Monday, June 03, 2013

"Tearing Off"

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.

More soon.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you've broken this down (having taken upholstery courses before, this kind of blog would have been useful for me....we'll then again, it's the putting it back together that is the much bigger challenge.)

    If you need anything for your project, let me know. There a good spot in Ottawa where I've bought my upholstery materials, so I could pick them up for you! :) Rachel