Saturday, June 29, 2013

Part II Hickory Chair University: Upholstery

Sutton Sofa
One of my favorite photos from our Hickory Chair University visit!  I think I was surprised how much I liked the patterned fabric on such a large piece of upholstery.  We saw this piece again in their High Point showroom, with some minor changes:

By changing the pitch of the sofa, they were able to put two of them back-to-back for a perfect fit.  It's a look we've admired in larger living rooms to divide it into two smaller conversation areas, rather than one very large space.

In reality, your imagination is the only thing you need if you use Hickory Chair to furnish your home.  We have recently had some casegoods made to our specific height, as well as customizing the upholstered pieces to blend with the style of the home.

This photo shows the patterns used for cutting fabric---but that's just the tip of the iceberg!  Even in customization, you have to start somewhere. 

These ladies were cutting the fabric to be sent on over to the upholstery area.  Some cutting was done by machine, but it looked like most of it was done at a few of these tables by some very experienced employees.  

Headphones were necessary to hear inside the factory.
Laura Holland, our fearless leader and the "person-who-knows-everything" is explaining what to know about stripes on furniture.  She also explained how large and small repeat fabrics are figured into the price of furniture.  Hickory Chair will always match patterns from the cushion to the body of their upholstered furniture.  You don't have to worry about anything less than perfect when it comes to the fabric layout.  Pricing can depend on the pattern as well as the content of the fabric.  A very large pattern will take more yardage to match across the furniture, thus making it a higher "grade" when selecting it for your chair/sofa. 

Even though HC has one of the best selections of fabrics in their library, there is always a chance we'll need to order a piece as a COM.  If you aren't familiar with the term it's "Customer's Own Material".  Sometimes there's just a very specific fabric that we are searching for, and we may have to utilize our own fabric library at Madison Lane Interiors.  The photo above shows the aisle of fabric that has been mailed in as COM!  We were shocked, but after seeing how much customization Hickory Chair offers, it made sense.

The day's delivery of COM fabrics.  Can you believe one person unwraps and inspects each bolt of fabric??  She has her work cut out for her, but I like the fact that she has years of experience with Hickory Chair and knows all aspects of their workroom.  If there is a question about the fabric we send in, it's nice to know who we are talking to.

Here's a few of the sewing experts.  I think they are putting cushions together at this area.  The workers were nice enough to stop their sewing to answer a question or two from some of us.  We found them all to be willing to help us learn more about their jobs. 

 Here is the beginning of a sofa.  This worker is placing the springs in the base of the sofa and will be attaching each one with the "8-way-hand-tied-spring" technique.  This is a top of the line method used by higher end furniture companies.  It results in less wear of individual springs because they all work together to support the cushions.  The hand tied method just takes more time, which adds to the price in the end. 

I would have liked to have had a chance to see this chair when it was finished.  The fabric combination was eye-catching!  Actually, the room it ends up in would surely be a treat to see.  This particular chair is a good design to use more than one fabric.  It's a great way to add a little more pizzaz to a room.  With all those great fabrics available, why not take full advantage!

Look closely and see the giant sized needles sticking through the back of this leather sofa.  Talk about time consuming!  As the buttons are pulled through and secured on the back, the upholsterer will be forming folds for the pleats on the front.  Now you know why tufting also adds to the final price--but what a beautiful detail it is. 

Notice this chair's frame:  the legs are one piece with the frame, not screwed into the bottom of the chair.  This is another example of a well made piece of furniture.  The exposed pieces are stained and covered for protection while the chair is being upholstered.  Also notice the solid wood used on the frame and not pressed wood or particle board.  Kiln dried solid woods are used in all the frames of Hickory Chair furniture.  Even though some pressed woods can be strong, they will not allow you to reupholster in the future.  Pulling staples out of particle boards will cause them to crumble. 

If you are in the market for furniture to last a lifetime, come by and see our Hickory Chair furniture.  We have several pieces on the floor, and a lot of information we'd love to share!!

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