The quick and simple answer is the cost of the materials, quality of construction and the skill of the person/people making the furniture.
Here are just a few examples:
Fabrics are available at $2 per yard or $200 per yard. Fine leathers and some specialty fabrics can cost even more.
Inexpensive foam seat cushions are available for as little as $15 each.
Higher quality foam or spring down cushions may cost $50 or more.
No sag springs (the most common foundation for low and mid-priced furniture) are very inexpensive.
Eight way hand tied foundations can add $500 or more to the price of your sofa.
Cheap plywood sofa frames can be purchased for $35 or less. Top quality solid wood frames that are screwed, glued, corner blocked and double doweled will cost well over $100.
Mass produced sofas can be upholstered in 30 minutes by semi-skilled workers.
The upholsterers routinely work on only a single small part of the couch. Their pay is often dependent on how fast they can complete each sofa.
High quality custom sofas are typically upholstered by a highly experienced (and highly paid) craftsperson who will spend many hours (or days) on a single piece.
Sewing is another significant cost in building a sofa. Mass produced couches typically have simple sewing requirements that do not require great skill and can be made very quickly.
High end and custom sofas may involve very intricate sewing techniques that take far longer and can only be properly stitched by a highly skilled sewer.
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