Traditional upholstery techniques

Here at Reloved Upholstery we’re passionate about the craftsmanship of traditional upholstery techniques. Where possible, we refurbish all items that come through our workshop using materials that are natural and proven, and methods which are centuries old. And, we feel privileged that we are continuing a trade and craft that has changed very little over time.

During the restoration process we strip all material and fabric until we are left with the wooden chair frame. We then repair any wobbles to the frame with glue and screws, to ensure a sturdy frame ready to upholster with chosen fabric.

We do not reuse any material that has been stripped from the furniture, not even the springs. Depending on the age of the chair, the original seat springs can be 70 or 80 years old, and with age, comes a lot of use. Old chairs also have material that would not meet current fire regulations See The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010, for more information.

Bespoke and traditional upholstery

We offer bespoke upholstery on vintage chairs, sofas and footstool frames – while the frames are vintage, all materials are replaced – this process would typically include;

  • Jute webbing replacement – this is stapled to the frames to create structure for the seating and back of the chair. Traditional upholstery uses upholstery tacks to secure the jute webbing
  • Next we add upholstery hessian – this starts the seat and back build process
  • New springs are added to the seat to create structure
  • We do not use horse hair or coconut fibre anymore, we use a fibre replacement called coir
  • Then follows another layer of upholstery hessian
  • Our favourite part is next, and the biggest job, the traditional process of sewing all the layers we have constructed. We use a large needed called a bayonet for this, sewing techniques regularly used during this process are blind stitching and top stitching
  • Layers of upholstery wool felt are added to ensure a comfy seat and back
  • This is all finished off with a layer of upholstery Dacron, also known as wadding
  • Once this process is complete we can then upholster with your chosen fabric.

This is only an overview as each chair is different, and in some chairs we would use A-grade foam – especially in all our Ercol chairs. Take a look at our latest projects to see images from start to finish. As you can see the process requires patience, skill and a keen eye for attention to detail.  But it’s all worth it in the end.  See our store to have a look at just a few of our creations.