This is a step-by-step guide to fitting an arm piece using the existing arm piece as a pattern.
1. cut out the arm front, along the machine line, to give an exact pattern for the arm front
2. pin to fabric, right side of template to wrong side of fabric (so right of both towards table)
3. mark a 2cm seam allowance and cut out - snip into the curve to better fit the arm front
4. machine piping to arm inside/outside. Lay piping on fabric, with piping seam in line with fabric edge - fabric right side up - see second picture
5. pin and tact arm front to piped arm piece (so right side facing inwards), ensuring fits without any gathers or puckers
6. machine in place, and fit arm to chair
This chair has been upholstered using hand-printed fabrics.
A very talented Zoe Jones provided the fabric for her chair, which she has hand-printed herself with her own print design on beautiful raw linen fabric. The chair frame was painted in farrow & ball paint, and then I upholstered it in Zoe's fabric with matching trim. I just love the look.
This is the picture diary of the restoration of a modern wingback armchair, to its finished look above. The client's choice of contrasting piping works subtly but adds a definition to the chair.
The pictures show:
1. the chair stripped back ready to reupholster
2. the re-enforcement of the seat platform with new jute webbing - this was also covered in a calico platform cloth.
3. the sewing and fitting of the seat front
4. the re-enforcement and refreshing of stuffing on the arms
5. the hand sewing of the wings
6. the sewing of the single piping in contrasting piping, showing the sewing of bias piping
7. machining the single piping
8. making the pattern for the arm fronts
9. pinning and sewing arm pieces for fitting on the seat arms
10. re-enforcement of the seat back
11. chair completed, with hand stitched back, ready for cushion
12. finished chair with new foam/feather cushion, with zip opening and piped edge.
This project involved the restoration of a gentleman's fireside chair.
As with many projects of this nature, the upholstery appeared sound initially but the true condition is only revealed once the top fabric has been removed.
Whilst competently recovered, the upholsterer had merely patched the poor upholstery beneath.
What was required to restore the chair was:
The reconstruction of the arms, with a webbed foundation and a generous stuffing of hair and fibre mix, this was then then stitched to hold the hair firmly in place and to create the distinctive shape of the arms - these are particularly wide and flat. The arms were treated to a second stuffing of the best hair stuffing and wool wadding before the top fabric was applied (it was treated with a fire retardant chemical, or I would have also used a FR inter-liner).
The seat was taken back to the first stuffing, and once a repair was made to re-enforce the stitched edge, the seat was rewarded with a fresh layer of hair and fibre stuffing, wool and polyester wadding - I like to use the polyester wadding as a final layer as it compensates the somewhat lumpy finish of my current batch of wool wadding!!
The seat back and arms, were fitted, pinned and machined together with a piped join - this piped join was also sewn in place to hold the arm snuggly in position. The arms were pinned, and trimmed, and temporarily pinned in place whilst the back was sorted.
The seat lumbar was also treated to a fresh layer of wool wadding and a little extra fibre where needed before the top fabric was stitched in place at the lumbar and pinned in place before being stapled into place.
Given how broad the chair is, the outside back of the chair was produced from three machines panels, with the machined seam sitting along the outer edge of the arm. This was also pinned in place and temporarily tacked to ensure a good and even fit, before stapling in place. The chair was finished with a traditional gimp of the client's choice.
It was a delight to restore this chair, and to work with client's who are willing to invest in the proper restoration of a beautiful Victorian heirloom. It is fit for another 100 years now!
My sister and fellow upholsterer Gina, of Gina B Interiors, and I ventured into London to catch a few of the furniture shows this week. It was a gloomy and wet day - but the upholstery was glowing!
Just had to share a few of our favourite pieces at 100%deisgn and Tent London: all made in Britain, and lots recycled from old materials!
Grey buttoned chair and yellow sofa by James - young guy with lots of beautiful pieces - perfect addition to any mid-century styled house.
Painted and papered chest, and psychodelic graphic upholstered armchair by Parris Wakefield. These would cheer any one up - we had a smile at these colourful pieces.
Upholstered fronted console, and pendant lights using recycled croqueting - by Furniture Magpies: love the using of upholstery in non-traditional ways. Lovely people. They have classes too!
Hanging rail made of wooden rulers - easy to made and so effective
Chairs in Korla fabric print graphic by Galapagos - perfect pairing of vintage styled furniture and graphic fabric.
Quilted and buttoned swivel based armchair, in grey and red wool, by Steurt Padwick. These were high-end pieces.
Painted and papered chest by Zoe Murphy - one for the annie sloan fans to try?
And fascinating lighting by Jon Male, made of recycled glass lamp shades - these stand about 5 foot, tall and proud like chess pieces, glow gently. Would love a couple of these to cheer up a gloomy space.
I would highly recommend a visit to Tent London - did not make it to Design Junction, but is on my list for next year (heard it was the best of all the shows..). Decorex this week.
This is a snapshot of the renovation of a louis style chair.
The steps taken were:
- strip back to frame
- new webbing on seat
- sew in new springs
- cover with hessian and sew springs to hessian
- fresh hair and fibre
- hessian over and regulate well
- sew roll edge
- second stuffing with best hair and fibre mix
- wool wadding over hair
- calico and then top fabric; william morris 'the strawberry thief'
- seat back reinforced with webbing
- hessian and hair and fibre
- wool wadding
- calico and top fabric
- antique nail trim
- dust cloth
Finished - wood cleaned with linseed oil and white spirits mix, and polished with soft cloth.
This is the final instalment:
The back is completed, with the side panels attached, lightly fixed with a few staples and then the decorative nail trim attached.
The back was attached in the same way, and the dust cloth finally attached to finish the piece.
Before and after below.
This part covers the upholster of the seat back:
Measure for top fabric ensuring allowance is made for the fit of the fabric under the arms and round the scalloped shape of the top of the seat back.
Place the fabric against the seat and 'fit' it to the back, ensuring a snug fit.
Once you are satisfied with the fit, secure the top centre with a couple of staple to hold the fabric in place, and then mark the cuts for the arms (Y cut), and the bottom corners (T cut) where the back meets the seat. Snip the cuts just short at first to test the fit, and if the fabric bunches cut further to ensure a good fit.
Care is taken around the arms, as in this case they have a flat underside and a curved top - snip around the curve to fit the arm, and then define with piping. Cut the piping away where it meets the side of the chair at the end of the arm - strip the piping out of the fabric sleeve - staple this so as to avoid excessive bulk.
Having cut around the arms, secure the fabric beneath the arms, and then above the arms and top edge working towards the corners - here you can deal with any excess fabric. Snip a 'V' at the edge of the scallop at the back, so the fabric fits well. Then secure the seat at the bottom at the tacking rail at the back of the chair. Work the velvet to ensure a good fit - but do not overstretch so causing pulls in the fabric as this will create an uneven finish.
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.
Andrea Austin, upholsterer and tutor of Plush Upholstery