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Old 12-01-2013, 02:30 PM
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How to make a roadster canvas top?

I'm thinking of sewing a convertible top for my '34 Roadster.
A friend of mine has a 31 Roadster with a Rod Tops convertible top that I can use as a referance to see how it's done, how much stretch is proper etc.

I guess I won't be needing quite as big and exenpsive sewing macine as interior upholstery work requires? Do I need a walking foot machine for canvas top sewing?
Will something like this one do? http://www.ebay.com/itm/331076207562...84.m1423.l2649

I have made wood a headliner that I will stich the canvas to.

Are there any books or articles covering this?

Maybe I should make one out of cheap material first, and then make a number 2 from high quality material, avoiding the mistakes I did when I made the first one?

How hard is this? What will probably be my main challenge?

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Old 12-02-2013, 12:43 AM
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sewing machine

I have done some upholstery work with house hold machines. Just can be harder and won't like multi layers If you plan your work it would probably work for you. I did my first work on a 1930's walking needle Davis foot treddle machine my mother sewed quilts with.
DanTwoLakes will probly give you some expert advice.
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Old 12-02-2013, 11:03 AM
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Can you sew it with that machine? Possibly, with a couple other people to help guide the material through the machine. Should you sew it with that machine? No. You are going to need to sew the top with size 138 thread, at least, and that machine will not do the trick. Don't fall for that "heavy duty industrial" moniker, that is a home machine. Any machine that does not have a belt and a motor mounted under the table will not do a good job on heavier, stiffer materials. Sewing something that big and screwing it up is an expensive proposition considering how much fabric it takes to make a top.
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Old 12-02-2013, 11:58 AM
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My wife has a version of that machine - it will do clothing and maybe something as heavy as drapes, but for sure would not survive to sew a top together where there are 2,3 or more layers of very heavy material to sew through. This is Hartz Cloth and at this point, is probably close to 1/8" (3+mm) thick and no way will that machine survive:

(which reminds me that I need to put the hidem welt and ends on this winter)

Dave W
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:32 PM
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Ok, thanks. I guess that set back my plans for awhile, but that's better than buying a useless (for my needs) so called industrial sewing machine and screw up some quality fabric.

But let's say I get hands on a proper sewing machine.
Are there any main challenges, or is it just plain hard to sew up a canvas top?

So far I have fitted the Speedway Motors Top Iron Kit and made a wood head liner to fint against the home made Duval windshield. What's left now is to fit a pipe where the fabric will be fastened, to go along the body line at the rear of the seats.





And yes, I know that the rear bow should have been an inch lower to make the top look good, but then it wouldn't been enough space for mye head, and that has priority. No head room = not fun to drive the car.
It's hard to make canvas tops looking good in combination with Duvall wind screens.
But on the other hand, I managed to make the top both foldable and also possible to take apart and put in the trunk. The two bows fold down 0,1 inch in front of the extra rear brake light seen on the first picture.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:59 PM
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roadster top

Here is some information from Jeff Lilly's web site (he has joined hotrodders and posts good info here). It is the installation of a factory top but might help. I don't know if the hot rod tops use the tension cables on the sides. My model A roadster has a 2 in chopped windshield and modified 32 bows, no upholstery yet.
http://www.jefflilly.com/fabrication/convertible-top/
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staleg View Post
Ok, thanks. I guess that set back my plans for awhile, but that's better than buying a useless (for my needs) so called industrial sewing machine and screw up some quality fabric.

But let's say I get hands on a proper sewing machine.
Are there any main challenges, or is it just plain hard to sew up a canvas top?

So far I have fitted the Speedway Motors Top Iron Kit and made a wood head liner to fint against the home made Duval windshield. What's left now is to fit a pipe where the fabric will be fastened, to go along the body line at the rear of the seats.





And yes, I know that the rear bow should have been an inch lower to make the top look good, but then it wouldn't been enough space for mye head, and that has priority. No head room = not fun to drive the car.
It's hard to make canvas tops looking good in combination with Duvall wind screens.
But on the other hand, I managed to make the top both foldable and also possible to take apart and put in the trunk. The two bows fold down 0,1 inch in front of the extra rear brake light seen on the first picture.
No, I didn't mean to imply that this was a super hard job, you just can't do it with a home sewing machine. With the right sewing machine it should be an easy project for you. I'd advise you to do as much research as you can on the process before you start. If you don't understand something, just ask.
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:15 AM
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You can do it.

I have been following your roadster build and you have done a fantastic job. I have asked Dan when he was going to write a book. including all the info he has posted here and on other forums. Last time he said he was thinking about doing dvd's. I am an old timer and have always tried new things, sometimes they don't come out the way I wanted. In the 50's I bought a small pocket sized magazine print book on how to do custom upholstery. I later worked at a new-used car dealership that had a guy in the back shop that reconditioned used cars. I didn't get to watch him much. I worked in a Ford factory and they had a guy that repaired the upholstery on new cars and did a lot of custom stuff on the side, I haven't bought any new upholstery books. If you go to google books and do a search for automotive upholstery , or custom upholstery , they will list several books and some have a preview where you can read part of the book and decide if it is what you want to buy.

Since DanTwoLakes didn't link to any of his info I'll assume he doesn't have any top builds. posted .
Mabe some one else will reccomend more info for you. here is a link to the HAMB forum
Which Upholstery Book ? - THE H.A.M.B.
some more info or a place to ask more questions
http://www.clubhotrod.com/shop-talk/...tible-top.html
http://www.thetrimconnection.com/sho....php?groupid=9
http://www.streetrodding.com/forums.view/1753
http://www.streetrodderweb.com/tech/..._tops_fitment/
http://www.hotrodscustomstuff.com/OL...005-05-03.html
http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/restora...f-installation

Last edited by timothale; 12-07-2013 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:46 AM
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some more info

Install A New Convertible Top At Home - Car Craft Magazine
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:20 AM
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and more info

http://www.thehogring.com/auto-upholstery-forum/
http://www.thehogring.com/auto-upholstery-forum/
http://www.upholsteryresource.com/forum
http://forums.carcraft.com/69/62028/auto-upholstery/
http://www.thesewingforum.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=132
http://www.streetrodderweb.com/tech/...r_top_install/

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Old 12-07-2013, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for lots of good info. I haven't had time to look through it all, but unfortunately, most of the info avaliable on the web is how to install a new top prepared for a particular (standard) car.
I don't think that's the major problem with a roadster top like mine. When it's sewn up, the install procedure itself looks fairly straight forward: Fasten it to the belt line behind the seats, stretch the fabric forward and stitch is to the wood headliner.

It's the sewing that will be the challenge for me.
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:21 PM
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sewing a top

I did a lot of searching and didn't find any " how to make a pattern and stitch one up." I will have to make a custom top for my 28 A roadster since the windshield was chopped 2 inches and it has modified 32 bows-hardware, and I saved the info I posted for reference when I do mine.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:48 AM
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That's good. I'll post updates if I find valuable links as well.
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:19 AM
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This is basically the same procedure as making a headliner hung from bows. Check out this thread starting at post #4 to see what I mean: Headliner Tutorial

To start with, you will have to do at least three sections, one for the front up to the first bow, one from the first bow to the rear bow and at least one piece, probably three pieces, for the section from the rear bow down to the trunk deck. Buy some cheap material from a fabric store, and apply that to each section, one at a time. I use magnets to hold things in place as I work. Once you have a section covered and snug, mark the fabric down the middle of the bows. Do that for each section, being sure to mark the middle of each one. Fold the fabric in half at the middle and mark the opposite side to make a mirror image. Each one of these is your cutting pattern for each piece. Make sure to mark the centers to match up when you sew the parts together. Once you have all the sections done that way, I make a cardboard pattern, but you don't really need to do that.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:22 PM
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Thanks for the input.
Based on photos like these:Rod Tops by Time Machines Unlimited
my roadster top will be made out of 4 pieces:
-A middle section from from the front to the back bow.
-Left and right sections on each side of the first one.
-A rear section.
I'm not planning om making a removable piece around the rear window.
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