Monday, January 9, 2017

From Start To Finish

Here's a post from a while back that had lost it's image links. 
Someone was asking about Cogswell chairs just yesterday, so I thought I'd refresh this old post from 2013.

Michigan has a long held reputation for quality furniture manufacturing. This midcentury Cogswell reclining chair is from The Luxury Furniture Corp. of Grand Rapids aka "Furniture City".   My client remembers her dad driving the family around town weekends in their Studebaker, on the hunt for good furniture all the while admiring their city's industry and teaching the kids a thing or two in the process. This chair was one such piece she remembered as being purchased during one of their family outings.

These chairs from the 40s/50s are often platform rockers - this one has a simple construction in its base that allows it to tilt back or recline in just one position. Sinuous springs or "S" springs need no attention other than a new burlap cover + spring pad to keep all padding above it intact. But they are double spring systems, with a short coil spring unit in cushion that sits on top of sinuous attached to frame.


There are a few trim panels, or just strangely shaped and applied pieces to deal with because of the very shape of the chairs. No modifications will be made by me, I'll redo it as it was before only I'll close that front post edge better than the previous upholsterer.



The attached spring cushion has these long flap things that are to extend down and become the outsides of the chair's base. They must be patterned and sewn inside-out during construction of the welted and waterfalled seating cushion. It's a challenge to keep all the pieces straight in your head while bringing all to the machine to cord and seam properly, but eventually it gets done. 
I added a new layer of cotton and dacron poly over the existing spring unit (a contained spring unit, not muslin covered marshall springs) and existing cotton. No need to scrap what's there unless it's incredibly dirty from being stored in a barn or something - which this was not.  

Moved on to arms:

Now it's coming together...

A large pattern like this does not necessarily have to be matched - the single welt cord separates the broken pattern in such a way that it doesn't offend. If client had been particular about matching it would have required up to 2 yds extra fabric, which would have increased the project costs by a coupla hundred.  There was really no need for this. 
My personal fun is in matching button fabric to pattern. Again, not always necessary, I just felt like it.
Pretty cute, I must say!

Fabric chosen by my customer is a Pindler & Pindler favorite double woven or pocket weave called Samantha in the color Garden. It was one of our favorite patterns here at Miller Upholstering a few years ago and did dining chairs and pillows from this same fabric for other client projects. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Re: Upholstery Basics Class

A busy summer delayed a new set of upholstery and craft classes I've been wanting to offer. Finally,  I've got some scheduled for September. These are geared for adult learners who have an interest in upholstery but have never picked up the proper tools or methods.

Each night is a complete 2 hour class, enough time to understand all aspects of beginning upholstery and get a single surface done.  From take-down, to repadding, reupholster and trim (if called for) a single pad "slip-seat" or single surface upholstered item.

Weeknight classes (6:30 - 8:30/9) will have a base fee of $65 per person with use of all tools and upholstery supply, no need to run around town trying to collect foam, cotton, cording etc - that is all here.  Tools are for sale at Miller Upholstery, should you find you like the use of them and plan to do more upholstering.  All materials and supply used for your project will be payable to Miller Upholstering upon completion of your beautifully finished item. This will vary person-to-person, as some people will use foam, others cotton+felt, some will use dacron only, etc. Don't know what that means? Not to worry - you will soon know more than you ever wanted about stuffings/padding, fabric and their applications in upholstery!
Flat pads don't use a lot of supply so their cost stays low, while 2" and 3"  foams, cotton and other natural fibers will cost more.  Most will be well under $75 in material supplies.

Miller Upholstering's fantastic selection of textiles, vinyl and leather is available at 20% discount to class registrants.
Most take a week to ship, so consider the scheduling of your class accordingly. You may bring your own fabric too, of course but it must be approved first for suitability to project.

All fabrics and projects must be approved by upholstery instructor Helen Miller prior to class.  Email images or schedule time to stop in with items for approval via Be sure to give me your phone number so I can call you for payment that secures your place in class or paypal $65 to

Continue reading to see what's right for this class.

We will begin with the basic "slip-seat" most common in a dining chair's upholstered pad-on-board:

but can also be in the form of a footstool:

Vernor Panton's Geometri
upholstered foam-on-board
attached to victorian iron footstool
base $200 Buy Now



Round shapes often have a drawstring sewn
along a cut edge for a clean fit and upholstered finish

An accent side chair:

Both of these were a client's "slip-seats".  The shield back's cushion (black fabric w/ white lines) has a height of 3"(foam on board) and the ladder back with black printed white linen is a domed flat seat 1-2" height, cotton over a very flat spring. Different techniques and materials were used on each resulting in different costs.  Though they appear the same kind of seat, they are not.

Looks like it'd be far more complicated, but this 70s chair is a
simple slipseat: removable framed board (sinuous sprung) that gets
the single upholstered application that you can learn in this class

A (small) bench top:

This was for a bedroom - vanity dresser bench (another 3" foam top on board) and bolster for the bed sewn from extra fabric ordered.  Original bench top was flat pad upholstered (less than 1") but client wanted some cush so 3" was used.  When ordering great fabric from Miller Upholstering, don't forget you get 20% off. This is Hackney Empire by House of Hackney
How do you like these pups? HOH Puma's in the same print

Even a headboard can be regarded as the same because some are simply a board upholstered over  foam in a single application.

Learn the basic approach and materials for ONE CHAIR and then you can go home and upholster all the radiator covers, camper, boat, RV boards...pick a board, any board - and upholster to your hearts desire.

What are these?! Arm pads and seat board
for a riding lawnmower I think...
or cherry picker belonging to A Tree Service

Many of you are asking for the return of Side Chair Weekend Workshops, but my workroom is too full so there's no room for learner's projects.  I recommend Blue Sky Gallery and Funky Little Chair for ongoing upholstery instruction.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Danish/Wicker/Rattan Webbing Again

Time for a refresher on applying new webbing for your open frame seating such as most Danish open arm chairs, sofas and loveseats, wicker and rattan frames.  I've been selling webbing repair "kits" since 2006 when my daughter found a chair in the trash at university far from home and needed materials to fix and reuse. So I sent her the repair materials and printed out some pictures in the form of an instructional sheet and she repaired that thing herself!  Ten years later, she still has the chair.

If you are local to the Twin Cities you may come to shop on East Lake Street to pick up. If you are local without that kind of time, or live elsewhere, you can order from me easily on etsy and ebay.
You may also call the shop at 612-729-1841 and place an order... *or*  and this is preferable, since I don't always answer the phone when in the workroom,  email the measurement and number of vertical straps, slot-to-slot and the number of horizontal straps and their measurement slot-to-slot.

Some frames will have both horizontal and vertical:

Oh my gosh! These are REALLY in need of repair! This was
an outdoor seating arrangement at a local restaurant's patio -
they'd pulled the cushions in for the night and I walked by and
saw this.  There is no amount of good foam cushions that are going
to make this comfortable seating.  They need new webbing that's all
there is to it!

Some will only have one direction:

I sell the materials of black elastic webbing + v-clips meant to be flattened on each end of cut webbing as simply as  you can do it - hammer, pliers, vise grip - what-have-you.  There is no mystery to this, no special secrets of the trade.

These are called Expersprings and you need to order their replacement elsewhere:

These are called Fagas and you need to order them elsewhere:

I send the webbing in one continuous piece, uncut - ready for  you to make that determination, but I will tell you each strap is really cut no more that 1/2" shorter than the actual measurement slot-to-slot.
The looser, or closer to actual measurement, once  your clips are applied it's certainly easier to stretch into place, but you will have a softer seat, because there will be more elastic to expand - this is probably not so desirable, most people will want their new webs to provide a firm seat...along with new foam in the cushions.   Expect your elastic webbing to last at least 7-10 years before they need replacing again.  Even then you may need new foam in the cushions before you need to replace webbing, but that's up to you.
On with 16 images of the process.  I will spare you any more chitchat since this really is so simple for you to do yourself.  Occasionally though, a client will not want to bother at all with it and will bring their frames for me to do.  And that's just fine, but do call or email rather than showing up because I frequently have no room in my small busy shop for drop-in's.

all you need right here - length of new webbing + new v-clips

clean out the old ones.  you may see that previously the webbing was nailed, stapled or attached with dowels.  you can still use this elastic webbing, you just won't need the clips

see how tightly the old ones were flattened?

a clean frame is a happy frame - now is the time to polish or refinish

first new webbing strap - I like to work back-to-front

flatten 'er down evenly across

make sure the "teeth" grip the webbing but if you place the clip face down and against ledge of solid surface, you can give it a couple of whacks with hammer to really secure those teeth into webbing

stretch it forward and mark w chalk your cut line.  no more than 1/2" shorter than measurement or it's hell to stretch in place

now clip the other end...

it can get physical trying to stretch new webbing with two new clips in place - especially if you cut them even a bit too short

that's it - that's all of them on this chair, only 4 straps

new foam cut for frame.  I like to go an inch or two longer and higher than frame (depends on foam's resiliency) to compress into the newly sewn upholstery

Matched pattern from boxing of cushion to top and bottom plates - keeps things nice

ta-da.  how cute is that?


Thursday, February 27, 2014

1970s Eames Compact Sofa emailed to me, inquiring of cost and timeline. Having never done an Eames Compact Sofa before (Herman Miller - and shown here in Herman Miller Stripe) I didn't real know what I was in for. Turns out it was basically a cushion job applied... Upholstered wood applied to a metal frame. With a few challenges. Explaination as follows

Worn out and decomposed petrol foam. Powders down to nothing and offers no resilience. But hey - 40 yrs is a good run, right?
A 2" boxed cushion with flange pockets on each end and back to hold it to metal frame...
Learning about how this piece of furniture was constructed as I take it apart. All the old stuff must've removed as usual ...
2" foam was set into the side-boarded plank then cheesecloth was used to smooth the hard line, cut-edge of foam. So it'll finish with a nicely rounded edge.

Sew the welt cording to oval-ish sides first to stabilize the shape.

Each piece can stretch while you sew, causing the piece to finish too big, then it doesn't fit and must be done again smaller. Luckily, this job I did it right first time. There is also a variance in top and bottom curves, so they are marked. That way I won't upholster the new fabric upside down on each board. They look the same to the naked eye, but the measurements are slightly different. The top is a little tighter than the bottom. Clever Eames!
After the piece is successfully sewn, fit onto boards and staple down. Apply welt cord trim.
It finished nicely in a classic fine red chenille by Knoll. You can't imagine its comfort until you sit on one of these ergonomic beauties!

From Start To Finish

Here's a post from a while back that had lost it's image links.  Someone was asking about Cogswell chairs just yesterday, so...