Reupholstering a piece of furniture can be an intimidating project to undertake. The chair or couch that houses springs and webbing may appear to be a Pandora's box full of potential problems. To make it easier, look at the job as a puzzle to be solved in a specific order. Take the project step-by-step to update a piece that will give you many more years of use.
To access the inside of the piece of furniture and see what you're working with, remove the old fabric. Needle-nose pliers or a tack hammer make it easier to pry out nails, staples or brads from the wood. Save the fabric to use as a pattern for the new upholstery cloth. Pull away any batting that is under the fabric to expose the springs in the piece. With everything removed, you will be able to inspect the condition of the springs.
The springs that add flexibility and support to the comfortable interior of the furniture piece are attached to a series of woven canvas webbing strips. Once the seat is open, the spiderweb of strings and coils is exposed. The string or upholstery twine is tied to form the shape of the seat of the furniture piece. If the springs are in good condition you may only have to retie any loose twine to reshape the foundation. It is wise to photograph the position of the springs and mark the wooden framework for row placement if the webbing or springs must be replaced.
Broken or rusty springs must be removed from the webbing at the bottom of the piece of furniture. Cut the twine to release any spring that is faulty. If necessary, you can use heavy-duty wire cutters to cut away any spring that you are having difficulty removing from the woven webbing. The wire should be fairly easy to remove after the twine and knots have been cut away with a utility knife or fabric shears.
You will need strength in your hands to tie and secure the rows of springs in a piece of furniture. Several types of knots are useful when tying springs, such as the four-knot when shaping a rounded chair seat. The springs are set into the webbing in rows. Tie pieces of twine to the rows of springs in a lengthwise and crosswise pattern for strong support. A clove hitch knot is tied at the end of the twine before it is secured with upholstery tacks into the wood framework. The four-way or eight knot and overhand knot also work well when tying springs for the shape and height of the seat.
Attach a layer of batting to the interior of the piece after the foundation has been strengthened with springs and new twine. Staple the batting to keep it in place. Cut out upholstery-grade fabric according to the furniture measurements or a pattern made from the old cloth. Stretch the fabric over the batting-covered springs and twine, and then staple it in place to finish the reupholstery project. For a finished look, attach the cloth at the back of the chair or couch. Cut a separate piece of fabric to cover the back of the piece and hand sew it in place. This will cover the rough edges of stapled fabric.
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