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.
Andrea Austin, upholsterer and tutor of Plush Upholstery