A few tears were shed as our beloved Beth loaded up her beautiful heirloom antique sofa last Friday and headed home to give it back to her two boys, and by boys I mean these two handsome weimaraners.
Beth graduates with High Honors from the ModHomeEc Upholstery Class. She is one cool, pixie haired chick who has become an expert on the DIY version of antique reupholstery. Let’s revisit the highlights of her long, winding, spring tying road.
Here’s the piece she brought in to my studio early in the Spring. Notice the saggy springs underneath, baggy, worn upholstery and tired out gimp trim. Beth took the sofa down to the bare bones and painstakingly built it back up to this gorgeous specimen of a fresh, modern antique.
We were tickled to find old Wayne Feed bags were used as the muslin covering over the horsehair stuffing.
Now, between tearing out the seat material and old webbing, and applying new webbing, Beth’s hubby rode his bike to my studio and performed joint surgery on her settee by drilling and inserting metal rods that were completely covered after upholstering.
On to the rebuild. She rewebbed, cleaned her old springs, brought them back to class and hand stitched them to her new, tightly woven webbing…
…and started the arduous process of spring tying.
Once her springs were in and tyed, (8 ways), she covered them up with a nice, tightly attached piece of jute burlap.
The old padding was just too dirty to reuse, so Beth made a pattern for her seat and cut out a piece of 3 inch foam for practical comfort.
Once the foam was securely glued to the burlap, she attached a piece of polyester dacron to the seat. That does two things: acts as a way to shape the foam, and adds a buffer layer between the foam and the fabric to cut down on the friction between the two.
I told Beth how you take old horsehair, put it in a pillowcase, run it through the washing machine and then lay it out to air dry. She wisely decided to keep the horsehair as the padding for the center back oval. Before putting it back in place, she “volumized” it with a regulator. You could use an ice pick or long needle.
Then, to hold the horsehair in place, she placed three rows of bridle stitches over the horsehair. She then attached a new piece of cotton muslin to hold the horsehair in place, added one more layer of dacron batting and now she was ready for her upholstery fabric.
Beth had finished the seat and attached her inside back fabric to the three sections. She made covered buttons to pull through the inside right and left sections.
At this point, we decided to tighten up those buttons a bit.
Once the buttons were tightened and securely anchored to the frame, she was ready to attach the dacron padding to the entire back of the settee.
And, finally, it’s time to put the three back sections on. Attaching the fabric panels was almost like icing on the cake.
The final step was to attach gimp all around the inside and outside of the settee to hide all the staples.
Yes, professional upholsterers use hot glue to attach trim.
There you have it. This proves that a non professional upholsterer can really upholster an antique settee, and do a good enough job that it looks like a professional did it.
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