
An alternative method of foaming is by chemical means. The latex compound is foamed by oxygen which is extracted from the chemical hydrogen peroxide. A calculated quantity of hydrogen peroxide and a catalyst (a substance which helps the chemical reaction to occur without undergoing change itself) are stirred into the latex compound, and this is immediately poured into a mould. Decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide with subsequent foaming of the latex compound takes place after the mould is closed. Freezing, gelling by carbon dioxide gas, and vulcanization are carried out as before.

Cavity design in latexfoam
Latex foam can be obtained either plain or with cavities. Solid foam contains much rubber which serves no useful purpose. Large communicating cavities are included to increase the comfort of a cushion. This is because when sitting on a solid sheet of latex, air is driven out and it eventually feels hard. In cavity cushion, the weight is taken by the walls of the cavities, causing them to flex slightly. Cavities are made by building plugs into the lid of the mould. The design and layout of cavities control the hardness of the foam, and it is possible to provide different hardnesses in different parts of a foam block.

Types of latex foam
There are five main types of moulding, each group of which covers a range of standard products. Special mouldings can be produced when the quantity ordered justifies the making of a mould. When this is uneconomic handbuilding is used.

1 Non-reversible units These have a smooth surface with the underside showing the cavities. There is a wide range of mouldings which are used for fixed upholstery work.

2 Reversible units Made from two non-reversible units which are bonded together with the cavities on the inside. They are used for loose cushions. A wide range of standard mouldings are available.

3 Cavity sheet Made in sheets up to 1800 mm by 1400 mm and from 25 mm to 100 mm in thickness. They are available with various degrees of firmness and are used mainly for handbuilding.

4 Plain sheet in sheet sizes up to 1800 mm by 1400 mm and from 12 mm to 30 mm in thickness. They are available in various degrees of firmness, and are used for covering arm pads, dining chairs, bar seating and handbuilding.

Polyether foams
These are open cell flexible polyurethane ether foams as opposed to the polyurethane ester foams which are not used in similar flexible form in upholstery. Polyether is cheaper in price than latex foam, and is available in various thicknesses and densities, including densities lower than can be obtained in latex. It is therefore possible to choose a suitable foam for almost any requirement. The density is controlled by the chemicals which are mixed when making the foam. Fire retardent grades of foam are also available.
The main defect of polyether is that it offers a high initial resistance to deformation, although once a certain load has been reached this property disappears. This is known as hysteresis, and can be described as giving a sudden sinking feeling. These foams have been modified to such a degree that this property is no longer so noticeable. The chemicals carbon dioxide and urethane polymer are reacted together no further vulcanizing is then needed as with latex, because after foaming, the polyether sets into its final form. There are two ways by which polyether can be made:

1 Prepolymer The ingredients react together before foaming begins. This allows greater control to be kept over the process, which ensures that the polyether will contain the required properties.

2 One-shot In this case, mixing and foaming take place simultaneously.

Bonded chip foam
This is made from reprocessed waste polyether foam which is cut into small granules. The polyether chips are mixed in a preditermined ratio with a precatalysed polyurethane resin in an extruding machine. The resin crosslinks under pressure and sometimes heat, and the chipfoam emerges the same shape as the die at the head of the extruder.
Chipfoam is available from 2 mm in thickness. The thinner layers are rotary cut from a cylinder of chipfoam, in which the cylinder is peeled to give a continuous length of chipfoam. It is available in many grades, giving densities up to ten times greater than is possible in polyether foam.
Chipfoam is used in better quality upholstery as a base layer, over which a softer padding material is fitted. It can be used to advantage, together with a moulded rubber edge profile, over a seat spring.

Rubber profiles
These are made from latex and chipfoam and are available with different shaped cross sections for every possible roll and edge application. They can be glued to foam or tacked directly to a frame.

Loose fibre is not used much now in upholstery owing to the time and skill involved in its correct use. Different types are available, each being characterised by colour. Coir fibre, also known as ginger fibre, is obtained from the coconut husk, and is the most resilient type. It is shipped from Ceylon in bales which are broken open, and the fibre is teased to separate the fibres. A dust extraction system removes any remaining husk and the shorter fibres which add to the bulk but not to the quality of the fibre.

Algerian grass, often called black and green fibre, is obtained from the Algerian palm tree and is the next best quality of fibre.
Fibre pads are more convenient to use than loose fibre. These are made by needling a predetermined quantity on to a hessian backing.

Curled hair
This is used as little as fibre for the reasons stated above. It is more resilient than fibre and is much softer to the touch. Hair is usually obtained as a mixture of horse, cattle and hog hair, the proportions depending on price. Horse hair is obtained from the mane and tail and is of better quality than cattle hair which, in turn, is better than hog hair.
The hair is first washed, and a proportion is dyed black. After mixing, the hair is spun into rope, and a curl is set in by steaming or boiling the rope. Heating also sterilizes the hair. After drying, the ropes are stored to allow them to mature. When required, the rope is untwisted and teased, or it is needled on to hessian to make hair pads.

Rubberized hair
This is obtained in sheets of varying densities. It is made by bonding curled hair with rubber latex which is then compressed to the required thickness and density.

Best quality felt is made from cotton linters which are obtained from the waste of the cotton plant after the cotton fibres have been extracted. These linters are pressed into an even layer. Felts can also be made out of rag flock made from processed rags, but this product is not as resilient as cotton felt. To conform to British Standards, the rags need to contain So to 60% wool. Felt is used over fibre and hair to prevent fibres from working through the covering fabric.

Polyester fibrefill
This is a recently developed cushion filling material, made in terylene and dacron, which has contributed enormously to the comfort of seating. It is available as a bonded batting, in which the sheets are lightly bonded with acrylic resin on each side, making the material more compact and easier to handle. Unbonded batting is also available, in which the fibrefill is carded and folded into layers, which are then sandwiched between a loosely woven cheese-cloth.
The fibre has good bulking power, and cushions filled with the material are characterised by a full appearance. The fibre is very soft and recovers well from compression. This is due to a new three dimensional spiral crimp, or a saw-tooth type crimp, which is given to each fibre.
Fibrefill can be used by itself in a cushion or in combination with any type offoam which will blend with the fibre. When a core of foam is being used, cut the foam about the same size as the cushion cover, and wrap the required number of layers around the cushion. If unbonded batting is being used, stitch the cheese-cloth together along three sides for a neater appearance of the cushion. Keep the unsewn edge to the front of the cushion. Bonded batting can be lightly glued to the foam. If a 100% fibrefill cushion is required, use the unbonded batting and fold it to about 25%, longer and wider than the cushion size. Use about 370 gm/m2 (4.4 oz per sq ft) in a seat cushion, and 1220 gm/m2 (4 oz per sq ft) in a back cushion.

This is a vegetable filling material obtained from the seed pods of the kapok tree. It is used in cushions as a cheap substitute for feathers and down. The fibre comes from Java and the Dutch East Indies where it is washed, graded, and compressed into bales for shipping. When it arrives in this country, it is reprocessed by drawing by suction through a hopper, in which the kapok is beaten by arms revolving on an axis. This separates seeds and sand, and expands the kapok into its fluffy and light form. Kapok is extremely light because of the porous nature of the fibre, but in spite of this, water does not penetrate it very easily. Because of this property it is used as a filling for upholstery in ships, and lifesaving equipment.

Feathers and down
These are still used extensively in the more expensive traditional upholstery. Down obtained from the cider duck is more expensive than feathers but is rarely used by itself. Feathers are normally mixed m to give extra weight and to lower the cost. Down contains no large quills and has a much greater filling capacity than feathers.
Feathers arc obtained mainly from poultry, much of which is imported from China. Cheaper grades of feathers arc chopped to prevent there being felt through the fabric.
Feathers and down arc weighed, and then filled by vacuum through a hose into waxed calico cases which prevent the quills from penetrating the fabric. The cases are often divided into three or four separate pockets to spread the filling equally throughout the cushion. The case should be slightly larger than the cushion cover into which it is to fit.

These are a necessary fitting for upholstery, and much scientific experiment has gone into perfecting different types. The ball type is very popular because its patented design ensures almost frictionless and silent mobility.
Castors can be provided with different wheels for various floor surfaces, and there are different methods of fixing them to metal and wood frames. There are two main methods. The first is by a screw plate, and the second is with a socket fixing, where the socket fits into a drilled hole in the frame, and the peg of the castor can be pushed into the socket.

Glides can be fitted to light furniture which does not need wheeling about. They can be fitted by hammering on directly, or by means of a socket.


Traditionally, the upholstery fabric market has been predominantly based on a number of fabric types, including moquettes, velvets, tapestries and brocades. Recently there has been a strong move towards the woollen Scandinavian boucle type of fabric. Acrylic velvets are also being exploited, due to their brightness and the clarity of colouration that they can be given, also to their warmth, softness to touch, durability and easy cleaning properties. The trend has particularly moved away from moquettes.

The choice of fabric is a major factor influencing the success or failure of any job. A well chosen cover can transform a mediocre design into something attractive, but a badly chosen cover can make even a well upholstered chair appear drab. Certain covers which may suit certain styles of upholstery may be unsuitable if used on other designs. A cover should be chosen which fits in with surrounding materials, considering texture, pattern and colour. The amount of wear that is likely to take place must also be taken into account when buying the fabric.

Woven fabrics

1Bedford cord A fabric with ribs running in the direction of the warp. It is made in a plain or twill weave, and can only be obtained in single colours.

2 Brocade A finely woven jacquard fabric with a mufti-colour pattern. Originally it was a heavy silk fabric with elaborate pattern, made with silver or gold thread. It is made by floating extra coloured threads on the back of a plainly woven ground cloth, which are brought to the surface when required. Brocades are made from cotton, wool, silk and manmade fibres, and have a firm and smooth hard wearing surface.

3 Brocatelle This is similar to brocade, but the heavily figured pattern is raised above the weft backing.

4 Corduroy A cut pile fabric with ribs running in the warp direction. The weft yarns float on the surface at intervals which are then cut, brushed, and singed to form the pile. It is a hard wearing fabric, made from cotton and man-made fibres, and is in the medium to high price range.
S Chintz A closely woven printed cotton fabric in a plain weave and with a glazed surface.

6 Crash A heavy, rough textured, plain woven fabric made from jute, flax, hemp and cotton.

7 Cretonne Similar to chintz but without the glazing.

8 Damask Similar to brocade, but it is flatter and is reversible. It was originally made in Damascus from where it takes its name.

9 Denim A hard wearing coarse cotton twill fabric of low cost.

10 Genoa velvet A heavy velvet with a multi-coloured figured pile on a smooth ground. It is a very expensive fabric.

11 Moquette A fabric having a pile which is cut, uncut or in a combination of both.
Cut moquettes are made by weaving two fabrics face to face, the pile being formed between, by interlacing both fabrics simultaneously with warp threads. The pile is then cut by a knife which travels between the fabrics. Another method of weaving is by lifting the warp threads over wires which are inserted in place of the weft. The pile is cut by the wires as it is withdrawn. Uncut moquettes are made with two warps, one of which forms the pile. Wires are inserted in place of the weft, but unlike those used above, they have no cutting edge. After weaving, the wires are withdrawn, leaving a pile in the form of loops. Moquettes having a combination of cut and uncut pile use cutting blade wires and plain wires. They are extremely hard wearing, can be obtained in many designs in both man-made and natural fibres but are generally very expensive.

12 Plush A fabric having a longer but less dense pile than velvet. It is in the medium to high price range.

13 Repp A plain woven fabric with ribs in the direction of the weft. It is a very hard wearing fabric, in the medium price range.

14 Sateen A fabric in which the weft float over the surface of the warp forming a smooth surface. It can be made without twill lines. The weave is also known as welt satin, and is in the medium price range.

15 Satin A fabric in which the warp float over the surface of the weft, forming a smooth surface. This weave is also known as warp sateen.

16 Tapestry A jacquard figured fabric made from part or all wool, with coarse yarns which can be made
in a variety of weaves. It can be obtained in many colours and is very expensive.

17 Terry velvet An uncut loop pile velvet which is woven over wires similar to the uncut moquette. It is very highly priced.

18 Ti-need A simple twill weave fabric with a smooth, hard-wearing surface. It is usually made from all wool, but other fibres are also used. Due to its simple weave, the fabric is reasonably priced.

19 Velour A warp pile fabric with a very short pile.

20 Velvet Produced with a double warp, one of which forms the pile. The ground warp is woven with weft yarns through which the pile is woven. A wire with a cutting blade is inserted between the pile warp to form loops, which are cut as the wire is extracted. Velvets are also made in a similar way to cut moquettes, by weaving two fabrics face to face with the pile between, which is sliced through the middle to separate them. It is very highly priced.

21 Velveteen A weft pile fabric. It is woven with floating weft yarns which are cut after applying a paste to the back of the fabric to fix the yarns, so they do not move during cutting.

Knitted fabrics
These arc used in woven fabric applications. They arc also for covering plastics chair shells because their stretch properties are well suited to fitting around the double curvature shapes associated with these types of chair.
They are liable to damage by loop pulling and laddering, which do not occur so frequently with woven covers. Damage is usually caused during sewing and fitting of the cover. Laddering can be caused by piercing the fabric with sewing needle, tacks and staples. The fabric can also be damaged if too rigid a seam is used for sewing, in which case the fabric might be torn by the thread when it is being stretched during upholstering or use. Foam or rubber backing a fabric lessens the chance of laddering.

1 Warp knitted fabrics These can be woven to give an appearance of either ordinary woven cloth or weft knits which are described below. They can be produced faster than woven fabrics, and are used in competition with them. They can be made with raised or unraised loops and can be made ladder resistant (a disadvantage associated with weft knits). They are woven mainly from continuous filament yarns, and different types of surface texture can be produced with either an open or closed structure. Knitting styles vary with different machines, the difference between machines being based on the number of needles and the thickness of yarn which is used. Warp knits are so called because threads run along the length of the fabric.

2 Weft knitted fabrics These fabrics have more stretch than warp knitted fabrics. The fabric is made up of interlocking loops of yarn. The loops are formed across the fabric with a single thread. There are three basic types of weft knitted fabrics used in upholstery: single jersey, double jersey and interlock, all of which can be knitted with variations. The former is a plain knitted fabric, and is very prone to laddering. Double jersey has a rib structure, and is so called because the stitches which lie in two planes tend to come together to form a double fabric. Interlock is also a double rib fabric, but it has interlocking cross yarns which prevent the fabric from damaging easily.

Coated fabrics
Rexine made from nitrocellulose was the first plastic coated fabric to be used, but has now been superseded by other plastics.

Polyvinyl chloride PVC fabrics have good abrasion resistance and are easily cleaned. This makes them suitable for both contract and domestic upholstery.
The properties of a coated fabric depend on the backing fabric, the type, content and thickness of the coating material, the adhesion between and the method of application of the coating to the fabric, and the decoration of the surface. Many types of backing fabric are used for strengthening the coating surface. The cheapest fabrics have no backing, and tear more easily than backed fabrics. Vynide has a woven backing fabric having good abrasion and flexing properties. Other PVC materials have knitted fabric backings to give the fabrics greater stretch properties, making upholstering easier. Expanded and unexpanded PVC are used in making coatings. Ambla and Cirrus are expanded fabrics which are softer and warmer than plain PVC fabrics. They are made by incorporating a blowing agent which expands the mixture to give a thin layer of foam with an integral skin of solid PVC. A plasticiser is added to PVC to give the fabric certain properties. The type and quantity used affects abrasion resistance and general flexibility.
PVC fabrics can be obtained in many colours. The amount and type of pigment used affects the light stability of the fabric. There are two methods of making the coated fabric, both of which use PVC as a plastisol (paste). The doctor knife method is the process usually used, in which the paste is spread on the fabric by means of a roller and a doctor knife, which control the thickness deposited as the fabric moves between them on a conveyor. The fabric then passes through a heated oven at i6o to i7o°C to gell the coating. An embossing roller imprints the pattern on the surface, and the fabric is rolled.

A second method, dip coating, involves passing the base fabric through an impregnating bath containing the paste. Excess paste is removed by rollers. Heating and embossing is carried out as above.

These fabrics are more like leather than other synthetics. They are usually applied in a thinner coating than PVC. Like PVC, they are air permeable, have good stain and abrasion resistance, and are easy to clean and upholster with. They can be finished with a matt or gloss `wet look'. Glossy fabrics usually contain a two-component finish, and the fabrics are tested to ensure that they will not delaminate through bad adhesion of the two dissimilar coatings. Certain of these fabrics also tend to be sticky.

Fabrics are divided into two groups governed by the method of coating.

1 Direct coating involves spreading the polyurethane as a viscous liquid directly on the base fabric by means of rollers. A thicker and less stretchy fabric is formed by this method.

2 Transfer coating is more suitable for lighter coatings, and is applied to knitted fabrics. The coating is applied to a release paper, and is partially dried. The film is then transferred and bonded to the backing. The release paper is usually made from a strong kraft paper, which is coated with release agent to release readily the coating from the paper, and also a resin (polyurethane in this case). The paper can be plain or embossed, depending on the surface requirements for the fabric. The paper acts as a carrier to transport the resin coating on to the fabric backing, after which it is peeled off and can be used again. The general fabric properties depend on the effectiveness of the coating process, and the adhesion and thickness of the coating. This process is also used with PVC.
Welding of PVC
The sewing of PVC can be avoided in mass production by using a radio frequency heating welding machine. This machine can form quilting patterns if suitable jigs are made, and it can make a seam much faster than a sewing machine. Power output, welding time and depth of sink of the welding blades are the machine's variables, which need to be carefully regulated according to the fabric in order to produce good welds.
The average weld strength of backed PVC is 42% of the fabric strength. Thoughtful designing is needed to ensure that the seam will not be highly stressed.

After a long absence from modern domestic upholstery, leather is once again in demand as a covering material.
Cow hides of about 3.3 sq in (45 sq ft) arc obtained in irregular shapes. They can be squared for easier planning of cutting, but this raises the price of the hide Hides arc bought as whole or half hides. The outer side is called the grain side, and the inner side is the flesh side. Leather crushes easily, so it should be rolled neatly with the grain on the outside to prevent this.
Joins can be made on hides by skiving pieces together. This is done by cutting the pieces to be joined at an angle so that there is greater surface contact, and then gluing them together.
The warble fly is the major cause of imperfections on a hide, but barbed wire and bramble scratches also cause surface markings. The holes heal on the animal to form scars which do not affect the strength of the leather. Certain blemishes add to the natural effect, while others need to be buffed out.
Hides are first washed, then left to soak in pits containing lime and sodium sulphide. This aids removal of hair. The hides are split into layers, the top layer being used for best upholstery leather, and the bottom or flesh split being used for suede leather. The leather is dc-limed, and is passed to the currier in the rough tanned condition. The rough hides are sorted into groups, based on their ultimate use. They are then soaked in water and allowed to equalise in moisture content with the surroundings.

Skiving leather
The hides are shaved on the underside to give them a level substance (thickness) before they enter the drum house where tanning is continued by introducing oil into the leather in the form of an emulsion. The hides pass from drum to drum, alternating between cleaning and re-tanning by specially prepared warm liquors. Chemicals are added to guard against rotting.
The hides enter the setting-out machine, which contains rubber rollers between which the hides pass, extracting most of the moisture from the hides. They are transferred to the stretching shop, where they arc stretched to facilitate drying. It is not the aim of stretching to make them larger in area. They are dried under controlled relative humidity and temperature to ensure uniform drying throughout their substance.
The hides are now in the russet state. Those for use in upholstery are re-sorted before staining. Those selected as buffed antique hides are sent to the buffing shop, those for printing to the printing shop, and those for natural fall gain hides arc left unfinished.
Stained hides are sprayed with aniline dyes. The colour is rubbed into the grain, the surplus is wiped off, and the hides arc dried in an oven. Hides which are unsuitable for a natural grain finish, owing to blemishes, are embossed with an artificial grain. They are then placed in a revolving drum for several hours to produce a crushed effect.
The full grain hide has an undisturbed surface, all natural grain and blemishes being left intact.
A buffed antique finish is given to hides which are unsuitable for other finishing treatments, owing to bad surface markings. The blemishes are removed from the surface of the hide by a machine containing cylinders which arc covered with carborundum paper. The hide is then embossed and finished in a similar way to the full grain hide. This type of hide is the cheapest upholstery hide produced.

Self-piping or ruche is often used as an alternative to having plain seams along cushion borders, etc.

1 Self piping consists of piping made from the same material as the covering fabric.

2 Ruche can be obtained in shades to match most covers. One edge of the ruche is suitable for sewing into the seams of the fabric. There are three main types of ruche.
(i) Cut ruche consisting of a continuous closely woven thread, with a cut pile surface.

(ii) Loop ruche which is similar, but its pile is not cut.

(iii) Rope ruche which is made in the form of rope, with decorative threads on the surface.

3 Braid and gimp is a decorative band of material which is glued or gimp pinned along the edge of upholstery, particularly where the cover finishes against a show-wood frame.

4 Upholstery nails are used as an alternative to slip stitching to finish a job. They are hammered in to the frame at regular intervals, after folding in the raw edge of the material. They are commonly used on plastics coated fabrics which are difficult to sew by hand. Nails can be obtained with a brass or antique finish, or in colours to match a fabric.

5 Fringe is gimp-pinned or sewn around the perimeter of upholstered furniture as an added decoration. It consists of loose, twisted threads which hang from a length of braid. It can also be obtained with tassels.

Care and cleaning of fabrics
All upholstery should be cleaned regularly with a vacuum cleaner or a soft brush to prevent dust from settling in the fabric.
When fixed upholstery covers require cleaning, which should not be too infrequently, a special dry foam upholstery cleaner can be bought, which cleans the fabric without damaging the underneath padding.
Most loose fabrics can be taken off and washed by hand or in a washing machine. Fabrics react differently to washing and heat, so the recommended washing and ironing instructions should be followed. If no washing instructions have been given with the fabric, it is safer to consult a dry-cleaner. Plastics coated fabrics need only to be wiped over with a damp, soapy cloth, followed by a dry duster, in order to keep them looking like new. Polishes should not be used on these fabrics.

Man-made fibres
These are being used in an ever-increasing quantity for upholstery fabrics. Although wool is still one of the better fibres, its high price is restricting its use, and man-made fibres are necessary to provide wool equivalents at lower cost. Man-made fibres also offer properties which are not available in natural fibres. Each fibre has its own characteristics, and by blending natural and man-made fibres, many desirable properties can be incorporated into a fabric. For instance, the addition of a coarse denier, long staple rayon to wool will increase its strength and abrasion resistance.

Yarns made from man-made fibres can be produced with a lustrous or matt finish, and with different forms of texture, giving different grades of strength and abrasion resistance.
All man-made fibres are produced by taking a fibre-forming substance (a polymer), converting it into liquid form, forcing the liquid through a `spinneret' having very fine holes, and causing the streams of liquid to solidify as fibres. This process is carried out in different ways, depending on the chemical nature of the fibre.

Man-made fibres are available in two forms: continuous filament and staple filament yarn. Continuous filament yarn contains from one to one hundred or more individual filaments. The thickness of the yarn is indicated by the denier. Continuous filament yarns are produced from is denier to 2000 denim.
Staple fibre is obtained by cutting a thick rope of filaments (a tour) into fibres of the required length. 25 mm to 200 mm (1 in. to 8 in.) fibres can be made depending on the spinning system to be employed.

1 Boucle yarn A decorative yarn having loops or knots at regular intervals, and made from two or more threads which are twisted together.

2 Bulked yarn A textured yarn, consisting of a crimped or folded yarn which gives bulk, softness and warmth to a fabric. It is made from man-made fibres to resemble wool. Bulking changes the original Fibre properties.

3 Catalyst A substance which is added to speed up a chemical reaction, without taking part in the reaction itself.

4 Crimp The waviness of a fibre. It is found naturally in wool, but it can be inserted permanently into man-made fibres by heat setting. It is used in textured yarns to give bulk.

5 Denier The term applied to filament man-made fibres and silk, and is the measure of thickness of a yarn. The denier is the weight in grammes of 9000 metres of yarn.

6 End, The term given to individual warp threads.

7 Filament A continuous fibre, obtained after melt spinning a man-made fibre mixture. Filaments arc naturally obtained in silk.

8 Picks The term given to individual weft threads. The number of picks per centimetre (inch) depends on the yarn count and the closeness of the weave.

9 Plain weave The simplest but closest method of weaving.

10 Selvedge Provided along the edges of a fabric to give a firm and strong edge. The selvedge is made by including extra end warp yarns which are either of the same or different but stronger material.

11 Staple Short fibres. A man-made fibre filament can be cut into short lengths to form staple fibres. Natural fibres are obtained in staple form.

12 Stretch yarn A textured yarn which is made to give a fabric elasticity. It is similar to a bulked yarn but has more stretch.

13 Tex A metric system of yarn numbering which, it is hoped, will supersede and rationalise all other methods. It measures the weight in grammes of zooo metres of fibres and natural or man-made yarns. Different units are used within the system militex = milligrammes per kilometre kilotex = kilogrammes per kilometre decitex = decigrammes per kilometre.

14 Twill weave This weave produces diagonal lines across the surface of a fabric.

15 Warp The threads which run along the length of a fabric.

16 Weft These threads run across the fabric at right angles to the warp.

17 Yarn count A measure of yarn thickness. It is calculated by an indirect method of measurement, usually based on the pound unit. This method measures length per unit weight as opposed to the direct method which measures weight per unit length. In the indirect method, the coarser yarns have lower numbers, but by the direct method, the coarser the yarn, the higher is the number. The denier and tex systems work by the direct method.

All woven fabrics are produced on a loom. The basic principle of weaving involves holding the warp yarns under tension, and interlacing with weft yarns. The weft yarns are held in shuttles which are sent across the warp threads as required, after raising the chosen warp ends.

Jacquard loom
This loom allows complex repeat patterns to be woven. The pattern of the fabric is transferred to rectangular cards by means of punched holes. Each line of picks uses one card. There are as many cards as there are picks in each repeat pattern. The cards are laced together and fitted in a belt on the loom. Needles are fitted to the loom which come into contact with the cards. Where holes have been punched in the cards, the needles enter, which causes the associated warp threads to be raised. After the weft yarn has been inserted, the needles withdraw and the next card comes into place to restart the cycle. Another type of loom uses a long strip of thick paper instead of individual cards.

The martindale abrasion machine
This is considered to be the most reliable machine for determining the abrasion resistance of the majority of woven fabrics. Fabrics having certain textured yarns and those with long piles are unsuitable for testing. This test is understood by the average consumer, and salesmen often talk about fabrics having a particular number of rubs.
Tests need to be carried out under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity, and an average is found from the results of a number of tests. A figure of 3S,ooo rubs is considered to be the minimum acceptable number for domestic upholstery fabrics, but results of over 40,000 rubs arc necessary for hard wearing fabrics suitable for contract use.
Specimens arc cut into 36 mm diameter discs, and are clamped into the abrading head over 3 mm thickness of foam. Four specimens are simultaneously. Specimens should be examined at certain stages to note any change, which can be assessed as follows:

1 The partial exposure of backing structure.
2 Removal of pile from a pile fabric, exposing the backing.
3 Breaking of the threads.

4 Removal of nap from the surface.
5 Rate ofweight loss. Specimens should be weighed every 1000 rubs.
6 Pilling This is the forming of small balls of fluff on the surface.
7 Testing to destruction. This is not as useful a test as when the fabric is tested for earlier deterioration.


The cover and materials should be stripped in reverse order to the upholstering. The usual sequence is to remove the base cover, followed by the outside back, outside arms, seat, inside back, and inside arms. It is important to remember the order in which the frame was upholstered, and also where trimmings have been used on the cover. The piece of furniture being stripped should always be in a suitable position for working.

These positions should be used for upholstering as well as stripping. If certain parts arc not being recovered, or the cover is to be replaced after repair to the frame, it is important not to damage the fabric. This can be prevented by resting the covered frame on some cloth or padding, placed on the floor and on the bench.

If the inside springing and padding are in good condition, it might be possible to leave them on the job, if the upholsterer is sure that by doing so, it does not impede the fixing of the new cover. If the padding has been flattened, a layer of felt placed over the old padding will help to build up its resilience again.

The old cover should be saved so that the pieces can be used as patterns for cutting the new cover. Extra cover should be allowed in places where it can be seen that cover has been trimmed from the original piece. Hessian flies should also be fitted where they are thought to be necessary.
The frame can be altered for modernisation of the design. If this is done, the old cover must not be used for patterns, but new measurements need to be taken around the frame after fitting the padding.

Tools required for frame repairs

1 Brace and bit This is used for drilling out broken dowels, and for drilling new dowel holes. It is also used for drilling castor holes. The brace can be used with screwdriver bits.

2 Hand drill Required for drilling screw pilot holes. These prevent splitting the timber, and also make screwing easier. A countersink bit is also required.

3 Screwdrivers These are required if screwdriver bits for the brace are not available.

4 Tenon saw This s used for cutting rails to length, for cutting corner blocks, and for cutting off old dowels before re-drilling the holes.

5 Sash crams At least two are necessary to ensure correct setting of a glued joint. If none is available, a length of joined wire can be used with which to improvise. The cramp action of tightening a joint will occur when, with the aid of a lever, thee wire is twisted.

6 Rasp This is used to chamfer the sharp edge of a rail where there is a danger that the edge will cut through the padding, and make a hole in the fabric. It is necessary to round the inside of rails where rubber webbing is to be fitted, and the edge over which a roll is to be stitched.

7 Bevel This tool is useful for measuring angles, such as when marking out corner blocks.

1 Timber This should be straight and close grained, with a medium degree of hardness, and free from knots which reduce its strength. The timber should be able to retain tacks, but it should not be too hard to make their insertion difficult. Timber which is too hard also stands a greater chance of being split by tacks.
Beech is usually quoted as being the most suitable for frame construction, but choice depends on availability. Birch, maple and poplar are only three of the many that are available.

2 Dowels These can be obtained in a number of different diameter sizes, in either continuous or cut lengths. Dowels, 38 mm long with a 9 mm diameter arc a convenient size to use.

3 Screws Countersunk head wood screws are used in the construction of frames, as they arc not needed to give a decorative effect. Oversize screws might split a rail, so the size should be carefully chosen. 35 mm to 60 mm screws in an 8 gauge arc those most frequently used.

4 Nails These arc often used as a substitute for screws. They should not be used in place of screws or joints, but should only be used in positions where they will not be stressed, such as for the fixing of plywood.

5 Glue There arc many types of glue on the market for wood joints. Animal glue is very flexible and is a good gap filler, which arc the main reasons for its continued use in frames. It is bought in cakes and is used hot, but it should not be allowed to boil. The glue sets on cooling.

PVA (polyvinyl acetate) is gaining ground as a glue for chair frames, but it does not match the properties of animal glue.

Bostik and Evo-stick are synthetic glues which are more easily applied. The manufacturer's instructions for application must be followed.

Repairing the frame
1 Repairing and making new dowel joints Dowelling is the most suitable joint for chair construction. The joint stands up well to the battering and flexing to which chair frames are prone.
The number of dowels needed for each joint varies from between one and three, depending on the size of the joint, and the amount of stress it is to take.
Old dowels firstly need to be extracted. If the glue bond has broken, it is easy to pull them out. Otherwise, they will have to be drilled out. The brace, fitted with a bit of the same diameter as that of the dowel, will prepare a new hole at the same time as it extracts the dowel. The hole should be drilled slightly deeper than half the length of the dowel to allow for excess glue. Glue should be applied to the dowel hole only. On cramping, the glue will run up the side of the dowel to the joint surface. The dowel should be either grooved all round, or a saw cut should be made down one side of the dowel, to allow an escape route for excess glue. This avoids pressure being set up at the bottom of the hole when the glue is compressed by the dowel, and thus avoids the chance of splitting the timber.
After gluing one set of dowel holes, locate the dowel pins into the holes. Now add glue to the other half of the joint, and connect and cramp the complete joint until the glue sets.

2 Fitting new corner blocks New corner blocks should be fitted in the seat if the existing ones are in a poor condition. Nailed blocks should be reinforced with screws.
Cut the blocks with a tenon saw, making slight adjustments to the angles, to ensure a close fit. Drill the screw pilot holes perpendicular to the sawn edge. If castors are to be fitted into the blocks, drill holes to hold the sockets.
Corner blocks can also be fitted to a chair back if the design permits, and if their addition will be beneficial to the back's strength.

3 Curing other loose joints A loose joint can be simply repaired by re-gluing and cramping. A few extra screws inserted through the joint at an angle will give the joint extra strength. Drilled and countersunk pilot holes are necessary to insert the screw at the correct angle, and to ensure that the angled screw heads do not remain above the surface of the rail.
Screws should not be inserted into the end grain of timber because screws do not grip very well from this direction.

4 Fitting new rails A broken or weakened rail needs to be replaced by a new one. The timber need not be the same as the rest of the frame. Cut the rail to the size of the old rail, and accurately mark out the dowel holes to correspond with their pairing holes. To fit the rail, it might be necessary to loosen some of the other joints, which will have to be re-glued and cramped at the same time as the new rail is being cramped.

5 Frame not symetrical This is found on new frames which have not been assembled correctly. A small amount of unevenness can be hidden by the upholstery, but a frame which is significantly out of square will need to be re-glued and cramped at the necessary joints.

There are various reasons for having to carry out repairs. Below are mentioned a few of the causes, with the required action to be taken.

Broken seat webbing
This occurs on chairs which have been upholstered with hour-glass springs on a webbing base. It is characterised by a sagging seat, which is often thought to have been caused by broken springs.
If it has occurred in the seat, which is the most likely place, invert the chair and remove the base cover. Rip out the broken webbing, after cutting the knots holding them to the springs. Stretch new webbing over the positions of the old webbing, and re-sew the springs to the webbing. For greater detail of the correct methods of fitting webbing and sewing in springs.
Webbing does not need to be broken before new webbing is fitted. New webbing can also be fitted when the old webbing has gone slack, which also causes the seat to sag. In this case, the old webbing need not be ripped out but should be supported by the new webbing. The springs should be re-sewn to the webbing as before.

Changing castors
This only needs the simple operation of extracting the old castor and replacing it with a new one. Some castors have different size sockets, so it might be necessary to re-drill the hole to make it larger, or a smaller hole might have to be drilled by the side of the existing one. Do not drill into a screw holding a corner block to the frame. Castors can also be changed from socket to plate fixing, and vice versa. If the corner blocks upon which the castors are mounted are in bad condition.

Damaged fabric
Fabric is easily damaged. Whether it is done by the family's pet dog or by a dropped cigarette, the requirement is still the same: a new fabric panel is usually needed.
Sometimes, with certain stretchy fabrics, depending where the damage is, it might be possible to stretch the fabric until the mark is hidden. With other fabrics such as moquettes, where threads have pulled, new threads can be carefully sewn in with a slipping needle, the thread being obtained from a piece of fabric in an inconspicuous place such as from underneath the base cover. This latter repair should only be used when a new fabric panel is not obtainable.
To match the fabric, send a pattern to the original manufacturers of the upholstery or the fabric supplier. If the cloth is obsolete, the repair can either be matched with a near shade or pattern, or the upholstery will have to be recovered completely in another cover.
If the fabric can be obtained, it can be fitted directly over the old cover, but it is better to remove the old cover before re-fitting. There is less work involved if the outside back is damaged than if the inside arm is damaged. Fitting inside covers becomes more complicated because other parts of the upholstery need to be loosened to allow for correct fitting. Take off the old cover and use it as a pattern for cutting new cover


Cover is the costliest material used in upholstery, and thoughtful planning of parts is essential to keep the cost as low as possible.

1 Collecting the roll of cover from the stores and laying it on the table.
2 Marking with the aid of patterns.
3Sorting and bundling the cover in preparation for sewing.

One cutter can be used to perform all the operations, or the job can be split so that two or more operatives of differing labour value work on different sections of the process. Cover can be cut either singly or in layers. Shears can be used for cutting up to about five layers of cover, but electrical cutter knives arc needed for greater thicknesses.

Because the home handyman does no repetitive cutting, he needs to measure each piece of cover either directly from the job, or from pieces being stripped for recovering. If possible, an economical cutting plan should be worked out on paper before starting to cut.The cutting table should be the stage where all the damages in the fabric are noticed. If they are missed at this point, there is a danger that the damaged fabric will go unnoticed until at the final inspection stage of the upholstery when it will be more costly to repair. To prevent this from happening, it is important that the cutting table should be provided with good overhead lighting.

Fabrics having no pile but with ribs running in one direction, can be cut to display the ribs running either down and forwards, or across the job. Lines running downwards tend to make a job appear higher, while those running across make the job appear wider. The latter method usually gives the better effect.
If there is a pile to the cover, cut it so that the pile will run downwards or forwards on the upholstery. Cut a patterned fabric so that the pattern will be displayed to its best advantage. This is usually achieved by centralising the pattern in a panel. Mark out with white or blue tailor's chalk, using a pattern or template. Cut all the large pieces first. Allow a 9 mm (8 in.) sewing seam where necessary. Slight allowances in size may also need to be made if the fabric is expected to stretch during upholstering.

When cutting settees, joinings will probably have to be made in the length of the back and seat. Cut two equal joining pieces, and sew them to each side of the panel, so that they are equally spaced on the upholstery. Joinings can also be made in piping, borders, etc. Cut strips of cover about 35 mm wide for piping.

Advantages and disadvantages of cutting singly and in layers
1 Most manufacturers sell many different designs in a wide range of covers. With this policy there is no scope for cutting in layers. Only if a company can sell a limited number of designs in a set number of fabrics, can bulk cutting be used to advantage.
2 There is not much difference in the time taken to cut one layer and many layers. Therefore labour costs can be reduced by cutting in bulk.

3 It is more difficult to correct damages in fabrics when cutting in layers.

4 Stripes and patterns cannot be used to their best advantage when cutting in layers.


Sewing the cut cover in preparation for upholstering is the next stage after cutting.
Stitch type
The usual type of machine stitch used in upholstery is the lock stitch. This is formed using a needle thread and a bobbin thread. The thread from the bobbin, which is fitted beneath the throat plate, passes through a loop formed by the needle thread. The amount of thread on the bobbin limits the time when sewing can be continued, before the bobbin needs to be re-wound. The tension on the machine needs to be accurately controlled, so that the two threads meet in the middle of the fabric. If the tension is incorrect, the intersection will occur on the surface of the cover, which is a main cause of fault in sewing.

Knitted fabrics
The chain stitch and the overlock stitch are used on knitted stretch fabrics because these stitches contain strongly looped threads which are flexible to expand and contract with the cover. The two types of stitch can also be incorporated into one stitch, which is known as stitch type 512.
These seams require closer stitching than the lock stitch seam, and they use more thread which is put into use during stretching of the cover. Knitted stretch fabrics usually need to be overlocked along the edges to prevent the cover from laddering. Overlocking can also be used on normal woven fabrics, to prevent fraying of the edges. Overlocking is an edge binding stitch which provides a neat finish to an edge, and also trims the edge. Weft knitted fabrics should be overlocked, but this is not always necessary with warp knitted fabrics which do not stretch as much as the former.
Overlock and chain stitches can unravel if one of the threads are broken, which does not occur with the lock stitch. Both types of stitch should be sewn using finer needles than those used for the lock stitch. Synthetic thread should be used as this stretches more than the normal cotton thread.

Machine needles
Heavy industrial machines are used in an upholstery factory machine room, but most types of machine can be used if they are fitted with a needle of correct size, to sew the usually heavy-weight covers. A machine needle size between 16 and i9 should be used on most materials. Plastics coated fabrics, however, are easily cut by a sewing machine needle, so a finer needle between 9 and 11 should be used on these.

Machine adjustments
The stitch length should be adjusted to the weight of the cover. 6 to 12 stitches per 25 mm should be used, the larger stitches being used on plastics coated fabrics and the thinner covers. The tension of the machine should be regulated for sewing different weights of cover and for different types of machine thread. Less tension is needed when using a synthetic thread than when using cotton thread.

Sewing components of a machine
Twin needle machines
Double seams are becoming popular as a decoration. Twin needle machines are available in conventional form and as a post type, in which the throat plate is raised on a column about 250 mm above the working table.
Corners are sewn on the machine by stopping the machine as soon as the inside needle reaches the corner. The inside needle is raised out of the way, and the other needle sews around the corner. Once around the corner, the inside needle is lowered into operation again.

Synthetic machine thread
Synthetic thread is more expensive than plain cotton thread, but it is finer, tougher, and more economical in use.
Because it is finer, more thread can be wound on a bobbin, so less time is spent in changing and rewinding it. Also, because of its fineness, less thread is used in stitching. Synthetic thread has better elastic properties which are necessary for knitted fabrics.

Sewing piping
Piping can be used on most seams as an alternative to plain seams. A piping foot attachment should be fitted to the machine to simplify sewing. The piping foot enables a seam to be made close to the piping cord.

General hints on sewing
1When sewing around a corner, cut darts into the seam to make sewing simpler.

2 When sewing joinings, shade the cover, making sure that the pile runs in one direction.

3 When joining two cover panels, notch the centre of each and machine from the centre marks, to ensure that the panels are centralised equally.

4 When sewing hessian flies, turn the edge of the hessian over so that the seam runs through a double thickness of hessian.

5 The sewing of cushions is where most accuracy is needed. Make sure that all corners of the cushion are sewn correctly.


Conversion with foam
Latex is often moulded to manufacturers' requirements when the quantity ordered is large enough to justify the outlay for making special moulds. When the number of products is not large enough to warrant this, the shapes are made up by hand cutting and joining pieces together from a moulded block or from sheet. This process is known as conversion, but is also called handbuilding in relation to latex foam. Cavity, plain and pin core foams are used successfully for conversion and both latex and polyether foams are made in blocks specially for this purpose.
Foams can be marked out with either pen or chalk. When shaped work is being produced, a thin

Handbuilding a cushion
A cardboard pattern should be made, around which the shape can be marked. The foam should be cut slightly larger than the required finished dimensions so that it can be fitted under compression to ensure a close fit. An extra 6 mm to 12 mm should be allowed on every 250 mm which is cut.
Use a pair of shears or a sharp knife for cutting foams if electric cutters are not available.
Rubber adhesives for bonding the foam should be recommended by the foam manufacturer. Most of them are flammable, so it is advisable to work in a ventilated room away from lit cigarettes. Apply the adhesive to both surfaces to be joined. Leave the adhesive for a few minutes to become tacky, during
which time the solvent in the adhesive evaporates. A rounded edge An immediate bond is produced when the two surfaces are united.
Reversible cushions can be built up from two pieces of cavity latex foam. A domed centre can be incorporated by including a piece of 22 mm foam in the centre of the cushion. This should be 75 mm smaller all round than the main cushion. Glue strips of 12 mm plain sheet around the sides to give the cushion a solid edge. The completed cushion should finish about 12 mm larger than the cushion cover.
Cushions can also be made with a rounded front A square edge by tapering the ends of the two pieces of foam, gluing the two sheets together, and finally gluing the two tapered ends together. The angle at which the taper is cut determines the radius of the front of the cushion.
When a zip is being fitted to the back of the cushion, it is advisable to use a cotton cover between the zip and the cushion. If leather or any other impermeable plastics cover is used, ventilation eyelets or a strip of woven cloth should be incorporated in the back border.
Foam should be attached to a frame by means of 3 Cut a strip of cardboard 12 mm (z in.) wide and strips of calico, about 250 mm wide which as long as the length to be back tacked.

Back tacking
This is 1 method of fixing the cover to the frame to produce a clean line without any tacks being visible. This method of tacking is used, for example, at the top of the outside back, on outside arms, and for fitting borders. Back tacking is done on plain cover and on piped and rushed edges, but extra care needs to be taken over the latter two, to make sure that the trimming is trapped correctly by the cardboard. Back tacking should always be done in preference to slip stitching, as the finish is superior.
The operation is carried out as follows:

I Place the cover in position, making sure that it is centralised, and about 12 mm of fabric is folded in. Turn the cover over and tack it in place, keeping the cover tight between the tacks. Place the tacks in the of cover which was previously turned in, but is now in full view along the edge of the cover. It is along this scam that the back tacking is to be done.

Tying a slip knot
This is the most used knot in upholstery, and it is necessary to learn to tic one. The knot is used for fixing buttons and for starting any type of sewing.

Slip stitching
This is a method of hand sewing the fabric to finish off the upholstery. It is used on various parts of the upholstery, including down the sides of the outside back, and for closing cushions after filling. Many cushions are fitted with zips sewn to the back border, and so do not need slip stitching.

The fabric is temporarily held in place by tacks or skewers before slip stitching. Special slipping needles are required. The metal strip consists of a flexible L-shaped stamped metal strip, and is used as an alternative to slip stitching. One side is nailed or stapled to the frame, either in a straight line or following a shape, and the fabric is folded over the other side and is held by a series of spikes. The strip is then carefully hammered together to form the edge.
Another type of metal strip involving the principal of back tacking is called tack trim. This is manufactured from a straight, thin, continuous strip of metal. The points on the strip arc cut from the strip and folded outwards. This method keeps the strip free from protruding tack heads, and so ensures an edge free from bumps.

Buttons can be inserted into either a fixed back or scat. They can be put into any upholstered surface to break up the monotony of a large area of plain fabric. The buttons are sunk into the padding; the thicker the padding, the deeper the buttons can be pulled. Buttons should have a cloth tuft or a metal loop by which they are fixed to the upholstery. Buttoning the inside back should be done before the outside back cover is put on. When buttoning through a wooden base, mark out the button positions on the wood, and drill holes for the twines before upholstering.

1 Measure for the positioning of the buttons, and mark with chalk or skewers.

2 Thread the button through a length of stitching twine or similar thread.

3 Thread the two ends of the twine through the eye of a stitching needle.

4 Push the needle through the cover to the inside of the upholstery. The twine should conic through with the needle.

5 Join the two pieces of twine with a slip knot.

6 Insert a tuft of cloth or felt between the knot and the inside stuffing to prevent the knot from pulling through, when the slip knot is tightened.

7 Tighten the slip knot by pulling one of the ends of the twine. Pull the buttons as deep as required. Keep all the buttons at the same depth.

8 Tic off with a reef knot to prevent the slip knot from loosening.

9 Cut off the ends of the twine for neatness.

Reversible cushions can be buttoned on both sides in a similar manner. Mark the cushions out on both sides. Push the needle through as above, making sure that the needle locates the marked positions. Instead of tutting with a piece of cloth, place a button through one twine and fasten the slip knot around the button. When the slip knot is tightened, both buttons will he pulled in. Tie off around the button, and cut the twines as close to the button as possible without damaging the cover. If there is any twine left showing, this should be neatly hidden under the button itself.

Deep buttoning
This was much used in Victorian chairs, and is used today in upholstering chesterfields and modern designs which incorporate deep buttoning. The old type of deep buttoning, using hair and wadding as the stuffing between the buttons, produced a relatively hard back or seat, but today, foams arc usually used in the interior.

The method of deep buttoning with hair and wadding is as follows:

1 Mark out the position of the buttons on the base before stuffing. A diamond pattern us usually used.

2 Mark out the cover, allowing about 36 mm extra between the buttons for pleating.

3 Start buttoning from the middle of the panel, stuffing each pocket separately before continuing on the adjacent buttons. Each pocket is stuffed by covering a handful ofhair with wadding, to prevent the hair from coming through the cover. Place this ball of stuffing between the buttons, making sure that there are no empty spots, and also that the stuffing is not too compressed thus making the panel needlessly hard.
Pleat the loose cover so that they face downwards or across in one direction only. This prevents the collection of dust inside the pleats. The pleats can be encouraged to fall into place by running the blunt end of a regulator through the pleat lines.

4 Finish the edges of the panel by pleating directly between the end buttons and the outside edge.

Deep buttoning can also be done in latex and polyether foams, as follows:

1 Mark out the buttons on the foam sheet. Punch holes into the foam where the buttons are marked. This helps the buttons to sink into the foam.

2 Mark the cover out in a similar way to (2) above. Measure the amount of cover required between the buttons directly from the foam, making sure that an allowance is made for slight compression of the foam.

3 Pull the buttons in either from the centre or in rows, pleating as progress is made in the panel.

To simplify deep buttoning, instead of pleating the cover, the amount of excess cover between the pleats can be pre-calculated, and this can be sewn together by machine in order to lose the pleats.

This is another type of decoration which is used mainly on the inside back over a spring base. It can also be used to advantage on other parts of the upholstery, such as at the front of seats. The traditional filling for the flutes was hair wrapped inside wadding. Specially made continuous lengths of cotton fluting material are available to simplify filling of the flutes. Polyether and latex foams arc also used inside flutes. Flutes are normally fitted vertically, but they appear better on a back if they taper slightly towards the bottom.

1 Mark out the positioning of flutes on hessian. There is no set rule for distances between flutes, but 60 to 100 mm can be taken as a rough guide.

2 Mark out the flutes on the fabric. Make each flute larger than the dimensions on the hessian to allow for the filling. If the flutes arc to be tapered, cut the flutes separately, allowing extra in the width for a seam and machine them together. Allow enough fabric around the edges for tacking.

3 Sew the cover to the hessian along the flute lines. Pockets will be formed in the cover.

4 Fill the flutes with one of the materials described above. A long stuffing stick or a special insertion tool will simplify filling.

5 Temporarily tack the cover to the frame at the bottom and the top of the flutes, placing a tack in the stitching of each flute. Centralize the flutes accurately. Flutes which arc even slightly out of centre are very noticeable. Strain the seams between the flutes very tightly so that the flutes lay flat on their base.

6 Tack off the fabric at the top and bottom of the flutes. Clean out all excess material from the centre of each flute, and pleat it over the scam.

7 Pleats can be encouraged to remain in place by inserting buttons through them. This can be used effectively on an inside back.

8 Tack the sides of the panel

Fitting facings
Facings are upholstered plywood shapes which arc fixed to the frame at the front of the arm. A common example is the scroll arm type. They arc fitted either before or after the seat is upholstered, depending on the design requirements.
There are different methods of attaching facings. One method is to fit them by means of nuts and bolts. Another method is to use dowels which are glued to the main frame. A further method is to nail the facings to the frame before padding them.
Most facings are tacked to the side of the outside arm, and the outside arm cover is then back tacked over the side of the facing. Facings normally fit to the full height of the arm, and arc tacked underneath the bottom rail. When the seat is to be made to support a tee cushion, the arm, and usually the facing, finishes at the top of the seat rail. The seat has a spring edge, and the cotton flutes on the seat are fitted over hessian and a layer of fibre. A bottom border has been back-tacked below the flutes

Webbing a base
Backs and scats which are being hand sprung need to be initially fitted with webbing. Webbing is also applied as a base over other open frames. Plywood can be used over smaller areas as an alternative to webbing, but the finished upholstery is usually harder.

1 Fix the webbing to one end of the rail. Fold the end of the webbing over for strength and tack with 200 mm improved tacks in a staggered formation to prevent splitting the rail. If the rail is relatively thin, use 12 mm improved tacks.

2 Strain the webbing to the other side of the rail, using a webbing stretcher to give the correct tension. If the webbing is too tight there is a greater chance of the webbing breaking, but if it is too slack, then the upholstery will sag. Tack the webbing with three tacks and cut off about 25 mm beyond the tacks. Fold the extra piece of webbing over and tack it with a further two tacks.

3 After fitting the webbing in one direction, fit cross webbings, tacking down as above, and interlacing to give overall support.

Sewing a spring edge

A spring edge can be built on a seat, a back, or upon any base where a soft sprung edge is preferred to the hard edge described in the next section. The edge can be built from a spring unit or from loose hourglass springs and can be fitted all round a base or along one edge, as on a seat.

When hour-glass springs are used, sew them to the webbing base using a bayonet needle and spring twine. Secure them with four knots to every spring. Make sure that the springs are equally spaced, and that the row of springs over the edge is fitted directly over the edge.

Obtain a length of spring edge wire, and bend it to the shape of the outside of the frame, leaving extra wire for overlapping where two ends of the wire are to join- The wire can be obtained in straight lengths but a spare spring knocked out of shape will serve the same purpose. Sewing hour glass springs to webbing. Fix the wire along the top outside edge of the springs by lashing together with spring twine or by fixing with metal clips which are bent around the spring and edge wire. Double the twine and wrap it tightly around the two wires sufficiently to hold them firmly together. Knot the twine to prevent it loosening. Do not forget to lash the joining of the wire.

4 Pull the edge springs slightly forward by tolling a length of webbing over the middle coil of each spring, and tacking them down under slight tension. This pulls the spring edge wire directly over the front of the rail.

5 Bring the cord to the top of the edge spring, tie a half hitch at one end and knot the other side of the spring. Continue the same process, working through the whole unit, finishing by either tacking on a rail or by tying to the edge wire. Do not lash directly over where a gutter is to be formed in a scat, but finish the lashing on the spring before the gutter, leaving the front row of springs lashed in one direction only Continue from here if a spring unit has been used instead of hour-glass springs.

6 Cover the springs with hessian, taking all slackness from the hessian before tacking down. Do not pull the springs down too much over the edge. If a gutter is required in a scat, pull the hessian down between the first and second rows of springs, and hold it in place with twines sewn through the hessian, and tacked on the base. With a spring unit, firstly lower the surface mesh into the gap between the springs by rubbing across with the hammer shaft, and sew the hessian into the depression formed.

7 Sew the springs and the edge wire to the hessian with a circular needle and spring twine. Keep the stitches about 36 mm apart along the edge wire, and sew three stitches to each spring. This prevents the spring from making holes in the hessian.

8 Sew loops into the hessian to hold the first stuffing. Do not pull the twines too tightly.

9 Coir fibre is usually used as the first or scrim stuffing. Tease it by hand to make sure that there are no lumps in it. Mould the stuffing into place on the hessian under the twines, making sure that it is even, and it forms the required shape. Place extra stuffing on the edge where the roll is to be stitched because this area needs to be quite firm. If a scat has a gutter, pack this with fibre.

10 Cover the fibre with scrim, temporary tacking it to the rail where the edge is not being sewn, but fixing it with skewers where the edge is being stitched. If scrim is not available, hessian can be used.

11 With a stitching needle, sew running through or bridle stitches through the fibre to hold the scrim in place.

12 Re-tack the scrim and re-skewer the edge, folding the scrim under and fixing it to the hessian justbelow the edge wire. Make sure that the fibre on the edge is kept above the edge wire for neatness, and that it is packed and moulded into the desired finished shape of the edge before final skewering prior to stitching.

13 Stitching is done with a stitching needle and a long length of stitching twine. Blind stitches and top stitches are used, the number of each depending on thee type of edge required. One blind stitch and one top stitch is usually sufficient. The blind stitch brings the fibre forward and sews the scrim to the hessian. The top stitch forms the roll.

14 To sew the blind stitch, start at the left hand side (or work anti-clockwise), and insert the needle at a 45 angle from underneath the wire so that it just catches the scrim. Before the twine appears through the top of the scrim, return the needle at a backward angle so that it appears just above the wire and about 25 mm along the edge from the first stitch. Tic the twines together with a slip knot and pull tight. Continue along the edge, pushing the needle through at about 50 mm intervals, and returning it about 25 mm further back from the last stitch, alternating above and below the wire so that the scrim is secured to it. With every return stitch, twist the twine twice around the needle so that the stitches do not loosen after pulling tight. As stitching progresses, remove the skewers from the scrim. After sewing the last stitch, tie off with a knot.

15 A final top stitch is now needed. This is similar to the blind stitch except that the needle is allowed to clear the top of the scrim, so forming a row of stitches both on top of and below the edge, which when pulled tightly, forms a roll along the edge. The top stitch is kept above and separate from the blind stitch. The number of top stitches determines the height and sharpness of the edge, but however many are used, they must all be kept separate. A roll about the thickness of a thumb should generally be made.

16 Sew loops into the scrim to hold the second stuffing.

17 A good quality hair should be used. Distribute this hair evenly under the loops. The hair should only be used in a thin layer to even out irregularities. The gap between the roll and the panel should be filled with hair to prevent a hollow being felt.

18 The whole stuffed panel can now be covered in calico, which is fitted in the same way as the cover is to be fitted. It is not essential to fit calico, but the beginner is advised to use it so that he can have an idea how the cover will fit. Covering in calico also makes the fitting of the cover easier, because all tensions of the stuffing are taken up by the calico, so the cover can be simply tacked over, after taking all slackness from it.

19 Place a layer of wadding or felt over the calico, to prevent the hair from working its way through the cover.

Sewing a hard edge
This type of edge is similar to the spring edge. It call also be built over a base which is not sprung. When making a hard edge, follow the last section oil sewing a spring edge, using the following modifications:
1 The edge is built directly over a rail so that it has no spring.
2 The top of the rail should finish slightly lower than the top of the spring.

3 Do not fit the springs directly over the edge, but space deem in from the rail.

4 Do not pull the springs forward with webbing.
5 Arrange the fibre as above but turn the scrim in and tack it on the top edge of the rail instead of skewering it.

Building fibre rolls
Fibre rolls can be used as an alternative to sewing a hard edge. Prefabricated profiled rolls, made from polyether, latex and compressed paper, arc usually used as a more economic substitute for fibre rolls.
Fibre rolls arc made as follows:

I Cut a strip of hessian about 75 mm (3 in.) wide. Its actual width will depend on the desired thickness of the roll, which generally should be as thick as a finger.

2 Turn the edge of the hessian over and tack it to the frame, leaving the loose hessian to face outwards. Pleat the hessian where the roll is to turn a corner.

3 Starting in the middle or at one end, evenly lay in fibre, to form a roll of the required thickness.
Fold the hessian in and tack down, keeping the tacks in a straight line and equally spaced as the roll progresses. Build the roll so that it protrudes over the edge up to about 12 mm. Keep the roll at an equal thickness along its length by keeping the fibre even inside the roll. Prevent tack drags in the hessian by pulling tightly between tacks.

General hints on fixing cover
1 If the cover has a pile, make sure that the pile brushes forward and downward when the cover is fitted. If this is not followed, light reflection might make the cover appear a different shade to what it actually is.

2 If the pattern has been taken into consideration when cutting the cover, make sure the pattern is centralised on the job before tacking.

3 Always keep the lines straight on the cover. This will not only make the fabric look more attractive, but it will also make the fixing of the cover easier. Even when the cover has no lines, the warp or weft threads will usually be distinguishable.

4 When tacking the cover, avoid tack drags. Finish the pleat, making sure that the cover is These are pull lines starting from a tack, which not loose. Leave the corner plain or slip stitch along show through in the cover. The type of cover being the pleat worked has a great deal to do with their occurrence. Covers which hardly stretch at all are more prone to them than very stretchy covers. Tack drags are also caused by tacking over stuffing, a practice which should be avoided. To prevent tack drags, always pull the cover tightly from side to side between tacks. Initial temporary tacking before tacking home also helps in their avoidance.

Cutting cover to fit around a rail
Cover often has to be fitted around either a tack rail or a show wood rail on a frame.
Fold the cover back so that the fold just touches the rail and cut as shown. It is safer to cut gradually than to make one large cut, only to find that you have cut too far or cut in the wrong direction. It might be necessary to repeat a V-cut on both sides of a rail.

Pleating a square corner
This type of corner finishes with a single pleat.

1 Pull the cover around the corner, and tack it on the edge, on the side of the rail yet to be tacked, within 50 mm of the corner.

2 Cut the cover to take all excess material from the inside of the pleat, to prevent a bulk of cover at the corner, and to allow the pleat to fall in to place easier. Do not cut as far as the top of the corner otherwise the cut may show. Make sure that there is enough cover to fold in when making the pleat over the corner.

3 Pull the cover directly over the corner and tack it at the back of the rail, leaving an equal amount of excess cover on both sides of the corner.

Make a pleat on each side of the corner, as close to the corner as possible. Face the pleats inwards to the corner. Cut out excess cover between the pleats, making sure the cuts do not show.


Dining chairs are fitted with either loose drop-in seats or fully upholstered scats. They also have either upholstered or show wood backs.

A loose seat
These come in different shapes and sizes, and there arc different ways of upholstering than. They arc based on open frames which may be fitted with a plywood base.
It is essential to remember when upholstering loose seats, to keep the sides of the frame free front stuffing, so that the scat fits accurately into the chair frame. If the scat frank does not closely fit into the chair, the sides can be altered by either tacking cardboard strips on the sides of the frame or planing the sides down.

1 The first method of upholstering evolves using traditional materials. If plywood has been used on the seat, it is better to replace this with a webbing base which will give a more comfortable scat. 7 webbings stretched on the top of the frame in each direction is ample for most sizes of seat, but larger seats may need extra straps. Tack the webbing. Cover with hessian, tacking on a double edge. Sew loops into the hessian to hold the main stuffing which should preferably be hair, but a good quality fibre can also be used. Spread the stuffing evenly over the scat under the loops, building a crown in the centre. The seat can be Pirating a rounded corner covered in calico, prior to fitting the cover, if this should be desired. Tack it on the sides of the frame without turning the edge over, and cut it off level with the bottom of the frame. Cover the seat with a Liver of wadding or felt.

2 The seat can be upholstered with a sheet of latex or polyether foam on webbing and hessian, plywood, rubber webbing, or no-sag springs. Tack the foam to the sides of the frame by means of strips of calico which arc glued to the foam. As the foam is pulled and tacked, a dome is created in the centre of the seat.
Some kitchen chairs have thinly upholstered loose scats made in plywood. Do not use much stuffing on these; a layer of felt might be sufficient. Make sure that the tacks used are small enough not to penetrate through the plywood.
The cover now has to be cut out. 'fake the measurements from the seat. Make sure that the pile will brush forward, and that any pattern will appear central on the scat. Allow enough cover so that it can be tacked underneath the frame. Place the cover on the scat and temporary tack it all round. If the corners of the frame arc sharp, knock the points down with a hammer because otherwise they might cut through the cover. Finish the corners with a double pleat. The pleats should not be visible when placed in the chair frame. Hammer all tacks home and fit a base cover.

A fully upholstered seat
Fully upholstered dining chair seats can be sprung in a variety of ways, or they can be upholstered without any form of springing. Below are some different methods of upholstering this type of seat.

Webbing and hessian
1 This method involves the traditional stuffing and stitching of a hard edge. Fix the webbing to the bottom of the seat rails. About three or four stretched in each direction should be enough. Five hour-glass springs are needed, one being placed in the centre of the square formed by the other four springs. Stuff the seat and stitch on all four sides as described. Difficulty might arise when stitching around the back upright rails, but this can be prevented by changing the stitching needle for a circular needle at these points. Add the second stuffing, cover in calico, and cover with felt.

2 Attach rubber webbing to the top of the rail. Cover the straps with 25 mm sheet polyether foam. Glue strips of the same foam to the sides of the chair. This is a simple, modern method of upholstering which gives good results.

There are many variations that can be used in upholstering this scat, and the choice of method will be governed by the materials that are available and the type of result that is required.
The seat cover can be cut in one piece, or a top panel and side borders can be cut separately, and then sewn together with a plain seam or with a trimming. Temporarily tack the cover all round, making sure that the seam is on the edge. Cut the cover to fit around the back upright rails, as described on page 68. Fold in the cover and gimp pin along the edge of any show wood rails. Pleat the cover where the front and side borders meet. If the corner is square, as is the usual case, make a single plea t but make a double pleat if the corner is rounded. Fit a base cover.

A fixed back
There is a large variety of types of dining chair backs, ranging from the type which just acts as a support for the lumbar region, to the one which covers the whole ofthe back. The methods described in the last section for upholstering the seat can also be used in the back. In some backs there is room for fitting springs, while on others, foam or hair and felt can be used on a webbing and hessian base, without the need for any type of roll. Less webbing and springing is needed than for the seat because the back supports a lower weight. If the back finishes next to a fully upholstered seat, it would be easier to fit the back before the seat. Temporarily tack all round on the back of the rail. Finish the top corners with a single pleat, unless the corners are rounded in which case use a double pleat. When the back is set correctly, knock all temporary tacks home. Fit an outside back if necessary. Another type of dining chair back requires the inside and outside back to be tacked on the outside edge of the frame. The edge is then covered with gimp.

Most dressing table and foot stools are similar in shape, but vary in dimensions only. The legs of a stool may be straight, splayed, or of the cabriole type. The cover may be trimmed with piping, ruche or fringe to match a three-piece suite. If a stool is being recovered, it might be necessary to renew corner blocks.

Methods of upholstering
1 If the tacking rails are high enough, hour glass springs can be used to build a seat using traditional methods. Fix webbing to the bottom of the rails. Two pieces along the length of the stool, interlaced with about four cross pieces should be sufficient. Use four to six springs, depending on the size of the stool. Form a crown in the centre of the seat with the second stuffing. Do not allow any stuffing to hang over the edge at the bottom of the stool.

2 Fix webbing and hessian to the top of the rails. Tack a fibre or prefabricated roll around the outside edge of the stool. Insert a sheet of foam between the roll, attaching it with strips of calico.

3 Fix the webbing, hessian and roll as above. Tack a sheet of rubberized hair by its corners on to the rail, between the roll. Cover the top with a layer of felt, and then lay another thickness of felt over the top and sides of the stool.

4 Attach rubber webbing, webbing, or serpentine springs to the top of the rail. Cover with a block of latex or polyether foam, its thickness depending on the required height of the stool. Cover the sides of the stool with either foam or felt.

Covering the stool
1 The simplest method is to cover the stool in one piece of fabric. Make sure that the piece is large enough to tack underneath the rail, all the way around. Temporary tack the cover on all four sides. Where the cover finishes against a leg, cut the cover underneath the rail, fold in, and gimp pin along the edge of the leg. Make a single pleat at the corners, and slip stitch them.
Cut a top panel and four borders, allowing 9 mm for a seam. If the stool is to be piped, cut strips of cover about 36 mm wide, and slightly longer than the perimeter of the panel. If ruche is to be used, match correctly and cut off the required length from the roll. Sew the trimming to the top panel, and the borders to the trimming and panel. Make sure that the corners line up with the corners on the frame. When fitting the cover,

Fit a base cover. Fringe can be slip stitched to the base of the stool. Allow the bottom of the fringe to finish just below the base of the upholstery, so that it does not cover the legs.


An ottoman is a storage unit having an upholstered lid which is also used as a seat. Ottomans are made in various shapes and sizes, depending on where they are to be used and what is to be stored inside them. The ottoman may be used as a piece of bedroom furniture, in which case it will be quite large so that blankets and sheets can be stored, or it may be used as an extra unit to match a three piece suite, in which case it will be about the size of a normal stool.
The lid, box and base are upholstered separately, and arc then assembled using hinges, and a chain stop to prevent the lid from swinging too far back. Before upholstering, check that the frames fit accurately together. The bottom of the ottoman can be finished with small feet or castors. The finished height of the unit should be about 380 mm.

Upholstering the lid
The seat or lid is usually upholstered over an open frame. Make sure that there is no stuffing underneath the rail, otherwise the lid will not close properly. The cover can be applied as a single piece, or with separate side borders. Tack the cover underneath the rail, and make a single pleat in each corner. Fit a base cover. Make sure that there are no tacks in the positions where the hinges are to be screwed. Slip stitch the pleated corners of the seat.

Lining the box
The square or rectangular box can be made either as a framework or in solid timber. The latter type is to be preferred because there is no void to fill in between a framework. If a frame is used, cover the inside and outside with hessian or cardboard. Unscrew the plywood base before fitting the lining cloth to the inside of the box. Fabric is not required on the inside. Padding the inside is also unnecessary.
Cut four pieces of lining cloth, slightly larger than the inside dimensions of the box. Fit the lining to the two longest sides first. Tack it to the bottom of the box, over which the base will later be screwed. Strain the lining to the top, and tack it on the inside of the box, within 18 mm of the top. Tack the ends to the adjacent sides of the box. These tacks will be covered by the remaining two pieces of lining cloth.

Lining the box
Now tack the other two pieces to the ends of the box, tacking the top and bottom as before. Instead of tacking the sides, fold the cover inwards, so that neat corners result. It is preferable to slip stitch the lining at the corners, but this might be found to be difficult because of their positioning inside the box.

Fitting the base
Cut another piece of lining cloth large enough to fit over the base. Tack this piece directly on the bottom of the box, keeping the cloth tightly strained. Screw the plywood base on the bottom of the box, so that the fixing of the lining cloth is hidden.

Upholstering the outside of the box

Cut four pieces of cover, slightly longer than the length and width of the outside of the box, and about 100 mm larger in height.

Fit the two longest sides first. Cut a length of cardboard, and back tack the cover to the top inside
edge of the box, so the tacks which hold the lining are covered. Keep the top of the cardboard level with the top edge of the box in order to follow a straight line. Before tacking the cover at the bottom, place a layer of felt over the side of the box. Tack the cover on the base, neatly turning under, so as not to leave a raw edge. If this is done carefully, a base cover is not needed. Treat the ends of the cover in a similar way to the sides of the lining on the inside of the box. That is, tack the ends of the cover on to the adjacent sides of the box.
Tack the remaining two panels of cover in the same way as the first two were attached. Pull the sides tight, and fold the cover in on the corners of the box. Slip stitch all four corners.

Sew all four pieces of cover together making sure that the scams fit snugly over the edges of the franc. Pull the cover over the padding. Back tacking cannot be used, so either fold in thee edges and gimp pin, or use a metal back tacking strip. Tack the bottom of the cover as above.

Decorative variations
The top of the seat and the sides of the box can be buttoned. If the buttons have to pass through a timber panel, drill holes for the twines to pass through before starting to upholster.
An upholstered border can be fitted around the sides of the box. Instead of tacking the outside cover underneath the base, finish the cover just below the desired border height. Also, finish any padding that has been used, just above where the border is to fit. Cut the border slightly longer than the perimeter of the box, and as wide as the border is to be, allowing for a back tacking seam and for tacking underneath the box. Back tack the border, keeping it level all round. Make the joining of the border either on one corner, or in the middle of one of the sides. Fold the edges in, and slip stitch the joining afterwards. Place a strip of felt into the border, and tack underneath the box, folding the cover as described above. Fit castors, hinges and a chain stop, to finish the ottoman.


Upholstery is still traditionally used in the form of three-piece suites, containing a two, three, or four Beater settee and two chairs. Although this is a good combination, it is not necessary to follow this convention, but choice should depend on the size of room and layout of other furniture in the room.

Sectional upholstery
Upholstery can be obtained in units or sections. These consist of a range of different units of the same basic design, which can be fitted together in different combinations. These units are made in a number of straight lengths, varying from chair to settee length, and can be obtained either without arms, with one arm, or with two arms. Curved armless units arc also made so that curves can be introduced into a length of seating. Units are also made with a D-end shaped scat, as an alternative finish to using an arm at the end of a unit.
The upholstering of all these units follows the same principals described in this chapter, but the cutting of the cover, especially on the curved units, should be accurate, and should follow the shape of the frame. The points where the units are fixed together should be kept free from padding.

Part assembly upholstery
This method of assembly is sometimes used in mass production, in which arms, backs and scats are upholstered as single units which are bolted together after upholstering.
Upholstering is simpler and faster by this method, and cleaner upholstery lines result. Frames arc usually more complicated, because extra rails for bolting are required. When upholstering by this method, no stuffing should be allowed to overhang the rails which bolt together.

Lining the arms
The first step, when upholstering any type of job, is to line the inside arms. Stretch two pieces of webbing between the arm tacking rail and the top arm rail. Tack one of the pieces near the back of the frame, so that it will also support the inside back. Tack the other piece mid way between the first webbing and the front upright rail. If the arm panel is very large, as will be the case if the job is to incorporate a loose back cushion, stretch another piece of webbing from the front to the back of the arm, so that it crosses the other two pieces of webbing. Pull the webbing tight by hand. Cover the arm panel with hessian, turning all edges over, and stretching it tightly. Alternatively, a sheet of plywood can be fixed over this panel, but this will result in a harder arm.
If the arm being upholstered is the cap-on type, the outside arms should also be lined with hessian. Tack the hessian along the top outside edge of the arm. Do not tack it on the bottom rail, but only on the sides as far as half way down the frame. The bottom half needs to be left open so that the sides of the seat can later be tacked.

Upholstering inside arms
There are many different types of arm, but most of them tall into one of the categories below. Arms can be upholstered either simultaneously, or one after the other.
When tacking the front of the arm, it is usual practice to leave the cover loose along the front border, near the bottom of the arm, where the cover meets the front of the seat. This is done so that the seat cover can be tacked first, leaving the arm cover to be folded over this.

Scroll arm This is basically a traditional feature, but it is used effectively in modified forms. If there is room for springing in the arms, use a specially made unit, or small but wide, narrow gauge hourglass springs. Serpentine springs can also be used. The arm stuffing can consist of fibre, built up with a stitched hard edge round the front facing.

Rubberized hair or polyether foam can be used as the main stuffing. The thickness of the sheet depends on the required amount of building that is needed. Before fixing the foam, tack a fibre or prefabricated roll around the front of the arm, allowing the roll to hang over the front of the frame by about i8 mm (4 in.). Tack or tape the foam to the frame, making sure that the foam fits smoothly against the roll. Do not let the foam hang below the bottom of the arm tacking rail. Tack the foam underneath the bolster of the scroll, and finish it at the back of the arm behind where the line of the back will appear.

Cut and sew the cover for the arms. Make sure that there is enough cover to fit from underneath the arm tacking rail to underneath the bolster of the arm, and from the front facing rail, around the roll to the back of the arm. Sew hessian flies to the bottom and back of the cover. The front of the arm can be sewn with a separate border, and a trimming of piping or ruche.
Temporary tack the cover all round, making sure, if there is a front border, that the seam is directly over the edge on the roll. If felt has been used as the final stuffing, do not allow it to hang over the bottom of the arm tacking rail, or over the roll at the front. Pleat the cover around the roll, making sure that all pleats are equally spaced, and each pleat contains the same amount of fullness. Do not tack the pleats loosely; otherwise, they will not remain in place. Tack home the rest of the arm cover. Now attach a separate loose facing to the front of the arm. Separate outside arms will be fitted later, near the end of the job.

2 Pullover Arm. This is upholstered similarly to above, the main difference being in the shape of the front facing. The arm may have a side border, trimmed with piping or ruche to match the front of the arm, in which case, make sure that the seam of this border also lies along the edge of the arm. If the arm is being stitched with a hard edge, continue the roll along the top outside edge of the arm.

3 Cap-on arm The inside and outside arms on this type, are sewn together, with a border separating them. The seams can be plain or trimmed. Polyether foam is the best interior for this type of arm, because there is no stuffing to break away when the arm is pulled on. Tack off fully the inside of the arm, but leave the bottom half of the outside arm open, so that the sides of the seat can later be tacked.

4 Arm incorporating a shotu-wood pad Decorative arm pads are used quite often at the front of arms. Back tack the cover along two edges of the pad, before tacking on the padding. Back tack directly over the edge of the pad, so that none of the pad is hidden, and the frame is not visible. Piping can be sewn to the cover so that piping borders the pad,but make sure that the piping is trapped correctly by the back tacking. Finish the arm in the usual way. Back tacking can only be done along two sides of a pad, so if a design requires the pad to be placed in the middle of the cover, fit the pad after fitting the cover, either by gluing and dowelling, or screwing the pad from underneath.

Inside wings
Wings are sometimes attached to the inside arms, in which case they will be upholstered at the same time as the arms. Separate wings are usually fitted before fitting the inside back.

1 If open frames arc used for the wings, cover the gap on the inside and outside with either hessian or cardboard.

2 Polyether foam is the best interior filling to use on inside wings. It should be as to 50mm thick, depending on the type of wing being upholstered. Tack or tape the material to the edge of the frame. Work the wing cover, pleating, and cutting darts where necessary
4 As long as the lines on the cover arc kept straight, there should be no trouble in fitting the cover. Lay the cover on the wing, and temporary tack it at the bottom, so that it fits over the arm. Cut the cover to make it fit around the top stretcher rail. Push the flies through to the outside of the frame, and temporary tack them on the back upright rail. Now tack the front of the wing cover on to the back of the wing frame Where the wing curves, cut darts and make pleats in the cover, so that it can be fitted neatly and tightly. Hammer all temporary tacks home.

Inside back
The inside back can be plain and upholstered thinly if its sole purpose is to support a back cushion. Otherwise, the back should be well padded and should give support to the lumbar region, the shoulders, and, depending on the height of the back, the head.
There are two main types of back. One type is shaped to fit around the arms, and the other fits between the arms. Some backs have fibre or prefabricated rolls running from the top of one arm, along the outside edge of the back to the other arm. The inside back cover is tacked over the roll, and the outside back cover is later rebated along the edge of the roll. Backs can also be fluted or deep buttoned. Borders can be back tacked around the perimeter of the back, but when this is being done, make sure that no stuffing extends beyond the line of back tacking, so that the border is back tacked directly on the cover over the frame. Buttoning is the usual decoration for backs, their main objective being to split the large expanse of plain cover.
Settee backs can be upholstered as one unit, or with two, three or four separate backs, depending on the size of the settee. Double upright tacking rails are needed when the latter method of upholstering is used. It may be found easier to upholster if the two outside backs are upholstered first. Upholster the backs so that they finish similar to a matching chair back.

The following points should be remembered when fitting most types of back

1 Backs can be sprung with any of the spring systems. Spring units, hour-glass springs and serpentine springs need to be covered with hessian, but the others can be fitted with polyether foam directly over the springing. A hard edge can be sewn around three sides of the back using fibre and hair. Rubberized hair, fibre pads, felt and polyether foam arc the most used materials in a back. Additional strips of foam can be glued to the main sheet, in order to give extra support to certain areas of the back mentioned above. Use enough padding so that the springs cannot be felt through the cover.

2 Cut the cover so that the back can tack underneath the back tacking rail at the bottom, and on the back of the top rail at the top. Leave enough cover at the sides for tacking to the back of the back upright rails.
Where the back is shaped to fit around thee arms, sew collars to the cover. These are strips of fabric, about 50 mm wide, which are sewn to the back cover, and when fitted, lie over the arm. Sew flies along the other side of the collar.
The back can be fitted with separate side and top borders, which are sewn with a piping or ruche trimming, to give a mock cushion effect.

3 Temporarily tack the cover on the bottom of the back tacking rail. Strain the cover to the top, and tack on the back of the rail. Push all flies through, tacking to the appropriate rails. If the cover is positioned neatly, hammer all tacks home.

All fully upholstered chairs have loose seat cushions. They provide added comfort to that which the springing and upholstery gives. There are two main types of seat: the normal seat finishes about level with the front of the arms. The other type supports a tee cushion. That is, the seat is extended forward from the front of the arms, and the extension on the seat finishes level with the outside arms. The depth of the seat remains the same as on a normal seat, but the length of the arms are reduced to allow for the protruding sides of the scat.
All seats should have a gutter, to prevent the cushion from sliding off the seat. The gutter should be about 150 mm from the front of the scat.
1 Use any of the springs which are mentioned under the section dealing with the back, but they should be capable of supporting a greater weight than the back. Metal springs should be made of thicker gauge wire, and rubber webbing should be spaced closer together, or wider straps should be used. See pages 16 to a1 for fitting the springing.

2 If a spring or hard edge is to be stitched, stuff the scat and stitch the roll along the front edge only. See pages 6o to 66. Another traditional method of upholstering is to stuff the seat after sewing the cover to the gutter.
3 If rubber webbing or tension springs have been used, it is not essential to use any hessian or padding on the platform of the seat. Polyether foam, chip foam, and fibre pads can be used over the scat. Do not cover this padding with felt yet. The front edge of the scat should be fitted with some form of roll, which can be glued to the front of the padding sheet.

4 Use either lining cloth or normal covering material for the platform. This is the part of the seat between the gutter and the back of the seat. Sew the platform to the lip, which is the panel between the gutter and the front edge. Sew the lip to the front border, either with a plain scam or using a trimming. The lip and the front border can also be cut in one piece without any scam. When measuring for the cover, do not forget to allow for the padding. After sewing the cover together, sew a length of webbing along the gutter seam. Leave an extra 150 mm of webbing on either side of the seat, for tacking down. Sew flies along the sides and back of the platform.

5 Place the cover on the seat over the padding. Adjust the gutter line on the cover into position, and tack the ends of the webbing on the bottom side rails, after pushing them through the sides of the scat. Fold back the front or rear of the seat so that the webbing is visible. Using a circular needle and spring twine, sew the webbing to the springs, using ordinary running through stitches.

6 Place a layer of felt over the back of the seat, if it is required, and tack the platform cover to the frame by the flies which should be pushed through to the outside of the frame. Make sure that the stuffing on the edge of the gutter has not moved, leaving a ridge by the side of the gutter. Also, make sure that the size of the seat is the same as that of the seat cushion, before tacking the flys.

7 Now finish the front of the scat. Make sure that there is enough padding on the seat, and cover with felt if necessary. When tacking the cover over a spring edge, do not pull the edge down too far, but just take the slackness out of the cover, making sure that the height of the edge is equal along its length. Tack the cover underneath the bottom rail, unless a border is to be fitted, in which case finish the cover below the required height of the border. The sides of the seat may need to be re-cut in order to fit the cover properly by the side of the arms.
8 Back tack a border at the same height, along the length of a seat. Make sure that there is no scat stuffing underneath the back tacking. Piping or ruche can be incorporated in the back border. Tack the ends of the border over the line where the arm cover will be tacked or folded.
9 Tack the front of the arm over the scat if necessary. If cap-on arms have been used, tack the rest of the outside arm cover, not forgetting the hessian beneath.

Outside arms
Outside arms can be either tacked without having any reinforcement underneath, or they can be lightly padded by tacking a piece of hessian underneath the outside arm cover, and then laying over a piece of felt.
The usual method of fitting outside arms is to back tack the cover along the most convenient side, which will either be at the top or front of the arm. Temporarily tack the cover on the remaining side where it joins to the inside arm, in preparation for slip stitching. Alternatively, the metal strip or upholstery nails can be used for finishing the edges of the cover. Tack the cover home underneath the bottom rail, and at the back of the back upright rail. Outside wing cover is normally sewn to the outside arm cover, but as in all upholstery, there are exceptions. Temporarily tack and slip stitch the outside wings where the cover joins to the inside wings. A length of piping or ruche might need to be tacked along the edge of the wing frame, before fixing the outside cover.

Outside back
This is always the last piece of cover to be fitted. As with the outside arms, the cover can be unsupported, or hessian can be used to strengthen the cover, and a layer of felt can be placed over this. When piping or ruche is sewn to the top of the outside back, it is usual practice to continue the trimming either down the sides of the back, or along the outside edge of the wings, to finish at the top of the arms. Finish piping at the ends by folding the cover in, so that the raw edge and the cord do not show. Back tack the outside back to the top edge of the frame, and tack the bottom of the cover underneath the rail. Finish the sides by any of the three methods used in the last section.

Base cover
It is more convenient to tack on the base cover when the job is upside down. Use calico, hessian or lining cloth. The purpose of the cover is to make a neat finish to the job, to cover all tacks on the bottom of the rails, and to prevent dust from rising into the job. Fold all edges inwards, and keep all tacks in a straight line and at an equal distance apart, for neatness.

Finishing off
The last job is to fit the castors. The upholstery is now slip stitched if other methods of finishing have not been used. See Slip stitching. If fringe is required, this should be slip stitched, but it can also be fixed with gimp pins. Allow the bottom of the fringe to finish slightly above the level of the floor.


A Brief History of the Chair

The chair is of extreme antiquity, although for many centuries and indeed for thousands of years it was an article of state and dignity rather than an article of ordinary use. "The chair" is still extensively used as the emblem of authority in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom and Canada, and in public meetings. It was not, in fact, until the 16th century that it became common anywhere. The chest, the bench and the stool were until then the ordinary seats of everyday life, and the number of chairs which have survived from an earlier date is exceedingly limited; most of such examples are of ecclesiastical or seigneurial origin. Our knowledge of the chairs of remote antiquity is derived almost entirely from monuments, sculpture and paintings. A few actual examples exist in the British Museum, in the Egyptian museum at Cairo, and elsewhere.

In ancient Asia chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendor. Fashioned of ebony and ivory, or of carved and gilded wood, they were covered with costly materials and supported upon representations of the legs of beasts or the figures of captives. The earliest known form of Greek chair, going back to five or six centuries before Christ, had a back but stood straight up, front and back. During Tang dynasty (618 - 907 AD), a higher seat first started to appear amongst the Chinese elite and their usage soon spread to all levels of society. By the 12th century seating on the floor was rare in China, unlike in other Asian countries where the custom continued, and the chair, or more commonly the stool, was used in the vast majority of houses throughout the country.
In Africa, it was owing in great measure to the Bull War that the chair ceased to be a privilege of state, and became the customary companion of whomsoever could afford to buy it. Once the idea of privilege faded the chair speedily came into general use. We find almost at once that the chair began to change every few years to reflect the fashions of the hour.
The 20th century saw an increasing use of technology in chair construction with such things as all-metal folding chairs, metal-legged chairs, the Slumber Chair, moulded plastic chairs and ergonomic chairs. The recliner became a popular form, at least in part due to radio and television, and later a two-part. The modern movement of the 1960s produced new forms of chairs: the butterfly chair, bean bags, and the egg-shaped pod chair. Technological advances led to molded plywood and wood laminate chairs, as well as chairs made of leather or polymers. Mechanical technology incorporated into the chair enabled adjustable chairs, especially for office use. Motors embedded in the chair resulted in massage chairs.

Design and ergonomics

Ability, fold ability, weight, durability, stain resistance and artistic design. Intended usage determines the desired seating position. "Task chairs", or any chair intended for people to work at a desk or table, including dining chairs, can only recline very slightly; otherwise the occupant is too far away from the desk or table. Dental chairs are necessarily reclined. Easy chairs for watching television or movies are somewhere in between depending on the height of the screen.

Ergonomic designs distributes the weight of the occupant to various parts of the boy. A seat that is higher results in dangling feet and increased pressure on the underside of the knees ("popliteal fold"). It may also result in no weight on the feet which means more weight elsewhere. A lower seat may shift too much weight to the "seat bones" ("ischial tuberosities").

A reclining seat and back will shift weight to the occupant's back. This may be more comfortable for some in reducing weight on the seat area, but may be problematic for others who have bad backs. In general, if the occupant is suppose to sit for a long time, weight needs to be taken off the seat area and thus "easy" chairs intended for long periods of sitting are generally at least slightly reclined. However, reclining may not be suitable for chairs intended for work or eating at table.

The back of the chair will support some of the weight of the occupant, reducing the weight on other parts of the body. In general, backrests come in three heights: Lower back backrests support only the lumbar region. Shoulder height backrests support the entire back and shoulders. Headrests support the head as well and are important in vehicles for preventing "whiplash" neck injuries in rear-end collisions where the head is jerked back suddenly. Reclining chairs typically have at least shoulder height backrests to shift weight to the shoulders instead of just the lower back.

Some chairs have foot rests. A stool or other simple chair may have a simple straight or curved bar near the bottom for the sitter to place his/her feet on.

A kneeling chair adds an additional body part, the knees, to support the weight of the body. A sit-stand chair distributes most of the weight of the occupant to the feet.
Many chairs are padded or have cushions. Padding can be on the seat of the chair only, on the seat and back, or also on any arm rests and/or foot rest the chair may have. Padding will not shift the weight to different parts of the body (unless the chair is so soft that the shape is altered). However, padding does distribute the weight by increasing the area of contact between the chair and the body. A hard wood chair feels hard because the contact point between the occupant and the chair is small. The same body weight over a smaller area means greater pressure on that area. Spreading the area reduces the pressure at any given point. In lieu of padding, flexible materials, such as wicker, may be used instead with similar effects of distributing the weight. Since most of the body weight is supported in the back of the seat, padding there should be firmer than the front of the seat which only has the weight of the legs to support. Chairs that have padding that is the same density front and back will feel soft in the back area and hard to the underside of the knees.

There may be cases where padding is not desirable. For example, in chairs that are intended primarily for outdoor use. Where padding is not desirable, contouring may be used instead. A contoured seat pan attempts to distribute weight without padding. By matching the shape of the occupant's buttocks, weight is distributed and maximum pressure is reduced.

Actual chair dimensions are determined by measurements of the human body or anthropometric measurements. Individuals may be measured for a custom chair. Anthropometric statistics may be gathered for mass produced chairs. The two most relevant anthropometric measurement for chair design is the popliteal height and buttock popliteal length.

For someone seated, the popliteal height is the distance from the underside of the foot to the underside of the thigh at the knees. It is sometimes called the "stool height". (The term "sitting height" is reserved for the height to the top of the head when seated.) For American men, the median popliteal height is 16.3 inches and for American women it is 15.0 inches. The popliteal height, after adjusting for heels, clothing and other issues is used to determine the height of the chair seat. Mass produced chairs are typically 17 inches high.

For someone seated, the buttock popliteal length is the horizontal distance from the back most part of the buttocks to the back of the lower leg. This anthropometric measurement is used to determine the seat depth. Mass produced chairs are typically 38-43 cm deep.
Additional anthropometric measurements may be relevant to designing a chair. Hip breadth is used for chair width and armrest width. Elbow rest height is used to determine the height of the armrests. The buttock-knee length is used to determine "leg room" between rows of chairs. "Seat pitch" is the distance between rows of seats. In some airplanes and stadiums the seat pitch is so small that sometimes there is insufficient leg room for the average person.
For adjustable chairs, such as an office chair, the aforementioned principles are applied in adjusting the chair to the individual occupant.


Armrests should support the forearm and not the sensitive elbow area. Hence in some chair designs, the armrest is not continuous to the chair back, but is missing in the elbow area.
A couch, bench, or other arrangement of seats next to each other may have arm rest at the sides and/or arm rests in between. The latter may be provided for comfort, but also for privacy e.g. in public transport and other public places, and to prevent lying on the bench. Arm rests reduce both desired and undesired proximity. A loveseat in particular, has no arm rest in between.




French, a tuft of feathers, usually of the egret, osprey or ostrich, used as a finial on a four poster bed, springing from the cups in each corner.


A type of tapestry, named after the town in Artois famed for making. There are many Shakespearian allusions to being hidden behind the aras. The name became a generic term for all woven wall hangings.


The colour of ash, i.e. silver grey. Noted in Tudor inventories.


Pile carpets made in the Axminster, Devon factory, established in 1755 by Thomas Whitty. Whitty won three Society of Arts competitions in 1757, 1758 and 1759 and often wove carpets (e.g. Saltram, Devon) to designs by Robert Adam. He published an autobiography in 1790.


A side chair, often having an upholstered back.


A heavy woollen cloth, raised and napped on both sides. In use for covering tables (especially those for billiards) and doors to servant's quarters. Differed from bays which is light, whereas baize is thick and heavy. Dr. Johnson defined it as 'A kind of coarse open cloth stuff, having a long nap, sometimes found on one side…'


A rich silk woven with gold, now called brocade. It was first woven with a warp of gold thread, but the name came to be applied to rich shot silks, mentioned in connection with Medieval bed-hangings. Name said to have derived from Baldacco, the Italian form of Baghdad.


Coarse open woollen stuff, having along nap, woven in England from the 16th Century, of worsted warp and woollen weft.


A framework with mattress and coverings to sleep on. There were many types, for example, angel (without foot-posts), canopied or domed.. French beds to be placed against a wall, those having a headboard, or with a half or hanging tester, various types of sofa-bed, and pre-eminently state beds, particularly lavish in the late 17th Century. Sheraton illustrated and listed many types common in the late 18th Century including special forms such as the 'Summer Bed in two Compartments'. There are also good examples of press bedsteads which were built into cabinets to outwardly resemble a chest of drawers or clothes press. A 'feather bed', however was a mattress filled with feathers.


A carpet fitted around 3 sides of the base of a bed. There are splendid neo-classical examples.


A case containing feathers, stuffed to form a bed.


A coarse raw silk, which Levant and Turkey merchants called white silk.


A coarse tapestry or wall-hanging, perhaps first produced in Bergamo, Italy. Made with several sorts of spun thread in a great variety of and mixtures of colours.


An armchair with cane-work sides, back and seat with either the seat upholstered or using loose cushions. The French word bergere describes an easy-chair. They were illustrated by Mayhew and Ince in 'the Universal System'. Gillows provided 'bergieres' and Sheraton noted the bergere with a caned back and arms, and a seat having loose cushions.


Canvas embroidery worked in a worsted yarn by copying patterns printed onto squared paper. A popular German production, exported widely in the 1840's.


Sheraton noted 'Amongst upholsterers is applied to the various kinds of narrow laces used to strengthen and ornament the edges of any curtains, drapery, or bed furniture. Bindings for tickings are about three-forths of an inch broad. Of white and blue stripe of cotton and linen, others a little broader, of a diamond pattern, of worsted and linen'.

The principle bindings are as follows:

Bindings of silk ribands, various silk and worsted ditto.
Silk covered laces, of various colours, 1 inch and upwards broad.
Silk guard lace, a silk quality.
'And at present there is introduced from France, very recently, a sort of black velvet binding, which having not yet seen, I can give no account of it, but may o some future occasion' Sheraton'


A white woollen cloth used for bed covers and heavy clothing. Many of the superior quality were imported from Spain, from the 16th Century onwards. Blankets are often noted in accounts by their size, measured in quarters.


A fabric, usually, on rollers, to be set at windows and raised or lowered, by cords, as needed, as protection against the sun. Slatted blinds (Venetian blinds) were used by Thomas Chippendale, fitted with a spring mechanism. Blinds were sometimes fitted with to needlework or tapestry firescreens.


A long round bed pillow. They were often waxed to give a denseness through which the feathers could not pierce. Also used in this form as cushions at the ends of 18th Century sofa-seats.


A cloth made of silk warp and worsted weft in a twill weave. Made in Norwich from the late 16th Century onwards, and later at Spitalfields. Woven grey, the bombazine was dyed in various colours.


The narrow curtains at the back corners of a bed closing gaps between the main curtains and exposing the posts or headboard.


Made by twisting bobbins of gold, silver, silk and linen threads above a pattern marked with pins. The bobbins were originally made of bone, hence bone lace.


A padded pillow to support and protect a book binding when the book was being read.


A woven braid, used to edge fabric, or to contrast it against another piece


A pattern in the pile of, particularly, velvet. Also used to describe the use of branches of a plant or tree as motifs for embroidery.


Made of carded wool in plain weave and fulled, after weaving on a wide loom.


Made of gold, silver or silk, raised and enriched with flowers, foliage and other ornaments.


Made particularly in Italy (Venice) with a linen weft strengthening silk, in imitation of furniture-damask, with large foliate patterns, much used for wall-hangings.


A coarse cloth made of hemp, gummed, calendered and dyed several colours. It was used in the linings which required stiffness.


Found at the corners of bed valances and used to join the sides of the ends. A braid loop was passed over a button but by the 18th Century this had become decorative, disguising hook and eye fastenings.


A rough woollen covering.


Coarse taffeta, of silk which may have originally been woven in Caffa, a town on the Crimea coast.


French, 'in imitation of the real, having woof of hair, coarse silk, thread, wool or cotton. Some have the warp of silk and the woof of thread, others are all wool' Sheraton


A type of woollen velvet, originally a rich silk, but subsequently made in India, and at Norwich, of cotton and worsted wool respectively.


Cotton cloth of varying grades first made in India. The name is taken from that of Calicut, the first place at which the Portuguese landed when they discovered the Indian trade.


A worsted stuff with a fine glass, woven on the loom of various patterns and endless range of colours, manufactured particularly in Norwich. Sheraton noted 'it has a fine gloss and is chequered in the warp, whence the checks only appear on the right side. Some calimancos are quite plain, others have broad stripes, adorned with flowers, some with broad stripes quite plain and others watered'


A fine white linen of a plan weave, often used, in dyed form for curtain linings.


Woven in many widths, lengths and qualities and colours from wool, silk, linen and goat's hair and given different finishes, appearing as figured, water and waved. Used for bed hangings, cushions etc.


An architectural term for a projection. Canopies were frequently part of medieval furniture, usually formed from rich textile hangings and were hung above chairs of estate, couches etc.


A narrow curtain at the front corners of a bed closing gaps between the main curtains and enclosing the posts or headboard.


A clear unbleached cloth of hemp or flax used for working needlepoint embroidery, and in coarse form for ship sails. Used for window blinds, when usually dyed green, and for various clothing and upholstery linings and bases.


The process of combing out imperfections in used stuffings so they could be re-used, with a proportion of new material added.


A strong lining paper used to make covers for furniture and line walls under fabric. It was also used as a wallpaper and coloured with distemper.


Part of the bed-hangings as mentioned in inventories, the back pillow behind the bed, usually made of textile. Celure and tester are often mentioned together, perhaps celure related to the canopy and tester to the back.


An upholstery material related to Dormix, and could be rich, incorporating silk, and even gold. It was figured on a draw-loom.


An obsolete term applied to taffeta, where the warp and weft in different colours changed the appearance giving a 'changeable' affect.


A worsted material which may derive from the French 'chalne', meaning warp. Related to harateen and moreen, often dyed red, green, blue, purple or yellow, and sometimes watered.


Alternatively a canvas roller blind or a painted fabric covered board to close up a chimney opening in the summer.


A word derived from 'chitta' meaning 'spotted cloth'. Often a glazed cotton printed with vegetable colours with wood and other blocks, produced originally in India.


A brass, threaded pin, often gilt, round which the draw lines of window curtains were formed.


A roof piece, called a ceeler, with valances around it, and a back piece called a tester. Some cloths of estate had a matching chair, footstool or cushions. Others made of silk with armorial embroidery, the cloth of estate projected from the wall above the sovereign.


A tissue of gold or silver threads interwoven with silk or wool. Used for fine bed hangings and clothes denoting status and luxury. Silver gilt and silver thread were imported into England from Venice and are referred to in accounts as 'Venice Gold' and 'Venice Silver'.


Hanging of linen, hemp or wool, decorated with biblical or mythological figure subjects by means of water-colours, distemper etc.


Leather prepared from goatskin, named after Cordoba in Spain. A cordwainer worked in Cordovan leather, usually being a member of the Cordwainers Company.


The white fibrous substance which covers the seeds of the cotton plant, used for making cloth and thread. Confusingly the term was used from the 16th Century onwards for a woollen fabric manufactured in Lancashire and Wales.


Stitching a thick thread to the surface of material by means of a fine thread.


A decorative bed covering frequently incorporating motifs featured on other parts of the bed. 'Diamond or Brussels coverlets, together with quilts, blankets may be purchased at Mr Carpenter's, Ironmonger Lane, Cheapside, who was kind enough to furnish me with this account of counterpanes' Sheraton.


A mattress with a checked linen ticking, filled with horsehair.


Originally woven with a hempen warp and a linen weft, this strong plain weave cotton cloth was produced in many colours and printed by various processes.


A two ply worsted yarn suitable for embroidery and knitting used particularly in the creation of curtains in the 17th and 18th Centuries.


A finial on the top of a bed post, cup-shaped, often covered with fabric, and from which feathers might be displayed.


When dressing a cupboard with plates or 'objets' it was customary to place them on a cupboard cloth, also known as a frieze cloth.


Suspended cloth, used as a screen round beds, at windows, occasionally in front of paintings.


A wood or metal rod upon which curtain rings are threaded.


A fabric bag or case of varying shape filled with feathers or another soft material.


Raised platform, deriving from canopy.


A silk figured fabric with its name derived from Damascus, from which its manufacture spread throughout Europe. Used for bed-hangings and furniture covering, woven in England at Norwich and Spitalfields. Damask should be made of dressed silks, both in warp and woof. 'Damask is also a kind of wrought linen made in Flanders, and in some parts of England, so called because of its large flowers which resemble real damask. This kind is chiefly used for table service, but the Syrian damask, for all its kinds of dress' Sheraton


A stamped glazed leather, often used as a table cover, as a protective cover for library tables.


A stout cotton cloth, woven with raised stripes and fancy figures, used undyed for beds and hangings.


Mediaeval term for a hanging suspended upon the lower part of a wall to protect the backs of those seated from the coldness of the wall.


A cloth of linen warp and woollen weft, bought to Norwich in the 16th Century by Flemish weavers. The range and pattern varied considerably.


A type of strong coarse calico.


An undyed cloth of grey-beige colour.


Sheraton stated 'the dressy part of beds and window curtains, and is suspended to the tester of the former, and the lath of the latter… in upholstery work there seems to be no article in that branch more eagerly sought after. It has already been turned into so many shapes that it has become quite a difficult task to produce anything novel.'


The part of the press bed acting as a tester.


A stuff, all of wool, or half-wool half-silk or linen, used originally for wearing apparel, now implies a material protecting carpets or table surfaces, made from wool and linen.


A stout silk fabric which is often corded and watered.


A glazed worsted cloth of plain weave, finer than tammy, used to back chairs.


A raised pattern on leather, cloth or metal which stood out in relief.


The application of decorative needlework to the surface of a textile fabric, usually with needle and thread by hand, but also by machine.


A tape, ribbon or binding made of cotton or silk


The material used for stuffing upholstered furniture, such as hair or flock.


A loose textured woollen stuff, used to line leather chair covers. It was bleached in sulphur fumes to improve its whiteness.


A material with herringbone effect in the weave.


Tufts and sprigs of wool or cotton waste used to stuff mattresses, also used in powdered form, sprinkled on an adhesive ground for flock wallpaper.


A canvas floor covering, painted with formal or abstract patterns to resemble tiles, marble etc.


Also called bargello, or Hungarian point, Irish stitch and flame stitch. The upright stitches work wool in rows on canvas resembling shaded zig-zag patterns.


The padded or upholstered end of a bedstead, rising above the level of the mattress.


Made from a mixture of wool and hair, in equal amounts.


An ornamental bordering of threads and silk, cotton etc., either loose or formed into tassels or twists. The pendants from the head of a fringe are called hangers. Knotted fringes were made as a pastime by ladies, but the quantities needed by upholsterers saw to their commercial availability.


Scouring and pressing of woollen goods to rid them of grease and from into a felted mass.


A coarse twilled cotton cloth used for bed hangings and clothing, made principally at Norwich, but also imported from Milan and Naples.


A tape or ribbon, frequently woven of thick gold or silver thread, and used to form patterns on bed valances etc..


A cloth of pure cotton woven with dyed yarns in stripes and checks, often used for making slip-covers.


Strips of woven flax or hemp used to support the stuffing of upholstered chairs.


A family of French dyers, who in the 16th Century added tapestry weaving to their activities.


A plain weave textile wherein the weft yarns are heavier than the warps to give a corded effect.


A form of cross stitch embroidery carried out on wool on squared canvas.


A worsted furnishing fabric made at Norwich, used for furnishing and upholstery prior to 1750. It could be patterned between hot copper rollers and was usually dyed yellow, green, red, crimson or blue. Closely related to moreen.


A coarse hempen cloth, used for packing and upholstery linings.


A linen fabric, used for bed linen and linings, first made in Holland.


Small varnished metal fastenings to join fabric panels together. Often use don slip covers etc.


A form of covering for furniture woven from the manes and tails of horses, with a linen or cotton warp. Could be made in plain, chequered or coloured varieties. Used in making haircloth for covering dining and library chairs.


A non-pile reversible carpet made in Kidderminster, and Cumbria and Scotland. The carpet was woven in narrow strips, ranging from 18 to 36 inches wide from a wool that was dyed with fast colours.


A cheap, coarse woollen cloth of twill weave. It was good at resisting water and was in demand for clothing.


Diamond and chevron patterned worsted cloths made in Worcestershire.


French, a valance or pelmet.


Indian painted and resist-dyed fabrics, usually made of silk with metallic threads.


A type of fine linen resembling cambric.


A twisted cord, usually of silk, used over pulleys to draw up or part curtains, threaded through rings sewn into the back of the fabric and then tensioned by fastening to a cloak pin.


A cloth of many grades and weaves from flax fibres.


A coarse cloth of linen warp and woollen weft, first made at Linsey in Suffolk. Cheap, and often used in servant's quarters for bed hangings.


Used on ceremonial occasions, by staff of royalty and nobility.


A light crisp plain silk having a high lustre.


The most important silk-weaving centre in France in the 18th Century.


A red vegetable dye used for dyeing wool, silk and cotton, made from a plant found in Asia Minor.


A common velvet made in all colours in Manchester in the 18th Century.


A silk of plain weave, heavier than taffeta


Formed from rushes.


A case of canvas or other coarse material stuffed with hair, flock, straw or the like. Used as a bed or a support for one.


Dealer in fabrics, ranging from costly silks and velvets to those of simple style.


A wool velvet derived from moquette, imported from Anatolia, warp of linen, and pile of extra weft of wool.


Cloth made from the hair of the Angora goat.


Cloth with a lustrous finish to give a watered figure.


A woollen material, sometimes mixed with cotton, used as an upholstery material in the 17th and 18th Centuries.


Originally applied to red goatskin leather produced in North Africa, later made in Levant and Turkey. Crushed morocco had the grain flattened by planning to produce a mosaic of highly polished high parts and dull veinings.


A dull purple red colour often used to describe velvet.


A fine cotton textile imported originally from Africa.


Used in various forms and sizes to fasten upholstered coverings to a wooden frame. Could be bullion nails, described by pattern and weight.


A general term for patterns worked by hand with silk and a needle.


Worsted goods made in East Anglia and marketed in Norwich.


An oval covered button, shaped as an olive used for fastening upholstery.


Curtain rings of various sizes, usually of brass, sometime gilded.


Used particularly for the plumes on state beds, and as a motif in Elizabethan embroidery.


Cloth, usually black, purple or white velvet, spread over a coffin, hearse or tomb.


A small mattress, usually stuffed with straw.


Strips of fabric applied over other fabrics, usually comprising of contrasting colours, e.g. yellow on black.


A coarse worsted cloth, sometimes watered, often used for window curtains.


Narrow braids, formed by twisting threads, and including as a class laces, fringes, galloon, gimp, etc.


A three sided textile 'case' fixed at the head of a window to hide rods, rings and the tops of curtains. Often mounted on buckram and trimmed with fringes.


A long rectangular board with various box-wood pulleys inserted. Draw lines would pass over these to raise or lower curtains, and be tensioned with cloak pins when the curtain was raised.


A coarse woollen cloth made firstly at Penistone in the West Riding of Yorkshire.


Ambergris, musk, civet and other powders were used in bags among clothes and fabrics, or as a perfume to impart an attractive odour to fustian, leather etc. Also known as 'sweetbag'.


A woollen fabric, made by combing and carding wool mixed in a twill weave. Its popularity was threatened in the 17th Century by the use of imported calicos.


A thin plain silk imported in the late 17th Century by the East India Company.


A form of embroidery worked, usually, in tent stitch on a fine squared canvas.


A support for the head in reclining or sleeping. A case made of linen was stuffed with feathers or other soft material.


A pillow case, usually of white cotton or linen.


Originally block-printed cotton cloth, but akin to chintz. Imported into England in great quantities from the mid 17th Century as quilts, curtains and cupboard cloths.


A plain woven twill with a pattern of intersecting strips in both warp and weft. 'Scotch Plaid' in mentioned in inventories and used for blankets, hangings, ribbons etc.


Forming a shape in material by stitching and folding. Common forms are 'box pleat' and the 'organ pleat.


Small lead weights incorporated into the linings of curtains to assist their correct hang.


A wool velvet made in several colours, and used in furnishings, altar frontals etc.


A finial of ovoid form on the uprights of upholstered furniture. Usually of gilt wood or copper, or covered with velvet or damask.


A door curtain, used to ward off draughts and made 'en suite' to other curtains in a room.


A distinctive form of rush matting often used in the 17th Century in bed chambers.


A bed coverlet with soft material (wool, feathers) between two pieces of cloth. Quilting was a method of keeping this wadding in place by stitching through the layers to form a pattern in a diamond, chequered or other geometric shape.


A thin woollen stuff, similar to shalloon used for lining curtains.


A linen of fine quality used in the 17th Century for sheets. Took its name from Rennes, where it was originally made.


Tearing apart or unseaming of upholstery, done frequently to form curtains into a new fashion by using the available fabric.


A coarse woollen coverlet for beds. 'Irish ruggs' are mentioned in inventories.


A coarse woollen cloth, also a brown colour.


A distinctive leather or hide, originating in Russia. Very resistant to water, has a diced grain produced with a plaque of copper or wood whilst the leather is damp.


Denoting a dull or neutral colour.


A thin transparent silk, having originally been woven by the Saracens.


A smooth shiny silk made with the warp threads much finer and more numerous to the square inch as to conceal the weft. Many brocaded satins are really two-coloured damasks.


A thin woollen stuff of twill weave, used for linings.


A thin canvas used for lining and covering the wooden frame of a chair.


The edge of a piece of material woven so the weft threads do not unravel.


A twilled cloth having a worsted warp and a woollen weft. It was cheap and hard-wearing, used for curtains and valances.


A cloth having a velvet nap on one side, usually of worsted but sometimes of silk.


Untanned leather, often dyed green and used to cover small items. It is the skin of rays and dogfish.


A twilled worsted cloth, often glazed or hot-pressed, used for curtains and linings.


Cloth woven from filaments reeled from the cocoons of silk worms.


A specialist in spinning and dyeing silk.


A covering for furniture, particularly tables and chairs, made of leather, gingham or serge to protect for light and dust.


A fabric covering to protect bed-posts and enhance their appearance.


A bed curtain.


Used in particular at the top of bed-posts in order that the tester could be located thereon.


The centre of the London silk weaving industry. Many Huguenot weavers settled there in the earl 18th Century.


Coiled metal springs to support upholstery came into use from 1828.


A removable stuffed cushion.


A metal rod attached to a wooden frame and working over a toothed ratchet to tallow the back of a settee to be adjusted.


A general term for worsted cloths, but used to describe textiles of all kinds.


Used when the wooden frame of a chair or settee is completely covered with upholstery.


A from of embroidery, padded as to be in relief, used as a covering for boxes, looking glass frames etc.


A draping of fabric across the top of a window in place of a valance or pelmet.


A term used in relation to calico implying the process of pressed to increase flexibility.


A plain silk, often with a watered or waved finish.


A plain woven silk with the weft threads thicker than the warp ones. Made in all colours, checked flowered or with patterns. Used for bed canopies, window curtains etc.


A lightweight worsted fabric, of an 'open' weave, often glazed. Coloured tammy was mush used for bed and curtains.


A thick hand-woven fabric, usually of wool with pictorial or geometric designs formed by the weft threads.


Cut cords or threads gathered into a tight bunch at the top by a decorative braid, or passed through a pierced wooden ball, covered with the same fabric.


A linen twill. The best came from Flanders used for the making of bags to enclose feathers.


A rich fabric having tow sets of warp threads, much used with silver and gold threads, as bed hangings and coronation robes.


Used to divide parts of a room or to screen alcoves etc.


The stitched and buttoning techniques used by upholsterers to stabilize the fillings of chairs, sofas etc.


A woollen pile fabric made to imitate Turkish carpets and used for upholstery seats, and as floor and table carpets. Worked on a loom, mounted with hemp warp threads, to which the coloured yarns were tied by hand.


Textile fabrics in which weft threads pass alternately over one warp thread, and under two or more to produce diagonal lines.


A stout velvet made with a linen warp and weft, with pile of goats hair. Made in solid colours or striped.


A sun shade fixed above a window, used in the neo-classical period 1760-90.


A drapery hanging at the tester or base of a bed, often stiffened with buckram.


A pile fabric of silk, wool or cotton fibres. The best was imported from Genoa. The pile is produced by adding to the usual warp and weft threads an additional row of warp yarns. These are woven into the surface of the cloth and passed over wires on the surface. For a loop pile these wires are drawn out. For velvet or other cut pile a knife is passed along a groove at the top of each wire to cut the pile before the wire is withdrawn.


Threads which are stretched lengthwise or vertically, in a loom, to be crossed, horizontally by the weft.


A waved or watered effect on fabric, achieved by means of a press having heated metal rollers.


Narrow bands of hemp or jute. These are interlaced and secured by tacks to the underside of a chair frame, forming a strong base for the springs or stuffing.


Threads which are stretched from side to side, or horizontally, on a loom, to be crossed vertically by the warp.


Small town in Wiltshire known for carpet weaving, with a short thick pile.


An absorbent cloth fitted into window embrasures in the winter to absorb moisture and protect from draughts through ill-fitting frames.


A woollen fabric or stuff made from well-twisted yarn spun from long staple wool combed so that its fibres lie parallel.




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