Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Unit Drop Seat Cushions

Arts and Crafts, some rattan and wicker, Early American or open frames often have wooden framed spring units, like little mattresses wrapped with burlap or spring covering, then curled hair, ginger straw or moss (can be mixed) and cotton padding. Sometimes when they come to be reupholstered, they look so ratty and awful, people think they'll just get some new foam...think again, my eco-conscious friends! The spring units inside are often quite good and simply need rewrap over the springs and new revamped padding of cotton. These are generally not the heavy gauge coil springs present in handtied furniture, but a lighter gauge that are often misshapen, but easy enough to bend back where they need to be. These cushions are worth keeping in that the price to redo rather than replace is far better over the life of the chair. If you still have the original cushions, let's take a look inside to see if they are in fact these little individual units we can repair.

Cushions shrink and start to look terrible (not to mention uncomfortable) when the spring cover deteriorates and that stuffing can cave in where the holes are. Pretty soon, you feel like you are only sitting on springs, with nothing soft in between. That's because you are. All the cotton's fallen down into the cracks!

Rewrapped and reupholstered and they are perfectly suitable to keep. On any gauge coil spring, I prefer a heavier upholstery weight fabric such as this thick woven chenille.  If a lighter weight is chosen such as cotton or linen print fabrics, stabilizing with a treatment of knit or acrylic backing or nanotexing at the mill will extend the life of the fabric as it wears better across the springs. 

H.T. Cushman's "Colonial Creations" from the 19teens thru the early 70's manufactured a solid no-nonsense Early American inspired line of furniture popularly known to decorate many a country cottage. Their drop-in seats most often lay over narrow steel band webs hung by short extension springs, but sometimes just sit tightly over corner blocks in the frame. This particular chair lost it's original boxed cushion long ago, so is a 5" down-wrapped foam placed on a removeable was recycled from a Better-Department Store's loveseat and certainly works here. And look how fantastic the wood looks once refinished. Apologies to any purists, but on something conceived of being imitation Early American to begin with, the owner of this chair (and I concur) is not too concerned with preserving the original patina of this piece! And See? Early American might just have a place in contemporary society...The fabric here was a new, repurposed giant tablecloth purchased as a travel gift-souvenir at Charles de Gaulle airport. A customer of mine decided they could live without it and gave it to me. I still have plenty of remnant and was thinking of making a summer skirt...

Here's the seating for a couple of mission style rockers, both made by the Wisconsin Chair company from Port Washington Wisconsin 1888 to 1954. The basket woven textile is finished with a "waterfall" edge, meaning it wraps under from top to front, with sewn sides only. The other is a welted boxed cushion which the customer chose to center a novelty print of one of her favorite dog breeds.  Is that a Wirehaired Fox Terrier or a Welsh? Or is that the basically the same kind of dog?  It's certainly makes for a unique Mission style rocker.


  1. Do you know where I can purchase a spring cushion. I was fortunate enough to find my mother's rocker after hurricane Katrina but the cushion was gone. I've tried an upholstery shop but they wanted place a board in the base and place a piece of upholstered foam on the board.

    1. Gosh - so sorry I'm not seeing these comments until much later! They are not in production today, so you'd have to find an old one that fits and that will take some searching. A woodshop could conceivably make you a wood frame the dimensions a bit smaller than seat opening (to allow for fabric/padding) and you could order (or request your upholsterer order) bar cone springs from Van Dyke's Restorers (check them online) - then voilĂ ! It would be ready to pad and upholster. Don't expect this to be cheap though. It's a lot of monkeying around, which is why they'd rather do a board.


From Start To Finish

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