CILSS Antique Upholstered Furniture - the Fabrics and Finishes


Antique Upholstered Furniture Home
Fabrics and Finishes
Antique Settees and Sofas
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The fragility of some fabrics and changing styles and tastes over the years, has meant that many upholstered pieces of furniture no longer have their original upholstery some may have been reupholstered more than once. If this is the case, there will be tack marks where the material was attached to the frame. 

Trimmings (fabrics and finishes) were an important feature of antique upholstered chairs, and they, too, varied in style from period to period. This needs to be considered when reupholstering chairs and sofas since a piece reupholstered without attention to all details can be jarring and aesthetically unappealing. 

Seat types can be a useful guide to dating: drop-in seats first appeared in the late 17th century and coiled springs in the 1820s; stylistic devices on the frame are also helpful clues. 

Antique Upholstered Fabrics (Textiles)

If antique upholstered furniture is to be used, it is often necessary to re-cover a piece. When to reupholster tends to be a matter of personal choice: one person may be happy to live with original upholstery, whatever its condition, for as long as possible, another may not. For an important piece of furniture, it is advisable to seek conservation advice, although this may limit usability. It is important always to choose a suitable period-style fabric when reupholstering. 

Frillges were particularly popular as a decorative edging ill the 17th and 19th centuries, generally less so in the 18th.

Gimp: Braid or gimp was used to Cover the upholstery nails of chairs or settees.

Leather is probably the oldest "fabric" for covered seating antique upholstered furniture, although most early leather upholstery has  not in good condition.

On fabric covered chairs, gimp or nails were used to cover the upholstery nails and as decorative features. 









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