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A single sofa takes up 300 to 600 hours of skilled labor to make. Even small companies and individuals avail themselves of power saws and other motorized machinery, yet specialized hand tools are still applied to detail work. These include the regulator for stuffing, the "ripping tool," and a type of pliers called diagonal cutters.
· First the frame is constructed from wood that has been found clear of any defects. The thickness of the wood should allow for the heavy tension webbing to follow. If the frame is not sufficiently strong, it will not bear the weight redistributed into it by the webbing whenever someone sits down. Arms, back, or back sections, seat, and legs are attached. The preferred method is with clean-cut, fitted double doweled glue joints reinforced with comer braces, glued and also screwed into place. Each major part of the sofa will have to have springs attached separately, and also be padded separately. Consequently, they are "framed out" with reinforcing slats, arranged around the seat section.
Webbing and springs
· The foundation is then set for padding. Jute, a kind of burlap made in India, is used as webbing. Strips of this material are interwoven, stretched across the frame, and tacked down. Flax twine is then used to strap the springs onto the webbing. Two lines of twine are tacked into position and then tied around a spring back to front. Another pair of lines will run side to side on each row of springs after all the springs have been lashed into position individually. If heavy-gauge springs are used in the "front row," these are further tied down with a length of wire. This process is repeated for the back, with special attention to the springs at the base, which are treated like the front row of seat springs. If the back comes in sections (sometimes three for design purposes), then each part is separately tied off and the twine ends tacked onto the four-sided frame. The same is true for any sides and arms. Each part will be wrapped in its own sheet of burlap after being completely fitted with secured springs. The burlap is cut to size for each part, tacked into place initially, and then tightly lashed to the springs to minimize movement. This is to prevent the springs from wearing through the burlap over time.
Each part is separately padded as well, with layers of burlap and horsehair or chosen synthetic material. The padding is placed in a burlap envelope, arranged on the edge of the seat, pinned into place, and stitched down. As the stitching progresses, the pins can be removed one by one. This roll is then shaped according to design requirements and stitched with special needles and more twine. After this is secured yet still pliable, a layer of about 15 lb (6.81 kg) of padding is distributed over the whole area of the seat, extending over the roll. The layer is basted into place with long, loose stitches and covered with lighter weight burlap. Tighter stitching divides the seat into two areas called the platform and the nose or front edge. This front part is reshaped with hand stitching. After the shaping is completed, a final, thicker layer of padding is added to fill in dips left by stitching in the burlap, and basted like the previous layer. A muslin sheet of covering is applied, stitched into the break between the platform and nose, tightened across the front edge and back across the platform; its edges are tacked into place. Anomalies in the padding are addressed before proceeding.
·The arms are done next in the same basic fashion. Layers of padding and burlap are fixed in succession and topped with muslin. The arms also have a front edge of extra thick padding. Once the arms are properly shaped the back or back sections may be padded. If there is more than one part to the back, the center is padded first up until the second burlap layer. Then, the two flanking sections are padded up to that point, to match the center in size. The edge roll is formed around the top and back of the crest rail or uppermost part of the frame, or the corresponding area of each of the back parts, each of which must be kept parallel to the others. After inspecting and making any adjustment to the padding, the exposed wood parts can be stained and finished to taste or design specifications.
Every piece and panel that will be fabric covered must be measured and recorded in a cutting list. The fabric is purchased in one piece or lot. The panels are then plotted out in chalk so they match wherever their seams will meet when finally applied. If any of the panels and pieces need to be sewn together before being attached to the padded frame, this is taken care of first. The seat is covered with panels for the platform and nose and hand-stitched into place along the break between them over a layer of cotton batting. The nose is then covered first to check if the pattern continues along the front properly. The covering is fitted over the back or platform end and secured. The arms are covered next after being prepped with their own layers of cotton batting. A fan-pleated arm is a classic look.
· After the sofa is flipped and covered at the base with a cambric (dust cover), finishing touches are then applied. The sofa may be fitted with one of several choices of skirt. Arms may be supplied with welted panel covers. Cushions are made separately to cover the seat. These are constructed most often from a jacket of ticking, encasing two pads that in turn frame an inner core of foam. Each one is covered with finishing fabric panels supplied with a back zipper, so the case can be removed for dry cleaning.
Quality control is more a matter of individual or company standards than government regulations. Manufacturers' warranties range from five to 10 years to a lifetime.