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Old 02-09-2007, 11:47 AM
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I'm still chasing this idea about using a heavier thread on French stitches in the interest of more of a visual pop ... but it appears as though no one really does this and of course I don't have any experience so I'm asking what I guess may be a stupid question.

But stupid questions are cool because that's how we learn, right?

I bought some "Blue Jean" thread (aka "Top-Stitch" thread) but it worries me in that I *believe* it's cotton which means it will fade and won't hold up well. Anyway, I'd just like to hear your thoughts about top-stitching and french-stitching.

Maybe the trick to getting some popping action is to use a different color thread than the leather? Say you have a black and tan leather thing going on ... would you use a tan thread on the black leather for french-stitching and black thread on the tan leather? Black on both? Tan on both?

Any meandering thoughts you have will be appreciated.

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Old 02-09-2007, 01:08 PM
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In other forms of art we do that sort of thing to get a "look" that we want..so I woudl say go for it..try some various combinations to see just what looks good on a particular project..I could see doing something like that for a certan motif for example..or maybe putting a music note in the seats or door panels..

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Old 02-09-2007, 02:24 PM
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Alan: It's your truck........do whatever looks good to you. I personally like a heavier thread for topstitching and French seams. I have a job right now (70 Olds Cutlass) that will have bright yellow thread used to sew 2" wide pleats on black Ultrasuede on the door panels and seats. I got a 1 pound spool of #92 polyester thread (color: Forsythia) to do it with. He also wants bright yellow accents and white vinyl for the rest. I wouldn't do it in my own car, but the customer is always right, and he loves the mock-up I showed him so if he's happy, I'm happy. Be true to yourself and do it any way you want. Do some mock-ups for yourself and pick what you like best. (when you do the mock-ups, don't waste Mr. Moose or Mr. Elk, just use vinyl to simulate the colors)
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Old 02-09-2007, 04:18 PM
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Right on, Sam.


Hey, Dan -- do you have any pics to share? And thanks again, man ... you are really putting things together in my head for me in many ways here and I appreciate it so much.

You nailed it for me when you said "just use vinyl to simulate the colors" - I want to do a bunch of practicing with the Tacsew over the next week or two and vinyl, the #92 thread in some different colors, the top-stitch thread ... I'll not only be practicing but I can be working out these color ideas at the same time.

I'm so excited about all this - LOL - that Tacsew has really put a fire under this old musical butt of mine!
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Old 02-09-2007, 09:21 PM
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Thanks, Alan. BTW: I wouldn't worry so much about the jeans thread, even if it is cotton. I'm your age and I have taken apart things that were sewed with cotton thread that are 40 years old (and older) that were still strong. It's not that cotton thread is weak, it's that nylon and polyester are stronger. If you like the look of it, use it, especially when it's topstitching or French seams, because it's a secondary stitch, not the primary stitch. For pictures, look at my project journal. All the stitching and topstitching on the 47 Ford is done with polyester 92 thread. The headliner on the 49 Packard is sewed with 69 nylon. All of that stitching will outlive the car owners and both of us. It's impossible to know if you like it without being able to see it up close and personal. Remember: sew with what's strongest and use whatever you want to accent.

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Old 02-10-2007, 04:07 AM
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Thanks, Dan. You put me at rest about the jean thread.

What are those seats out of that you have in the front of the '47 Ford?
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:55 AM
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The front seats are out of a late model Jeep Cherokee. They are power seats with power lumbar, and have map pockets in the back. I dyed the plastic side pieces to match the rest of the vinyl. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the center inserts on all the seats, door panels, and headliner are a matching vinyl that looks perforated. It really is gorgeous up close. The rear seats were out of a late 70's or early 80's something or other from GM. Making them match the front seats was a real challenge. All the metal window trim has the same vinyl glued to it, and the rear window trim piece I had to fabricate myself. I hated the look of that black rubber gasket back there. The previous interior was gray fabric with black and red velour accents and looked like crap in that beautiful car.
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Old 02-10-2007, 02:00 PM
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Wow ... I didn't think "Jeep Cherokee" -- did you change the design of what they were or did you use the old covers for patterns? Subtract the head rests and they look like what I'm thinking of for my truck.

I noticed the centerpiece on the headliner was perforated ... I thought it was a fabric. It surprised me, too! I thought, "Ahh! Dan mixed a fabric between the vinyl - cool! I really like the design element of adding different textures like that. Way to go, Dan!

Also, I have metal window trim in the truck that I'm planning on covering with leather ... I'm guessing that I'll have to sew pieces together to make it happen, eh? I mean, it would sure be costly to cut a piece big enough to avoid seams! Any other suggestions?

And you bring up another yet another issue I have with the truck -- the rear window has that black rubber gasket going on, like yours did. What was your solution for fabricating a trim piece there?
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Old 02-10-2007, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horvath
And you bring up another yet another issue I have with the truck -- the rear window has that black rubber gasket going on, like yours did. What was your solution for fabricating a trim piece there?
I'd be interested in that answer too. My panel van has two windows in the rear doors with those same fat gaskets. What base material was the trim fabricated from, and how did you mount it to the car after the trim was finished? I mean I see the screws, but I know you didn't just screw it to the gasket...

Keep asking these questions, Alan! You're beating me to the punch, but I'm getting the answers.

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Old 02-10-2007, 06:33 PM
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LOL! It's all Dan's fault, Dusty82 ... he's got such cool answers that they lead me on into more queries!
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Old 02-11-2007, 02:23 AM
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The rear window trim ring was fabricated out of two layers of black waterboard glued together to make a 1/4" base. I padded it with open cell foam, and stapled welting to the edges of the reverse side to give it a concave shape. Then I upholstered the trim ring with one large piece of vinyl like the rest of the metal trim rings. (Alan: Here's where your french seams come into play: to save leather, sew four pieces together and use a 45 degree french seam at all four corners.) If I had it to do over, I would use 1/4" or maybe 1/2" PVC foamboard to make the trim ring. PVC foamboard can be cut and fabricated like wood. This way I could have used one thick piece instead of gluing two thinner pieces together,and used my router table to shape the outside and inside edges. I mounted the trim ring by drilling holes through the metal flange that the gasket rides in, and holding it in place with stainless screws and finish washers. (Here's a tip: I actually drilled a hole right through the body of the car by accident drilling the mounting holes. Cut down a drill bit to about 2" or less so you can't do that.) If I would have used PVC in the first place, the finish washers would not have been necessary. I may call my customer and have him bring the car back so I can do it over this way. Thanks for asking, guys! Keep asking questions guys, you are helping me and a lot of people who are hesitant to ask.

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Old 02-11-2007, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
(Alan: Here's where your french seams come into play: to save leather, sew four pieces together and use a 45 degree french seam at all four corners.)
Excellent. Thanks, Dan.

Working with leather, especially 4-ounces like my moose and elk, there's an issue to deal with in terms of bulk/extra thickness when you sew a seam and have the two flaps underneath -- french stitched or not, those flaps become visible if not shaved and made thinner, right? There's a cool technique noted in the Don Taylor/Ron Mangus book -- Custom Auto Interiors (see "Covering A Steering Wheel" on pg. 170) where Jack Anderson uses a high-speed dye grinder (a dremel) to grind away the back of the leather. I will be repeating this process on my '75 Caddy steering wheel this month.

I also have a leather-working tool called a skiver that employs a curved razor blade to shave the back side of the leather but I think a dremel may be quicker and more accurate in shaving a clean line ... I don't know but I'll be finding out soon enough.

Can you offer any tips in that area?

Quote:
(Here's a tip: I actually drilled a hole right through the body of the car by accident drilling the mounting holes. Cut down a drill bit to about 2" or less so you can't do that.)
That's what I like about you, Dan! Most pro's would never admit their mistakes ... or share their techniques for that matter. Thanks, Bro'.
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
Alan: Here's where your french seams come into play: to save leather, sew four pieces together and use a 45 degree french seam at all four corners.
So in effect, if I'm reading this correctly, you're making mitered corners - like a picture frame?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
If I had it to do over, I would use 1/4" or maybe 1/2" PVC foamboard to make the trim ring. PVC foamboard can be cut and fabricated like wood. This way I could have used one thick piece instead of gluing two thinner pieces together,and used my router table to shape the outside and inside edges.
I've had some success running non-corrugated cardboard layups through a router table, Dan. The bit has to be super sharp (fresh from the sharpener's or brand new,) and spinning as fast as the router will spin it. Feed the piece through the router bit slowly and use even pressure to guide it on through. There's a little bit of "fuzz" that builds up along the bottom edge (the surface that actually rests on the table as it goes through the bit) but that's easily trimmed off with a sanding block and 120 grit paper. The thinnest I've ever worked was 3/8", but I imagine it would work for 1/4". This method is not my first choice, but when nothing else will do, it can work.

And trust me - there WILL be questions. I'm still setting up a space in my garage for the Juki and waiting on the manual for it. Once I get it fired up, the questions will flow like water...

Thanks to Dan, Sniper, and the rest of you who take time to answer us. Without you guys we'd probably just be wasting material.
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMoreTime
I could see doing something like that for a certan motif for example..or maybe putting a music note in the seats or door panels..
Interesting you should say that, Sam. My wife knows a lady who does embroidery, and I have talked to her about embroidering the old GMC logo into the headrests of the seats of my panel van whenever I get it to that point. She says no problem, and told me that if I get her the graphics, she'll charge me $20 a seat to do it. More than reasonable in my opinion, and it's a custom touch that I'm sure will turn a few heads.
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Old 02-11-2007, 11:36 AM
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Exactly Dusty, a picture frame. Wish I'd have thought of that analogy. Shaving down, or Dremeling (is that a word) the leather to leave it as flat as possible at the seam should work fine. I have the book you're talking about, Alan, and a few more. I like to pick up tips too! BTW, you will waste fabric no matter what, and you never outgrow cutting mistakes, it happens to me all the time. The difference is that generally I can figure out a way to recover.

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