THE HISTORY OF UPHOLSTERY

It is a commonly held belief that the craft of upholstery evolved from tent making

Upholstery is a skilled craft that has been around since the Middle Ages, when in wealthy homes items such as padded seat cushions, decorative wall hangings, and bedding began to emerge in what has been described as textile revolution. The emergence of window drapes or curtains, these were also to found on four poster beds created a whole new area of upholstery which has continued to grow today and now encompasses, blind, fixtures and fittings, bed throws and bed covers. Today, such items might be considered soft furnishings, yet in the Middle Ages they were crafted by upholsterers using great skill and attention to detail. The skills used in those early times have since been handed down through generations since.

More traditional upholstery began to appear at the start of the 17th Century when it became fashionable for the wealthy to have luxurious items in their home such as padding on their chairs. The padding was in fact stuffing, which comprised of basic materials such as grass, feathers, sawdust, animal hair such as that to be found on a horse or a goat.

So it was that The Worshipful Company of Upholders became the first recognised trade guild in upholstery was formed and received its coat of arms, which has three tents upon it, during the reign of Edward IV, in 1465. An Upholder being an early description of an upholsterer. The Guild were responsible for the implementation of standards and techniques (today referred to as best practise) of upholstery. Violation of such rules and standards could result in a fine for the guilty upholsterer who failed to achieve the prescribed standard. A typical example of this would be the restriction on the use of goat or deer hair in stuffing. The body was granted a Royal Charter by Charles I, on June 14th, 1626. However, the original Charter was destroyed by the Great Fire f London in 1666, a fresh exemplification was later acquired in 1668 and royally confirmed by Charles II.

Gradually, as the years progressed, various developments to the trade came into being, particularly towards the latter end of the century when horsehair became the ideal and selected material to use as stuffing in chairs or furniture. Brand new and improved techniques were introduced into the trade that helped improve the product and the creation of it. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and one landmark improvement was that of stitched edging which permitted upholsters to add padding to shapes that sloped sloping shapes. In turn this led to the creation of more diverse furniture as curved and more ornately designed and luxurious items of furniture began to appeal to the wealthy.

Another household item that fell into the remit of the upholsterer was floor coverings. Rugs, carpets, felts, and later linoleum, anything that involved making the family home more luxurious, even the hanging of wall paper was within his terms of employment, though this changed to a bespoke skill at the turn of the century . A somewhat more macabre role he played was to line coffins!

The change continued throughout the 18th and 19th Century, this truly was a period when creativity was blooming and artists abounded, their work and ideals influenced the appearance of use of furniture and it was no longer fashionable to have basic items of furniture in one's home, now such items had to have a touch of artistic delight about them. The ever evolving technique of stitching introduced some striking designs and curvilinear forms, the framework was part of the furniture infrastructure and it was important, however, it was the upholsterer who completed the work, adding perfect finishing touches that added class and beauty to some furniture. The quality was outstanding, so much so that original items of period furniture are still frequently used and to be found today.

More opulent furniture was introduced during the Victorian era, when comfort over appearance became more of a fundamental requirement. The furniture that had been stuffed with horse hair, if over used or abused began to feel and look lumpy and was distinctly uncomfortable to sit or lie on. The natural progression was to find a product that was strong, resilient and kept its shape under duress and during times of over use. So entered the age of spring upholstery. The Victorians produced strong steel springs that were fit for purpose, the springs were held in place by what is known as the lashing technique. This effectively was used to stabilise double coned springs.

Lashing cord, more commonly referred to as laid cord not only keeps the spring in place, but controls the direction in which the springs compress. Lashing allows the springs to compress in their cylindrical shape and when the compression is removed they return to their original shape and tied position. If a spring is not properly lashed it will quickly snap or suffer a fatal buckle which renders it as useless.

The craft of upholstery became more detailed and complex throughout the Victorian era, there are those who claim that English upholsterers surpassed the quality of those more renowned in this area from France or Italy. Many of the skills and methods created by these craftspeople remain extant today. the basic principles of lashing springs, webbing, forming top covers or padding are still used by modern day upholsterer.

It was during the between wars period of the 1930's that the craft of upholstery suffered most. The upholsterer had always been viewed as one of the better paid professions, indeed, there are records of such craftsmen going to work wearing a top hat and a suit. This give rise to more degrading colloquial terms being used to describe the tradesmen working in the industry were often labelled, the 'stuffer', or the 'ragtacker'. Unemployment rose and less money was available for luxuries such as high class hand-made furniture, it was then that upholstery suffered greatly. It is often referred to as the instalment plan era, a time when sweat shops were springing up across the country, created to support supply and demand. The quality of the furniture available created in sweat shop premises and factories was vastly inferior in design and quality. It was purposely built not to last, creating a continuing need for it to be replaced every few years.

The greatest development has been in the materials used in the industry. For example single springs are rarely used now, they are formed as a whole unit, made to measure and created using machines. Animal or horse hair no longer has a place in the padding process being replaced by foam. The careful had stitching process has been replaced by machine stitching, machines are used to pre-cut materials which are designed to fit over the frame. It remains a complex art and it still requires skill.

Today, the upholsterer exists alongside compatible profession such soft furnishing experts and carpet fitters.

TYPES OF STUFFING THROUGH THE AGES

Algerian Fibre

Algerian fibre is sourced from palm grass leaves. The leaves are first shredded by machine then carefully laid out in the sun and to dry. This process can take months. Once dried out the strands or fibres are twisted and formed into ropes. The natural colour of the fibre is green, however, it is occasionally dyed a black colour to sterilise it and eradicate the presence of a tiny mite that is often found in the fibre. Algerian Fibre is strong and sustains this resilience for a long period of time.

Curly Black Fibre

Curly Black Fibre is derivative of Coir fibre (found between the hard internal shell and outer skin of a coconut) and has been treated creating great strength, flexibility and spring. It is generally used in mattresses, door mats, brushes. Due to its dexterity and availability it has more or less replaced Algerian fibre as a source of first stuffing.

Alva Marina

This is a seaweed that is found on the south coast of France and along the Baltic coast. It was as a source of first filling of upholstery by the Victorians. Over time, the seaweed dries, becomes hard and brittle. Eventually it cracks into small flakes. Today, it is no longer used in the commercial upholstery market.

Curled Hair

Of all the material used as foundation filling, hair is the most resilient source since it possesses what can only be described as indestructable upholstery qualities. However, when it come to cost effectiveness, it falls short of its modern day competitors and low cost fibres. Despite this, hair is still used by many upholsterers. The best type of hair is that of horse hair, which is taken from the tail and the mane of the animal. An alternative is cattle hair, and again the source of this is the animals tail which, like that of a horse, are long in length. A much lower grade of hair comes from the hog family, it is shorter and altogether more brittle than the horse and cattle alternatives.

The process of treatment of hair begins with thorough washing to remove all alien objects and matter. Once achieved, the hair is tightly wound to form ropes, some reaching 80 feet in length, these are carefully placed in a large vacuum tank and steamed. Once removed, it is hung to dry in a large heated chamber where the hair curls naturally. It remains in this condition for a period of about two months, when it is removed and unravelled. From there it passes through a carding machine, which has several large drums like objects with spikes attached, these pull at the hair and separate and plump it forming it into a light mass.

Today, traditional furniture uses as a second stuffing, normally placed over a fibre base that is covered with scrim, which itself is a strong coarse fabric. Hair will be found in high quality furniture at the upper end of the price range, where, due to its resilience and quality it is used as both a first and secondary stuffing.

Feathers

The main type of feather used in upholstery are down, curled feathers and milled or chopped feathers. Down originates from duck, goose or swans (the latter now being a protected species) and is the undercoating found beneath the outer feathers. Because it is soft, it is regarded as the best feather used in upholstery, and is commonly found in cushions and top grade quality furniture. Generally curled feathers are of a slightly inferior quality, they are a combination of poultry and waterfowl feathers. Milled or chopped feather are of a lesser quality and are often used as a filling for mass produced cushions.

Natural Fillings

Mill Puff

During the 18th century, Mill Puff was commonly used as a filler in upholstery and bedding. With the progression of time and inferior grade of cotton wool was used, yet kept the same title. The cotton is produced across Europe, the United States and Australia. When picked and collected, the cotton balls are processed, first passing through a gin allowing the separation of the fibre from the seed. The cotton at this stage can be used for spinning, so there is no wastage, the remaining seeds pass through an oil mill and are cleaned, removing any short fibres which remain, these are unsuitable for spinning, it then washes the seed before crushing them and extracting oil from it. The machine used in this process is known as a linter, hence the origin of the name 'cotton linter'.

Common Linter Felt

This is a thick padding used in upholstery and bedding, and is generally referred to as cotton felt. It consists of short cotton fibres that are extracted from the cotton ball. The most common use of Linter felt is as a final layer beneath a top fabric.

Woollen Felt

Woollen felt is effectively produced in the same manner as linter felt, however, the donating animal providing the source material is different. It is a derivative of the fleece from a sheep, goat, alpaca, camel, hares and many other such animal. The majority of the woollen felt used in upholstery is off cuts of other woollen goods and garments, such as clothing and carpets. The off cuts are first torn, then carded and finally shredded in order to produce the fibrous material for use. It is often formed as a layered filling. In a loose form it is flexible and can be formed into shapes and curves.

Skin Wadding

When a layer of teased cotton is sprayed with starch, it forms a skin over the surface cotton, creating a bond which holds the fibres together, this is known as skin wadding. It most common use is as a topping over other filling products, such as calico, lined or open horse hair. The skin wadding is remarkably strong and protects the outer surface from protruding hair, and creates a soft comfortable finish.

Interlaced Padding/Matting

This is formed when various fillings such as, coir, horse hair or fibre are carded and cross laid onto a lightweight hessian base material. This then passes through what is known as a needling machine due to the large quantity of sharp barbed needles it contains, all lined in rows. The needles move in an up and down motion, forcing the fibres through the hessian on the downward stroke, then release them during the upward stroke, this causes them to penetrate the underside of the hessian only. This type of filling is most commonly found in bedding and is popular in some types of upholstery. It is favoured by many upholsterers because of its time efficiency, when compared with loose fillings. Because of its strength, interlaced padding is generally placed directly over spring units.

TERMINOLOGY OFTEN USED IN UPHOLSTERY

As with any skilled trade or craft there exists key word or phrases that are attached to upholstery that are outside those generally used in everyday language. Technical words or phrases or often omitted by the dictionary and therefore some words are lost in transition. Below are listed just a few of the more used definitions used within upholstery, and how they appear in abbreviated form

Item Abbreviation and/or description

BASE - The main foundation rail at floor level.

BLACK AND WHITE WEBBING - This is the highest quality English webbing in a herring bone design

Bos - This forms a projection on the back of an upholstery button and is made of cloth that allws a needle and twine to pass through it.

BRIDLING - A number of twine loops that measure about six inches in length, these are placed in canvasses and carry the stuffing holding it in place

BUFFED - The act of buffing or rubbing using carborundum to eliminate blemishes

BUTTONING - The adding of upholstery buttons. There are two methods of achieving this; 'Float' Buttoning or 'Deep' Buttoning. The 'Float method provides the appearance of the button sitting on top of the material. The 'Deep' method sees the button pulled deeply into the cover, the material then forms a diamond shaped pleat around it

BORDER - Bdr - This can be located in front or along the top of a back

CABRIOLE - A hammer with a small driving area. This is mainly used on show-wood furniture

FACINGS - Fegs - Located on the front of the arm-rests and can also be on the sides of a back

FLY - Piece of material or hessian that is attached/sewn to the inside edge of cover material to provide additional strength when pulling covers into place. In the USA this is known as a pull through

GAP - The description of an opening that is positioned between the arm web and the back upright rail of a seat

GAUGE - The thickness of the steel wire used to manufacture coil springs

HOLDING TIE - This is more commonly known as the through stitch. It is a stitch situated between the spring canvas and the scrim which holds first stuffing firmly in place.

INSIDE ARM - I.A

INSIDE BACK - I.B

JACKETS - A tailored finish of one or more parts that are joined together, such as the inside arm and facing

LACING - The stringing together, using laid cord, of coil springs

LINING - Canvas that is tacked to the outside of a frame prior to the outside covers being attached. This allows additional resistance to pressure and is most commonly used when using leather as a covering.

OUTSIDE ARM - O.A

OUTSIDE BACK - O.B

PIPING FOOT - A commonly used attachment for sewing machines that enables piped edges to be added

PLATFORM SEAT - Pl St - This has a guttering and also a cushion

PULLTHROUGH - Same meaning as FLY

RAILS STRETCHER - A rail which provides support to a settee or divan base

REBATED - A groove found in the edge of a rail, the lower edge is used for tacking or alternatively where the cable springing is joined

REGULATING - The movement of stuffing to the required place in the frame

RIPPING OUT - The procedure for stripping chairs that require repair

SEAT - St

SCRIM STUFFING - A term used for the first stuffing that is wrapped in scrim or hessian

SHOW-WOOD - Is the decorative polished wood that surrounds the piece of furniture

SKIVING - This is the skill of chamfering hide to join two pieces with adhesive

SPRING EDGE - The front edge of a chair, it can also be edges where independent springing has been applied

SPRING INTERIOR - The term used when discussing the inside springing of a mattress or cushion

SPRING UNIT - The spring foundation that forms a seat, they are normally wired and clipped together

STITCHING - The stitching together of edges

STRAPS - These are metal bands or webbing which form the base for spring units to be mounted

TACK DRAWS - This is a dark coloured furrow usually caused by the strain of a tack and is most prevalent on silk coverings

TACKING - Light rails used for tacking foundations and covers to

TEMPORARY TACKS - These are tacks that are not fully driven in and are easily removed

TENSILE - This is a term that is applied to rubber webbing or sometimes cable-springing

THUMBROLL - A common alternative to a stitched edge

TUFTING - This is found on mattresses and is an identical procedure to buttoning

WIRE KNOTS - The phrase used to discuss the finish of the metal coil on a spring.

It is a commonly held belief that the craft of upholstery evolved from tent making

Upholstery is a skilled craft that has been around since the Middle Ages, when in wealthy homes items such as padded seat cushions, decorative wall hangings, and bedding began to emerge in what has been described as textile revolution. The emergence of window drapes or curtains, these were also to found on four poster beds created a whole new area of upholstery which has continued to grow today and now encompasses, blind, fixtures and fittings, bed throws and bed covers. Today, such items might be considered soft furnishings, yet in the Middle Ages they were crafted by upholsterers using great skill and attention to detail. The skills used in those early times have since been handed down through generations since.

More traditional upholstery began to appear at the start of the 17th Century when it became fashionable for the wealthy to have luxurious items in their home such as padding on their chairs. The padding was in fact stuffing, which comprised of basic materials such as grass, feathers, sawdust, animal hair such as that to be found on a horse or a goat.

So it was that The Worshipful Company of Upholders became the first recognised trade guild in upholstery was formed and received its coat of arms, which has three tents upon it, during the reign of Edward IV, in 1465. An Upholder being an early description of an upholsterer. The Guild were responsible for the implementation of standards and techniques (today referred to as best practise) of upholstery. Violation of such rules and standards could result in a fine for the guilty upholsterer who failed to achieve the prescribed standard. A typical example of this would be the restriction on the use of goat or deer hair in stuffing. The body was granted a Royal Charter by Charles I, on June 14th, 1626. However, the original Charter was destroyed by the Great Fire f London in 1666, a fresh exemplification was later acquired in 1668 and royally confirmed by Charles II.

Gradually, as the years progressed, various developments to the trade came into being, particularly towards the latter end of the century when horsehair became the ideal and selected material to use as stuffing in chairs or furniture. Brand new and improved techniques were introduced into the trade that helped improve the product and the creation of it. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and one landmark improvement was that of stitched edging which permitted upholsters to add padding to shapes that sloped sloping shapes. In turn this led to the creation of more diverse furniture as curved and more ornately designed and luxurious items of furniture began to appeal to the wealthy.

Another household item that fell into the remit of the upholsterer was floor coverings. Rugs, carpets, felts, and later linoleum, anything that involved making the family home more luxurious, even the hanging of wall paper was within his terms of employment, though this changed to a bespoke skill at the turn of the century . A somewhat more macabre role he played was to line coffins!

The change continued throughout the 18th and 19th Century, this truly was a period when creativity was blooming and artists abounded, their work and ideals influenced the appearance of use of furniture and it was no longer fashionable to have basic items of furniture in one's home, now such items had to have a touch of artistic delight about them. The ever evolving technique of stitching introduced some striking designs and curvilinear forms, the framework was part of the furniture infrastructure and it was important, however, it was the upholsterer who completed the work, adding perfect finishing touches that added class and beauty to some furniture. The quality was outstanding, so much so that original items of period furniture are still frequently used and to be found today.

More opulent furniture was introduced during the Victorian era, when comfort over appearance became more of a fundamental requirement. The furniture that had been stuffed with horse hair, if over used or abused began to feel and look lumpy and was distinctly uncomfortable to sit or lie on. The natural progression was to find a product that was strong, resilient and kept its shape under duress and during times of over use. So entered the age of spring upholstery. The Victorians produced strong steel springs that were fit for purpose, the springs were held in place by what is known as the lashing technique. This effectively was used to stabilise double coned springs.

Lashing cord, more commonly referred to as laid cord not only keeps the spring in place, but controls the direction in which the springs compress. Lashing allows the springs to compress in their cylindrical shape and when the compression is removed they return to their original shape and tied position. If a spring is not properly lashed it will quickly snap or suffer a fatal buckle which renders it as useless.

The craft of upholstery became more detailed and complex throughout the Victorian era, there are those who claim that English upholsterers surpassed the quality of those more renowned in this area from France or Italy. Many of the skills and methods created by these craftspeople remain extant today. the basic principles of lashing springs, webbing, forming top covers or padding are still used by modern day upholsterer.

It was during the between wars period of the 1930's that the craft of upholstery suffered most. The upholsterer had always been viewed as one of the better paid professions, indeed, there are records of such craftsmen going to work wearing a top hat and a suit. This give rise to more degrading colloquial terms being used to describe the tradesmen working in the industry were often labelled, the 'stuffer', or the 'ragtacker'. Unemployment rose and less money was available for luxuries such as high class hand-made furniture, it was then that upholstery suffered greatly. It is often referred to as the instalment plan era, a time when sweat shops were springing up across the country, created to support supply and demand. The quality of the furniture available created in sweat shop premises and factories was vastly inferior in design and quality. It was purposely built not to last, creating a continuing need for it to be replaced every few years.

The greatest development has been in the materials used in the industry. For example single springs are rarely used now, they are formed as a whole unit, made to measure and created using machines. Animal or horse hair no longer has a place in the padding process being replaced by foam. The careful had stitching process has been replaced by machine stitching, machines are used to pre-cut materials which are designed to fit over the frame. It remains a complex art and it still requires skill.

Today, the upholsterer exists alongside compatible profession such soft furnishing experts and carpet fitters.

TYPES OF STUFFING THROUGH THE AGES

Algerian Fibre

Algerian fibre is sourced from palm grass leaves. The leaves are first shredded by machine then carefully laid out in the sun and to dry. This process can take months. Once dried out the strands or fibres are twisted and formed into ropes. The natural colour of the fibre is green, however, it is occasionally dyed a black colour to sterilise it and eradicate the presence of a tiny mite that is often found in the fibre. Algerian Fibre is strong and sustains this resilience for a long period of time.

Curly Black Fibre

Curly Black Fibre is derivative of Coir fibre (found between the hard internal shell and outer skin of a coconut) and has been treated creating great strength, flexibility and spring. It is generally used in mattresses, door mats, brushes. Due to its dexterity and availability it has more or less replaced Algerian fibre as a source of first stuffing.

Alva Marina

This is a seaweed that is found on the south coast of France and along the Baltic coast. It was as a source of first filling of upholstery by the Victorians. Over time, the seaweed dries, becomes hard and brittle. Eventually it cracks into small flakes. Today, it is no longer used in the commercial upholstery market.

Curled Hair

Of all the material used as foundation filling, hair is the most resilient source since it possesses what can only be described as indestructable upholstery qualities. However, when it come to cost effectiveness, it falls short of its modern day competitors and low cost fibres. Despite this, hair is still used by many upholsterers. The best type of hair is that of horse hair, which is taken from the tail and the mane of the animal. An alternative is cattle hair, and again the source of this is the animals tail which, like that of a horse, are long in length. A much lower grade of hair comes from the hog family, it is shorter and altogether more brittle than the horse and cattle alternatives.

The process of treatment of hair begins with thorough washing to remove all alien objects and matter. Once achieved, the hair is tightly wound to form ropes, some reaching 80 feet in length, these are carefully placed in a large vacuum tank and steamed. Once removed, it is hung to dry in a large heated chamber where the hair curls naturally. It remains in this condition for a period of about two months, when it is removed and unravelled. From there it passes through a carding machine, which has several large drums like objects with spikes attached, these pull at the hair and separate and plump it forming it into a light mass.

Today, traditional furniture uses as a second stuffing, normally placed over a fibre base that is covered with scrim, which itself is a strong coarse fabric. Hair will be found in high quality furniture at the upper end of the price range, where, due to its resilience and quality it is used as both a first and secondary stuffing.

Feathers

The main type of feather used in upholstery are down, curled feathers and milled or chopped feathers. Down originates from duck, goose or swans (the latter now being a protected species) and is the undercoating found beneath the outer feathers. Because it is soft, it is regarded as the best feather used in upholstery, and is commonly found in cushions and top grade quality furniture. Generally curled feathers are of a slightly inferior quality, they are a combination of poultry and waterfowl feathers. Milled or chopped feather are of a lesser quality and are often used as a filling for mass produced cushions.

Natural Fillings

Mill Puff

During the 18th century, Mill Puff was commonly used as a filler in upholstery and bedding. With the progression of time and inferior grade of cotton wool was used, yet kept the same title. The cotton is produced across Europe, the United States and Australia. When picked and collected, the cotton balls are processed, first passing through a gin allowing the separation of the fibre from the seed. The cotton at this stage can be used for spinning, so there is no wastage, the remaining seeds pass through an oil mill and are cleaned, removing any short fibres which remain, these are unsuitable for spinning, it then washes the seed before crushing them and extracting oil from it. The machine used in this process is known as a linter, hence the origin of the name 'cotton linter'.

Common Linter Felt

This is a thick padding used in upholstery and bedding, and is generally referred to as cotton felt. It consists of short cotton fibres that are extracted from the cotton ball. The most common use of Linter felt is as a final layer beneath a top fabric.

Woollen Felt

Woollen felt is effectively produced in the same manner as linter felt, however, the donating animal providing the source material is different. It is a derivative of the fleece from a sheep, goat, alpaca, camel, hares and many other such animal. The majority of the woollen felt used in upholstery is off cuts of other woollen goods and garments, such as clothing and carpets. The off cuts are first torn, then carded and finally shredded in order to produce the fibrous material for use. It is often formed as a layered filling. In a loose form it is flexible and can be formed into shapes and curves.

Skin Wadding

When a layer of teased cotton is sprayed with starch, it forms a skin over the surface cotton, creating a bond which holds the fibres together, this is known as skin wadding. It most common use is as a topping over other filling products, such as calico, lined or open horse hair. The skin wadding is remarkably strong and protects the outer surface from protruding hair, and creates a soft comfortable finish.

Interlaced Padding/Matting

This is formed when various fillings such as, coir, horse hair or fibre are carded and cross laid onto a lightweight hessian base material. This then passes through what is known as a needling machine due to the large quantity of sharp barbed needles it contains, all lined in rows. The needles move in an up and down motion, forcing the fibres through the hessian on the downward stroke, then release them during the upward stroke, this causes them to penetrate the underside of the hessian only. This type of filling is most commonly found in bedding and is popular in some types of upholstery. It is favoured by many upholsterers because of its time efficiency, when compared with loose fillings. Because of its strength, interlaced padding is generally placed directly over spring units.

TERMINOLOGY OFTEN USED IN UPHOLSTERY

As with any skilled trade or craft there exists key word or phrases that are attached to upholstery that are outside those generally used in everyday language. Technical words or phrases or often omitted by the dictionary and therefore some words are lost in transition. Below are listed just a few of the more used definitions used within upholstery, and how they appear in abbreviated form

Item Abbreviation and/or description

BASE - The main foundation rail at floor level.

BLACK AND WHITE WEBBING - This is the highest quality English webbing in a herring bone design

Bos - This forms a projection on the back of an upholstery button and is made of cloth that allws a needle and twine to pass through it.

BRIDLING - A number of twine loops that measure about six inches in length, these are placed in canvasses and carry the stuffing holding it in place

BUFFED - The act of buffing or rubbing using carborundum to eliminate blemishes

BUTTONING - The adding of upholstery buttons. There are two methods of achieving this; 'Float' Buttoning or 'Deep' Buttoning. The 'Float method provides the appearance of the button sitting on top of the material. The 'Deep' method sees the button pulled deeply into the cover, the material then forms a diamond shaped pleat around it

BORDER - Bdr - This can be located in front or along the top of a back

CABRIOLE - A hammer with a small driving area. This is mainly used on show-wood furniture

FACINGS - Fegs - Located on the front of the arm-rests and can also be on the sides of a back

FLY - Piece of material or hessian that is attached/sewn to the inside edge of cover material to provide additional strength when pulling covers into place. In the USA this is known as a pull through

GAP - The description of an opening that is positioned between the arm web and the back upright rail of a seat

GAUGE - The thickness of the steel wire used to manufacture coil springs

HOLDING TIE - This is more commonly known as the through stitch. It is a stitch situated between the spring canvas and the scrim which holds first stuffing firmly in place.

INSIDE ARM - I.A

INSIDE BACK - I.B

JACKETS - A tailored finish of one or more parts that are joined together, such as the inside arm and facing

LACING - The stringing together, using laid cord, of coil springs

LINING - Canvas that is tacked to the outside of a frame prior to the outside covers being attached. This allows additional resistance to pressure and is most commonly used when using leather as a covering.

OUTSIDE ARM - O.A

OUTSIDE BACK - O.B

PIPING FOOT - A commonly used attachment for sewing machines that enables piped edges to be added

PLATFORM SEAT - Pl St - This has a guttering and also a cushion

PULLTHROUGH - Same meaning as FLY

RAILS STRETCHER - A rail which provides support to a settee or divan base

REBATED - A groove found in the edge of a rail, the lower edge is used for tacking or alternatively where the cable springing is joined

REGULATING - The movement of stuffing to the required place in the frame

RIPPING OUT - The procedure for stripping chairs that require repair

SEAT - St

SCRIM STUFFING - A term used for the first stuffing that is wrapped in scrim or hessian

SHOW-WOOD - Is the decorative polished wood that surrounds the piece of furniture

SKIVING - This is the skill of chamfering hide to join two pieces with adhesive

SPRING EDGE - The front edge of a chair, it can also be edges where independent springing has been applied

SPRING INTERIOR - The term used when discussing the inside springing of a mattress or cushion

SPRING UNIT - The spring foundation that forms a seat, they are normally wired and clipped together

STITCHING - The stitching together of edges

STRAPS - These are metal bands or webbing which form the base for spring units to be mounted

TACK DRAWS - This is a dark coloured furrow usually caused by the strain of a tack and is most prevalent on silk coverings

TACKING - Light rails used for tacking foundations and covers to

TEMPORARY TACKS - These are tacks that are not fully driven in and are easily removed

TENSILE - This is a term that is applied to rubber webbing or sometimes cable-springing

THUMBROLL - A common alternative to a stitched edge

TUFTING - This is found on mattresses and is an identical procedure to buttoning

WIRE KNOTS - The phrase used to discuss the finish of the metal coil on a spring.