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Saturday, July 10, 2010

1930s-40s Parlour Set - Overstuffed Sofa and Chair



I know Sears and Roebuck for one, ran this type of overstuffed spring-edge furniture from late 19th century to mid 20th century. This is 30's or 40's from what the family can remember and as I see the assembly seems more industrialized than other frames I've done. It's apparent it had never been reupholstered (original mohair) and the manufacturer had already pared down factory production to improve their bottom line - heavy weight hessian cloth spans the bottom seating and inside back as spring support instead of fully 4" webbed horizontal and vertical. They did have vertical steel banding screwed in frame to supplement support of 21 coil springs in seat and which I'll not remove, but add my own weave of new nylon webbing around them and retie all springs in this set that's going to be gorgeous.



I'm going to run this blogpost in segments, so readers learning upholstery and want to do these big old complicated projects can see how I do it, one step at a time. I take lots of seemingly unimportant pictures to remember how it all goes back together, and how it looked originally. Today the notion is to bulk everything up with thick foam, but I like to keep original lines and padded thickness relatively the same, unless a customer asks differently. Even though the original curled hair padding has squished down, balled up and otherwise disintegrated, I'll reuse if I can, by pulling apart and refluffing, but some does go in the trash as you'll see. I take measurements, pictures, write notes, observe the fading on fabric to see how things might have been.


A break at this joint will go to repairs across the street at Prairie Woodworkers.



Treasures inside: a collection of combs and a Walmart bag. Be sure to measure how high the spring edge was, noting what ties are broken within, causing perhaps one side to be higher than the other, etc. Go for a happy medium when retying. Some upholsterer's maybe know a good rule of thumb, but no one taught me this, so again I do what was originally in place, regarding also if the edgewire is bent or not...lots to observe, but easy enough to determine new height at which to set springs.




Look at the efficiency of labor and materials on this sofa though. Today this area would be riddled with staples to keep all down nice and smooth. Note the few nails really necessary to do the job - this was workmanship at it's best, and the goal in reupholstering is to do the same.





Observe the deck cloth and pleating of the nose and apron, especially when inside arm's fabric and padding is removed and you can really see in there - you'll want to bring it all back nice and compact but secure (that spring edge is going to be moving up and down everytime someone sits, or jumps - god forbid).





The curled hair behind the apron of sofa is just too gross - I'll have to pad this up with all new. This set was in storage for a long time.




Broken ties in inside back led to the collapse of padding. Retied, recovered with new foundation and it's padding, the back will be nice and plump again with no depressions.



Take measure of the inside back springs that are still tied, so you'll know where they're supposed to sit. They won't all be the same - the back curves, but do it anyway. You'll make allowances when you're putting it all back. Time to see what's under the seating's spring cover...








One torsion spring intact, one broken, will need to replace. Also edgewire clips are bent out of shape or broken, so get some of those back on, or tie them up with string to the front springs when retying.












Rewebbed and time to reset and tie springs. Will follow up with that next - it's a million more pictures, so another posts worth. Here's how it begins though. You see I did not remove all the former ties that were still intact, or the edgewire. Just cut away the old burlap/hessian, rewebbed around the steel bands and now begin at center, to secure vertical ties.

3 comments:

  1. OK... stillllll waiting to see your magnificent work. Wishing I had your gifts.

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  2. I hope you post the final picture of great couch and chair! I am sure it looked fabulous when you were done. :)

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    Replies
    1. Here it is, in post Parlour Set Part II: http://millerupholstering.blogspot.com/2010/08/1930s-40s-parlour-set-part-ii.html

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