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How to tighten headliner material


rhurst
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836360024_HudsonHeadlinerroof1.JPG.8eeb8065bc9781238b1d4b092a2400d0.JPG836360024_HudsonHeadlinerroof1.JPG.8eeb8065bc9781238b1d4b092a2400d0.JPGI'm installing new headliner material on my 1923 Hudson.  Is there a special tool or technique to do this. I am using a staple gun as I stretch the fabric.  It is attached to two of the roof supports by a sewed on strip of material but tends to billow in between.  Any help out there?

Robert2130077610_HudsonHeadliner.JPG.b3ebad14b484f7a681ae0521fb3e7ffd.JPG2130077610_HudsonHeadliner.JPG.b3ebad14b484f7a681ae0521fb3e7ffd.JPG2130077610_HudsonHeadliner.JPG.b3ebad14b484f7a681ae0521fb3e7ffd.JPG

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If it's wool, spraying it with water will make it shrink.  After I installed a headliner in my Model A I was able to remove sags in the fabric by doing this.

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Thanks it is worth a try.   The fabric is wool so I am sure this will help.

I will first go back and try to stretch it more.  It is just difficult to hold the stretch while I staple.

For the purists I did try to nail it but the result was even worse.

Robert

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You need to get it as good as possible, you may need to put in a few tacks, then pull them out and retack 2 or 3 times. When you get it as good as you can finish tacking it,  there will still be a few wrinkles, then you steam the wrinkles to shrink them out. This is how upholstery shops do the job.

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On 5/5/2021 at 11:23 AM, rhurst said:

I do have a steam machine but does the result stay tight?

Robert

It's permanent. The wrinkles will shrink out if you do nothing at all but it is a slow process. I am talking about small wrinkles, if you have big wrinkles you need to retack the material.

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Posted (edited)

Well, first of all, the fabric at each cross bow should hang down slightly, not be tight to the wood.  Second, when tacking the listing strip to the wood, don’t drive the tack, nail, or staple all the way in.  This allows the fabric to move side to side.  Pull snug, side to side, then, starting at center front and rear, pull headliner snug back to front as you fasten it. The secret to a nice headliner is that it must hang down sufficiently to pull tight side to side and front to back.  If it doesn’t hang, then you can’t fix it.

 

From your pictures you’ve put the listing up too tight to wood, and nailed it too tightly in place.

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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Thank  you so much for the tips and evaluation of what I have done.  Since I posted the photos I figured out some of what you said.  Like the tip about doing the sides first before pulling tight front to back.

Robert

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I was going to basically say everything david did and will add a little. Hopefully your headliner was made with the listings sewn according to you tack bows. If you have a dome light, make sure the wires are accessible but don’t cut the hole until the headliner is all in. I always use chalk and mark all the way around the tack area so I know where I have to tack the headliner so the fasteners will be covered by the interior panels. You should mark the center of your nail bows, front header and the listings. Then start at the rear of the car, tacking or stapling the rearmost listing to the appropriate roof bow, working from the center of the bow towards each side leaving the listing to headliner sew line about a 1/4” from the bottom of the bow. If you have original bows in your car, the tack bows are obvious as the old staple holes show. If new wood, mark the correct bows so you don’t tack a listing to a wrong bow (it happens if you don’t install headliners often) Once the listing is tacked out about 8-10” to each side, pull the headliner back to the rear roof tack line and tack from center out again 8-10” staying out of the corners for now. When you pull the material back, watch the listing sew line on the inside of the headliner and keep it straight, don’t pull too tight or not enough so it gets wavy, you want it consistent. I then finish tacking the listing on the rearmost bow to the outside edges. Attach the next listing to the next bow the same way, again leaving it down about a 1/4” and keeping the sew line as straight as possible. Depending on the size of your car you might have two or three listings to tack in. Once the listings are all tacked, I pull the headliner forward to the front header tack strip and I use spring clamps to hold it putting clamps about every three inches or so, working from center out again. I look at all the sew lines and adjust the clamps to make the headliner tight and the lines straight. Once I’m happy with the way it looks, I tack the front. The sides are next with the rear corners last, working from the center of the corners out to the side and rear of the nail line. I do a fair amount of old chevys and I’ve never had to shrink one to get a wrinkle out. I was installing all Hampton Coach interiors and they used really nice material on their headliners, very easy to work with. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have any wrinkles but take your time and you will have very few if any.

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Thank you so much, these are great suggestions. I started from the front but I can easily start over from the back. When do you do the sides? last? I put the listings in myself on the new headliner.  The original only had two but I added two more that should help keep it closer to the roof. Let me know the sequence of tacking.  Are you saying do the rear most listing first then tack above the back window, then do all the other listings then tack at the front windshield?  Do the sides last?

Robert

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On 5/7/2021 at 1:04 PM, rhurst said:

Thank you so much, these are great suggestions. I started from the front but I can easily start over from the back. When do you do the sides? last? I put the listings in myself on the new headliner.  The original only had two but I added two more that should help keep it closer to the roof. Let me know the sequence of tacking.  Are you saying do the rear most listing first then tack above the back window, then do all the other listings then tack at the front windshield?  Do the sides last?

Robert

Basically yes, but the rear corners are last. If you have a listing at every bow that is not a good idea because it will be hard to get the headliner evenly tight in every panel (between sewn listings). Traditionally, the rear tack bow is the highest. Usually The next tack bow is close to the rear middle one bow ahead of the dome light  board front bow, then one or two over the rest of the span depending on what car and model. 
     When tacking the sides start in the middle working towards the front and rear keeping the sew lines straight across the roof and down the curve to the side. Tack the side in the rear until it starts to curve in the corner, then tack the corners by starting in the middle of the corner working out pulling the fabric as you go. If your other headliner was hanging low either it wasn’t done right or was replaced at one time and the listings were not in the best locations.

 

Remember to keep the sew lines straight and when done your headliner will look great. Nothing looks worse than a headliner that’s all crooked, with high or low spots, and/or loose.

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This is such great information.  I am replacing the original and noticed it had only two listings like you mentioned. I was planning on adding more but now I know that would be wrong. My headliner on the 1923 Hudson is just one piece of wool with no seams.  That should make it easier I think but then again maybe I can't see the actual tension I am putting on the material.  Will take out my tacks and staples and start over doing it right.  Can't thank you enough for all the information. Should post a photo when I am done.

Robert

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