Now that I had removed all the upholstery and decades old cotton batting, I replaced the padding with modern materials that would hopefully be long-lasting and easy to work with. I ordered my first batch of foam from FoamByMail.com, who offers high-density foam in custom sizes at an affordable price. While waiting on the foam to arrive, I had some more work to do.
For my sofa design, I needed to box in the seat back a little more. I glued and screwed a a 1″x3″x8′ poplar boar–cut down to the 84″ required– onto the seat back uprights.
It wouldn’t be overly noticeable later, but I filled in the spaces around the tied springs with firm sections of leftover cotton batting and foam. This should keep things in the right place over time.
I then wrapped the seat back to help even out the profile of the springs. The middle was a bit bowed out as compared to the side sections. In retrospect, it perhaps would have been optimal to retie all the springs.
My first batch of foam had arrived! I ordered FoamByMail’s HD-36 high-quality (2.8 LB/ft3 density, 35LB ILD) in 4″ thickness. A 3″ foam probably would have been sufficient for padding and tufting (since I was going to add dacron), so I ordered thinner padding for the seat back.
In following the lead from the book from ‘Spruce’, I added edge roll to all of the hard edges of the frame. This should prevent the most-used areas–arm, front of seat, top of frame–from wearing too quickly.
I received foam batch number two: 3″ super-soft foam (not pictured, 1.2LB/ft3 density, 12LB ILD) and plenty of dacron. Time to get ready for tufting. This wasn’t a terribly scientific process. I needed to divide up the tufting areas on the seat and back, each roughly 26″ x 84″, into squares. This ended up being about 5.5″ square.
I trimmed the pieces to fit perfectly using an electric carving knife, and began fitting this to the sofa frame.
I used a method described by the ‘Spruce’ book where you adhere burlap to the foam, then adhere the burlap to the frame. This made for a nice pretty profile, but didn’t last forever…the burlap eventually pulling away from the foam as was forewarned in the ‘Spruce’ book. This method is probably ideal for smaller tight seats and backs that can be finished in a short amount of time. Not much on this project occurred in a small amount of time.
I used some HD-36 1″ foam to cover other sections of the frame. I used a 1.25″ hole saw to cut holes in the foam. This was easier on the firm foam, and required periodic lubrication to avoid binding up. Allowing the hole saw/drill to come up to full speed before introducing to foam also helped avoid any shenanigans from movement of foam or hole saw. There is a specific tool for cutting foam that may work better, but I opted for a more multitasker tool.
Also shown are some grooves I cut into the surface of the firmer section of foam. I had seen this technique performed on some professionally upholstered tufted sofas, and should allow the folds of the tufts to sit tighter.
I wrapped both the seat and back in one layer of 1″ medium density polyester fiberfill and 1″ low density/softpolyester fiberfill. I cut crosses into the fiberfill layers where tufting folds will eventually lay.
With the sofa padding wrapped with fiberfill, all that’s left is to order fabric…the most expensive step and the official point-of-no-return for the project.
More on that later.