Sooner or later, the easiest of easy-chairs becomes uncomfortable. Bumps, lumps and sagging occur. Whether upholstery fabric needs replacing or not, your once-cosy seat needs to be resprung. That means removing foundational upholstery materials, sewing and retying springs to produce the supportive comfort that first made your chair a favourite. Recondition your chair with simple materials and return to comfort.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Strips of upholstery webbing
- Steel tacks and tack hammer, or staple gun
- Measuring tape
- Piece of heavy cotton cloth the size of your chair/sofa seat
- Large-eyed needle and button or other heavyweight thread
- Ball of upholstery or other strong twine
Turn your chair (bench, hassock or sofa) over so that you can reach the bottom of the seat. Remove any fabric covering you find. Save the fabric to determine how large your replacement piece needs to be. Remove any tacks or staples.
Turn the chair right side up and remove any fabric from the top of the seat. In a solid-cushion piece, this means removing top fabric and the batting underneath it. In a chair with a separate cushion, this means removing only the fabric of the deck under the cushion. You will now see the springs and also the webbing under them.
Remove tacks or staples that secure the webbing to the seat. Not every chair is the same; on some, webbing is attached to the top of the seat frame; on others, webbing is secured to the bottom. On some chairs, springs are sewn directly to the webbing and will come loose all together. On others, springs are sewn to another piece of fabric placed over the webbing.
Remove tacks or staples that hold tied springs to the chair frame and remove the springs as a unit. This will provide you with a guide to placing springs on a new piece of fabric.
Measure the intervals between springs, cut off all twine or thread, and move springs to the new piece of fabric you have cut to fit the bottom of the chair seat.
Replace old webbing with new to form a foundation on which you will lay the fabric to which you will attach the springs.
Anchor springs to the base fabric with a large needle and heavyweight thread, using an overcast or whip stitch. Place the fabric and springs on top of the new webbing and anchor the fabric to webbing at all four corners, using basting or large cross-stitches.
Cut lengths of twine 1 1/2 times the length and width of the chair seat. You will need enough lengths of twine to make eight anchoring ties on each spring. Your longest ties will span the diagonal distance across the seat; short ties will cover shorter diagonals.
Set tacks, tapping them halfway into the frame, one for each spring, all the way around the frame. Regard the place where the frame meets the chair back as the top of your work (12 o'clock) and the open seat as the bottom (6 o'clock). On the top, place your tacks at 12 o'clock for each spring; on the bottom, set them at 6 o'clock. The sides of the frame are for tacks at 3 and 9 o'clock.
Tie a slipknot in your length of twine and loop it over a tack. Using a clove-hitch or other secure knot (see references for types of knots), secure the top loop of each spring to its neighbour, making a row across to the corresponding tack on the other side. Tie the twine loosely to the second tack. When your rows are all complete, revisit the second tacks, tightening the twine web evenly over all the springs, reducing their height by roughly half. You know your web is complete when each tack holds two pieces of twine, one a crosstie and the other a diagonal.
Step back and examine your finished web before finally tying down all the twine. Your springs should still be evenly spaced. Ideally, on a single-cushion seat, the springs closest to the edges should be tied slightly lower than those in the middle (up to 1/2 inch difference). Springs on a cushion deck should all be at the same height. Make any necessary final adjustments then tie second-tack knots and tap all tacks securely into the frame. You are now ready to replace any necessary materials over the springs.
Tips and warnings
- If you are uncertain about whether your finished job is correctly done, fold two heavy bath towels over the tied springs and sit down. This is the easiest and best way to detect wobbles or lumps.
- Don't stint on the quality of your twine. If you cannot find it where you buy fabric and webbing, ask for a mail-order source or check with local upholsterers, who may be willing to sell you good twine.
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