This part of the renovation:
The back of the seat was then stuffed with a hair and fibre mix, with bridle ties, forming a firm wall of hair around the edges in readiness for the stitched edge - to help with this the hair is twisted before catching it under each bridle tie. As a general rule each bridle tie is a palm's width to secure a handful of hair. Naturally, the size of the hair. The hair is built to a height of approximately 3 inches at the edge, ready for stitching.
The hair was covered with a layer of good quality scrim hessian, ensuring a firm fit, and stapled at the back tacking rail. Care needs to be taken when cutting around the arm, taking account of the slope of the arm and the fact that the stuffing will sit on top of the back section of the arm. Initially the cut is a Y-cut, but then the hessian is snipped around the curved shape of the top of the arm. Ensure the fit is uniform on each arm. Add further hair where needed to ensure a full fit. The stuffing should be sufficient where meeting the seat to allow for the seat back to seat the seat without undue gaps.
The hair is further secured in place with a section of running stitches above the lumber and across the centre back of the chair. These are pulled tight before tying off. This holds the hair firm and helps to create the lumber shape of the seat back.
Once the hessain is secured, the roll edge can be stitched, using a double ended bayonet needle and strong linen twine. This stitch to those unused to a roll edge is a form of back stitch where the needle is taken fully out of the hessian and back to form a back stitch, which is looped three times by the twine to create a locking stitch. A very effective stitch when learnt well. The edge is first well regulated to create a firm wall of hair. Using the regulator the hair is moved towards the edge of the hessian. This is achieved by using a sweeping action with the pointed end of the regulator positioning just beneath the hessian - imagine grabbing or pushing the hair with the regulator and working it to its new place.
As the roll edge is more about creating shape and structure, than strengthening the edge (as with the seat), blind stitching of the roll edge is not required. It is important that the stitched is uniform, using even stitches of approximately 1 to 1.5 inches, and that the roll edge sits an even distance from the tack edge of the chair. With frequent regulating, ensure that the roll edge formed is also of equal size and volume - using the regulator to pull in hair to the edge as the stitched edge is formed. It should not be too large or bulky or it will detract from the shape of the seat back. This stitch requires considerable patience and attention.
The seat back is ready for the second stuffing.
This is the first part of the renovation project 'victorian armchair'.
The chair was in a poor upholstery condition with badly stained and smelly stuffing. The back needed completely replacing but under the layers of smelly stuffing the seat base was in good condition, and so was kept.
Before starting the woodwork was cleaned with a mix of 3 parts boiled linseed oil to 1 part white spirits, with a soft cloth, to clean and revive the wood.
Steps taken in part 1:
1. after stripping off the stuffing, bridle ties were sewn in the seat base, using a circular needle strong linen twine.
2. using best quality hair and fibre mix, the seat base was given a fresh second stuffing and a fire retardant calico inter-liner was used to cover the hair. This was stapled in place due to the overwork tacking rail, which was heavy pitted and holed. The seat base is now complete.
3. the arms were given a fresh covering of calico, as the stuffings were firm and in good condition. The arms need to be upholstered before the seat back is constructed as the back of the arms sit hidden under the stuffing of the chair back. The front corners of the arm were 'hospital corner' style.
4. finally attention was turned to the reconstruction of the chair back. Although not present in the original seat, I felt that a lumber would compliment the style of the chair and provide a comfort seat support given the depth of the seat. This was constructed using a stuffing of hair and fibre mix which was regulated to ensure an even and firm lumber. The hessian cover was stitched in place with a running locking stitch.
This week at Woodford Lisa is renovating a beautiful traditionally upholstered 1930's armchair. Having taken the chair back to the first stuffing, we refreshed the wadding on the seat and gave it a new calico interlinear. This was hand stitched in place.
Natasha is restoring a pretty painted bedroom chair. There was no upholstery on this chair so we are putting on a pincushion padding. Here Natasha is applying the hessian base ready for the hair and fibre stuffing.
And here is a finished project - a traditionally stuffed drop-in seat - a first upholstery project and it was beautifully executed.
The first upholstery and painting masterclass was held this weekend, in conjunction with Zoe Rigby of Agapanthus Interiors and Sian Astley, property renovator, of Moregeous blog, at the Northen tennis club in Didsbury.
Eight lucky ladies were treated to an intensive workshop showcasing traditional upholstery skills, and furniture painting techniques with annie sloan chalk paints.
The sun shone, the coffee flowed, and the banter flowed even more. There were paint colours to choose, waxing techniques to consider, hammering to master, fabric to pick, upholstery techniques to apply ... all in one day.
Having arrived and been introduced to their projects for the day; a vintage dining chair; the students undertook a complete restoration of the chair including using paint techniques to change the colour and upholstery skills to reupholster the seat pad. With a short break for a wholesome lunch and homemade cake they worked hard to finish their projects. At the end of the day the students took their lovingly restored projects home to enjoy them further.
New skills were learnt, friends made, and some time taken for oneself most importantly!
It was a busy and informative day for all - we at Agapanthus, Plush and Moregeous thoroughly enjoyed the day and we cannot wait to plan the next one. Hp
Andrea Austin, upholsterer and tutor of Plush Upholstery