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Old 10-01-2012, 08:08 AM
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Aspiring trimmer, introduction and a few questions

Ok so I'm John and I have a pipe dream of doing custom upholstery one day. I've wanted to do it since I was a kid and was discouraged from doing it as a teen by my folks. They didn't think there was a good living in it. They meant well but I wish I would have followed my dream and done it. So here I am almost 40 and I've decided I'm gonna give it all I got. The almost 40 part is why I say pipe dream. But all I can do is fail. I'm not quitting my day job or anything, I would like to start doing stuff on the side and see where it goes from there.

So I bought me a Juki 563 and I'm in the process of building a cutting table and turning my office into a workshop. I'll have to do really dirty work outside. I'm also taking an upholstery class here in Tulsa. It's just general upholstery but it's all that's available. I'm recovering my bench seat in my truck as my class project, more on that later. Ok so I have a few basic questions with plenty more to come and keep in mind, I had never even touched a sewing machine till I started my class. So.....
1. Does the bobbin thread have to be the same size as the needle thread (I think it does)
2. Does the bobbin thread have to be the same color as needle thread?
3. Does anyone know what the largest thread my Juki 563 is capable of sewing?
4. When sewing a seat cover together, can I use two different thicknesses of foam in the same cover? For instance, using 1/2 inch for the pleats and 1/4 inch for the other panels.
5. Someone on another forum told me not to glue my vinyl to sewfoam, to instead clip it on and sew it down. So..... To glue or not to glue?
6. When to use steam, if ever?
7. Do you do anything to your vinyl to make it more pliable, get wrinkles out and lay flat before you cut it?
8. How much vinyl will it take appox to cover a truck bench seat, that has the back of the seat covered as well?
9. Did I purchase a good machine with the 563
Ok that's it for now, but plenty more to come I look forward to the help thanks!

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Old 10-01-2012, 08:22 AM
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Read Dan

Dantwolakes is a professional upholster and has posted lots of information Here on Hotrodders and other sites. search his tutorials, go the the Forum at the top of the page, then scroll down to interiors, Jon listed a lot of dan's info , picts there, archive of interior
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:27 AM
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1) The bobbin thread should be the same size as the top thread because larger top thread could cut smaller bobbin thread, and vice versa.
2) No, it doesn't matter what color the bobbin thread is.
3) Your Juki should be able to sew with size 270 thread with a size 24 or 25 needle.
4) Yes, it's done all the time.
5) You can clip it pin it, whatever, but I have had the best results with glue. Glue one side only with foam to foam glue, just enough to hold the fabric to the foam while you sew around the perimeter of your pattern line.
6) Steam fabric, but never leather or vinyl, and then only as a last resort.
7)The vinyl will soften up when you put the seat cover on, and most vinyl should come in a roll and not be wrinkled up anyway.
8) About 2 1/2 to 3 yards depending on the seat.
9) Juki is a great machine, a step up from the Singers and Consews of the world, but not as good as Adler or Pfaff.

Check out this thread, it will be exactly what you need for your class: Truck Seat Upholstery Tutorial
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:14 AM
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Wow, thanks so much for the quick response. Also, Dan I have been reading that thread. There are a couple of things in it that confuse me, but I'm at work right now so no time. But thank you both so much!
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:57 PM
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Whats the reason for not steaming leather or vinyl. What about when doing seats, I kind of found it necessary to use some steam to help fit the covers.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:58 PM
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The reason for not steaming leather is that you can damage it. Water and leather do not mix. No leather supplier in the world recommends heating or wetting leather, and steaming does both. The reason for not steaming vinyl is that all you will do is get it wet. If the seat covers are made correctly, they will fit. If they are slightly off then adding some padding will correct them. If they are too small, nothing in the world will make them bigger.

You have to stop thinking of upholstery work as precision work, it's not. You can't adjust upholstery work by millimeters or thousandths of an inch like metal or wood. The original seat covers you copy aren't perfect, far from it. Unless they come from the rolls Royce factory, they are made in a factory on piece work, by someone who could care less about quality. The only thing they are worried about is making the most money they can. There are lots of flaws that the average person doesn't see, even in seats that look like they're perfect.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes View Post
If they are too small, nothing in the world will make them bigger.
I have this problem with my blue jeans.

Thanks, Dan, for more great advice!
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:10 PM
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I figured it would damage the leather. What about for wrinkles and stuff you get when installing the covers, thats the only reason I used the steam when putting the seats together, to help smooth it back out and poof the sew foam up.

Ive seen guys steaming seats before thats why Im wondering, I dont want to be doing it though if Im damaging the material.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes View Post
The reason for not steaming leather is that you can damage it. Water and leather do not mix. No leather supplier in the world recommends heating or wetting leather, and steaming does both. The reason for not steaming vinyl is that all you will do is get it wet. If the seat covers are made correctly, they will fit. If they are slightly off then adding some padding will correct them. If they are too small, nothing in the world will make them bigger.

You have to stop thinking of upholstery work as precision work, it's not. You can't adjust upholstery work by millimeters or thousandths of an inch like metal or wood. The original seat covers you copy aren't perfect, far from it. Unless they come from the rolls Royce factory, they are made in a factory on piece work, by someone who could care less about quality. The only thing they are worried about is making the most money they can. There are lots of flaws that the average person doesn't see, even in seats that look like they're perfect.
Doing my seats I definatley figured out what you mean by "precision work". Ive seen how much you can adjust something thats off a little or even a lot and make it look really nice. I wasnt using the steam to install the covers, just for removing any wrinkles once they were completely installed. I saw a video on youtube a while back of ish steaming some leather seats to remove wrinkles, thats why I used it. Worked great, but I dont want to do it if it damages leather. Thanks for all the info Dan its helping me out a lot.
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:36 PM
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steaming seats.

I was an engineer at Ford for over 15 years, Had interior trim for a few years, In the factory they used super heated steam, Had booster heaters near the point of use, on most cars in the 60's and 70's they would use a steam hose thru the luggage compartment, poke the hose nozzel in the qtr roof area and steam for 30 to 40 seconds to remove headliner minor wrinkles. , in the seat build area they had a couple steam drops, seats only got steam when there were wrinkles.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:10 AM
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I disagree with Dan, I use steam with vinyl all the time just like we did at WyoTech. Maybe he is referring to steaming the outside or face of the vinyl which will just get it wet, but if you steam the underside the vinyl it becomes warm and very pliable and will remove wrinkles put in place by the upholstery process. Like was mentioned I only steam vinyl after the covers are on or mostly in place. I also use a steamer head when reverse engineering patterns as it helps smooth them out and lay flat. I also use steam on the backside of suspended headliners that are premade and have fold wrinkles from shipping, I just hang them up and steam the backside until the wrinkles are gone, works great when no sun is available to naturally remove the wrinkles.
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:53 AM
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I was talking about seat covers that you make yourself. In the 60s and 70s, there was cotton content in automotive fabric, and vinyl was stiff and hard. Now days, there is no cotton content in fabrics used for automotive use, they are all 100% synthetic, and vinyls are vastly improved and are soft and supple. Steaming fabric with no cotton content is a waste of time, as is steaming a vinyl seat cover. Both of them will just get wet. Seat covers, headliners, and convertible tops that are sent to you folded up and may have been in a box for months are a different thing. Those things may need a little help and steaming or heating them makes sense.

As for seat covers you make, if you use quality materials, and your workmanship is good, you don't need to heat or steam them to get them to look good. If it doesn't look good, my suggestion is to take them off and find out why it doesn't look good. Heating or steaming will not fix poor workmanship, nor are they substitutes for good workmanship.
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Old 10-25-2012, 12:49 AM
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Igor, you came to the right place to learn. I've been cry busy lately with a house sale. But once that's complete, I'll be back here in full motion learning more and more from this board. Best advice I can give you is to practice sewing as much as possible before you do anything important. Learning how to control your machine and sewing straight are the critical things to learn.
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