In an age of mass production, Greengate continues the traditions of bygone days of the craft workshop within the context of a modern manufacturing business. This does not mean that we are rooted in the past when it comes to making furniture, but that we continue to embrace the principles of sound construction, fine tailoring and individuality within our products. A family-owned business located in a workshop in High Wycombe, England, we represent an unusual blend of the latest in high technology with an underlying reliance on the traditional craft skills and materials which have been the hallmark of the bespoke upholstery maker for over a hundred years.
Unusually for a small upholstery manufacturer, we produce the vast majority of frames in our own mill, rather than buying them in from a general frame maker. This gives us total control over the quality of the timber used, (1st grade, kiln dried Beech and Ash), as well as the processes we use to shape, joint and strengthen the finished frame. Once we have sawn and shaped the rails for a frame, we form extremely strong joints by ensuring all stock is fully planed, prepared and properly bored or mortised and tenoned. Although these operations are time consuming, they result in some of the finest frames made today and enable us to guarantee our Greengate frames for 25 years.
Frame assembly is another hand-done process. Wood has a certain "feel" to it which makes automation of this procedure impractical. The illustration shows a York Wing chair frame being assembled. Notice the wing assembly is dowelled onto the top of the arm and will be screwed to the back-foot of the chair giving good strength to this vulnerable part of a wing chair. All joints will be carefully constructed in this way, with plenty of glue going into each joint to provide maximum strength before we cramp the assembly together. If the design requires it, the frame maker also fixes the sinuous back springs into the frame which will provide the basic support on which the upholsterer will build the inside back. (note: some models have coil sprung backs which are fitted during the upholstery process)
We normally work with customer supplied fabrics, hence your choice is virtually unlimited. To assist us in our utilisation of what are normally very expensive cloths, we have invested in the latest Computer Aided Design equipment available. This specialist hardware and software enables us to ensure none of your fabric is wasted, yet still achieve the highest standards of pattern matching and finishing. New, state-of-the-art equipment has been purchased which enables us to cut fabrics which are bowed and skewed with absolute precision, an investment normally only made by the largest companies.
Once the fabrics have been cut, they move through to the sewing section. Here we 'overlock' all exposed seams, a process whereby the raw, cut edge of the cloth is whipped with thread to prevent it fraying by a specialist machine. Regrettably, this is something most manufacturers have abandoned because it adds to their costs and can't easily be seen by the customer, even though it directly impacts the quality of the finished piece. We feel this is an important quality feature, so continue to provide it as standard.
Substantial investment has also been made in the latest computer controlled, heavy-duty industrial sewing machines to assemble the panels for cushions, bodywork and arm-covers. Our sewing machinists are always careful to match patterns as they go. The machines are set for high stitch quality and density using an extra strong cotton thread so that all seams are tightly secured and will last when in service.
The next stage in the production sequence is upholstery. Here our craftsmen cover and pad each frame with natural, traditional materials such as hessian (burlap), bonded hog hair and pure new cotton wadding to build up the shape and comfort. Greengate is almost unique in the industry today in making upholstery in this traditional manner, but the results speak for themselves in the longevity and enduring comfort of the sofas and chairs we make.
Once happy with the various stuffing layers, top fabrics are applied to the piece by the upholsterer, taking care to match the pattern as the fabric cutter has envisaged, always ensuring that all fillings are locked in place. Each coil seat spring is fixed individually onto a webbed base, then hand tied in eight separate directions to its neighbour, and ultimately, the frame.
Cushions are manufactured on-site, and padded with the fillings of your choice, (duck feather & down, feather wrapped around a foam core, sprung interiors or hypoallergenic fibre). These are then matched to the sofa to ensure a good fit is achieved for the particular fabric and interiors concerned. The seat platform covering is hand stitched into place to form a gutter edge for the cushions to sit in, and to ensure the seat padding layers will not move in years to come.
The final production stage is the finishing section where we hand-close the outside edges using the traditional "slip stitch" method. This ensures the finished seam line is flat and does not bulk at the top outside corners where a sofa or chair is most vulnerable to damage. If we are required to apply a fringe to the base of a piece, we invisibly sew it on by hand which helps to ensure the highest standard of finish possible.
Once we have completed the finishing process, a final inspection takes place, and then the item is packed and prepared for despatch, normally on one of our own vans. Only then does it make its way to your home where we are sure it will not only add aesthetically to your interior but also provide years of Sterling service.