Traditional upholstery is a complex and multi-faceted process, using tools, materials and techniques which have remained relatively consistent over centuries. Typically, webbing stretched over the frame forms a base to which springs are anchored, held in place by stitching and hessian. Layers of coir and hair stuffing are applied over this foundation and secured with stitching which sculpts the pad into shape. When finally fixed, the top fabric conceals all the work necessary for the creation of a comfortable and durable seat in keeping with the original design.
Upholsterer & Seat Weaver
Sophie’s long-standing fascination with upholstered furniture has been fed by several decades of working in design and creative contexts, culminating in re-training as an upholsterer at London Met University's School of Art, Architecture & Design on the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) Diploma course.
Traditional upholstery employs time-tested materials, tools and techniques to extend the practical life of furniture – whether lending it a bold new look or faithfully returning it to its originally intended appearance. The practice of upholstery offers a welcome alternative to the prevailing culture of disposability, and Sophie is particularly keen to work in the most sustainable way possible. Whether replacing a tired sprung and stuffed seat or tailoring a new fabric cover for an existing piece of furniture, she works to preserve the essential characteristics of the original so that you can continue to use and enjoy it.
Suited to any piece of furniture made from the mid-20th-century onwards, modern upholstery uses built up layers of foam and wadding to obtain a supportive and comfortable seat. If wished, more sustainable materials such as rubberised hair and cotton wadding can be used in place of polyurethane foam to achieve a seating surface that complements the streamlined forms and concave or convex surfaces of modern furniture.
Seat weaving uses the simplest of elements - a wooden frame and some form of cord - to create a sturdy and practical piece of furniture. The cord used is usually made of natural materials, from seagrass and rush to papercord and tape or string made of cotton. Woven seats have a distinguished lineage, enthusiastically embraced by traditional craftsmen and modern designers alike; the variety of textural effects achieved through the weaving process can range from the traditional to the strikingly contemporary, making this an endlessly adaptable craft. Woven seats that have unravelled due to wear and tear can easily be restrung to extend the life of a piece of furniture.
Seat Weaving Courses
If you would like to learn more about seat weaving Sophie runs short courses which offer an opportunity to sample the craft for yourself. No previous experience is required and all materials are provided to weave a small wooden stool in either seagrass or string.