Upholstery Seattle Tips, Tricks and FAQ

A Sleeker Design

When a Seattle chiropractic service needed to update its adjusting tables and office furniture, they called us. It would have been easy to recover the equipment and move on to the next project. Instead, we suggested some tweaks to improve the appearance and durability of the apparatus. Compare the before pics (burgundy fabric) with the after pics (black fabric) below.

headrest redesign

In addition to covering this headrest in a more durable fabric, we streamlined the design and restored the foam. If our upholstery team spots a way to improve the performance or appearance of equipment -- even if it's a relatively minor change -- we'll let you know. Details are important at Upholstery Seattle.


Custom Upholstery Buttons

Custom made upholstery buttons are often used to attach fabric to furniture when a chair or sofa has a curved shape. They're also an excellent way to dress up furniture, especially in an office setting.

Fabricating and attaching the buttons can be tricky and time consuming. But, when done properly they're definitely worth the effort. The process begins by collecting scraps of the upholstery we used to cover the sofa, then cutting the fabric into small squares.

  • custom buttons
  • custom buttons
  • custom buttons

In this case the fabric is a grey polyester chenille. Using a sturdy "cookie cutter" dye, we slice the squares into button-shaped plugs the size of an old silver dollar.

A heavy duty button maker then aligns each fabric plug with a steel button blank and snaps the assembly in place.

Attaching the buttons requires special care, especially when the cushions are spring supported, like the ones on this couch. Being careful not to damage the springs, we thread and tie the custom made buttons. The fabric grain on the buttons should align with the fabric grain on the cushion before the job is done.


 

Fabric & Leather Repair

People frequently ask us how to repair cosmetic damage in furniture. There's no easy answer. It depends on a couple of things: how do you want the item to look after the repair and how long do you want the repair to last.

colored tapeIf the repair is temporary or strictly for functional purposes, a few strips of colored cloth or vinyl tape is a popular fix. Of course, the brand of tape, its adhesive properties, the location of the tear and the fabric color make a big difference.

superglueOne thing is certain: at some point, the tape will tear or its adhensive will go bad. Then you'll have to "repair the repair". Removing old tape can further damage your furniture. We don't recommend this approach.

If the damaged section is tiny and the fabric edges are still in good shape, you can try Super Glue or Gorilla Glue; pull the fabric edges together, then apply a bead of glue. A strip of tape may be necessary to hold the fabric edges together as the glue dries. When done correctly, this sort of do-it-yourself repair works fine if you're not concerned with appearance.

vinyl repair kitThose vinyl repair kits and leather repair kits you sometimes see advertised on late night TV promise perfection, but rarely deliver. Using a repair kit requires a keen eye for detail and an artist's touch. Not only do you have to match the color of the damaged section, you have to properly mix the chemicals and then apply the correct texture before the substance dries. In many cases, the texture options provided in the kit won't match the damaged section. Colors can be problematic, as well. They can fade, wear off or simply go bad.

As a practical mater, it's just about impossible to repair anything other than a very small tear with a repair kit. The repair may hold, but we've never seen one that looks right. This is how one product reviewer describes working with a repair kit, "I'm not sure what I expected, I guess too much, or perhaps this just delivers too little. Its basically like fixing your leather with painted duct tape that has better stick than actual duct tape".

repair torn furnitureYou can also repair a small tear by stitching the fabric together with an upholstery needle and thread. This approach works if you don't mind your sofa looking like a darned sock or Frankenstein's forehead.

After decades of doing this sort of thing, we believe there's only one truly effectively way to repair damaged furniture. You have to replace the entire section of fabric surrounding the tear (left). Often times we can find fabric identical to the original material, which makes color and texture matching a breeze, unless the furniture is sun bleached. If you care about the appearance and durability of your furniture, this is the best way to go.


 

Flamboyant Fabrics

When upholstering furniture bound for the glitzy Côte d'Azur, you do things a little differently.

One of our customers recently sent us an exceptional collection of furniture, including an early 19th century chaise lounge, to be upholstered and then shipped to Monaco. If the pieces were being upholstered for a Seattle home, we might have recommended more toned-down fabrics. But, this furniture was destined for the south of France where flamboyant colors and Byzantine furniture fit right in.

Small Stools
Fabrics Used For Project
Large Stool
Large Stool
Upholstered Bench
Upholstered Bench
Antique Chaise Lounge
Antique Chaise Lounge
Sette
Embroidered Fabric For Sette
slip cover
Slip Cover

The project took several days to complete. As you can see, everything turned out great. Fabrics used for the slip cover and settee posed the only significant challenge. Brightly colored, embroidered fabrics such as these are typically used for pillows, seatbacks and other accessories. Maintaining fabric alignment while matching an intricate pattern across the entire settee is literally impossible. Fortunately, the rich bullion braid covered many of visible seams, minimizing alignment issues.


 

Diamond Tufting Antique Chair

preparing foam for tufting
Buttons Holes Properly Aligned
finger-sized hole
Finger-Sized Button Hole
dacron wrap
Dacron Wrap To Soften Seat
aligning fabric with hole
Smoothing Pleats
tufted chair
Finished
sliding buttons into place
Threading Button
setting button
Setting Button
anchoring buttons under seat
Anchoring Buttons Under Seat

You'll often find decorative diamond tufting in fine antique furniture. When restoring one of these chairs or sofas, we're careful to match the tufting pattern with materials that mimic the original look. For this project we're using a durable eggplant-colored microfiber. The fabric's thick, old fashioned pile is perfect for tufting.

Tufting needs to be done carefully or results can be disastrous. Begin by measuring precisely. The primary row of buttons should be centered near the midpoint of the seat. Divide the seat length by the number of rows. Use the resulting number to evenly space the rows. The one closest to the midpoint will serve as the primary row.

Space the button holes -- in this case five -- evenly across the primary row. Repeat the process for each row.

This chair's tufting pattern is a little tricky because the button count on each row alternates between odd and even numbers. This is when high school geometry finally serves a purpose! We draw a series of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines on the foam to make sure each button hole is positioned properly. After the button holes are measured and drilled, we wrap the seat in Dacron to enhance softness. Then we fabricate buttons to match the material and begin the actual tufting process.

Drape an oversize layer of fabric over the foam. Using a finger or pencil, push the fabric covering the first hole all the way down. Align and smooth the resulting pleats. Repeat the process in the holes beside, above and below the first one. These four holes form a diamond shape. Dress-up the pleats, then thread the buttons.

Using a long tapestry needle and heavy coat thread, pull each button into place. Anchor the thread to clumps of durable cotton batting beneath the deck. Make sure the buttons are set to the same depth. The tufting process sounds straightforward, but getting it right requires experience and a feel for fabric, foam and furniture. Diamond tufting is not for the faint of heart.


 

Repairing A Champion's Blanket

patched horse blanket
Blanket With Patches
damaged horse blanket
Damaged Championship Blanket

The Arabian horse is one of the oldest and most recognizable breeds in the world. Relatively small and refined, Arabians are prized for their intelligence, agility and temperament. They compete in all sorts of equestrian events, including walks, trots, canters and long distance riding.

Quilted blankets are often awarded to winning horses. These distinctively embroidered blankets are treasured by riders and horse owners. When a North Seattle owner recently discovered her championship blanket shredded by rats she was horrified. Tossing the blanket was out of the question, so she brought it to us. After fixing the damaged Dacron padding, we suggested two repair options: 1) restore the blanket to its original condition by replacing each of the damaged panels with matching fabric, or 2) limit repairs to damaged areas. The customer chose option number two.

Selecting the proper fabric to patch the damaged areas was pretty straightforward. The color had to match the blanket and the fabric had to be heavy-duty. Canvas Navy, manufactured by Sunbrella, turned-out to be the perfect choice. Despite the difference in texture between the two fabrics, the patches blend well with the blanket (above right). And full restoration is always an option down the road.


 

Custom-Designed Headboard

Traditional headboards go in-and-out of style. Today, they're making a comeback.

A headboard is typically coupled to the side rails of a bedframe, allowing the bed and headboard to move together. This custom-made headboard is engineered for a different purpose -- to fit inside an alcove specifically built for a queen-size headboard. Instead of being connected to the bed, this headboard will attach directly to the wall.

wooden headboard frame
Custom Headboard Frame
foam padding
Scrim Covers Foam Padding
corner application
Scrim Rolled Over Top
fabric
Scrim & Dacron Covers Base
sizing foam
Sizing Fabric
padded headboard corner
Fitting Top Corner
Stapling Fabric To Base
Attaching Fabric To Base
fabric attached
Fabric Aligned

Before designing it, the contractor consulted with us. We recommended covering the surface with two-inches of polyurethane padding. With that in mind, he built a two-inch gutter to accomodate the foam.

After fitting the foam, we draped a pink, quarter-inch scrim over the facing then added a Dacron wrap for softness. This resulted in a smooth, seamless surface on which to fasten the fabric.

The fabric is a blended weave selected to match room decor. We're careful to align it so the pattern angles-up around the edges.

Since the headboard fits snugly inside the alcove, the sides won't be seen. Even though they're not visible, we sew snug corners all the way around to keep the fabric from wrinkling. When finished, the headboard is a fine addition to an elegant bedroom.


 

Vintage Husky Tailgater

Aladdin Travel Trailers, originally built in Oregon from 1963 through 1969, were King of the Road in the sixties and seventies, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Most were built to be affordable, using relatively inexpensive materials and manufacturing techniques. Owners were sometimes called "Tin Can Tourists". For obvious reasons, you don't see many of these 50-year-old trailers on the road anymore. Most are either long gone or in pretty bad shape.

Vintage Aladdin Travel Trailer
Vintage Aladdin Travel Trailer
Dining Nook
Dining Nook
Bright Fabrics
Fun Fabrics
Husky Purple Pillows
Husky Purple Pillows
Sleeping Loft
Sleeping Loft
Bright Fabrics
Fun Fabrics

This vintage Aladdin from Omak was all but abandoned when J.E., a University of Washington alumnus, had a brainstorm -- transform the old thing into a state-of-the-art tailgater for Husky Football games. What a great idea!

It took lots of elbow grease to get the old Aladdin back together, not to mention roadworthy. By the time it reached the parking lot of our shop, it looked fresh off the production line! Well, maybe not that good...but, J.E. had done an excellent job renovating it.

With the trailer back in shape, it was time for new upholstery.

Instead of restoring the interior upholstery to its original look, she decided to have a little fun. Husky Purple -- in a nice assortment of prints, solids, and faux alligator leather -- was a must. Add in some eye-candy green and blue and you end up with a tailgater even author Ken Kesey might have envied. Then again, who cares about Kesey? He went to the University of Oregon.


 

Upholstering Cupped Surfaces

One of the more challenging tasks in our craft is upholstering a concave or extremely cupped surface. It's not the sort of project we see every day, but when furniture with a severely rounded surface does come through our door, Upholstery Seattle takes special care to upholster it properly. This curved restaurant booth is a great example of how its done.

attaching fabric
Sliding Fabric Over Foam
sewing crown
Sewing Sections In Place
pre-cut foam
Pre-Cut Foam Pad
fabric for crown
Fabric For Cushion Top
sunning fabric
Tightening Fabric In Sun
gap over cupped surface
Gap Over Cupped Surface
tugging fabric
Tugging Fabric
steaming wrinkles
Steaming Wrinkles

The first thing we do is order a specially shaped slab of polyurethane foam. It's pre-cut to match the foam it replaces. There's little room for error, so we measure carefully and work closely with our foam suppliers. When the foam arrives, we turn our attention to the critical piece of fabric on a concave surface, the cushion top. This section is cut to precisely match the curve in the foam. If it's not just right, the fabric will pucker and wrinkle.

Using the curved fabric as an anchor, we sew the other sections in place, then slip the upholstery over the foam like a glove.

As you can see, the fit is a little loose at first. There's also a big gap between the fabric and the cupped surface (bottom row, left). This is where years of experience counts. We tug the upholstery so it's flush with the foam, then staple it to the base. This has to be done with just the right amount of tension; too much and the fabric tears, not enough and it wrinkles.

A judicious application of steam erases all but the tiniest flaws. After steaming the fabric, we bake it under the afternoon sun for a couple of hours. This shrinks the gap between the fabric and foam resulting in a perfect fit. In the end, the restaraunt booth turns out just right!


 

Powered Recliner

You may think the recliner was invented by the same guy who dreamed up the TV remote control and pull top beer can. The concept actually goes all the way back to 19th Century France and Emperor Napoleon III. Early recliner designs were loosely based on the chaise lounge, another French invention.

old motorized recliner
Old Powered Recliner
lift mechanism
Recliner Lift Mechanism
massage unit
Recliner Massage Unit
recliner stripped to frame
Stripped to Frame
control box
Control Box
reupholstered power recliner
Finished

If Napoleon III was alive today, he'd probably demand a powered recliner with all the bells and whistles; something like this motorized recliner equipped with a built in heater, a mechanical massager and a control panel worthy of the Starship Enterprise.

This top-of-the-line powered recliner retails for roughly $5000. With that much money invested in comfort, you don't want to cut corners on upholstery.

As you can see, everything but the kitchen sink is built into this thing. The chair weighs more than an NFL linebacker. Moving it takes plenty of manpower, but the hardest part comes when we get inside the shop. Before reupholstering the recliner, we have to literally take it apart. Carefully dissasembling all the mechanical and electronic parts takes nearly a day. After stripping everything off, we reupholster the recliner in a heavy duty Acrylic/Polyester Chenille. The foam is in good shape; all it needs is a Dacron wrap and we're done. A few hours to reinstall the mechanical bells and whistles, and the powered recliner is out the door looking better than ever.


 

New Life For 1967 La-Z-Boy

The venerable La-Z-Boy has long been considered the "Cadillac" of recliners. Original La-Z-Boys carried lifetime warranties. This one manufactured in 1967 is still in great shape; the frame is sturdy and the reclining mechanism works fine. Unfortunately, the chair's warranty doesn't cover things like padding and fabric. Every few years it needs a makeover.

A faded paper tag affixed to the frame indicates this recliner was last upholstered in rural Iowa more than 35 years ago. New upholstery is long overdue.

In addition to the frame and reclining mechanism, the no-sag spring bed remains in excellent condition, so we're able to reuse the original parts. While the structural components are fine, the foam, fabric and padding are shot. After removing and recycling the worn out materials, we cover the spring bed with a layer of fresh cotton batting. New polyurethane foam cushions wrapped in Dacron go on top, but before installing the cushions we get to work on the upholstery fabric.

no sag spring
New Life For An Old "Boy"
sturdy frame
Fastening Custom Buttons
old la-z-boy
Polyurethane Wrapped In Dacron
old la-z-boy
1967 La-Z-Boy

The fabric is a "Meadow" green, heavy-duty, nylon micro-suede. We select a dark green fabric for contrasting welt and buttons. The manufacturer, Charlotte Fabrics, describes the fibers as "non-directional", but we detect a slight nap in the fabric. As always, we're careful to align the nap "up and down" for maximum comfort and durability.

The Dacron wrap adds a couple of unwanted centimeters to the padding. After trimming the excess foam and attaching the buttons, the new cushions fit like a glove. The new upholstery energizes an old recliner.


 

Art Deco Sofa Bed

Furniture makers commonly use color and pattern to distinguish their work, but some styles demand a different approach. This art deco hide-a-bed is a great example of a functional component -- the tufted sofa back -- doubling as a design element.

Reupholstering this hide-a-bed is time-consuming because each of its fifteen cushions are tightly sewn into separate pockets. Reusing the old foam would speed things up, but the pads are badly deteriorated. Before recycling the old foam, we measure and cut new cushions from the old ones.

Measuring and fabricating new foam pockets to mimic the old design is where things get tricky. Everything has to line-up just right or the sofa back won't fit the frame. Under normal circumstances, we'd lay everything out -- tack and tuck all the cushions in place -- before building the pockets. Positioning all the foam at once makes alignment easier. Unfortunately, our spray adhesive stains the porous fabric selected for this project, so we have to do it one cushion at a time.

deep tufting
Deep Tufting
setting foam sections
New Foam Blocks
old foam sections
Damaged Foam Components

To insure proper alignment, we start at the middle. We center and sew the first cushion, then stack cushions above and below the centerpiece. This forms the first of five columns. We then repeat the process, building two additional columns to complete the design.

With the cushions in place, the rest of the project goes fast. It'll make a nice addition to most any guest room, den or family room.


 

When Good Foam Goes Bad

deteriorated foam 2
Foam Dust & Debris
swivel chair
Damaged Swivel Recliner
deteriorated foam
Old Polyurethane Foam
finished chair
Firmer Foam For Seat Cushion
new foam
New Ultracell™ HR-33
finished chair
Upholstered Recliner With New Foam

Hostess Twinkies® and Volkswagen Beetles may last forever, but the foam found in chairs, settes and sofas eventually goes bad. In fact, natural latex foam, made from raw materials found in tropical rubber trees, deteriorates so rapidly that we discourage customers from using it.

Petroleum-based foam lasts a lot longer than latex, but as this swivel recliner illustrates even polyurethane foam eventually stiffens and turns to dust. Today's furniture manufacturers often settle for the cheapest foam they can find. With the exception of upscale furniture, you should expect the foam in a new chair to go bad in about five years, especially if conditions inside the house are warm and dry.

The foam we use is specially manufactured to balance surface softness with deep-down firmness. It's called Ultracell™. Ultracell™ comes in a range of densities for various applications. We select two inch HR-33 for this chair -- a standard density foam with medium resiliency.

The cushion is a different story. The customer wants a slightly firmer feel in the seat so we go with HR-43, a polyfoam with medium-firm density.

When we're finished upholstering, the chair not only looks great, it feels great. And since we only use the finest quality Ultracell™, the new foam should last between ten and fifteen years.


 

Do-It-Yourself Wizards

no cotton batting
No Deck Padding Or Edge Roll
no edge roll
Inadequate Padding
new deck face
Fitting Deck Face & Cover
new dacron and fabric
New Fabric & Dacron Padding
matching patterns
Aligning Fabric Patterns
finished chair
Finished

Some find it tempting to purchase a few yards of fabric on the Internet and upholster their own furniture. Not a good idea.

We see these do-it-yourself wizards every once in a while. Midway through a project they'll toss their arms in frustration and bring us their half-finished chair. It usually ends up costing more to fix their mistakes and finish the project than it would've cost in the first place. Furniture upholstery is one place you don't want to cut corners.

This sturdy, hardwood wingback chair was upholstered in somebody's garage several years ago. It's a great example of what not to do. The fabric is wrinkled many places because it wasn't properly stretched and stapled to the frame. The arms are not correctly padded.

There's little more than a thin layer of Dacron separating the seat from the zig-zag springs. The cotton batting and edge roll are gone. In short, this wingback chair is a mess. The owner decided to get it done the right way this time.

With the padding restored, it's time to measure and cut the upholstery fabric. The fabric is a bright linen print. Aligning the fabric pattern so it matches in every direction is not for the inexperienced or faint-hearted. Notice how the large bird in the print is centered on the chairback, the seat cushion and the wing. Also notice how the chairback picks up the pattern on the seat cushion.

By the time we're finished, the wingback is correctly rebuilt and upholstered. It's not only a lot more comfortable and durable, it looks better than new!

The frame is in good shape and most of the foam is still usable. Everything else goes.

After stripping the chair, the first thing we do is repair the deck. A fresh sheet of cotton batting and edge roll does the trick. Each arm is then tightly wrapped in Dacron batting.

It's important to pad the deck and arms so they retain some stiffness. You don't want a traditional wingback with mushy arms or a soft deck. This is the sort of judgement call that only comes with experience.


 

1960s Diner Chairs

Silvertex, Vista
Carbon, Dijon
by Boltaflex
$49, $40 YardSilvertex & Vista Fabric
finished chair
With New Upholstery
new seat
Additional Padding
original chair
Original Chair

A soft, charcoal vinyl upholstery with chartreuse piping will do the trick. The original padding was little more than a thin layer of cotton batting, so we rebuild the seat cushions with two inches of polyurethane foam wrapped in dacron.

Except for the steel frames, they're entirely new chairs. Unlike the originals, these chairs work well with contemporary furniture. Don and Betty Draper would hardly recognize them!

Certain types of chairs, sofas and tables instantly evoke a time and place. These diner chairs are straight from an early episode of "Mad Men". Sadly, what's left of the marbled plastic skin is a mess. Tattered upholstery isn't the only problem; the chrome frame is starting to rust in places. Because these distinctive chairs are so iconic, they don't "play well" with other furniture styles. The only practical solution is to drag 'em into the 21st Century.


 

A Great Grandfather's Legacy

children's chairs before new upholstery
Homemade Chairs For Children
children's chairs before new upholstery
Children's Chairs After New Upholstery

There's usually a story behind an antique chair, especially when it's been in the family for generations. These adorable little chairs (below left) were handmade by our client's grandfather when he lived on the Washington coast. Originally built for his two daughters (they're different sizes because the girls were different ages), the tiny chairs have bounced from one side of the family tree to the other.

With a new generation on the way, it was time for a facelift.

The smaller chair was made for our client's mother. She always liked the plush, burgundy upholstery fabric, so we found something similar. The bigger chair was done in a complimentary color. Blue for a boy. Red for a girl. Soon, another generation will treasure these antiques, lovingly built by their great grandfather more than a century ago.


 

Removing Odors From Furniture

It's impossible to tell by looking at pictures of this antique couch (below) but, damaged upholstery is the least of its problems. The couch had been dumped in the corner of an old garage where it accumulated a range of "distinctive" odors over the years. To put it bluntly, it smelled bad. Really bad. In fact, it smelled so bad our upholsterers had to wear air filtration masks for this project. Before even thinking about replacing the padding and fabric on this sofa, we had to exorcise the rotten smell.

old couch
Damaged Antique Couch
torn upholstery
Torn Upholstery
old couch
Stained Bottom
stripped to frame
Stripped To The Frame
damaged springs
Damaged Springs
old couch
Finished Product

We start by removing the damaged upholstery and padding. But, even stripping the sofa down to its frame and spring box doesn't get rid of the smell.

This smell is literally alive. Killing it takes time and special chemicals.

The first chemical is formulated to kill bacteria the same way hydrogen peroxide cleans a wound. After half a dozen applications of the first chemical, we spray the sofa with a second chemical designed to kill mold and mildew. This two step process finally does the trick. With the sofa odor free, restoring it is a walk in the park.


 

Cruise Ship Dining Chairs

cruise chairs
Worn Rattan Cruise Chairs
cruise chairs
Stripping Seat

Holland America, one of the world's top cruise lines, chose us to renovate a warehouse full of dining room chairs in preparation for its busy summer cruise season. They turned to Upholstery Seattle because reupholstering these rattan chairs is not a job for amateurs. The final step in the process is especially tricky; it requires special tooling and an artist's eye.

The first step is straightforward. Each chair has to be stripped to the frame. This takes a little longer than normal because the fabric is stapled directly to the rattan chairback without the aid of a standard lip or channel. That "missing lip" is what makes the job of reupholstering these chairs so difficult; how do you attach the new fabric without making a mess of things?

cruise chairs
Fabric Cut For Seat Covers
cruise chairs
Finished Cruise Chairs

As the chairs are being stripped, we cut and stack fabric to fit the padded seats and chairbacks. We also prepare strands of "double-welting" for later use.

The polyurethane padding is in good shape, so in most cases we simply reuse the foam after adding a thin layer of dacron. Stapling the new upholstery fabric to an individual chairback is routine. Covering the seam caused by the row of staples is the hard part.

This is where the double-welting comes in. The bead needs to be "double wide" to cover both the row of staples and the damage caused by another upholstery shop. We could glue the double-welt in place, but there's a better way. Using a special pneumatic gun, we tack the double-welt in place using 18 gauge, quarter inch staples. The staple heads are painted the same color as the fabric so everything blends together. By the time we're done, each of these ratan dining room chairs looks brand new.


 

Tapestry Slipcover

ottoman before
Slip Cover With Kick Pleats
ottoman before
Top View
ottoman before
Original Ottoman

Here's a great example of how a simple thing like switching fabric can dramatically transform a piece of furniture. This basic, snow white ottoman was designed to blend into a room. Using the customer's tapestry fabric, we created a snug-fitting slipcover with lavender lining and double kick pleats. By choosing a slipcover instead of new upholstery, the customer can easily go back and forth between the original look and the new one.


 

Hardwood Chair "Tune-Up"

When a favorite chair is coming apart at the seams, it's time for a furniture "tune-up". These distinctive, early 20th Century sidechairs look great from a distance, but the upholstery is worn, the joints wobble, and the frame is cracked. Refurbishing old chairs like this can be more difficult than you think.

refurbished
Refurbished Chair
two side chairs
Damaged Springs & Frame
two side chairs
Repairing Cracks
two side chairs
Original Chairs

We begin by repairing the damage done by another upholstery shop. While stripping the chair, we discover a thin layer of scrap fabric is the only padding in the seat. The seat's brass springs are held in place with jute webbing instead of being properly tied to the frame. Because they're not tied down, some springs are bent. Glue used to join the frame is failing. Stress caused by the loose joints is cracking the frame. Worst of all, the arm pads and trim are attached with a messy silicon adhesive instead of being tacked down.

After removing the old webbing, padding and upholstery, we glue and clamp the joints. The cracks are repaired the same way. The spring box is next. Brass bends easily, so we have to be careful reshaping and tying down the springs. With the springs in place, we rebuild the seat using layers of burlap, cotton batting, polyurethane foam and dacron.

The original upholstery fabric is too badly worn to use again. Fortunately, one of our suppliers manufactures a nearly identical fabric. It's a cotton polyester blend tapistry called "Vintage". We trim the new fabric with burgundy gimp. The refurbished chairs not only look like the originals, they're sturdy and much more comfortable.


 

Choosing The Proper Pleat

When ordering curtains, fabric isn't the only consideration. As our top designer points out, "Even the nicest curtains won't look good if the pleats don't compliment the fabric and the room." Choosing the proper style of pleat can make or break a custom drapery project.

aligning double pinch pleat
Aligning Double Pleats
double pleats
Bow Tie Effect

A Pinch Pleat -- two layers of fabric pinched together -- is the simplest way to go. Two Finger, Three Finger, Four Finger and Five Finger Pleats refer to the number and depth of pleats per fold. They're fancier verisions of the Pinch Pleat. A French Pleat is slightly different; the fabric is joined at the top, causing ripples below. A Butterfly Pleat is a Two Finger Pleat with a smaller pleat in the middle. Other styles include the Pencil Pleat and Box Pleat.

When a customer orders drapes from Upholstery Seattle, we take time to match the pleat style with the fabric and decor. These curtains are designed for a yacht. After consulting with the yacht owner, we chose "marine friendly" Sunbrella fabric with Two Finger Pleats. Pinch Pleats would've been adequate, but Two Finger Pleats gives these custom-made curtains a more refined look -- an excellent choice for a modern yacht.


 

Kid Friendly Bolsters

If you've got kids in the house, a bolster cushion often becomes more than a stylish way to accent furniture. Imaginative youngsters will turn bolsters into oversized Lincoln Logs*, building blocks, rolling pins -- just about anything they can dream up.

worn bolster covers
Old Bolster Covers
zipper
Pocket Needed For Zipper
new bolster covers
Bolsters With New Covers

When a set of new cushion covers arrived from India for these 36 x 16 bolsters (below), there was a problem -- the sort of problem only a kid could spot.

Instead of zippers, the new cushion covers were fitted with long, "duffel bag drawstrings" on both ends. The drawstrings worked fine and looked great, but they prevented the bolsters from standing upright.

To keep these bolsters kid friendly we had to re-engineer the cushion covers. The process takes about one day. The polyurethane foam is still in good shape, so there's no need to start from scratch. After removing the troublesome drawstrings, we discover there's just enough material to redo the end covers in the same fabric. With a limited amount of fabric, we follow one of the oldest rules in manufacturing; measure twice, cut once. After the new end covers are sewn in place, we install zippers down the length of each bolster. Just to be safe, we also fabricate a narrow fold to cover each zipper line. The fold prevents the zipper from scratching kids when they play. By the time we're done, these bolster cushions perform double duty; furniture for the grown-ups, toys for the kids.

*What! You've never heard of Lincoln Logs? Google it!


 

Reinforcing Fabric Seams

The single arm chaise is a fun alternative to more traditional designs. By foregoing one arm, this chaise (below) maximizes flexibility and lounging area. The other arm is left in place to provide support and to help a person get on and off, if necessary.

  • attaching cardboard edge
    Attaching Cardboard Edge
  • trimming fabric
    Trimming Excess Fabric
  • edge ready for trim fabric
    Edge Prevents Fraying
  • gluing gimp trim
    Gluing Gimp Trim
one arm chaise
Single Arm Chaise

We love the zebra chenille used to reupholster the chaise, but chenille fabric tends to fray at the edge. Before finishing the job, we need to reinforce the edge. It's time consuming, but it makes a big difference.

Using a pneumatic gun (above left), we staple thin strips of heavy gauge cardboard over the fabric edge. The stiff cardboard holds the chenille in place, preventing the fibers from fraying.

After trimming the edge with a razor blade, we're ready to hot-glue the gimp trim. The gimp -- a dark French scroll -- nicely compliments the zebra chenille.


 

Removing Kitty Cologne

Most cat lovers will tolerate a little kitty cologne now and then. After all, marking turf is part of a cat's job description. But, when Fluffy's territorial dispute with the neighbor cat escalates into thermonuclear furniture spraying, it's hard to ignore. Removing cat stench from polyurethane foam (below) is just about impossible. The only solution is radical surgery.

cat
Cat Urine Stain
removing stained foam
Removing Damaged Section
removing stained foam
Sizing Replacement Foam
foam joined using adhesive
Aligning The Sections
scrim to fill the gap
Matching The Depth With Scrim
repaired sectional
Repaired Sectional

Fabricating an entirely new cushion would be costly and wasteful. Instead of starting from scratch (no pun intended), we cut out the damaged section and replace it with a block of brand new six inch polyfoam.

Since the original foam is slightly thicker -- six and a half inches -- the sides don't quite match. Stacking a sheet of durable, half inch scrim (center below) on the replacement block does the trick. Layering is a lot less expensive than custom-cutting new foam to match the original dimensions.

Our heavy-duty adhensive holds all the pieces in place. After wrapping the cushion with two layers of dacron, we put everything back together. The cushion is good as new.