How a Couch Is Made: From Fabric to Frame
Everyone knows how a couch is made, right? Well, I didn't. So, I decided to investigate and find out how one of our Couch Potatoes' couches are made. Couch Potatoes' employee, Corey Hewlett, answered some questions I had about the process, and I took a tour of their factory to see how everything was made. This article will hopefully help you understand what goes into making a Couch Potatoes' couch.
Couch Potatoes' fabric is imported depending on the company and some come from China and India, (though we don't deal with the plants themselves but the import companies). Our fabric suppliers include Morgan fabrics, STIKP, Dorell fabrics, and CULP. All the fabrics undergo the double rub test. This simulates how many times a person gets up and off a sofa. Some of the fabrics we have are performance fabrics as well as some that are stain or water-resistant and are good for people with kids or dogs. There are different kinds of weaves of fabric such as microfiber or chenille. We work with our suppliers to identify trending fabrics that retail well that the consumers would enjoy.
Leathers we use are all supplied from Moore and Giles who are based out of Lynchburg Virginia and imported from Italy after being tanned. There are several different types of Leather, but we use semi-aniline products and aniline products. Aniline products are generally high in quality and aren't subject to the peeling that is often found in bonded leather products that are often marketed as real leather. Bonded Leather is made from strips or pieces of leather blended with polyurethane and rubber though they substitute the rubber sometimes. while Aniline leather is often the whole hide.
After the fabric is acquired and cut, it is brought to the sewing room. The leather is actually hand-cut by employees. It's a delicate process involving measuring the leather with a ruler and then making sure the leather is cut precisely as not to ruin the quality of the fabric.
Sewing with a smile
The materials used in the frames of our couches vary on the type of couch we are making. Hardwood as the name implies is wood all the way through with nothing added to it. A solid piece of material that is often sought after within the case goods and dining furniture categories (such as Amish furniture) or higher-end furniture. The cost of goods is often greater than either plywood or engineered wood such as particle board and MDF.
Plywood is basically thin layers of wood veneers glued together in a rotating grain to promote strength and flexibility. The cross-grain makes it easier for nails (which ironically, we really don't use as everything is jointed together) or staples (which we do use to attach the fabric or leather to the frame). Plywood because it is multilayered doesn't suffer from the same long-term issues that hardwood does with the expansion or shrinkage of the wood due to moisture of temperature changes. We pretty much use exclusively plywood and it makes our furniture better than most competitors as they will often cut costs on materials.
Particle board is an engineered wood that is basically sawdust and small wood chips added with glue or resin and then pressed together. Generally, particle board has low strength, low durability, and will expand when exposed to moisture (think the rings on a table or coffee table after leaving a glass of water on the table without a coaster). When you want to build better furniture, you upgrade to plywood and when you want to save cost you downgrade to particle board.
"I will note that the world's largest furniture manufacturer Ashley furniture uses a lot of particle board and MDF but as someone who has taken other brands of furniture apart, I can say ours is one of the best," said Corey Hewlett, one of Couch Potatoes' employees.
A Couch Potatoes' employee stapling a frame together.
Time to Assemble
The frames are then placed on the assembly, starting with the seat. With any kind of mass production, everyone has a role to fulfill.
"What I do is called the 'outside back'. So, I put the outside back on then, flip it up and put the black on the bottom and then the legs. That's what I do all day, unless somebody needs help," Chauncey, one of the assembly line workers said about his role.
The fabric is fitted then stapled on, and the assembly line makes sure everything looks smooth and fitted before it is sent out.
Our Austonian Sofa in Bella Cocoa
It was fun to take a field trip out to the Couch Potatoes factory, and even more fun to see how the couches are made. You can tell a lot of research went into the pieces to make sure that each guest is receiving a quality piece of furniture, and it's also clear that a lot of love goes into the construction. From the fabric to the frame, each couch is made with care. The work environment seemed fun and laid back with several employees stopping to answer any questions I might have had. If you'd like one of these well-made pieces of furniture, stop by one of Couch Potatoes' locations. We have stores in Central and South Austin!
Written by Emily Holleran