Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Squeaky Springs

A very brief post here, while I investigate some squeaking sinuous or "no-sag" springs". Both sofa and chair have a not terribly annoying, but audible spring noise when you sit or get up. Now, this type of spring system is relatively maintenance free for years and years (no twine to break or fray, no costly hand-tying to replace) and if the wood frame it is tension-nailed to is hardy enough (as this one is - the wood has not split thru the grain due to weight load, or wear and tear), it is definitely worth reupholstering.

The length of connection to frame is still excellent - good job, Westwood Industries of Tupelo Mississippi!

I think to secure the edgewire the sinuous or no-sag springs are attached to, back to the frame just at the edge, will help end this squeaking. Each line of sinuous spring is secured to itself with strong little clips lined with thick paper, so you don't have steel-on-steel rubbing. There is chance the paper has worn away, producing a noise...that I can't go in and fix, but the edges for sure will help. Stay tuned to see the beautiful chenille damask that will cover this set, after a little repadding.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pin Felted Wool Upholstery

My daughter living in the UK laughed telling me about a charity shop she went in to recently and the sale sign in the window noted, " Sale! 50% off everything! Except wool". Seems the ladies at Oxfam were not about to let that go cheaply. Wool is a highly prized fiber around here too - personally in my house and wardrobe, professionally in the studio workroom, and in a Scandinavian/German rich heritage state such as Minnesota. Even growing up in Southwest Missouri and Oklahoma, my grandmother and her sisters were always trading clothes and especially the solid wools were kept well after the other more trendy prints and fabrics came and went. With my grandmother's help, I made a tailored skirt from one of my grandpa's old but still fine, serge suits. I think they all knit and crocheted, and while Aunt Estella taught me now to knit, Aunt Dottie was probably the most accomplished, creating complicated pleated skirts and sweaters from the thinnest of 2 ply worsted wool. In upholstery, I love working with wool. A few years ago I became interested in pin felting on wool remnants, making pillow tops or shams from cut up skirts and sweaters. At one point, I actually had a fair amount of Maharam's Kvadrat handy in which to work up some designs. I'm remembering these projects as I view the few pictures I took of them then. The iron stool I've given away, the midcentury bench I sold on ebay, and the grey pillow sold in a holiday craft sale. Since I can't get rid of my woolens any easier than the Charity shop women, or my female relatives, I think I may revisit this craft this year and make some new things.

Haha - I can see the DVD "Super Troopers" on the floor...and the open magazine of "Golden Hands" issue from the early 70's, that had a velvet paisley and solid block quilting as my inspiration. That shag rug is something else too, isn't it? I wanted a 70's house so bad, but my 1908 stucco house could never give itself over to modernization through my decorating whims.

Here's the pillow, on what was a thick grey wrap skirt, so it pieced off nicely for cushion making. It really couldn't be easier if you have a solid foam cushion handy that you don't mind poking holes into (for the felting barbed pin tools) - spread your "canvas" out on it, place strips of roving where you want them and jab away.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

1970's Button Attached-Back Tapestry Sofa

A sofa suitable for a tall man's afternoon napping. Purchased at a garage sale for $10.00, this 78" long sofa from the 70's gets reworked in tapestry. While we discussed redesigning the buttoned back and cushion construction, we decided in the end, to reupholster as it had been. Purchased from S. R. Harris in Brooklyn Park MN, the tapestry fabric was not treated with any kind of backing, which makes for a soft hand, but a textile malleable enought to stretch all out of proportion, especially on the cushions. Honestly, they grew and grew while in the works. For the center cushion, what began as a 23" x 24 1/2" plate, I literally could have stuffed to stretch into 26" x 26"! New Rules: (with a tip of the hat to Bill Maher) - don't assume the existing cushions will template out to the right size for your newly reupholstered frame. Actually, this is an old rule, but one I'd forgotten and resulted in 2 late-night sewing sessions, instead of one. Oh well.

Whoa! A big gap between seats in the new fabric...that will never do. Will have to recut and sew a bigger piece to fill for center cushion.

Attached pillow-backs...that's a lot of sewing...kinda hate to see these come around, but they do look nice, once finished and are easy to keep, as they don't require all that endless fluffing and straightening, as many "loose cushions" do. And what was in the old sofa? Candy wrappers, ink pen caps and a coloured paper cut-out of a trout, marked "3 lbs".

These are the sinuous springs I'm always going on about, how much I love them. They seldom need retying, are hardly ever broken, and can really stand a lot of wear and tear. If you have young kids especially they're good, because the frame will have a stationary hard edge (at cushion) instead of a spring edge receiving movement and friction, which withstands jumping and wallowing a whole lot better. Now this old yellow foam on the arms that's past it's prime will get replaced with a new layer of 1/2" foam wrap and cotton...

Things are coming together...

...using slick fiber stuffing to fill hollow areas of cushions where the old foam (still with some life to them) was a little lacking...

A remnant of cotton velvet in the same bluish-green seen in the floral tapestry will make a nice gift of a feather pillow for this sofa.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mid Century Slipper Side Chair

This was the first look at a small project, emailed to me with an inquiry on reupholstering. Lots of satisfaction in seeing this chair revamped. It's size and lightweight frame make it versatile to be used any number of places in the home. If this was my chair, it'd be all over the house. Looks like it's going to need a new layer of foam (unless it was all pure cotton), new cording of course, buttons, etc...but I'm sure the springwork will be sinuous - the low maintenence variety used by many furniture factories heralding the modern age. This was maybe not the original fabric, but probably a reupholster from the 70's or 80's. Whoever went at it did a lovely and long lasting job, but used the biggest nails they had, the kind usually reserved for several layers of thick fabric including cardboard tacking strip. Still, I think this spare frame with quality hard wood would have held the smaller, number size "3" upholstery nail just fine.

Whoa, look at the size of those nails! They leave big holes in the frame too. Using the smallest one for one or two layers of fabric is best when it comes time to redo a piece.

Burlap spring covers are fine, but are aged so I'll go over it with a new piece anyway (it's cheap) and this will prevent the new layers of padding from seeping thru the older fibers sooner than later.

The inside back's frame was originally covered with a much more densely woven hessian cloth, so no new layer is needed here. Just a new soft foam around front for resilience and cover with cotton to make smooth and fill the corners. The seat is done and the top of back will be tricky because of the decorative exposed wood rail on top.

Comes together fairly well thanks to the good weave of the modern jacquard fabric chosen. Looks like we don't need the buttons either, it would kind of interfere with the pattern of new fabric (S. R. Harris Fabric Warehouse in Brooklyn Park MN). A pillow sewn up from the small amount of remnants (4 yds did the trick for all) and this is ready to be enjoyed hopefully for another 30 years!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Contemporizing a 1970's Beaucraft of Minneapolis, French Bergere

I love my customers! I'm so lucky to get the ones I do. Glancing thru the previous posts and perusing my saved photos for future posts, I'm remembering the process many of of you go through in selecting fabric for frames. It's true the arts and crafts of everyday benchwork in upholstery is fun (some may beg to differ), but I also enjoy the conversations concerning pattern and fiber content, as it pertains to diffferent styles, different needs of use or wearability. Sometimes even before we've properly met, I enjoy the exchange of ideas over a few phone calls and emails, such as this one...

Someone emailed me with this 1970's modified french chair - kind of a winged bergere. I assumed it was American made and actually "it" is a pair acquired on Minneapolis' Craig's List. The tag still firmly attached to the tacked scrim underneath proves it to be a locally made Beaucraft Inc. Custom Furniture upholstered frame from Minneapolis, and a date of 1929. I'm sure this chair came later - I've posted with the title "70's" but it could be late 50's thru 60's. The date given is probably just marking the company's compliance with state regulations in 1929.

Turns out I know this chair very well, as I've been enjoying the same one myself, in my own house for 2 years now, wearing an off-white microfibered velvet. The nap is longer than "suede" but not fully plush like the longer nap of velvet. Still plenty cozy and clean - and $9.00 per yd at S.R. Harris. I need a blank canvas in the house to decompress after working with pattern and color all day. It hasn't always been that way and it won't last for long, because I'm too nuts for fabric, it's an ever changing interior around here. But for now, the white is working it's magic.

Here's how mine started out in life though - a green and blue brocatelle - frame solid as a rock, but upholstery stained overall, from the years of lotion, perfume, hair products used by whoever sat in this chair day in and day out.

The inside-back had been buttoned and was an attached back - made to look like a separate cushion with a single welt. I decided to tight-back it and lose the buttons. Spring system is the old tried and true sinuous springs, in seat and inside-back. No muss, no fuss, just a fresh burlap covering, fiber mat and cotton, then new deck cloth.

Sometimes the nails holding the spring clips have worked their way out. I have seen them with the thick gauge steel broken off, but this is rare. I'd say somebody was using the piece of furniture to stand on, for that to happen. My mother would have had a fit...

Here's what my new lady is considering though for her pair - what a statement any one would make - I think all of these are fantastic. The first five are Marimekko and the last two are Designer's Guild:

I'll definitely let you know what happens..!

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...