What is it made of?

The frame and sofa chassis are made of 100% stainless steel. We use 304 grade stainless steel throughout which is the same as that used in the catering, milk and beer industry.



Why not paint the frame aswell?

We used paint the frame but being pragmatic bare stainless steel is simply more practical. You don't have to worry about any chips and you can treat the frame roughly without any concern. The frame is mostly covered up and the struts that the sofa hangs from are painted white so bare stainless steel is not really visible when you are sitting down.


Idler swing seat joint


I've heard that stainless steel can rust is that true?

In short yes. It is nothing like non stainless steels but surface corrosion can occur. The word stainless has always been an incorrect term to use. Stain resistant is more accurate as, due to potential differences (remember those physics lessons), an enough of a potential difference can result in corrosion. When mixed components are used from different sources e.g. stainless steel tubes and stainless nuts the small differences in each on the galvanic potential scale can cause corrosion.

When my child attacks the sofa with a hammer can parts be replaced?

Original Idlers used rivets. Rivets are great as they are quick to fit and don't come loose, well not initially. Over time they start to wear and the joints become loose where the rivet is used to retain moving parts.

The only way to get a rivet off is to grind it off with an angle grinder or drill it out. But then how do you replace it? Unless you have rivet gun and a big one at that you will have to get someone else to do it. Oh dear, all for the sake of a quick fastener, repairing a simple joint is now a complete pain in the backside! We do not use rivets and only use set screws (a fully threaded bolt) with nylock nuts and nylon washers. Both the set screw and nut can be bought from any DIY store. They cost more in first place and take longer to fix to the frame however when the time comes in 20 years when a joint loosens the nut can either be tightened or a replacement fitted in minutes. It is a small detail but one you will be grateful for in the future.

So now that parts are easy to get off to be replaced after said child has taken a lump hammer to it are spares easily available, and in 10 years time will the design have changed? In short, all spare parts are available and the design of the frame will not be changing. The design dates back 100 years and just works so there is no need to make changes that cause things to become incompatible.

Overlocking, what is that?

This is all to do with washing and longevity. When fabric is cut a raw edge is left, the edge will eventually fray, especially so when washed. Overlocking is the process of sewing over the cut edge to prevent the fraying. It's a small detail and not so common now but it means you don't have to worry about the fabrics falling apart.


Idler swing seat overlocking - fabric


The covers look like they could act like a giant sail and cause the seat to be knocked over in high winds!

Strong winds can knock trees down so yes any structure is vulnerable to the wind. Two things can be done to mitigate the risk of the swing seat being blown over. Firstly in high winds don't use the overall cover. The cover prevents wind going through the structure. Secondly we provide anchor loops on the bottom of the legs so chains can be attached to ground stakes. By using chains the ground stakes can be retained in the ground and the swing seat can still be packed away.

Our garden isn't flat, is the Idler going to be okay on uneven ground?

Yes, it will be fine. The joint which attaches the legs to the top pole allows for the surface to be uneven. It won't allow for the frame to sit on boulders but it does allow for one leg to be a number inches higher than others. It also allows for the frame to sit happily on inclines.


Idler swing seat - apex joint and spring

A sofa outside, are you serious?

Yes we are! Swing seats like those we make have been used since Edwardian times (as early as 1910).


Winston Churchill on a swing seat - Chartwell


They work because of the materials used, the most important being the use of spring cushions instead of foam or feathers. We don't live in a desert in the UK and things in the garden do get wet. When foam was introduced in the 1960/70s furniture manufacturing changed very quickly. No longer did an upholsterer have to create shapes with material and layers of hair. Foam could be used to make shapes that previously took ages to make. Foam is a fantastic material, it is like millions of springs, but it has one feature that makes it completely unsuitable for outdoor use that being its love of water. With that being the case companies were not going to bother to make springs cushions as they cost a lot more in terms of materials and labour and foam was not suitable for outdoor use, hence swing seats with deep filled sofas disappeared.


Idler swingseat leg


By using spring cushions a fully supporting cushion 5 inches deep can be used outdoors and you could run a hose over it and it will dry out.

A white sofa outside, are you really serious?

At first we thought the same thing! Every man and his dog was making garden furniture with white awnings. We thought they were crazy but we blindly followed the market. We promptly made a set of covers and tested it in our garden. Yes it got dirty but when outside you didn't notice it. When indoors you noticed the dirt but when outside the bright light equalised everything and reduced any contrast.

We're not saying white doesn't get dirty but it is not a crazy choice.

It's me that is going to have to pack this thing away every Winter, how easy is it and how much space does it take up?

It is actually much easier to pack the swing seat away by yourself than with two people. I'm not going to say every part is as light as a modern racing bike, it isn't as it is designed to last and seat many people, however, no single part is more that 25kg but more importantly each part is easy to get hold of and doesn't slip and slide out of your hands inducing expletives. It takes about 15 minutes to pack up and the only tools that are required are your hands. Once 8 thumb screws are removed the whole frame collapses down.

The frame and sofa base are best stored upright and when in a shed they stand 6' (180cm) high, 2'4" (cm) wide and 2' (60cm deep). That's pretty compact for a three person sofa. The cushions and fabrics should really go indoors just in case there are any mice lurking around. 


Idler folding frame


And if you are buying an Idler for your partner...

One of our customers was kind enough to send in a video he made when he surprised his wife with her longed for Idler...


Michelle Relton receiving her Idler