Monday, March 11, 2013

The Making of a Mattress

We recently realized that it was time to replace our mattress.  We quickly learned that the process of buying a new one can be quite daunting.  Traditional mattress salesrooms are staffed by pretty aggressive salespeople who all have different theories of what's best for you.  After a few confusing visits, we followed the lead of our good friends Steve and Gina Harris, and checked out the McRoskey showroom on Market Street.

It was a much less overwhelming experience, as they only had a few basic options, and we soon realized that this was the new bed for us.  When I learned that they are actually made right in San Francisco, I asked if it might be possible to visit the factory and watch our mattress production in progress, and they said I'd be more than welcome to come do so.

I showed up and met first with the factory manager, who's name, if I remember correctly, is Paul, and then we were joined by third generation owner Robin Azevedo.  I was amazed that they spent over an hour with me, showing each step of the process.  

The first station we visited was the sewing room, where a couple of women were hard at work cutting and edging the fabric that would eventually wrap the mattress.  They also popped in eyelets for ventilation, and handles for flipping.  

Next we proceeded downstairs to an area where heavy gage steel wire was formed into individual coils, and thinner wire was spun into small coils to bind the edges of the larger ones.  The coils were then crimped together and attached to wooden frames for the box springs, or combined into large rectangles for the mattresses.

The coolest equipment was in the room where they refined the wool and cotton filler for the mattresses. Huge bales of both materials come in, and get sent through a series of machines that refine it, and weave it into very thin sheets, that are then layered to create the fill.  These machines were quite beautiful, and the change in the material was pretty amazing.

Finally, i went into the assembly area where all the parts come together to form the mattress.  The workers were covering both sides of the spring box with layer upon layer of cotton or wool, and then wrapping that in the fabric.  The guy who ran the seaming machine has worked there for years (as have most of the people I met), and is incredibly skilled at what he does.  After it's all assembled, it's still about twice the thickness of the final product, so it goes into what seems like a giant stapler, that creates the stitched dimples that compress it and hold it all together.

All in all, it was a fascinating tour, and I know that they welcome other visitors who either call or sign up on their website, and we are sleeping quite comfortably on the new mattress now!

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