Traditional upholstery is a craft which evolved over centuries for padding and covering chairs, seats and sofas, before the development of sewing machines synthetic fabrics and plastic foam. Using a solid wood or webbed platform, it can involve the use of springs, lashings, stuffings of animal hair, grasses and coir, wools, hessians, scrims, bridle ties, stuffing ties, blind stitching, top stitching, flocks and wadding all built up by hand.
A little History
In the Middle Ages, domestic interiors were becoming more comfortable and upholstery was playing an important part in interior decoration. The decorations consisted mainly of what we would now consider as "soft furnishings", though there were simple platforms of webbing, canvas or leather for stools, chairs and elaborately decorated coverings that already demonstrated the rudimentary beginnings of upholstered furniture. By the beginning of the 17th century chair seats were being padded, but this form of upholstery was still fairly basic. All sorts of stuffings from sawdust, grass, feathers, to deer goat or horsehair were used, although in England the Livery Company forbade the use of goat and deer hair and imposed fines for misdemeanors.
In the Victorian era, fashions of opulence and comfort gave rise to excesses of stuffing and padding. Mass production techniques made upholstered furniture available in large quantity to all sections of society. The availability of better-quality steel springs and the development of lashing techniques enabled upholstery to be built up on seats, backs and arms quite independently of the frame shape. Stuffings became even more complex, edges became elaborately shaped into rolls and scrolls and fabrics were folded into soft padded shapes by means of buttoning.
When repairing and furnature piece i aim to retain and restore the original upholstery whenever possible using traditional hand crafted methods and natural materials. Jute webbings and hessians, hair, needled wool felts and cotton waddings all form part of the integral process of the rejuvenation of traditional upholstery and thus creating a very long lasting superior and enduring finish to that special chair or Sofa that will be appreciated for generations to come.
For modern upholstery, including loose covers bringing back life to your tired suite or chair i will use any suitable fabric of your choice - while 'replumping' or replace sagging cushions too!
I can suggest a wide selection of hand picked upholstery fabrics from the finest silks and linens to water resistant marine fabrics for your perusal. I understand this process is a tactile experience andwould prefer to consult with you personally for you to make the perfect choice for your time piece or traditional item.