In upholstery, "tearing off" is the step where all the old upholstery, webbing, fabric, springs, and the myriad of tacks are removed from the piece. This particular chair felt like a multi-layered archaeological dig.
The first thing to be removed was the top fabric, which is some sort of brocade of leaves on a dark background.
When I flipped it over, I was very surprised to see how colourful it once was (however, keep in mind that the colours would be the opposite on the reverse: all that pink and light green would be very minimal on the front side).
I tried washing a section to see if I could revive the colours a bit, but the fabric is simply too faded. You can catch a glimpse of the original colours from this edge. It shows some nice tealy-blue-green, a dark background, and highlights of small pink and light green flowers. All the orange spots are rust from the tacks.
I flipped through my old furniture reference books, and I was surprised to see nearly the same fabric on this 1840's Empire sofa:
Under the top fabric was a very thin cotton cover, and I noticed part of a faded logo on the side.
Through the magic of Photoshop, I was able to enhance it. The photo is B&W because otherwise it would have been neon blue-green since I had to mess around with the colours.
The design reads "Royal Household" Trade Mark Registered. I assumed it was from a flour bag, and I was correct! Google turned up several results.
Under the cotton was what I can only guess to be a layer of wool?
Followed by straw...
Then the very shredded/mangled remnants of jute...
And the springs, which are not exactly properly tied, and have a few torn lashings.
The actual "webbing" was a joke. I assume that this was an early DIY repair, since I can't imagine that proper webbing would have been that expensive. These are machine sewn with several decorative patterns used over/across the pieces.
Cotton fabric scraps were never designed to be load-bearing, and they eventually failed, causing the bottom of the chair to be torn out.
Yesterday I mentioned "chair number two", which I also picked up a few years ago at the road while doing yard sales with my Mom. This one has an early French-Quebec style look to it. I thought it would make a fairly easy repair project since it's already almost down to bare wood, and had already been stripped down to the frame.
The front bar with the springs on it popped-off while I was bringing the chair up from the basement.
Both chairs partially disassembled.
I'm hoping that our local fabric store has a lot of the materials I'll need for these chairs. I hate to have to mail-order a bunch of the supplies and pay for all the shipping. I know they have upholstery fabrics, linen, possibly some jute, and MAYBE the webbing.