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Old 03-01-2005, 01:04 PM   #1
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Upholstery questions?

Among all the other projects in my Bubble I will be redoing my upholstery. My 1st question is about material. I was thinking about going with vinyl or a similar fabric with piping on the edges. Has anyone used this? Also, should I just recover the old foam or buy new? Is it best to buy your own materials and take to a seamstress or will an upholstery shop be better doing the whole job be better. The bubble has only 2 small benches and a small bed in the rear that would need to be redone. Anyone have any idea how much I would expect to pay to have it done? thanks in advance
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Old 03-01-2005, 02:08 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by 58BUBBLE
.....The bubble has only 2 small benches and a small bed in the rear that would need to be redone. Anyone have any idea how much I would expect to pay to have it done? ....
Two years ago in Houston, while I was redoing the 345 MoHo, I had the 4 cushions on the dinette (2 bottoms, 2 backrests) and the foldover couch/bed (front and back with drawer and side arm coverings) done for $700. That cost included a pretty good commercial fabric, labor, and a couple inches of new material to reinforce the old foam.

I did not even consider doing it myself. I would think that the fitting, zippers, piping, and pleating would require a fairly steep learning curve.

One regret - I did not spring for the extra bucks to install a couple of inches of "memory foam" just under the fabric - "do it right the first time".

You can betchurbutt that the NEXT TIME there will be some memory foam in the couch AND the captains chairs.
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Old 03-01-2005, 03:51 PM   #3
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Upholstery questions?

Greetings 58Bubble!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 58BUBBLE
Among all the other projects in my Bubble I will be redoing my upholstery. My 1st question is about material. I was thinking about going with vinyl or a similar fabric with piping on the edges. Has anyone used this? Also, should I just recover the old foam or buy new? Is it best to buy your own materials and take to a seamstress or will an upholstery shop be better doing the whole job be better. The bubble has only 2 small benches and a small bed in the rear that would need to be redone. Anyone have any idea how much I would expect to pay to have it done? thanks in advance
There is a significant difference between the sewing machines utilized by most seamstresses and upholsterers. The actual mechanism is somewhat different, and there is a difference in the stitch length. For both of these reasons, I trusted both of my coaches to an experienced upholsterer.

While I wouldn't have anything other than vinyl or leather in my automobile, I went with high-quality upholstery fabrics recommended by my upholsterer along with all new foam (the Overlander was 36-years-old when its interior was refurbished, and the Minuet was 25-years-old when its interior was refurbished) - - my upholsterer supplied both the foam and fabric (if you wish to purchase either elsewhere, check with your upholsterer as many will not guarantee their work if they do not furnish the materials from their known sources). In both cases, the coaches still had their original foam, and it was rapidly beginning to disintegrate in the Overlander and was more slowly disintegrating in the Minuet - - didn't want to trust that the old foam would last as long as new upholstery - - I have no regrets as both coaches turned out beautifully. If it wouldn't have been for the significant extra cost, I would have had the front lounge in the Overlander and both lounges in the Minuet covered in leather but the leather was nearly four-times the cost of the $45.00/yard upholstery fabric that I chose (my experience with vinyl outside of automobile interiors is that it makes for a very clammy surface in cool weather and an uncomfortably warm surfce in the summer since most vinyls do not "breathe" - - my '69 Sunway Camper had vinyl upholstery that was slip-covered with cloth to make it more user friendly).

Something else to consider that my upholsterer suggested to me was to have pillow shams made to match the upholtery thus solving the problem of where to store the pillows in a small coach - - they also made the bed making process easier in the overlander as the pillows stay on top of the bedspread.

For your rear bed, you might want to consider a custom mattress if you intend to have it made up as a bed most of the time. In my Overlander, we found that the "permanent" beds were cheaper to have custom mattresses made and then cover the bedding with a bedspread made from the same material as either the drapes or upholstery used elsewhere in the coach. My mattresses were manufactured by Lebeda in Iowa, and there was only a modest upcharge of $75.00 from the size nearest that being made for my coach (they made the mattresses to the template that I supplied). There are custom mattress manufacturers in most medium sized and larger cities. Lebed Mattress Company has a website at:

http://www.lebeda.com

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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Old 03-01-2005, 08:19 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advics guys! I'll let you know what I decide on.
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Old 03-02-2005, 09:35 AM   #5
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Rivet Foam

Unless it's practically new, replace the foam. Foam is at it's best for 10 years then degrades. Often it seems "pretty good" for a long time, then can rapidly disintegrate into a mess of crumbs almost overnight.

It's a waste to spend good money on upholstery fabric only to have the underlying foam fall apart in a year or two. Good fabric should last 10-20 years.

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Old 03-02-2005, 11:49 AM   #6
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We redid our minuet - ourselves. I save allmost 900.00 by doing myself. I took me a full week to do it. I had a borrowed electric machine - but had to resort to my okd treadle to do some of the work.

Buy the best fabric you can afford! Vinyl streches in heat during the summer - be careful.

If you do it yourself - and need buttons made - have your local uyphosterer make them. The button parts a consumer can buy are really cheesy. Piping is easy to make and the cushoions look smarter when complete. Check out my photo gallery.
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Old 03-03-2005, 09:00 AM   #7
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What about the vinyl made for boats. This seems to be a very nice looking and comfortable material. It is soft and seems to be leather like. It also seems to hold up well. Since I do a lot of camping at the beach and Lake powell It would be nice to upholster with a material that would not be damaged by damp clothes. Anyone out there have any idea how expensive this stuff is? Any negetives to this option?
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Old 03-03-2005, 05:34 PM   #8
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I chose a heavy blue jean material when I had my cushions made.
I throw them in the washer and hang them out to dry. But
even heavy blue jean material rumples up after you sit on it.
If I had it to do over again , I would use heavy upolstery
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:05 PM   #9
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I went to an upholstery shop that does classic cars, boats and airplanes. They sent me to their fabric wholesaler who let me look through many, many fabrics. I got samples of several and brought them home. When I picked one I just called the upholstery shop with the number. I asked for three yards of extra fabric for the arm and front pieces that I could do myself. I was able to use the same foam as it was not original to the coach, a 1978 Argosy. If I knew how to put a picture of it on here I would. It turned out beautifully and should last longer than I do probably. "Go to the Argosy forum and see the Juel pictures. The couch is there.
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:56 PM   #10
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Vinyl v. Fabric

Bubb-

I sense you're getting a lot of push for fabric upholstery on cusions and you're leaning towards vinyl for waterproof care around beach and lake and watersports.. Having owned and slept on vinyl cushions in 22' Sailboat before acquiring our Airstream, I am still a believer in fabric (and new foam..) for most situations...

If you're really worried about sitting and changing clothes, and not sleeping, then vinyl is fine, and newer leather-like versions are relatively durable and shouldn't stretch much, though they will likely "sweat" in heat and exude fumes and vapors that will require window cleaning on inside..

THE big downside is that they are rough to sleep on, unless you plan on padded fabric covers under sleeping bags or sheets. Shiny slippery vinyl is really hard to sleep on, and might trap moisture under mattress on wood platform. They also get really warm underneath in heat, and sleeping on a down sleeping bag isn't much help... I'd consider fabric (and it should be heavy wool uphostery fabric) done by real upholstery shop or person (though not absolutely required to be an RV expert..) and then get viny; "slip covers" to sit on when coming back from beach or water and still wet...

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Old 03-04-2005, 08:58 PM   #11
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Thanks for your wisdom John, I guess I'll head down to my local upholsterer and try and find some fabric I like.
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Old 03-05-2005, 12:21 PM   #12
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I can sense the lack of enthusiasm in your post...

You could always start with vinyl and "sleepsacks" or other sheet/blankie packages to see how it works, and then revert if uncomfortable.. Combination we really didn't care for on boat vinyl was sleeping bags on vinyl with heat and humidity...

We also tried over 12 fabric places before finally finding useful samples at a large "JoAnn" Fabric place, where all upholstery style fabrics were 12' squares, and custom orders... Took about 3 weeks to get fabric shipped into store, so plan some time, but we delivered fabric and couch to upholsterer, and it seemed more reasonable and worked well.. (Though re-assembling the knife-frame couch inside the trailer was a pain...)

Fabric should also be Scotchguarded, or sprayed with some form of protectant, given the cost and hassle of redoing if damage is caused by eating or putting the couch to other uses besides sitting and sleeping...


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Old 03-05-2005, 01:03 PM   #13
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Post Hancock Fabrics

If you've got any Hancock Fabric stores in your area most of them stock upholstery fabrics - However they may not have a huge selection of stuff you traditionally see in an A/S, they do have samples and can special order. It's worth at least a look. Quite often they have courses taught in store, or notices posted where you can take a course. There are also bulletin boards where people who run home tailoring and upholstery businesses put their business cards.

I've sewed since I was 3 (mom caught me "teaching" myself) and I've done slipcovers and upholstery. Even though the typical household machine won't sew with the super heavy threads you typically see in professional shops, you can make your own if you understand basics about matching patterns, and fabric grain. You'll find excellent books and videos in Hancock that can help a first-timer, too.

One suggestion - no one likes that "butt print" look that gets left on upholstery - where the middle of the cushion sags a bit, and the cording is obviously crooked. Big bold plaids and solid colors will show that worse than about any other fabric, so choose something with either a small pattern, an abstract design or a tweed (like a berber carpet, multi toned weave).

Another way to avoid the b/p is to make "pillow" type cushions rather than the rectangular box cushions. A pillow cushion is made with only one side seam midway between the top and bottom of the cushion. Normally large ones have one or more covered buttons attached on top and sewn through to the bottom to keep the filling more evenly distributed. Cording is optional, but they look better with it. You gather or pleat the corners to make a deep cushion that doesn't thin out at the edges. If you make a pillow cushion thick enough it's just as comfortable as a box cushion - just don't tie the buttons on too tight, and flip it button side down when you sleep on it. You can use use a solid piece of foam with the edges trimmed, or loose foam, feathers or polyester fiber fill which is washable. The cording on a pillow cushion doesn't cut into the back of anyone's legs when they sit - which can contribute to varicose vein problems for pregnant women, etc.

Tin Lizzie
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Old 03-31-2006, 01:07 PM   #14
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Hi, Vinyl is not the recommended material for you cushions or mattress because of the moisture problem inside a trailer. When you take an old one apart there is always mold on the inside of the cover., hence smell. If you do go that way be sure to cover the bottoms in fabric so the air has some place to go when you sit on it, those vents you can get for the back of the cushions don't work well and more likely you end up with a woopee cushion. To sew a vinyl boxed cushion you need a walking foot machine that will sew 1/2" thick stack of material (with pipping) and a long stich, if the stich is too short the vinyl will be perferated and it will tear there like paper.
The on reply about using denim is not a good idea, if you sit on denim when you are wet you will transfer blue dye to whatever you are wearing and if you take the covers off to wash they will shrink a lot.
Best bet is a good upholstery fabric and have some fabric protection put on it if it does not have any. Any of the poly fibers tend to get hard, fade and fail in the sun, this includes Herculon. Best bet is nylon surface fiber. All natural fibers will fade in the sun.
You can go the boat route and use acrylic fabric, but if you do, go for the soft acrylic (Sunbrella soft). If you use the cover stuff you will get sizing marks where you sit and it is not fun to work with.
Good luck, John
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