The padded textile covering the bare frame of furniture, and the craft of building the upholstery up in order to make seats, arms and backs that are stable, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the line and style of the given frame.
Upholstery requires a very specialised training as each historical period and style has its own particular methods, materials and techniques. The trained upholsterer’s eye calls on many years of apprenticeship and experience to know exactly what to do, as every case is different.
With top level training, upholsterers can, and used to, do all traditional ‘upholding’ jobs–to creating in situ fabric walling and tented ceilings, to cutting and fitting elaborate draperies and bed hangings. In the past, the upholsterer was in charge of cutting loose covers on site and taking them back to the workshop, carefully marked, for the seamstress to sew together.
Nowadays seamstresses cut their own covers and can take on much of the drapery work, but padding and springing furniture and complex in situ fixings require the upholsterer’s skill.