How difficult to reupholster seats at home?
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How difficult to reupholster seats at home?

  1. #1
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    Default How difficult to reupholster seats at home?

    Sorry if this is wrong section, I couldn't find one that made sense regarding upholstery except for this section since its about cosmetics. If a mod has a better section, please feel free to move thread.

    Im new and am looking at old ski boats from the 70's. Most of them have the standard back to back seats but the covers are all cracked and falling apart. Is this something that might be repaired at home? The frames seem good still so maybe I can just rip the foam and covers off, glue on new foam and staple new covers.

    Anybody ever done something like this or have any tips on how to do it, what to use, etc? This is a budget build so I just need something halfway decent instead of these torn up seats.

    Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Gone in a Flash! Speed of Heat's Avatar
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    If the frames are reusable and the foam is in fairly good shape, yes one can probably do some DIY upholstery. Now if you're thinking fancy tuck and roll with contrasting piping etc, it's reality check time. To do it correctly, you really need a walking foot machine. I started out with a heavy duty home machine but pretty much found the limit real fast as to what the limitations of the machine are. Not to discourage you as we all started with the first home project, give it a try. There are lots of online vids on the subject and if you get serious, you can find a good used machine for about a grand, maybe less with some hard shopping. It's better to spend a bit more for a good machine. Repairs tend to get spendy quick and it REALLY sucks to have the machine trash a piece of work that you have alot of time and money invested in. One thing I'll warn you is once people find out that you do trimmer work, you'll most likely have every Tom, Dick and Harry on your doorstep wanting a buddy deal.
    Remember that the Ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.

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    Thanks for the input and advice. Probably best to just pay an upholstery shop I think.

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  6. #4
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    Default sewing machine

    if you plan on getting a sewing machine, make sure it has a walking foot and reverse so you can "lock" your stitch when you begin.
    hope that helps

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    Senior Member md-11mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ Racing Georgia View Post
    if you plan on getting a sewing machine, make sure it has a walking foot and reverse so you can "lock" your stitch when you begin.
    hope that helps
    There is a machine on ebay by Toyota, brand new has all kinds of attachments, has a real cool 1 for piping. I've done piping on a regular machine its a PIA. It is 450 bucks and looks like it will sew plywood check it out. I am going to get 1 when I get back to the states. Otherwise there a ton of Consews on ebay for about 500. Don't try and use a regular machine or it will cost 75 bucks to get it working correctly again. Yes I know this first hand.

  8. #6
    Senior Member flatwater's Avatar
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    Depends on what you want. I redid all my seats in my last boat....(never did it prior to that). Just take your time. I did one seat at a time and copied the panels to the new material. I stuck with one color (that helped). Areas that needed new foam, I cut away the old and glued in the new and shaved it down to match. If you do it your self, use marine grade material and use Stainless Steel staples!!!!!!!!! The worst thing you can do is use regular staples....they will rust away and your work will go away with it. If you have them done by someone make sure they use SS staples too. Had a buddy take his in and the shop used regular staples.... I'll attach a pic of my first boat...

    These are pictures I took to sell the boat a couple of years ago. I redid the seats about 8 years prior to that, and they held up very well for what I used the boat for.
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    Senior Member md-11mike's Avatar
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    Default

    That turned out nice!

  10. #8
    Senior Member flatwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by md-11mike View Post
    That turned out nice!

    Not bad eh? Looking at all the seats at once can have you saying to you self "what the F*** did I get myself into!?"....so don't do that. Just take one at a time and go slow. It's amazing how you can pick up on things. Now that I think about it, I threw the material in the dryer for a few min to warm it up when doing some hard stuff..... you'll know what I mean when you get to that point!
    I will be doing the seats over in the Stevens next year, along with a new paint scheme. These seats should be a walk in the park compared to the last ones!

    Looking at the bottom edge of the bottom pic, you can see 2 large SS washers...this was a road side fix after the trunk lid flew open on the hwy and I lost all my ski shit. It ripped the trunk lid off because it opened up toward the front of the boat and caught some wind. I had to put large washers on the back side of the hinges so they could grab, as the original screws pulled trough. One of them live and learn type of days.....
    Last edited by flatwater; 03-14-2014 at 07:42 AM.

  11. #9
    Senior Member md-11mike's Avatar
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    I have done some upholstey. Used my wife macheine and knocked it out of time. I had to give up when all it would sw is birds nests on the back side of the material. Getting it warm would for sure make it easier. I will get a real machine and will make the process a lot easier. The guy in town charges an amr and a leg, I found a guy that does great work in fresno but then I have to drive. It isnt goign to be a show boat, its a 65 sanger so I can go with functional for now. Amazing what blows off and out of a boat on the road.

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    Red Blooded American The Doctor's Avatar
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    This is kinda like asking if you can paint a vintage Corvette at your house?
    There's a lot to ask/know. What is your skill level? Do you have the right equipment/facility/supplies? Do you know what material is right for this job?

    You can do it if you have the right answers. I was lucky enough to marry wonder-woman, who can do about anything, so we do this stuff at home.
    Her work is not professional, by any means, but she's good enough for us.


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    The best things in life aren't things!

  13. #11
    Senior Member md-11mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Doctor View Post
    This is kinda like asking if you can paint a vintage Corvette at your house?
    There's a lot to ask/know. What is your skill level? Do you have the right equipment/facility/supplies? Do you know what material is right for this job?

    You can do it if you have the right answers. I was lucky enough to marry wonder-woman, who can do about anything, so we do this stuff at home.
    Her work is not professional, by any means, but she's good enough for us.


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    Dang! Looks like you got a keeper there

  14. #12
    Senior Member wolfie's Avatar
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    I was going to take my Eliminator to Doc to have them do the interior. He sent me some really nice pictures of the work they did. The only reason I didn't was distance, time, and the fact that I sold the boat to build two others. I'd have them do work!!
    In fact, I was going to talk to him about price on covering some fiberglass buckets.

  15. #13
    Senior Member Texgo's Avatar
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    I made two seat shells and upholstered one of the seats. I have a heavy commercial sewing machine, but not a walking foot. It was tough. I ended up ripping out a few seams and redoing them. It didn't come out bad, but I just couldn't make myself get started on the second seat. I ended up buying two fiberglass buckets and I sent them to the upholstery shop to make some snap-in cushions. I ended up spending lots of money on them and they took seven weeks. Next time I think I'll do them myself. Get a walking foot machine with a table. If you refoam, you can shape the foam with a sanding disc. Make sure your thread is also marine grade along with all of the other materials. Don't sweat it if you have a wrinkle or two when you get done.

  16. #14
    Senior Member flatwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texgo View Post
    I made two seat shells and upholstered one of the seats. I have a heavy commercial sewing machine, but not a walking foot. It was tough. I ended up ripping out a few seams and redoing them. It didn't come out bad, but I just couldn't make myself get started on the second seat. I ended up buying two fiberglass buckets and I sent them to the upholstery shop to make some snap-in cushions. I ended up spending lots of money on them and they took seven weeks. Next time I think I'll do them myself. Get a walking foot machine with a table. If you refoam, you can shape the foam with a sanding disc. Make sure your thread is also marine grade along with all of the other materials. Don't sweat it if you have a wrinkle or two when you get done.
    Snap in pads would be awesome. Might think about doing the same thing. As for shaping the foam, you can use a electric knife (like you use on your turkey) for the rough cutting, then fine tune and smooth off with a sanding disk... I found this to work well...

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