Manda & Robbyn were thrilled to be interviewed and photographed for an article in the current issue of 417 Home. Read the article here. And as always, if you’d like Bridge to help you with your current drapery, shade or upholstery project, please Contact Us.
We are so excited and thankful for the wonderful facelift that our new space has received!
We’ve been here on 202 E Commercial Street in Springfield for about a month. In that time, our wonderful landlord has painted all of the formerly green woodwork on the front and back of the building. He gave the storefront on the street level a fresh coat of black paint. On the second floor, he painted the cornice and window lintels cream with a few black accents. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!
We also added a round Bridge logo sign just under the arched section of the cornice.
We hope you all will stop by to see the new space soon. Inside we have a great conference room with a wide selection of fabric books for all of your upholstery and drapery needs. Contact us if we can help with your next project!
Manda and Robbyn
If you’re looking for Bridge Upholstery and Drapery, go north out of downtown. Take Boonville or Campbell up to Commercial street and go right. You’ll see us on the south side of the street between the Artisan’s Oven and Good Stuff Antiques. We’re across the street from Historic Firehouse No. 2, the Tea and Spice Market, the Vintage Suitcase and Big Momma’s. Needless to say it’s an awesome block and we are so happy to be a part of it!
We have big plans for this new space. So stay tuned to see photos once we get the storefront painted and all the inside settled.
As always, if we can help you with your next drapery or upholstery project, please contact us!
I bet you thought we were taking the summer off, right? You pictured us floating in the lake, soaking up the rays. But in reality, we’ve been hard at work reupholstering a house full of furniture for our client’s beautiful home on Table Rock Lake.
The home was inspired by the Buffalo Bar at Top of the Rock and was skillfully built by Woodstone Builders. The living room has hand hewn Amish beams that are curved to mimic the inside of a wine barrel. The entry has brick and stone vault ceilings and there are beautifully distressed pine floors throughout. The home has a cozy, traditional feel that is reflected in the fabric choices and upholstery details.
Our client has a great eye for finding estate sale treasures. Much of the furniture was purchased at estate sales in our client’s previous home state of Michigan. She initially brought us photos of the furniture and we worked with her to find the right combinations of fabrics and embellishments to give this quality furniture a face lift.
Living Room Sofa
We really gave this sofa an update. We recovered it in Caledonia Sage Fabric by Luxury Fabrics. We added distressed hammered nickel upholstery tacks and refinished the feet to a rustic walnut to coordinate with the distressed pine floors.
Left and Right Chaises
These chaises turned out beautifully. We recovered them with Duralee Crimson fabric in pattern 15567. We enjoyed working with this tapestry and matching the pattern from the top to the bottom of the chaises. These chaises truly were a labor of love and will be a cozy spot for our client and her two puggles for years to come.
Double Chair and Ottoman
We updated this foyer bench with a black floral fabric and added coordinating sage and burgundy pillows.Here’s the before photo of the bench:Once the home is finished and our clients are settled, we’ll get photos of the furniture installed in their Table Rock Lake home. Keep watching for the final “after” photos!
If Bridge Upholstery and Drapery can help you with your reupholstery needs, please Contact Us and send us photos of your outdated upholstery for an estimate. We’ll look forward to hearing from you!
Why Did We Need an Industrial Sewing Machine?
We’d been getting by with our Janome HDs. They sew through 8 layers of denim without even breaking a sweat. They are strong and trouble free. They’ve been with us for so long and they’re wonderful for sewing draperies and most upholstery. But some recent projects (topstitching vinyl for restaurant bar stools and table toppers), as well as some leather projects on the horizon, had us searching for an industrial sewing machine.
We needed to be able to topstitch easily, through many layers, with consistent stitch lengths. We needed to sew leather. We needed to be able to hem the sticky vinyl that just didn’t want to slide easily through our old machines. We needed a compound feed walking foot industrial sewing machine.
Compound Feed Walking Foot Sewing Machine
A compound feed walking foot sewing machine is a beast. It not only pulls the fabric from the bottom with the feed dogs, but it pulls with a walking motion of the inner presser foot and by a needle that lifts up and forward with every stroke. Using this mechanism, the compound feed walking foot sewing machine can sew through many layers without letting them slip or get out of alignment. The walking foot also can go up and over uneven seams without changing the stitch length as our Janome would do. The Janome would do several short stitches as it climbed up and over thick seams. The walking foot just goes right over without a problem, with strong even stitches.
But where do we start our search? Where do we buy an industrial machine? We can find them on Amazon. We can see them in Youtube videos and read about them in our favorite upholstery books (check out Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design). But how do we choose and where can we see one in person?
Our search started in our hometown of Springfield, Missouri. We visited our local sewing machine shops and were told that residential sewing machines and industrial sewing machines are completely different. They told us that they might sell Pfaff household machines, but they don’t even have an account for Pfaff industrial machines. One helpful sales lady suggested that we go visit Springfield Leather Company.
First Try: The Cobra Class 20 at Springfield Leather
Springfield Leather Company has a great selection of machines that are set up for, you guessed it, sewing leather. We tried out the Cobra Class 20 there. It was a great machine. It had a couple of features that we ended up requesting in our final machine: a servo motor and a speed reducer.
Industrial sewing machines come with a choice of either a servo motor or a clutch motor. There are a couple of big differences. First, the servo motor is nearly silent, while the clutch motor hums constantly anytime the machine is turned on. Second, the servo motor has adjustable speed and is easier to start slowly while the clutch motor starts off at a high speed (this is great for production facilities that just need to sew long distances, quickly). So for an industrial machine beginner, the servo motor is much easier to use and leads to fewer mistakes.
A speed reducer is a feature common on sewing machines set up specifically for sewing leather. The speed reducer allows you to sew slowly and carefully when doing detailed work. The speed reducer also maintains the power of the machine so that the needle doesn’t get stuck in the leather when going slowly. We really liked this feature on the Cobra and it was noticeably missing on one of the other machines that we tried later.
After sewing leather with the Cobra Class 20, we were pretty convinced that it was the machine for us. We decided to sleep on it and bring back some upholstery material to try out the next day. The Cobra sewed leather very well, however it did not do well on our upholstery fabric. One reason is that the feed dogs on the Cobra Class 20 are smoothed out so that they don’t puncture or damage leather. These smooth feed dogs didn’t get a good grip on our fabric. Another reason is that the machine was outfitted with a very narrow set of presser feet for sewing detailed leather work. So, the finished seam on our upholstery fabric had a very gathered and uneven look. We decided to continue searching for our perfect machine.
Second Try: A Trip to St. Louis
We did some online research and reading and decided that we really wanted to see a Consew 206RB-5. It is the favorite of many upholsterers and is considered to be one of the best. We decided that we’d drive to St. Louis to see one in person, or so we thought.
I made the call the day before to a store in St. Louis that advertised the Consew 206RB-5. I asked if they had them in stock – he replied that he’d rather sell me a Tacsew something something something. I said I might be able to be persuaded, but I wanted to see them in person – did he have them on the floor? Could I try them out? He answered yes to all my questions, but little did I know that he was merely telling me that he had a couple of Tacsews on his sales room floor and yes, he’d be able to sell me one of those tomorrow.
So we excitedly drove to St. Louis. We just knew that we’d be driving home with a new sewing machine in the back of our SUV. We were so excited to go to a place that had all the sewing machines that we had read about. We’d be able to compare them side by side!
We arrived at the store and walked in to find many household sewing machines and vacuum cleaners. We searched and finally found two, yes TWO, Tacsew sewing machines. That’s it! That’s all! No Consew machine to try. In fact, they hadn’t sold a Consew out of the store for 10 years!
Well, Robbyn is not easily deterred. While I endured the Tacsew salesman (read below under “Stitched Seam Comparisons” for details about sewing with the Tacsew), she googled and found another sewing machine store in nearby St. Charles, Nick-O Sewing Machine.
Third Time’s a Charm: Nick-O Sewing Machine
Robbyn got Nick, from Nick-O Sewing Machine, on the phone and he agreed to stay open late to wait for us to get to his store. When we arrived at the Nick-O Sewing Machine store in St. Charles, we got to see the rows of industrial machines that we’d been expecting all along. Nick showed us a Highlead, a Juki and a Seiko sewing machine.
We sewed a lot on the Highlead, but we were never fully convinced that it was the machine for us. Read below in “Stitched Seam Comparisons” for a detailed description of sewing with the Highlead.
We liked the Juki, but it was quite a bit more expensive than the Highlead and Seiko and Nick didn’t think the price difference was justified for our needs.
The Seiko was not assembled. It was just sitting on the table, but after much discussion, Nick persuaded us that the Seiko would be the perfect machine for us. He suggested a servo motor and added a leather package which included the speed reducer and an edge guide, but NOT the troublesome smooth feed dogs and narrow presser feet. He also added single and double welt feet and zipper feet.
We asked how we’d ever be able to assemble this machine in Springfield. Nick replied that they would deliver it assembled at the beginning of the next week. He also assured us that if we didn’t like the Seiko (since we hadn’t been able to try it out) that he’d exchange it for a different machine if necessary.
We left the shop and immediately began googling Seiko sewing machines. We couldn’t believe we’d just bought this sewing machine without ever trying it and without doing any research about it! But we were quickly reassured when we learned that Seiko is the manufacturer of many sewing machine brands. In fact, Seiko had made the Consew 206RB when the Consew was made in Japan. Wow! What relief! This may in fact be the machine for us!
Delivery of the Seiko STH-8BLD-3
So, Nick arrived with our assembled Seiko sewing machine. He removed the plastic wrap, carried it into our shop and showed us how to thread it. Robbyn and I both sewed on the Seiko before he left and were super happy with how easy it was to use.
The Seiko STH-8BLD-3 started off smoothly and quietly and didn’t have any of the extreme tension of the other machines that we had tried. The thread easily pulled out through the machine so sewn pieces could be removed. Other machines had so much tension that it felt like a tug of war to get our fabric out of the machine. Yes, I know that the tension can be adjusted, but there’s a smoothness to the Seiko that the other machines lacked.
Stitched Seam Comparisons
We had a long strip of upholstery fabric that we used to compare the machines. As you can see in the photo below, the Cobra’s smooth feed dogs didn’t grip the upholstery fabric well and resulted in an inconsistent seam. The Tacsew produced a reasonable seam, but stalled out at slow speeds and had to be pushed along by pulling on the hand wheel (that’s when we saw the need for a speed reducer). The Highlead was originally set up for leather and after tension adjustment, was able to produce a fairly smooth seam. But it was still difficult to remove the fabric from the machine. Even with lifting the presser foot high with the knee lift and raising the thread take up lever to the upmost position by turning the hand wheel, the Highlead and Tacsew both made fabric removal difficult. You can see the gathered seam in the top of the second photo where the thread gathered the seam as I pulled to remove the fabric.
The Seiko produced smooth even stitches and smooth flat seams. Sewing on the Seiko was very comfortable. I’m struggling to think of a word to describe the feel of this machine that is more descriptive than smooth. I could use fluid, effortless, gentle, uniform…can you tell I opened a Thesaurus? Sewing with the Seiko just feels right. It’s NOT more expensive than the other machines. It’s right in the middle of the price spread. But it feels luxurious. I guess you’ll have to take my word on that or try one yourself. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
As you read the descriptions of the machines, you might question why we didn’t pick the Highlead. After the tension adjustments, it did sew well. We considered the Highlead as our second choice and Nick offered to bring them both to the shop and let us try them out side by side. But ultimately, it came down to the tight, high tension feel of the Highlead vs. the smooth sewing ease of the Seiko.
Highlights of the Seiko STH-8BLD-3
All of the technical details are available in the Seiko STH-8BLD-3 Brochure, on the Seiko website.
First, the knee lift – you can see it in the picture below. You press the knee lift to the right with your right knee and the presser foot lifts (33/64″ or 13mm) so that you can use both hands to hold your fabric and place it in the machine.
Second, as you can see below, there’s an edge guide that Nick-O-Sew installed as part of their leather package. The edge guide lifts up and out of the way when you’re not using it, but easily is set down to help you sew a consistent seam allowance from the cut edge of your fabric.
Third, there is a bobbin winder on the right side of the machine. That bobbin is there winding all the time as you sew. It stops winding automatically when it is full. Look back at the first picture under “Delivery of Seiko…” and you’ll see the tan thread on the thread holder. That thread on the right is there just to fill bobbins. In that picture, the gray thread is going through the needle for sewing. So you’ll always want to order two spools of a thread color to use in an industrial machine.
Fourth, is the separate sewing machine head and motor. In the photo below, you can see the servo motor with the adjustment knob on the front. Here, it is set to SLOW for beginners. The large pulley you see to the right of the servo motor is the speed reducer. The speed reducer helps you to sew slowly but also maintains torque at low speeds.
The fifth and HUGE difference from a home sewing machine is the compound feed walking foot. In the photo below, you can see the presser foot. It is made of two parts. The outside foot presses down on the fabric, while the inner foot lifts up and “walks” onto your fabric – (this makes it a walking foot machine). The needle also lifts up and forward with every stitch. When the needle moves up and forward (needle feed) on a walking foot machine, this makes the machine a compound feed walking foot machine. If the needle doesn’t move forward, it’s just a walking foot machine. There are also machines out there that only have needle feed with a standard presser foot. They’re called needle feed machines. Other designations for the compound feed walking foot machine are triple feed, unison feed or compound walking foot (meaning the needle, feed dogs and feet all work together to move your fabric through the machine and keep it aligned).
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story of our search for an industrial sewing machine. We fully realize that we are new to this industrial sewing machine scene and only hope that this info will help you if you’re also considering moving from a domestic machine to an industrial one. We’ll keep you updated as we gain knowledge and experience with our new Seiko!
Watch the video below to see the compound feed walking foot machine in action!
So we’ve used our Seiko on several upholstery projects and I have to say we are just as happy, or maybe happier, than the day it was delivered. The Seiko continues to sew strong even stitches through every fabric we choose. It is also wonderful for making welting. The single welt cord foot keeps everything together as we stitch the yards and yards of welt cord required for each project.
We had a learning curve for inserting the bobbin, but one call to Nick-O sewing machine solved our problems. Their mechanic, Reabon, patiently talked us through the problem we were having and now we’re replacing bobbins easily. This confirms the wise words we found on the internet about buying an industrial machine – “Buy from a reputable sewing machine company so that you’ll have someone to help you and to service the machine if necessary.” We have appreciated the expertise of Nick-O-Sewing Machine so much and are thankful for their amazing customer service. We are so glad that we have them to call when we need help.
We hope that you’ll consider a Seiko if you’re in the market for an industrial machine. It really has been better than we could have hoped. Our only problem now is deciding who gets to sew on the Seiko. In fact, we’ll be adding another one to the shop in the near future.
Our client contacted us a few weeks ago about reupholstering this chair that she bought at an estate sale. It was a well made chair from a well travelled original owner. The chair was originally upholstered in gold velvet and had seen better days.
Design and Fabric Choices
Our client brought the chair to the shop and began looking through fabric samples. She planned to use the chair in her Master Bedroom and wanted a soft velvet. She also wanted to tie in some red from the existing bedding and draperies. She chose to use a cream velvet, Kasmir’s Prive in Sandstone, on the seat and inside back of the chair, while adding color to the back of the chair with Kasmir’s Holly Grove Bejeweled fabric.
To update the chair further, our client chose to forego the button tufting and upholstered skirt. The removal of these details gave this chair a fresh modern look.
Our client also wanted an ottoman to go with the chair so she’d have a place to sit and read in her bedroom. We built a custom ottoman frame with a curve to match the front of the chair and upholstered it in fabrics to match the chair. The resulting chair and ottoman is much like a bedroom chaise.
Our client truly turned this chair from trash to treasure. She had a vision for the finished chair and was very pleased with the results. This soft velvet chair and ottoman will be a cozy reading spot in her master bedroom for years to come.If you have a flea market or estate sale find that you’d like to reupholster, Contact Us at Bridge Upholstery and Drapery. We’d love to help you with your next upholstery update.
In a previous post, Adding Trim to Your Upholstery and Drapery Projects, we discussed many uses for tape trim. This post will give you detailed instructions for mitering corners when adding tape trim to square or rectangular projects like pillows or Roman Shades.
Starting with a Mitered End
The first step when sewing with tape trim is folding your tape in a way that conceals the cut edge and makes a mitered end to be used at the starting (and finishing) corner of your design.
Before beginning to miter the ends of your tape trim, you’ll need to get your iron set to the proper temperature. Preheat your iron on the synthetic setting (Level 2 on our iron) and test it on an inconspicuous part of the tape. Make sure your iron isn’t melting your tape. If the iron isn’t sufficiently creasing your tape, you’ll need to increase the temperature until it makes a crease but be sure not to turn it up so high that you melt your tape. An iron will really help you as you miter your tape trim corners. It will not only help you keep your tape folded to your design, but it’ll give you better looking results too.
Step 1. Fold under the tape at a 45 degree angle, leaving a 1/2 inch tail sticking out of the side of the tape. Press the fold with an iron.
Step 2. Fold down the top of the tail like you’re making a paper airplane. Press the fold with an iron.
Step 4. Fold the tail in to enclose the cut edge. Line up the fold you made in Step 3 with the now open crease of the fold made in Step 1. Press the fold with an iron.
Step 5. Refold the original fold made in Step 1 and admire your mitered end. This will be the start and end of your mitered pillow corner. Press the tape one more time just to secure it.
Placing the Tape Trim on your Pillow
Above, you’ll see a pillow front with the tape pinned in place. The mitered end we created is in the bottom left hand corner. For this pillow design, we wanted the tape to be 1 inch inside the edge of the finished edge of the pillow, so we pinned the tape 1 1/2 inches from the cut edge of our pillow front to allow 1/2 inch for a seam allowance.
The photo above shows the starting and ending corner. (Don’t let this picture confuse you – it’s actually a Roman shade, which is why the 1 1/2 inches of fabric to the left of the tape is missing.) Begin sewing at the double pins, leaving the mitered end unsewn so that you can hide the finishing end of the tape under your mitered end.The photo above shows the mitered end is not sewn yet. You’ll start sewing at the double pins. In this example, you’d start sewing at the double pins and sew up the left side of the tape. So once you have your tape pinned in place around your pillow front, sew around the outside of the tape trim until you get to your first corner. Pivot at the corner and then continue sewing along the edge until you get to your second corner. Pivot again and sew that edge, pivot a third time and sew until you are 2″ from the last corner. Cut your tape about 1/2″ longer than the outer edge of your trim (look back at the double pin photo above for where to cut) and fold it under. Press the fold with an iron to make sure that it perfectly lines up with the outside edge of the mitered end. Sew the remaining 2″ of tape to the corner, line up and pin your starting mitered end down at the corner, pivot and sew back to the location of the double pins.
Now the outer perimeter of your tape trim is sewn down. Take your pillow over to the ironing board and give it a good press. Be careful to line up the mitered corners, keeping the inner corners lined up so that the inner perimeter of the tape is square.
To finish sewing the trim to the pillow front, sew around the inner perimeter and sew down each mitered fold individually.
Finished Pillow Front
Your pillow front is ready to be made into a finished pillow!
Example of a Finished Pillow
We’d love to help you with your next upholstery or drapery project. Contact us to get started!
At Bridge, we’ve been adding tape trim to many projects. Greek key tape trim and twill tape have been very popular. We love the style these tapes add to our pillows and window treatments, so we thought we’d share a few of the projects with you.
Pillows with Greek Key Trim
Even a plain twill pillow is so much more interesting with Greek key trim. These 18″ pillows were embellished with khaki and lavender Greek key trim.
Greek Key Design Using Twill Tape
In addition to using a Greek Key trim, you can create a Greek Key motif using twill tape. We used 2″ wide twill tape to embellish cream drapes and a coordinating upholstered cornice. Here’s a photo of the cornice before installation.
Here’s a bright and sunny photo of the installed drapes and upholstered cornice. The drapes were trimmed with a single stripe of twill tape 2″ from the inside edge. This window treatment added so much interest to this living room.
Roman Shades with Greek Key Trim
Roman Shades can also be embellished with tape trim. We made some fun Greek Key Trimmed Roman Shades for the living room of a Springfield home. You may have seen our article about the Dining Room Drapes in the same home. Our client chose the lavender and khaki Greek Key trim and we added it to her cream cotton twill Roman Shades. Here’s a great photo of the Roman Shade during construction.
Contact Us at Bridge. We’d love to help you with your future upholstery and drapery projects.
If you’ve been reading our website and know a little about Bridge Upholstery and Drapery, you know that our shop is in the basement of People Centric Consulting Group. Our shop is the perfect location for us and we are so thankful to have such a great space in downtown Springfield, MO. So, when our friend, Don Harkey, from People Centric, asked us about reupholstering his favorite La-Z-Boy recliners, we jumped at the chance!
History of the Recliners
Here is a photo of one of the recliners before our custom upholstery project.
These chairs have been in Don’s family for years. They went to college with him. His wife rocked their newborn babies in them. They have a lot of sentimental value. Although they had reached the end of their orange upholstered lives, these chairs still have a lot going for them.
These chairs are a great size – they’re not as overstuffed and large as current recliner models. They easily accommodate Don’s height, but don’t take up all of the living room real estate in the process. In addition to their perfect size, the chairs are also well built. They have great frames and all of the mechanical parts still work. The only structural problem was one broken sinuous spring as you can see in the photo below of the upside down seat.
Removing the Orange Fabric and Rebuilding
We began by stripping off all of the dusty orange upholstery and disintegrating foam and then we went to work rebuilding these amazing recliners. We installed a new sinuous spring, new foam, new dacron and new gray chenille fabric as you can see on the footrest below.
By far, the most challenging aspect of these chairs was the padded arms.
It was a constant challenge keeping them aligned properly and evenly stapled to the frame. We redid them a few times to get them right. We have learned that if something doesn’t look good, we have to stop and redo it immediately. That was the case with the chair arms – we had to get them right before moving on to the seat and back.
The Finished Product
Before we show a photo of the two finished chairs, let’s review.
The Front of the Chair Before…
The Back of the Chair Before…
The Front of the Chair…
The Back of the Chair…
The Two Finished Chairs
So, is Reupholstery right for you and your furniture?
Do you have a beloved piece of furniture that you’d like to restore? Before you jump to the decision to reupholster, ask yourself a few questions. Is this a well-made piece of furniture? Does it have great sentimental value? Does its size make it the perfect fit for your home and your space? Are you willing to invest money to upgrade this piece of furniture to fit your design needs now? If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then Contact Us at Bridge Upholstery and Drapery. We’d love to help.