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Old 01-22-2011, 03:14 PM   #29
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1983 31' Excella
Erin , Ontario
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I have learned to sew to be able to make dog coats for my own dogs and some rescue orginizations. I have debated whether or not to tackle the couch in my trailer(which I should have next weekend). Just bought the fabric(grey ultrasuede for $8.99 a yard-usually $30 yikes-too much). Had debated the naugahide, as many people have used it. The shop owner said the ultrasuede would outlast the faux leather by far, would wash and dry beautifully-it will have zippers so the covers can be removed and washed. Also, he suggested, so the actual foam can be cleaned if soiled.

I think Steve did a GREAT job by the way!

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Old 01-22-2011, 03:16 PM   #30
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That looks really good! Go for the rest!


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Old 01-22-2011, 03:44 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by noreen View Post
If you can do that kind of a job,why would you want a Pro.? Sal.
The blue parts of the couch would be easy and only require the purchase of a stapler. The booth cushions would be fairly straightforward.

My biggest reservation about the booth are the complex corners. I have no idea how to reproduce these without making it look like an amateur job.

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Old 01-22-2011, 04:48 PM   #32
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1962 16' Bambi
2001 31' Limited
1985 29' Sovereign
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Talking about new fabric on sofas, we had all kinds of quilting fun with our 62 Bambi interior. Take a on (Images: 8) in the Profile rectangle on the left side of this page.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:52 PM   #33
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Thoughts and possibilities

I looked at your 1 year photos - What a disappointment you must have felt! I've done several projects with ultra suede, so let me share some ideas. I'm not being critical of your work. I admire you for going for it - I also know that power tools look easy to use, but it takes instruction, practice and knowledge to get great results. Knowing the right blade selection for cutting wood, metal, plastics, etc. being a prime example. A sewing machine is a power tool that I've used since I was three. A lot of good sewing techniques are like backing a trailer - somewhat counter intuitive!

Many similar looking fabrics come in two weights - "clothing" or lightweight, and "upholstery" or very heavy weight. If you made jeans out of upholstery denim, you couldn't bend your knees or sit down! Take a sample of yours to a good fabric store that sells both and ask a sales consultant to show you the difference. If you've got something that would be good for a jacket, it's probably going to fail as upholstery.
  • the stability of a great upholstery job is dependent on the condition of the underlying foam. The best upholstery is done with an underlayer of heavy muslin between the cushion and the outer fabric. It is sewn tightly over the cushions, etc., then the upholstery fabric is laid on this. Upholstery fabric with a rubberized backing - some say the underlying muslin isn't needed. I still use it. It helps you get a really great fit. With real leather - it's truly optional. (Airstream doesn't use great foam, great fabric, or great construction techniques on the Flying Cloud or the International. The Classics look a lot better done to me.)
  • virtually all natural fabrics will rot due to high humidity and storage in hot areas. Ultra suede isn't a natural fabric, but excessive heat will do it in. You got a great price if yours is upholstery weight... but maybe it was something that had been stored in a warehouse for 8 years before you got it. Frankly, it might be possible for it to get heat damage in a trailer that sat in the sun all summer, but I think it would take a lot more than that.
  • a lot of upholstery weight fabrics have a sprayed on rubberized backing, though I don't recall having seen it on ultrasuede. This backing gives a fabric a lot of durability, but is difficult to work with except on very geometric shaped pieces of furniture.
I'm a bit suspicious that you were able to sew your fabric with an $89 machine. That's an indicator that you might not have had upholstery weight fabric. A durable seam depends on 4 things
  • stitch length
  • thread tension
  • the type of thread
  • using the right gauge and type of needle
Having it split next to the seam could be that your stitch length was too short, the tension too high, and you didn't use a nylon upholstery thread. Nylon upholstery thread (not monofiliment!) is stretchy. If you look at it closely you'll probably see two pairs of threads twisted together. It requires a heavy guage needle. A 16 or 18 guage "ball point needle" is best for upholstery and most synthetic fabrics, especially knits. A ball point needle pushes fibers aside and goes between threads in a fabric, a sharp needle can cut right through a thread. If you used a sharp needle, 12+ stitches per inch and a non stretchy thread, you MIGHT have weakened the fabric. Looser tension on the thread lets the seam have some "give".

Leather or ultra-leather is normally sewn at about six stitches per inch, upholstery fabrics - generally around eight stitches per inch. Use a scrap to test sew a couple of seams and make sure you've got your top and bottom tension matched. Then test the seam for give by fisting it - gather fabric on either side of the seam into each hand, clench - with just your knuckles touching, and your elbows at a 90 degree angle, hang on tight and straighten your arms to 180 degrees. If everything holds together it's good. Test just the fabric too. If you can rip it by fisting it's dry rotted or heat rotted or way too delicate to use as upholstery.

Much upholstery is serged rather than sewn on a conventional machine. Sergers actually do lock stitches with a single thread or combination of threads. If you buy potatoes in a heavy paper bag, that seam is the simplest lock stitch (hence ends trying to explain a serger). Pulled from the right end it unlocks and pulls out into a big long piece of string. Serging is inherently more stretchable than the stitches a standard machine can make. When you understand that some of the needles are called "loopers" you'll know why the seams are so stretchy.

If you have to do this project a third time, I hope some of this is on point. I hope loosening up the ultra suede did the trick, it should have helped.

Now here's something else that may be REALLY useful. Call your local vocational high schools and community colleges. Lots of them have courses in upholstery. You have to make a project as part of the course, and in most places the tuition is very reasonable. The BIG Handcock Stores may also teach a course, but to enroll you'll be expected to buy the fabric there. Of course you'll also be hanging out with a bunch of women.

Someone who owns their own shop might teach you the basics in return for some slave labor. No one wants to train their new competitor so make sure you show the owner that you have a good career already. Lifting furniture, and repositioning it gets heavy. Cleanup is a never ending chore. Make yourself useful and charming.

Good luck, Paula
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:32 PM   #34
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I do light upholstery and custom home furnishings (window treatments, etc.) for a living. Paula made some very good points.

I would add for those who would like to try doing some upholstery for themselves:

1) Make certain you use heavy density foam for cushions.

2) When using existing cushion covers for patterns, after separating the covers and having the pieces, fold the large pieces in half and place on the "fold of the new fabric" to cut them out. This eliminates having too much extra fabric from the old fabric having stretched over the years.

3) The upholstery fabrics are rated by how many "rubs" they held up to during the testing process -- the more rubs, of course the more durable the fabric.

4) Try to stay away from "Viscose" and Rayon, which are really the same thing. They tend to shrink in the sunlight. It is becoming more and more difficult to find fabrics which do not have these in them; it now is more of a point for me to try to find the ones with the least amount in them.

5) Cut the fabric for your cording on the bias -- you'll end up with a much better looking job.

6) Make certain your zippers are for cushions, which will mean they are heavy duty. I buy mine in a continuous piece and cut them to size and insert the zipper pull on the zipper. If you cut your zipper banding strips so that the zipper with banding will go across the entire backside and wrap on the two sides by about five inches, it will make foam insertion and removal much easier. Also, place the foam into a dry cleaner's bag before trying to insert into the cushion cover; once it's inside the cover, simly tear the plastic off and remove. (One other thing -- those of us who do this for a living don't normally cover with muslin, but we do wrap the foam with dacron batting prior to inserting into the cover. If you use the dacron batting, don't place the batting on the sides or back where the zipper will be -- only on the top, bottom, and front. The muslin might be a good thing, I'm just saying what I'm familiar with.)

7) Make certain you use upholstery thread, as Paula said. And, if doing cushions which will be in sunlight, make certain the upholstery thread is UV protected.

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Old 01-23-2011, 12:09 PM   #35
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One thing I forgot to mention -- speaking of the curved section of your dinette that I think you mentioned you weren't certain how to get a professional look on that curved section..............the professionals use a heat gun on vinyl to get a nice tight, smooth fit -- no wrinkles. However, it isn't hot, hot, keep an eye on the temp.

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Old 01-23-2011, 12:20 PM   #36
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The last three posts have really confirmed up my decision to have a professional do the booth when the time comes, although I have thought about rebuilding the benches out of finished oak so that the cushions are the only upholstered parts.

I'm hoping to get a few more years out of the current fabric so I have lots of time to think about it.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:56 PM   #37
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Great job, Steve! Have to hand it to a GUY just for tackling this kind of thing!

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:23 AM   #38
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We just got our couch back after having it reupholstered. We are thrilled with the results! We had at first looked into replacing the sofa as we would have liked an L shape for when we have visitors. (we are full timing). But we couldn't find any thing that came close to the ingenuity of the original design. Instead of pulling out to make a bed, the top part flips over and rotates to land in front of the sofa- that combined with the drawer and the side storage bins made it too hard to replace and live with out. I am still working on the curtains behind the sofa and a few other little things and then our reno should be complete. Yay!!!

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Old 02-05-2011, 03:14 PM   #39
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The fabric is so fun! Love it!
Lisa and Paul

2008 23' Int. CCD "The Atomic Pod"
1973 13' Boler (fiberglass egg) "The Boiler" (

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Old 02-06-2011, 09:49 AM   #40
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dinette cushion back re-do

Hi, last summer, I had cushions made for my custom set up of my 2005 22'.
The cushions for the side couch/ bed and the seat and seat backs of the dinette cost over $1000 to have done by a professional upholsterer. ( a bargin considering the leather work, zippers and welting...They wanted another $1000 just for the body of the dinette. I decided to go it alone. While my top corner edges aren't 100% I decided I could live with them....

Just took the old cover off ( the blue and beige stripe) SO MANY staples !!
Used the old covers for patterns and it wasn't to bad to sew, just had to add on some for seam allowences along the edges...

photos don't show up in preview... hope they come thru in posted page.....
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Old 02-06-2011, 09:56 AM   #41
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Really great and inspirational. I am waiting on a quote and I am sure it is going to be too much. I don't sew but have a friend who does, maybe we can swap out work???
Ann - The Constructor's scribe TAC FL-20
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:28 AM   #42
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Great pictures upstateart & yve79. All fresh and new. Ready for a spring trip!

In a perfect world, every home would have a dog and every dog would have a home.
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