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Vintage Upholstery Question


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Posted (edited)

DE3.jpg.57bfb57efc6a6f0981d63310c14223ae.jpgFor the upholstery experts:

I am about to make the cotton-stuffed pleated seat covering for a 1932 automobile.  My question is; would it be preferable to top-stitch the pleat seams, or to blind stitch as in tuck-and-roll?   The existing upholstery (which is not original) is top-stitched, but it seems to me that the blind stitch would be more durable, and perhaps also more forgiving to imperfections for a novice.  What would you do?  Thanks.

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Edited by Akstraw
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Blind stitch is the method used by most manufacturers.  Be careful how much material you add for fullness.  Mark pleat side on backing material, add 5/16 to 3/4 inch when marking top material.  Sew a narrow seam (stitch close to edge).  Stuff after sewing, but that’s a whole separate discussion, use cotton batting not foam.

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Thanks for your reply, David.  I am still learning the terms; maybe I meant bottom, not blind.  Nevertheless, you understood my question, and I understand your reply.  I have seen a very informative video on how to calculate and mark the fabric, and also how to stuff the cotton.  I am looking forward to giving this a try; I will let you know how it turns out.    Andrew

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This fellow is doing a blind stitch, close to the edge, with foam for some modern pleating. If it were just top stitch he would not be folding the fabric over; he'd just be stitching straight over it and you'd see the stitches on the finished product.

 

 

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Great perfect piping(is what I call it)job.

Very often this style job is way over stuffed or too flat or straight sewn through the filler for ease and quickness.

Width of each pipe roll is also looks period right..

It's usually a pretty good car when the piping rolls over the front of the cushions ,so no front lower panel and seams.

Some where I have the long special spring metal tool they use to use to run the cotton stuffing through those pipe rolls.

Skill ,care and time shows here.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks!  I went to Ace Hardware to look around for ideas as to what I could use to make stuffing channels.  I ended up buying a length of PVC downspout, and cutting the channels out of that.  Cut it with snips, sanded the edges, and they worked great.  For ten bucks.  And I have enough downspout left to make two more.  

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Edited by Akstraw (see edit history)
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That's an excellent idea, as mentioned they make metal pieces specifically for the stuffing.  I don't use them, I have material that I use which is thin and unbreakable, it looks like aluminum foil with thread crisscrossed through it.  It was used to ship some large machinery from Japan and protect the machinery from salt water, super thin and one can't tear it.

 

That material you're using seems to have an odd weave.  Is it wool, or?

 

Kudos for tackling the job yourself....

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One thing I have learned from this project is that fabric selection is not among my skillsets.  I got a nice body cloth from Hirsch and a wool for the headliner and uppers from Miami (both $80+ per yard) but upon delivery, didn't like the way they matched.  I returned the body cloth and ordered a Bedford Cord from another supplier; it was a perfect complement to the wool.  I am currently on day 71 waiting for delivery.  The body cloth that I am using is (don't laugh) a Sunbrella Polyester that I found in a local discount fabric shop for $12 per yard.  Not technically correct for 1932, but has some vague similarity to the original, and cheap enough that I was willing to try it myself.  If the Bedford Cord showed up today, I would probably redo the work, but by the end of this week I will be pretty far down the road with the Sunbrella.  Picture is a scrap of the original 1932 body cloth on left, and the Sunbrella on the right.

Fabric May 2021.jpg

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My opinion is that was good practice, but find your Bedford cord.  I think using polyester hurts the value of the car. And, it’s a car worth doing correctly.

 

Of course, it’s your car, so do what you wish.

 

Again, I applaud you wanting to do the work yourself.  There’s no magic to doing upholstery work, but it takes patience and a good eye.  A few little tricks of the trade help too!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think you are right, Dave.  I have begun looking for a more suitable body cloth.  Meanwhile, I have tried my hand at the upper part of the interior.  Slow and tedious, but fun to learn, too.

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On the subject of vintage upholstery, I have for sale a full seat set of Lebaron Bonney 1941 Ford pleated tan leather.  Set includes all padding .

Contact Phil at 508-577-8889

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is another question; same car.  It has a top cover of rubberized fabric similar to a Model A; "long grain cobra".  I think I erred in installing this during the winter (i.e. colder temp.).  I bought another piece of fabric to try again.  I want to eliminate the ripples along the sides, and possibly avoid some or all of the fold-overs at the corners.  Are there any tips to install this? 

 

I am thinking tack it on the front center, then stretch to the rear and tack it.  Then stretch from side to side and tack it in the center.  Then pull the corners down and see if I can stretch around the corners smoothly without having to double it over.    (Or... should I stretch it over the corners in in x-fashion first, then pull the front, back, and sides.)     Any advice?

Cobra Top 1.jpg

Cobra Top 2.jpg

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Thanks!  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  (By the way, I saw at Hershey the R&L you restored; just one month after I bought this car.  Your work inspired me to pursue a high standard, though I must say that has resulted in me doing most tasks twice.)

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For your top corrections you may have to get ,if you don't have already a pair of the 2,3or 4 inch wide billed gripping pliers also called canvas pliers (art canvas)to be able grip the little bit of top material you have to work with easier and pull!!!!!

 

A HOT( directly in sun),sunny day is the best to do closed tops .

The heat gun and good powerful hair dryers are a big help..don't over heat...

 

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2 hours ago, Flivverking said:

For your top corrections you may have to get ,if you don't have already a pair of the 2,3or 4 inch wide billed gripping pliers also called canvas pliers (art canvas)to be able grip the little bit of top material you have to work with easier and pull!!!!!

 

A HOT( directly in sun),sunny day is the best to do closed tops .

The heat gun and good powerful hair dryers are a big help..don't over heat...

 

You can also use the sheet metal vice grips, with a four inch or so flange....buy real vice grips (Erwin I think), most others are junk, like Milwaukee...just make sure you have a really good grasp on fabric, when it slips and takes out a five inch crease of paint, taint fun...

 

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  • 1 month later...

VERY nice!!

So, please give us some tips (secrets) on your process.  Did you start with the front center-back center-side center routine or did you do the corner to corner X pattern you previously thought about?

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I put it out in the sun for an hour, the did front center, rear center, expanded front, expanded rear, then side and side.  Then I worked each corner individually.  (Had to go back into the shade at this point; was getting a sunburn). Used a little bit of the heat gun ( on setting 2 of 10) on the corners.  BTW, used tacks, rather than staple, and only drove them half way in.  Working around the corners, I stretched down the center of the corner, and then worked inward from the side and back, trying to stuff as much overlength as I could outward from the corner from tack to tack, to eliminate the overlap (if you can understand that).  Once it was halftacked all around, i put it back into the sun for an hour, then let it sit overnight.  Next day, adjusted a few tacks, then drove home the tacks, trimmed off the excess, and installed the hidem.   Biggest lesson learned:  Do this job in July, not February.

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Nicely done, and you hit on one reason I spit tacks.  They are easily removed and adjusted, with a staple one does more harm than good removing them to reposition.

 

A fellow trimmer brought up an interesting point, so to speak, about putting tacks in one’s mouth.  A good box of tacks, you can lightly press your finger in the box and a few points will stick to your skin.  Why, he asked, don’t those sharp points jab the inside of one’s mouth?  
 

I don’t know the answer, but do know that there is no pain with a mouthful of tacks.

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I just read this all the way through now. THANK YOU to all who commented, what an education for everyone! Step by step lesson with "be aware of this before it happens" cautions. Thanks all for sharing your knowledge. Canvas pliers from an art store - yes, have used them for decades teaching art.

Walt

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Since you read it all the way from the beginning, I’ll show the finished interior.  I completed the final part, the door panels, this week.  Still have to do the final cleanup; you can see some random fuzz here and there.  Not perfect, but not too bad for my first try at trim work (or second, since I did most parts of it twice, or more).   I definitely learned a lot doing this project, and enjoyed it.  I would do another.

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Wow, nicely done.  Looks great, you are I’m sure, and should be, proud of the result.

 

Its not so much hiding mistakes, as knowing which mistake to tear apart and “pro Bono” fix, and which mistake might blend in and not be noticed in the overall picture.

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