What a Slip Seat Cushion is and Benefits of Using One
Occasionally, designers and expert woodworkers choose to skip the addition of, or creation of a slip seat cushion for their wonderful chairs—whether reproductions, antiques or modern contemporary furniture. While there are many good reasons not to add or have a slip seat cushion for aesthetic reasons, there are as many compelling reasons as to why having a slip seat cushion is not only a bonus to furniture but a benefit.
What is a Slip Seat Cushion?
A slip seat cushion combines a strong, wooden platform with a fabric of choice that acts as a cushion, then covered with an upholstery fabric or left bare. Most often chairs or settees were either upholstered or made of rushes and built to rest in a rabbeted frame which then can be lifted and replaced easily.
Which Antique Styles Used Slip Seat Cushions?
Evidence of slip seating can be traced back as early as chairs made in the early more restrained Rococo era of Queen Anne style furniture—foundation upholstery for slip seat cushions and covers could be made from sack cloth, webbing, and stuffing. These antique chairs had seats supported with three strips of webbing, two running fronts to back and one running side to side which were then tacked to the top surface of the chair frame.
Exquisite Chippendale chairs could feature removable slip seat cushions as well as chairs from the Colonial Revival.
What Benefits are There to Use Slip Seat Cushions?
One of the better and most obvious benefits to having or replacing missing or broken slip seat cushions is comfort, especially if you will be allowing guests and family to relax in one of your gorgeous antique chairs.
Some of the benefits that may not be inherently clear to see at first is how versatile a slip seat cushion and its cover can be. With care and expertise, one can do many things that can change the entire look and feel to a chair and the room it’s placed in with a slip seat cushion.
Interior designers particularly have a fondness for slip seat cushions, modern or antique. Cushions can be replaced after wear and tear to keep them looking in pristine condition, and fabrics can be switched out to match nearly any room’s décor. When renovating, moving, or simply re-designing a room to upgrade your tastes and styles, upholstery fabrics can be used to reinvent the entire look of a chair and add a bit of life to the entire room.
Recovering a beloved heirloom antique or perfect antique reproduction accent chair could be the easiest way to update the piece and add that last touch of color or elegance to the entire ambiance of your room.
Slip seat cushions can also be easily removed from the slip seats themselves. Either the effects of time, or well-loved use can flatten or wear down a cushion. One can easily replace the cushion with traditional, or much more modern materials and batting for longer-lasting comfort.
Being able to remove or change a custom slip seat cushion means that you could create warm, festive décor for nearly any seasonal holiday in a subtle, tasteful way.
Accidents can and do happen, especially in the dining or living room if children or pets are present. For a reproduction antique, choosing several fabrics or slip seat cushions that can be interchangeable—one for entertaining guests and one for family occasions—may be the perfect choice. Furthermore, choosing a hardier fabric that withstands staining for the family slip seat cushions could save you the hassle and embarrassment of stained chair seats.
For more delicate and rare antiques, the materials once used during the time of its construction is no longer available today, however, for more modern options, cushions and stuffing are also available to make your antique look near as perfect as when it was first built.
How Easy is it to Repair or Change a Slip Seat Cover or Cushion?
Surprisingly, replacing the fabric or the cushion for a slip seat is not as complicated as one would believe. Since the entire seat and cushion is generally made of fabric, cushion, and backing that is connected to a piece of wood that sits on or slips within the frame of a seat, you should be able to repair and replace with little issue.
- Staples, 3/8 or 5/16 inch
- Batting if needed
- Upholstery fabric
- Tack strips
- Fabric glue - optional
Tip: Take photos of how your slip seat cover looks through various stages of deconstruction to help have a reference for when re-doing the slip seat or cushion.
- Remove the slip seat cushion.
- Turn it over gently, until the black side of cloth is facing you.
- Begin carefully removing the original fabric. Be careful not to tear the original fabric as this can be used as a perfectly matching pattern for your new fabric if you need it.
- If needed, check to see if batting may need replacement and repair it during this step.
- If creating your own pattern, lay the original upholstery piece, wrong side up, on the new fabric, watching for the grain, placement of pattern or motifs and direction of pattern. Pin in place and cut, leaving 2-3 inches fabric beyond the stapled edges of original pieces. This will give you fabric to grasp when attaching the new. Transfer any markings for direction, welting, or seams on the new piece with chalk.
- Place your new fabric inside back, right side back, and left side back pieces on the chair in appropriate locations. Pin the pieces together, make any needed adjustments for fitting, possibly trim any excess fabric to make it fit snugly. When pleased with the fit, pull fabric taught and staple back in place.
The above simple guide assumes your chair does not have or need its welting replaced or created and covers just the slip seat cushion. This should give you a wealth of information to help you consider your next slip seat cushion or help you to repair those you may already have.
A slip-seat cushion and its cover are truly a remarkable design that has lasted through generations, making their marks in graceful ways on beautiful chairs through the centuries.
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