This post is part of a series of short writings by a small writer on particular topics and stories named Howard Reede-Pelling, he lives in Victoria, Australia and is in his older age now. Here, he has written about upholstery and restoration.
That shabby old chair or divan one has in the attic or garden shed, either Grandma’s old couch or Dad’s favorite chair, just laying there gathering dust; now is the time to restore it! Upholstery is not a mystery any more, even you can do something about making an effort to at least give it a new outlook. One does not have to be an expert to restore it to something of its former glory; just a little common sense will suffice. A couple of metres of new material just draped over it and tucked in at the seat will give it a new, clean look. But, if one needs something a little more substantial – read on!
Now if the need is for diamond or spade buttoning, perhaps then one should have the piece expertly done; however, for just the odd easy chair or divan, they may be restored with a minimum cost and be made to look good. The secret is to first remove the outside arm and back covers. Now one can see how the inside arm and back materials are fastened. When covering your furniture it is basic to stretch the material evenly and firmly into place. Replace springs that are broken or have slipped, and be sure to tie them properly to prevent them slipping again. Sometimes the supporting hessian has to be replaced as it may have worn. Carefully note how it is attached before removing it, so that you can replace it as it was.
If your furniture has stab buttoning, then that is easily restored. Just get the button which has come undone or a replacement, and a trip to an upholsterer will supply you with the necessary needle so that the button may be re-attached. Look how the others were done and simulate them. If extra padding is needed, that is where the upholsterer will come in handy again. If you wish to have the tacks covered, be sure to take note of how the outside back and arms were attached. Back tacking is the simple means of cutting strips of cardboard and putting the tacks in a straight line along it; the cover is then folded down and tacked to the underside of the furniture. The sides are then slip-stitched and your furniture is as good as new.
If it needs a polish, do not despair; a quick wipe over the woodwork with a touch of shellack and metho will take most surface scratches off and give your piece a warm sheen. Make sure if you are recovering, that you do not make the mistake of putting on a too gaudy cover as it may not suit the polish. Pastel colours are the evergreen trend and a safe guide for a comfortable unit. Remember, you may have to live with it a long time.