Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upholstering, Part 2

In between customer appointments and office drudgery, I snuck a visit to Beckenstein Fabrics to pick up 3 yards of simple fabric for my ottoman in the making. Actually, it's a very nice linen with dark brown as the warp and a linen gray as the weft. The guy took pity on me, or maybe he was a little impressed when I told him it was for a class. He cut way more than 3 yards.

Again, no pictures, sorry. You'll see the finished product I promise.

Ok, so where were we? Oh yeah, tying springs. Five of them, hand tied front to back and side to side, total of 6 sets of ties. When we arrived, the entire first set was done for us. Our task was to finish the job.

Nail two little upholstery nails, aligned in front of each spring, centered as well as you can. Angle the nails inward so they can take the tension of the string wrapping around these thick coils. Take your jute twine and make double loops and secure on the two nails on top. Secure down with the hammer. Bang! This time, with oomph and swinging like a pro, no choke up the handle!

Begin tying down these coils. Very hard to explain the intricate series of wraps and tensioning, but suffice to say, I had to work it a few times before I was semi-satisfied. When crossing the twines already in place, work so the new twine is not touching. Some finesse here. There is a very specific way to make these wraps, involving coming over the top of the coil and down the front, back under the coil and up over again, on to the next one. And you stagger the first string - first wrap on the second coil rung, second wrap at the other side of the coil, but on the top rung, then across to the next spring, top rung and then down to the second rung again. When you reach the other side, wrap the twine around the little nail, add another nail right next to it, and wrap again. A figure-eight. Secure these nails down. Now jiggle the coils to ensure they are aligned straight up and down. We don't want no crooked springs!

And, go for a 'dome' effect, such that the sides of the springs closest to the edges are just a bit lower than the middle. Second string does the wrap thingie again, but on the second wrap, you are actually tying a knot around both strings. Again, hard to explain but seeing it, it begins to make sense. Sort of. I had to work slowly and concentrate to get this done.

After a good hour, I was done and it wasn't half bad. I worried about the dome thing. I am convinced my center spring is lower than the rest. Will that mean I will have a depression in the middle of my ottoman? Hope not! Wrap the string ends around and tuck in - trim if too long.

Cover the entire section with a square of burlap. Use the 4 point staple method. Secure one staple in the middle of each side and the work the burlap by pulling tight and stapling all along the edges, nice and neat. Fold over, staple down again and trim burlap to 1" all around. When folding the corners, cut away the excess so it lays flat.

Now the really tricky part. These burlap covered tubes of felt. They are called 'foxface'. Two long pieces, two shorter pieces. It is critical to staple these down TIGHT and so that the foxface is flush with the edge of the frame. HARD. VERY. HARD. to do. I went through lots of staples at this stage. I might have needed some help. Seems I was a bit tentative with the stapler. Could not get it securely down into the groove to make a solid join. My foxface was loosey goosey. Got it done. Barely.

Then go around the outside of the foxface and staple it down too. In other words, staple it very securely, on both sides and make sure it is flush with the frame. The smaller sections are done last, and fit within the longer pieces. When you're through you have a square of foxface all around, with some ends flapping that need to be cut off with a knife, flush with the foxface not the frame. Got that? Yeah, thought so.

Take some burlap squares and staple around the corners and wrap over the foxface corners, fold over, make it neat and staple down.

Cover all the open frame sections with squares of muslin, staple down, using the 4 point system and pull the muslin tight while securing with the staple gun. Fold edges up and over, staple down to make it neat, attention paid to corners.

It started to look like a piece of furniture.

This is harder than knitting. And harder than spinning. Not impossible, but it will take some practice. Having the right tools is essential. How to get them without breaking the bank. Lots to ponder. In the meantime I might tackle some small pillow projects, lampshade projects, that sort of thing.

The instructor was a bit cheerier this time, but still very intense. Barely tolerant at times. A bit chattier at others. Interesting.


Knitting Belle said...

So much work! I love how you describe the instructor, lol. I signed up for Aug classes. Can't wait to see your pictures.

Jess said...

I am so jealous! The woman at my local fabric store still has not had her upholstery classes yet. I have been (literally) sitting on a chair for a year right now, with great lines, but TERRIBLE fabric. Good luck with your ottoman!!