Civilization has been using fabrics to enhance furniture since backs were added to stools to create the first chairs. Chairs covered in fabrics were found in tombs of ancient Egypt. Over time, the art of upholstery has changed and substitutions of materials basic to durability and comfort have affected the outcome of the final product. At Driscoll Antiques, we adhere to the proven techniques of upholsters from the the 18th and 19th centuries, the height of quality furniture making. Included in these techniques are the use of hand tied spring coils, cambric and muslin linings, jute strapping and horsehair, moss or straw where appropriate. These components are essential to maintaining quality and authenticity.

       The fabric selection at Driscoll Antiques includes a large collection of domestic and imported tapestries and velvets. Damasks are available by special order. We have sources for leather in many colors.         All of these things add to the uniqueness of our upholstery business.

Stripping of chair

STEP ONE          

       The first step in our upholstery technique is to dismantle the weakened joints and remove the old glue. Often after stripping off the old upholstery we find broken frame parts or parts tacked into so many times that they need to be replaced.  In our example to the left, the right leg was broken where it joined the other parts of the frame.  The front part of the frame had been damaged beyond use from previous nailing.  The stretcher on the back panel also had to be replaced..  


        The second step is to reassemble the parts making sure that after clamping, the chair is squared and that all of the feet are touching the floor.  In our shop we use freshly made hide glue making sure that the joints aren't tighten so much that it pushes out all the glue.     The clamps are left on for at least 24 hours.  Before we continue onto the next upholstery step we refinish the exposed wooden  parts of the chair.



8 way tied springs


   Next jute strapping is stretched tightly across the bottom and back of the frame.  Coiled springs are attached by sewing or clipping the springs to the jute strapping.  The springs are tied to the frame in 8 different directions to ensure that they all compress as a unit and stay in place.  The twine used is especially made in Italy.  It is treated to extend its life and to hold the knots tight.


         The fourth step is to cover the springs with burlap and tack it down to the frame.  This is covered with a layer of cotton batting, a layer of kinked horse hair and then another layer of cotton batting.  This entire bundle is covered with muslin cloth to hold everything firm and in place.  In our sample picture the arms are also padded and upholstered.




     The final steps are to cover the piece with the customers choice of fabric.  Gimp or piping is often used as an accent or to hide the seams.  The underside of the chair is covered with a fabric called cambric.  



 Design by Ralph J. Driscoll