Category: traditional upholstery techniques

The benefit of traditional stitched upholstery

tradtional stitched upholstery


Traditional upholstery maintains a historic craft and a long standing tradition, to create a result that cannot be replicated with modern techniques. Unlike modern upholstery techniques, traditional upholstery utilises traditional materials and techniques to create the form of a piece. Using hair or coconut fibre encased in scrim as a filler. The material is then stitched to compress the filler to create firm rigid forms. The techniques provide comfort and avoids the need for wood blocks to create height and shape. The craft has been developed over years to ensure a technique that is durable and long standing.
There are various traditional techniques applied to upholstery to create a firm angled corner. Stephanie Harris Upholstery utilises a stitched corner to create a firm, well defined corner. The benefit of stitching a corner provides structural support to prolong the life and shape of a piece. The upholstery technique creates a firm base and guide for the stitches to follow.
The following stitches vary depending on the required shapes and results. There are a range of stitching techniques that are applied to sculpt the filling to the desired shape. Just like a sculptor the piece is transformed into a practical art form, with each stitch having a purpose.
Different stitches create various result, they are chosen depending on their purpose and use. A blind stitch or edge stitch creates additional support without compressing the top too much and at the same time creates a firm wall of support along the sides. Alternative stitches can create a firm wall along the side but also on the top surface. Creating a sturdy, firm foundation. Ideally suited for a seat to maintain the shape. Finishing the rows of stitching with a firm roll stitch, that is the defining skill of a traditional upholsterers technique. This stitch creates a firm roll along the edge to create a firm form, providing the support required to maintain the form. Ideally suited for firm crisp edges.
The final result is a piece that maintains a long standing tradition, comfort and durability. If well maintained the piece can be passed down through generations, creating a family heirloom.

The seven stages of a traditional upholstered sprung chair


Stephanie Harris upholstery specialise in the craft of a traditional upholstered chair, using time honoured techniques and materials,  to create a classic furniture piece that is durable and can even be passed through generations. The skilled process is time consuming and built up over stages.

original frame of a chairThe first stage stripes the chair back to its original skeleton frame. The frame restored to its original beauty to ensure a sturdy base for the upholstery. Each stage taking a respectful approach to the piece applying techniques in keeping with its age.

webbing and springs on a dining chairThe second stage applies webbing to the underside of the seat and springs stitched in place. The springs lashed and strung to the frame to ensure stability. Stephanie Harris upholstery provide the options of British and Continental lashing techniques based on the clients requirements.

To create the shape of the seat coconut fibre is sandwiched between tarpaulin and hessian. Alternative option of linen scrim and hair can be provided for the finer antique pieces. The filling is regulated to create the basic shape as the seat starts to take form. It is only when the upholstery stitches are applied that the defined shape is visible and becomes rigid. This third stage sculpts the seat into the tradtional stitched coir layerrequired shape echoing the form of the chair, using both British and Continental techniques.

hair and skin waddingThe fourth stage creates comfort by applying a hair layer. This layer is evenly regulated and held in place with stitches. To increase the comfort of the seat a fifth layer is applied over the hair using either cotton felt or skin wadding.

The sixth stage creates a barrier between the upholstered material and the top cover fabric. Barrier cloth is applied to create a smooth finish on the seat. A layer of dacron is applied before the seventh stage to reduce friction against the top fabric. The seventh stage is the application of the top cover fabric and any required trimmings.

stephanie harris upholstery sprung dining chairThe final result being a smooth, comfortable, durable piece that maintains a sense of history and craft.