StylishOne

anyone know the way to strength or restitch upholstery seams?

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My leather is good and Im trying to preserve it but the thread in seams is breaking with any pressure applied .. Can a good upholsterer restitch it? anyone done this successfully?

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Posted (edited)

Having studied,  tried & even done it “successfully”(?), I can say it is very laborious & time consuming process likely requiring hand stitching, along with several other preparatory/supportive procedures as the leather, fabric or vinyl at or next to the seam is usually more compromised/weakened than that further away.

Assuming the leather in general is realistically in good enough condition, i.e. able to successfully survive the process and the potential use afterwards, the time/effort (& cost) may end up more than equivalent quality re-upholstering, but very good luck and serious research may be needed to find someone for that also.


P.S. Noticed on your “signature” line reference to “ ‘56 Imperials” & “(survivors?)“.

I‘m currently resurrecting a 2-dr that (allegedly) sat in some SoCa/L.A. area residential garage since early-to-mid sixties (last tag on black plates still from ‘64).

It (allegedly) was discovered over a year ago, but initially ended up into the hands of some hacks of supposedly a “professional” shop whom/which unfortunately managed to do fair amount of whatever-the-f-hacks-do before giving up(?) and offering it for sale, then subsequently purchased by current owner late last year.
One of the initial inquiries/proposals to me was to see if the original leather-with-fabric-insert seat upholstery could be preserved/saved, but I don’t think they’re salvageable, especially if they’re to be used as intended, for driving.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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Hand stitch it - the problem with restitching with a sewing machine is that you poke more holes in it and basically make a tear along the perforation kind of thing. 

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Also, they make all kinds of curved needles and ... - and you may have to buy several and possibly will break a few - you can pull needles through with pliers too. 

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Hand stitching through the original holes works but takes forever. I recommend adding a strip of heavy cloth to reduce the damage to old material as you pull the thread. I have done this to save original leather and also to replace cloth inserts on 60’s cars when the vinyl was still in good shape. Nothing about it is difficult, but it is tedious. 

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Posted (edited)

Sounds like it’s cotton thread and rotten, oh when those cotton seams get rotten you can’t....sorry, wrong song....

 

Although you say leather is good, it’s likely to be brittle, and resewing is difficult.  As mentioned, machine sewing adds to the problem, hand sewing will work if on is careful.  Figure about 45 minutes to an hour per foot of hand sewing.  Machine stitching is 5 to 7 stitches an inch, so 60 stitches per inch minimum.  A cloth backing glued to the back of the stitch area will also help.

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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3 minutes ago, gossp said:

Hand stitching through the original holes works but takes forever. I recommend adding a strip of heavy cloth to reduce the damage to old material as you pull the thread. I have done this to save original leather and also to replace cloth inserts on 60’s cars when the vinyl was still in good shape. Nothing about it is difficult, but it is tedious. 

We were typing the same reply at the same time, it appears!

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To sew by hand, use a Speedy Stitcher with waxed thread, $14.95 on Amazon.  Get a big spool of thread, too.It's a lot easier and safer than trying to push a bare needle through leather by hand.

 

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There’s lots of different kinds of thread. You need to read the label when you buy it. Ask the assistant in the store if need be. Like everything else, different weights, twists, materials for different applications 
Erica

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Yes it can be done. Best done by hand using a curved needle. Use nylon thread, it lasts longer especially for auto and boat upholstery. Cotton is for household items that will not be exposed to sun or weather.

You could take the seats out, remove the coverings and then sew them. This is time consuming but the best way to do a thorough job. Obviously paying an upholsterer to do this would be prohibitive but a good man can resew just the bad spots for you without taking anything apart.

Do not machine sew leather or vinyl a second time, the machine perforates the material and weakens it too much.

There are products that will restore dry leather and make it supple, it would be best to treat the leather before you resew it.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, trimacar said:

Sounds like it’s cotton thread and rotten, oh when those cotton seams get rotten you can’t....sorry, wrong song....

 

Although you say leather is good, it’s likely to be brittle, and resewing is difficult.  As mentioned, machine sewing adds to the problem, hand sewing will work if [one] is careful.  Figure about 45 minutes to an hour per foot of hand sewing.  Machine stitching is 5 to 7 stitches an inch, so 60 stitches per [foot] minimum.  A cloth backing glued to the back of the stitch area will also help.

 

Trimacar is a professional automobile upholsterer,

so his response carries an especial weight.

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Guys it's all leather.BTW

 Thanks  some great information and products. So now which leather product rejuvenates old leather best?? 

Now to find a worthy person to do the stitching or learn how to.use that thingie.. 

 

I do recall back in the day that these things  happened  then too. Including some of the old vinyls would get very brittle in the winter  months. One knees worth of pressure and things split instantly! 

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I shudder at the thought of tryting to re-stitch a whole car by hand. I do love old leather, and have done small repairs by hand. 6 inches of restitch is very doable. A couple of feet can push you to the brink.... a whole insert or a whole car? GAH!!! No. Read Trimacar's post and do the math....

 

To improve old leather, clean it! Get yourself some clear/clear-orange unscented glycerine soap. Get a soft fingernail brush that hooks over your fingers and some clean soft rags. Get a small bowl with some water in it. Dip the brush in the water, then pick up a little soap off the bar of soap. Carefully scrub a small area with the nail brush. Work on maybe a 4 to 6 inch square at a time. Finish, then move on. Try to use as little water as possible. Scrub, wipe with a damp rag, then buff with a dry rag. It works because you are not only removing dirt, but some of the "leather treatments" or "softeners" that soaked into the leather, dried out, and made it hard as a rock. Do this every couple of months. It will probably improve drastically.

 

I wouldn't put those treatments back on. IMHO many of them are the problem, not the solution. If you must use something, dissolve a tiny bit of beeswax on a damp rag and polish with that.

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Another consideration is seat construction. If sponge rubber was used in the construction, and it's more then 60 yrs old, the stuff is on it's last legs. Part of the salvation of the interior, should be it's replacement. 

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It's quite true that hand stitching an interior is a slow laborious process. But if you price a new leather interior you may decide it is better and cheaper to resew the old stuff even if it takes you a week. Besides it should only be necessary to resew the bad spots not the whole thing.

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On 6/29/2020 at 7:48 AM, Rusty_OToole said:

It's quite true that hand stitching an interior is a slow laborious process. But if you price a new leather interior you may decide it is better and cheaper to resew the old stuff even if it takes you a week. Besides it should only be necessary to resew the bad spots not the whole thing.


depending on the interior, one week may be optimistic. 

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16 minutes ago, gossp said:


depending on the interior, one week may be optimistic. 

Yes, to do it correctly takes time.  Once you start you’ll know whether the leather seam will survive the process.

 

Worked with a great paint and body man, spectacular results.  One day a guy asked him hey, I’d like to do that, can you explain your process to me?  Paint and body guy says well, first you work with metal and make it as perfect as you can then you fill and sand, primer coat, then a black coat to see any imperfections in body panel, fix or fill imperfections, another coat to double check, then block sand everything, making custom blocks for the different body panels, prime,sand, prime,sand, color coat, color sand and buff.   Fellow looks at him and says wow, that sounds like a lot of work, I really wanted to know the EASY way to do it...

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We've all fallen into the trap of thinking we can get lazy or cheap and it will be good enough. It's never as easy or cheap as we think it's going to be, and it's seldom good enough to satisfy us. 

 

I'm all in on trying to save the original interior if it's really a survivor car. It does sound like that defines you and your car, I laud you for it.

 

Bill

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I think I have 3 sections each about 4-5" where seam is opened.. both upper side seams where leather meets  side to front. And one side of the middle seat inset where side design  meets middle design.. that I did 2 days ago with my knee.. oops!

Oddly the front upper back rest and rear seat are like new.. soft and in fine shape.. the lower front seats are dry in the center areas of each side. Parts under knees and side bolsters seems much softer n okay . 

Since it's a biscuit tufted  style, I wonder if I could just match up leather n piece it in where dry or cracked leather is?  I like the character  in the rest...love to keep it!

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