Upholstery for the Beginner

All things related to upholstering your boat.

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BayouBengal
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Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by BayouBengal » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:48 pm

It was never my intention to do my own upholstery, but I've just about reached the end of my line. I've been trying to get different upholstery shops and/or individuals to finish my upholstery since February. I don't quite understand the issue; they all tell me they'll do it, but they never have time to get to me. It's been explained to me that my job is low profit margin work so it goes to the end of the line until there's no high profit margin work to be done; but hell, I've not even been given a price quote.

I've got a couple irons left in the fire with upholsterers saying they'll do the work, but my patience is worn out fearing that another 5 months will go by and I'll still be hearing upholsterers tell me that they should be able to get me in in the next 2 to 3 weeks (amazing how the next 2 to 3 weeks has turned into so many months). I've decided affirmatively that my upholstery job will be beginning at the latest, this Saturday morning, and I've got a feeling that that means I'll be doing it.

I've never sewn or upholstered anything. Any suggestions, tips, good books, good websites, or YouTube videos that any of ya'll think would be of great benefit to me would be welcomed.

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Bill Edmundson
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by Bill Edmundson » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:40 pm

Jeff

I've had the same problem with canvas. I went to one guy. He only does cushions. But not enclosures. Went to an enclosure man, he only does enclosures. But, he doesn't do the frames. Tried to call the frame guy and all I got was a listing for a condo complex. Called a recommended place, two women. They can't get to it until Nov. and won't quote it.

I had similar problems on the Tahoe. I think they smell too much glue!

Good luck,
Bill
Mini -Tug, KH Tahoe 19 & Bartender 24 - There can be no miracle recoveries without first screwing up.
Tahoe 19 Build

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billy c
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by billy c » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:44 pm

Jeff
First collect pictures of what you would like for your project and post here. There are many options. ...some are automotive in appearance and others are closer to furniture with removable seat backs and cushions, the latter being easier to do on a non commercial sewing machine. Sailrite http://www.sailrite.com has quite a few videos for you to look at showing construction on its site. If you go the automotive route there are a few books that i can recommend. an upgrade of sewing machine with a walking foot might be needed for some where you are sewing thru multiple layers of heavy vinyl or leather.
Billy
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Hercdrvr
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by Hercdrvr » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:21 pm

Yep, wife is getting a used industrial sewing machine for X-mas this year.
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PeterG
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by PeterG » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:25 pm

Hm. I was just about to suggest looking at Billy C's Belle Isle project, he would know for sure...
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mrintense
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by mrintense » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:26 am

I want to second the sailrite videos. These are excellent quality videos. This is the approach I am going to use when I do mine.
Carl
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Crafting a classically styled Vera Cruise named "Some Other Time"

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BayouBengal
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by BayouBengal » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:53 am

I've now got about three hours of watching sailrite.com videos under my belt. Thanks Billy for suggesting these, they are some of the best made DIY videos on the web. And of course Billy I'd like to add that your upholstery work is phenomenal.

I'm still not excited that I'll have to do the upholstery because my mindset all along had been "that once upholstery is the only thing left, the boat is complete because I'm just going to pay to have that done". But with every storm comes a rainbow with the rainbow in this case being that the knowledge and experience gained in doing the boat upholstery can be used in all kinds of projects for the future.

BTW, Bill, I'm shocked that in a town the size of Baton Rouge, about a million when the suburbs are included, that I can't find someone to do this work. I would think Birmingham would be at least twice as large as Baton Rouge, so I'm doubly shocked that you can't find anyone. Looks like this Upholstery section of the board is going to start to become much busier.

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Bill Edmundson
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by Bill Edmundson » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:25 am

Jeff

I keep the boats in Gulf Shores. We found a place in Pensacola that did the outside cushions. There is another place down here that can also do cushions. The canvas cover work has been my problem. I think B'ham Awning can do the canvas. But, the boat is 260 miles away. I may talk to them and see if they can do it after the Gathering.

Bill
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Jimbob
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by Jimbob » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:53 pm

Hi Jeff,
Here's a thought. I work in an automotive dealership and we sublet out things like upholstery. You might try calling some of the larger dealerships in your area, talk to the service managers, asking who they use for upholstery. You would be surprised the contacts that dealerships have with various vendors in areas that also relate to boats.
Jim
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Building a Barrelback in Sacramento, CA
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billy c
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by billy c » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:09 pm

Jeff,
I know what you are dealing with trying to find someone to do your upholstery work. Around here they are booked solid thru the summer. They love to do the mooring covers and tops as they can fly thru them and work on site. Easy $$$
Glad you watched the Sailrite videos. They are a pretty good foundation for constructing the pieces you would need for your boat. I'm sure that after what you have created in wood, you'll find fabric pretty forgiving to work with. Much of the seating and panels you would make would involve stretching and stapling material around your form than actual sewing and it goes pretty quickly.
-Billy
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slug
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by slug » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:49 pm

We bought a used Mitsubishi walking foot machine for CDN$600. The total cost for foam and top quality vinyl for our gentry upholstery was less than $200. You'll make some trial and errors as we did, but you'll get it done yourself and to your satisfaction.
Doug
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BayouBengal
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by BayouBengal » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:35 am

I think I may have found an upholsterer last night, he says he's going to start on it first thing on Monday. I'm a little sour on upholsterers and have a hard time believing anything they say; so, first thing Monday I'll know whether I actually have an upholsterer or not.

Regarding the search for an upholsterer, after deciding that the chance of the an upholstery shop doing the business any time in the next decade was slim, I posted a help wanted ad on Craigslist (one response), a help wanted ad on indeed.com (two responses), and a upholstery help request on facebook (about 10 responses). Most of the responses did not pan out for one reason or another, but the response from Craigslist sounds like it will work out. He's a guy that used to work in upholstery but changed careers and is looking to do something on the side. As a fallback, one of the facebook responses would probably work out, also.

JimBob, I didn't call around to the auto dealerships, but one of the responses on facebook came from my neice who works for an auto dealership and suggested a guy kind of like you're describing, but I just don't think he can make the time to do the work.

After watching the sailrite videos, I've no doubt that I and other Glen-L builders can use these to do a satisfactory upholstery job on their boat, but I'm ready to have the upholstery done yesterday; so if someone with some expertise and experience is willing to do it at a fair price, I'm going to let them have at it and go ahead and get it done.

But watching the sailrite videos was very enlightening as to how some interesting projects could be accomplished by a do it your-selfer, and I'm now looking forward to doing some things upholstery/sewing related in the future.

I'll let ya'll know Monday if I actually have an upholsterer or not.
Last edited by BayouBengal on Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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BayouBengal
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by BayouBengal » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:37 am

And Doug, that's tremendous upholstery work you've done, also.

Billy and Doug, was upholstering your boats your first time to upholster?

slug
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by slug » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:40 am

Not our first attempt. The first was on a 31 Chev hotrod with a set of VW seats that we did rolled and pleated on a $49 Viking portable. Turned out actually quite good. My wife is an excellent seamstress but rheumatoid arthritis has pretty well done that hobby in.
Actually, the style we chose (based on early automotive seats ) is quite simple as there are no bindings or welting to fit around corners. Probably if there was another one we'd try a little more elaborate.
Doug
BTW; When we,re done with the machine we'll probably sell it for what we paid, so I don't consider that an expense as such. Dean has some good pics in this section of his upholstery process.

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Andy Garrett
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Re: Upholstery for the Beginner

Post by Andy Garrett » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:48 am

I did my own after watching numerous videos on youtube.

Its not good, but it works, and I can say that my boat is 100% sole-authorship.
That was important to me.

If you use staples at all, be sure to buy stainless!
Andy Garrett

Perhaps the slowest Zip build in Glen-L history...

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