Horsehair fabrics are best used in the covering of flat surfaced chairs or sprung furniture, as well as completely upholstered suites (e. g. sofas, armchairs) and all kinds of well upholstered furniture. The horsehairfabric is not very suitable for soft bolsters or feather cushions.

The façon – seat forming work

A certain level of upholstery skills is necessary to prepare an appropriate foundation for horsehairfabric covering. In case of restoration work
on antique furniture, first check the structural condition – a sturdy frame is a basic requirement.
In picture 1, you can see a well-strapped Biedermeier seat. The six seat springs have been hand-tied together before being sown to the canvas straps.

Next the springs are covered with spring canvas, followed by a woven flax layer (commonly called Hessian) and finally with façon linen (see picture 2).

The façon linen is now sewn and secured. This is the first step of shaping the façon. At this stage, the façon needs to be trimmed to obtain defined edges for a hard-edge seating. The physical sitting test (several sit-downs to press the material into a firm shape) is important to avoid slackening/loosening of the materials in later usage.

Picture 3: a completed perfect façon work

In picture 4, surface irregularities have been first covered with fine tow yarn, then with a layer of horsehair-padding. The best results are achieved by hand-plucking (avoid plucking the hair mechanically). This is important for the retention of springiness. Apply the hair in an intertwining manner.

Subsequently layer the wadding to give softness and cover it with burlap fabric (for bright Horsehair fabrics use bright burlap cloth, black cloth for dark Horsehair fabrics). Fix this pre-cover with upholstery tacks, cut it into shape and repeat the test-seating process. Now, the burlap may be stretched and secured with nails.

Upholstering the Horsehair fabric

The horsehair fabric has to be sewn to the front and the sides of the upholstery. The back should be nailed (Do not use staples, as these can damage the fabric).

After cutting the border into shape, the piping is formed (see picture 5). A one-piece-border is preferred, as this section is a highly stressed area of the seat and the seam and the piping can easily come apart (horizontal striped fabrics would have to be sewn – making a clean and strong border, and extra care should be taken during the sewing process to perfectly match the stripe design).

Afterwards, the completed border piece is pinned around the upholstered seat area and the end-pieces are folded in (approx. 3 cm/1.20”) between the furniture’s back rest and the upholstery, and can be securely sown. Now the border is tightened sideways as well as downwards and finally fixed with nails. The nails will finally be covered with a cotton border (commonly called gimp), which is bonded by hot glue.

Sewing horsehair fabrics

recommended working material:
- industrial sewing machine
- new needle
- twine: degree of strength: 60, Polyester

2 mm (approx. 0.08 inches) stitch-length
gather the yarn tightly

It is easier to sew in direction of hair;
Sewing machine glides along the hair (less resistance)

To avoid sewing in most cases, use horsehairfabric 107
(vertical stripe in direction of hair)