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Old 01-10-2009, 08:53 PM
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Resource for basic sewing knowledge?

New member and let me say, awesome site! I've learned a lot already.

I am trying to find resources to learn the basics of upholstery work. I know almost nothing about sewing machines. The extent of my sewing knowledge consists of being about to tell you when I am looking at a sewing machine. I have a pretty extensive automotive performance background but upholstery work as always been a black art along with paint and body work (which I am learning too). The most I have sewed where a few patches on a jumpsuit.

So where can I learn the basics about thread types/sizes, needles, what to look for in machines. I assume practicing with a home machine is a good start. Why are home machines not good for auto upholstery (power)? How to set up a machine, etc. Nothing is to basic at this point.

Thanks in advance for helping a newbie!

Blue Skies

Justin

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Old 01-11-2009, 01:22 AM
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Hi Justin, and welcome. Use the search function on the menu above and search for "industrial sewing machine" You will find numerous threads to look through. Then if you have specific questions, ask them then. If you want to know about seat upholstery, check out this thread: TRUCK SEAT TUTORIAL It will give you the basics on doing a bench seat. There are more threads at the top of the interior section (the ones that have "read me" in front of them) that will help also.
To answer your question about home machines, yes, they have less power than an industrial machine, but there are three main reasons you would not want to use a home machine for car seats: 1) the home machine will probably be able to sew most things, but is limited by how much thickness can effectively go under the foot and still sew correctly. An industrial compound walking foot machine feeds in two ways: drop feed (employing feed dogs) and needle feed ( a perpendicular pushing forward motion of the needle) most home machines have one type of feeding system or the other, not both. 2) home machines have a shorter throat than industrial machines. The throat is the distance to the right between the needle and the main body of the machine. Obviously, the shorter this distance, the less you can comfortably sew through the machine. 3) with a home machine, you are severely limited as to how large the thread you use can be, and how large a needle you can use.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:08 AM
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Dan is the Man

search for all of dan's posts He has Lots of info posted,,, I'm waiting for him to write the Book.
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:03 PM
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Thanks Dan!

I have read most of your tutorials already. They are awesome, very descriptive and great pictures. You make it look so easy that even I could do it without to much trouble once I get used to using a sewing machine (yes, I'm trying to convince myself). What kind of practice projects are recommended for a home machine other then just sewing a bunch of scraps?

What kind of stitches are primarily used in auto upholstery?

Thanks again

Justin
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:33 PM
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The best thing you can do is simply to get familiar with whichever sewing machine you have. The more comfortable you are with your machine, the better you will do. Straight lines at first without trying to sew anything together, and then sew a lot of basic, straight seams. Another thing you can do is practice making welts. That's how we trained new sewers at one of the furniture factories I worked at.......they made welts all day long for a while until they got used to the machines. Naturally for that you will need welt cord and a welt foot.
Auto upholstery is a little different in that you work with less fabric and more vinyl, leather, and Ultraleather, but seams are seams, no matter what you are sewing together. The only thing different with those materials is that you want to use larger stitches. Fabric can be sewn together with as many as 9 stitches per inch. Vinyl, leather, and Ultraleather should not be sewn together with more than 6 stitches per inch. Smaller stitches than that create the possibility of actually cutting the material along the seam line. Straight stitches are all you will ever need. This will allow you to straight stitch, top stitch and make French seams which is pretty much it for auto upholstery.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:15 AM
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One place to find basic sewing machine information is in the online Navy Aviation Survival Equipmentman training course at

http://www.tpub.com/content/aviation.../14218_181.htm

These guys were formerly called Parachute Riggers and they maintained all the flight gear, harnesses, parachutes, and anything else that needed sewing. They possessed the only sewing machines in the squadron and were the "go-to guys" for any emergency clothing repair or other sewing tasks. The course starts at the basics and goes through lubricating, troubleshooting, timing, and repair of several different models of industrial sewing machines.

Ed
http://sewing-machines.blogspot.com/
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJ269J
What kind of practice projects are recommended for a home machine other then just sewing a bunch of scraps?
Well, my practice projects have been shifter boots - they're small, don't use up a lot of fabric (so not expensive when messed up), and can be quite complex depending on how involved you get with 'em. The boot that I made for my '78 T/A is 5 separate pieces all french-seamed together - black vinyl w/red thread.

Measure the floor pan opening, measure the shifter stick at the desired height, calculate and cut out some patterns from manilla file folders and have at it.

- Mike
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:02 PM
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Great advice guys, thanks!

Question about home machine limitations:

I understand the thickness of material is limited as well as the throat, but what limits the thread/needle size in a home machine? Also if you are sewing similar materials together, why do you need a walking foot machine? Keep the greatness coming guys!
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:38 PM
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A home machine is intended for the most part to sew lighter weight materials, and consequently doesn't need to use large needles or larger size thread. A home machine can handle size 69 industrial thread with the largest needle it can handle, but if you wanted to top stitch something even with size 92 it probably won't be able to do it. Trying to sew something the machine is not intended to sew can cause excessive needle breakage, sew irregular stitches, or worse, it can throw the machine out of time. I sew most auto work with size 92 polyester and top stitch with size 138. A home machine just can't handle those thread sizes. The industrial compound walking foot machine just handles heavier fabrics and more thickness far more easily.
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:00 PM
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Your a wealth of info Dan, Thanks

So is the hole in the needle the limiting factor and home machines just can't fit a bigger needle? Obviously, I am asking all these questions because I can't justify an expensive industrial machine while I am just learning. Ultimately, I would like to be able to do my own interior. I am just starting the tear down of my 68 camaro I have owned for 8 or 9 years and it is in serious need of a restore, so I have plenty of time to learn to sew. Maybe, by the time I am ready to start the interior I can come across a good used machine.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:03 PM
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The size of the eye of the needle has little to do with it. Even if larger thread will go through the eye of the needle, the larger thread can jam the machine and throw off the timing. If your machine has an instruction manual, it should tell you what size needles you need and the thread sizes your machine will handle. I know my machines will handle up to size 207 thread.
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