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Old 10-14-2009, 06:23 AM
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puckering

I have tried making a few covers for my seats, they are Recaro bucket seats with large bolsters, when making the bolster covers they always have a tendency to pucker.
I am wondering if this has to do with the way the material is fed by the machine? I have be using the wrong type of machine to start with, I know that.
I am thinking the walking foot might have been pulling the material unevenly which would cause the puckers. Will the compound feed eliminate or reduce the puckers?
Or am I doing something else wrong that is causing it to pucker?
What I have done is: made relief cuts along the curves, left approx. 3/8" seam allowance, sewed pieces together, when top-stitching I pulled the material open like a book and did my top-stitch, after stitching I removed any extra material from the edge of the seam on the inside of cover.
A few pics of the way they turned out, these are the very first pieces I have done, and my first attempt at sewing, have made a few more and they get better as I go.
First pics is with vinyl second is with leather.

I did try and search for "pucker and puckering" didn't find much, does that mean it usually isn't much of a problem?




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Old 10-14-2009, 07:36 AM
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Yes, the sewing machine had a little bit to do with the puckering. I would try it again with the compound walking foot machine. Remember, all you are trying to do is let the machine feed both layers through itself. All you need to do is guide the layers with as little tugging and pulling on your part as is possible. Another reason for the puckering is what I call "tired foam syndrome". Over the years, the foam loses some of its strength to push back on the fabric. You may need to add some more foam over the top of what is already there. I like to use 1/4" or 1/2" sew foam and glue it on with the foam side next to the old foam. Look at the headrests in this thread starting at post # 21 and you'll see what I mean: CLICK HERE
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:59 AM
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These bolsters are prone to the covers wearing away, because the bolsters are so large, then the foam slowly gets destroyed. So I did buy new foam for the 4 bolsters.
What I am wondering is if I made the pattern from the old covers and they were stretched, would my pattern be a little large?
Will try again when I get my new machine, went with the Consew 226, the Sewquiet 4000 motor and a new table. Should have it by Monday.
Thanks again Dan you are a Great help to a newbie......
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:06 AM
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Yes, your pattern could be a little large (but that's way better than being too small), or the new foam could be a little small or of the wrong density (stiffness) to fill out the bolsters. If I were you, I'd leave the pattern alone until you were sure which one of those is causing the problem.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:59 PM
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always use a steamer when your putting new covers on somethin....the steam will streatch the vinyl and help take alot of them puckers out...use a steamer to blow up old foam too...
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:55 PM
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If you make the seat covers correctly in the first place, you won't ever need a steamer, or a heat gun, or anything else to make them look right. What do you do if the seat covers are leather? You never want to heat or steam leather or make it wet in any way. Part of the skill of making the seat covers is knowing what is wrong with them and how to fix them if they don't turn out right.
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:37 PM
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not EVERYONE is a super skilled sewer....for leather we use a steinel heat gun...turned to about 10...do circular motions on and off the leather not getting it too hot...then wipe it off with cleaner and a cooling plate...then wipe it down with cleaner....
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:24 PM
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I'm sorry if I upset you. No, not everyone is a super skilled sewer, nor does everyone have the knack for sewing. Hiding behind a heat gun or a steamer instead of trying to improve sewing skills is not the way to learn in my opinion. This is my profession, I take it very seriously and I take pride in doing the best work I can possibly do. I want everyone to want to do the best they can. Wrinkles and puckering are not acceptable, and the sooner a novice sewer learns to figure out what they did wrong, the sooner they will get good at what they're doing. That's why I try to explain the process of cutting and sewing in as much detail as possible,..... to help novice sewers get it done right with as few disasters as possible.

Why on earth would you need to heat leather? Leather is the most forgiving thing to work with there is. Heating it or steaming it can ruin it.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:09 PM
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puckering

Dan,
First off I have to agree with you about the steamer. I started without a steamer for about a year. I was instructed by a friend with years of upholstery experience to learn without one so its not a crutch. A steamer will make a poor upholsterer a good one but it will also make a good upholsterer great. As for heating or wetting leather...this is also something that makes a great upholsterer. The guy I refered to above was one of the top upholsterers in St. Louis in the 60s and 70s and when he made a leather seat cover he always turned it inside out and sprayed the inside with water...not soaking it but just a light mist to where the hide just starts to change color. Why would he do this you ask...leather stretches when its wet and shrinks as it dries producing a much nicer fit. This is not a crutch in my opinion but more of a knowledge attained thru years of experience. As for heating leather with a heatgun. Its kind of the same principal...the heat shrinks the leather making it conform to the foam better. It works very well when replacing a panel in a seat and the surrounding panels have stretched from use. As for the work pictured...bravo! It takes alot of practice to turn out the kind of work Dan of any other professional upholsterer turns out but don't be ashamed of your accomplishment. On the leather one try working the sewn edge with your fingers...folding the back and front together at the seam and stretching it around at the seam. This may take out some of the puckering. Or add a strip of foam around the edge under the seam. Like I said it takes practice to learn what works and what dosen't. I haven't been on here in a while but may hang out here some to help some of the newer guys and gals if possible.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:06 PM
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First of all, while I respect your opinion, steaming vinyl, leather, and ultraleather only makes it wet. No company in the business of providing upholstery leather would recommend steaming it or heating it or wetting it. Steaming the newer synthetic fabrics is a waste of time, because the newer fabrics won't shrink unless they have some cotton content in them. A steamer does not make a good upholsterer great, attention to detail, experience, the best quality materials, and practice do. If you want to use a steamer or a heat gun, by all means do so, but I prefer to do it right in the first place.

Secondly, I was not criticizing anyone's work, I was asked to comment on why there was puckering in the bolster, and I gave my best answer as to what may have happened and suggestions on how to fix it. Perhaps if you had read the entire thread instead of just the last two posts, you would have known that.
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:59 PM
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you are ABSOLUTELY right dan...i did read the thread and i also was just trying to help a person with tricks to help...but from looking at some of the other threads your name is just about on all of them....maybe ill search for another website with a little less ego...
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:42 AM
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You can call it ego if you like.........I call it quality workmanship. When I see people trying to pass along what I think is well intentioned bad advice, I say so. I think suggesting to "always" use a steamer or heat gun is bad advice. I think it is especially bad advice when working with leather. If a seat cover won't go on right or looks bad, there is a reason. I suggest finding the reason and correcting it instead of looking for a quick fix. There is too little craftsmanship and attention to detail left in everything these days. This web site should be about craftsmanship, whether it is seat covers, paint jobs, or engine repair. I think that people who come here looking for answers are looking for just that. "Good enough" shouldn't be good enough. If you think attention to detail and not resorting to shortcuts are wrong, you are welcome to do things however you wish.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:56 AM
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I did find the cause of the puckering....
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I bought new foam for the bolsters.
After making a few covers and always having the same results. I compared the new foam to the original foam, even though they are Recaro foam, they are a different shape, more pointed and not as thick.

I switched back to the original foams and the covers fit much better with very little puckering. Still some slight puckers, even though I hate to see any pucker I might have to live with them, will need more leather as it is.
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:02 AM
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I'm glad you discovered the problem. The bolsters look a lot better.
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:32 AM
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A few things I am wondering about.
The original covers had all the extra material trimmed off the seam after the pieces were sewn together and top-stitched. Would that make a difference?

There were no relief cuts on the original covers.
Would making relief cuts around the edge of the curves help?

Dan I agree with you, there are very few trades left were people actually take any pride in their work, and the workmanship is just not there, like it should be. Everyone is after the almighty dollar. That is the reason for me doing my own seats. In the end it will cost me more then having someone else do them, but would I have been satisfied with their attention to detail and the quality of their work? I doubt it.

I tried to get some bolster covers made a few years back. The first set they made looked like crap so I took them back and told them exactly that. They did them a second time and they didn�t look any better and this was from a Professional upholstery shop. So I asked for a refund. I did eventually find someone to do them, it was a little backyard shop where the guy worked out of his basement and they turned out great.

I always thought upholstery was a particularly hard thing to do and learn, but had never given it a try, till now. I enjoy what I have been doing and making mistakes along the way is just part of the learning. Each cover I do turns out better and gets a little easier to do. I am sure the tips and tricks will come as I progress.

There is something to be said for the gratification, the sense of accomplishment and the customization that can be achieved by doing something yourself.

Last edited by nobug; 10-27-2009 at 06:33 AM.
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