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Old 18-02-2014, 18:45   #1
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DIY Reupholstery questions

Good evening!

I'm going to apologize in advance if putting a sewing/upholstery question squarely in the women's forum. I saw a number of other related questions in this forum, so I figured it's a good place to start. That said, I've already promised the skipper he'd be sewing at least one cushion under my tutelage.

Anyway, I have a couple of questions. I am redoing the v-berth and salon cushions in our 1972 Columbia 30. It's a boat that is subject to quite a bit of mold growth for a variety of reasons, so we are thinking sunbrella for the cushions so they are highly washable and will hold their shape. Any thoughts on whether this might be a good plan?

The original musty old cushions had vinyl bottoms. I can get marine grade 28 oz vinyl online for $14/yd, about $10/yd less than the sunbrella. Necessary or not?

I guess my only worry is that I have a tank of an old Husqvarna sewing machine from the 80s, but I'm worried I won't be able to sew through 28 oz vinyl. I have no gauge at hand to know how heavy that vinyl is, but here's a link to my sewing machine model:
Husqvarna Viking Model 610 Sewing Machine Elehosp | eBay

Do you think she can handle it?

Also what thread type and needle size would you recommend for upholstery?

Thanks a million!
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Old 18-02-2014, 18:54   #2
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Ok not an answer your question but thought you would be interested in this great idea. Take a thin piece of plywood and cut it to the size and shape of your cushion, wrap cushion with your choice of fabric and staple it underneath with monel staples. A great time saver and you can change fabrics in the future very easily. You can also put a bunch of holes in the plywood and some strips of wood to keep it raised for ventilation.
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Old 18-02-2014, 18:57   #3
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

Your thread size will be limited by the needle size which is limited by the sewing machine. I can't tell by the ebay ad if the Husky uses upholstery sized needles or homemaker sized needles. If it uses garment needles, you'll need to get the largest needles available which will be about the smallest thread suitable for your project. The machine should sew through 2 layers of Sunbrella or 2 layers of vinyl without any problem but when you get to areas with 4-6 layers if it's the small needles you'll break some needles and thread. It won't kill the machine, it will just frustrate you and make some ice cream necessary after the ordeal. The vinyl isn't necessary but it's probably a lot cheaper than Sunbrella. I'm a man. Both of my parents were upholsterers. I do the sewing.
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Old 18-02-2014, 19:10   #4
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

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Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
Ok not an answer your question but thought you would be interested in this great idea. Take a thin piece of plywood and cut it to the size and shape of your cushion, wrap cushion with your choice of fabric and staple it underneath with monel staples. A great time saver and you can change fabrics in the future very easily. You can also put a bunch of holes in the plywood and some strips of wood to keep it raised for ventilation.
This is a great idea! How thin do you think is appropriate for the plywood?
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Old 18-02-2014, 19:24   #5
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I'm going to use 1/8 inch plywood when I redo mine. Use 1/8 inch staples and fold the fabric over where i staple it
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Old 18-02-2014, 19:27   #6
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

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Your thread size will be limited by the needle size which is limited by the sewing machine. I can't tell by the ebay ad if the Husky uses upholstery sized needles or homemaker sized needles. If it uses garment needles, you'll need to get the largest needles available which will be about the smallest thread suitable for your project. The machine should sew through 2 layers of Sunbrella or 2 layers of vinyl without any problem but when you get to areas with 4-6 layers if it's the small needles you'll break some needles and thread. It won't kill the machine, it will just frustrate you and make some ice cream necessary after the ordeal. The vinyl isn't necessary but it's probably a lot cheaper than Sunbrella. I'm a man. Both of my parents were upholsterers. I do the sewing.
Awesome!! Jason, my other half, owns the boat technically so he's the skipper, but we are determined to make all the jobs "purple" jobs This weekend I'm on electrical mapping duty and then we'll tag team removing and rewiring (we have to redo the system after it was waterlogged in a *ahem* mishap).

I'm prepared for some frustration for sure and ice cream seems like a reasonable last resort!
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Old 18-02-2014, 19:51   #7
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

I redid the upholstery in my ski boat, and made custom seats for my outdoor kitchen.
I don't know about sunbrella, but I used some heavy marine vinyl and did piping, which means 4 layers had to be sewn through. I used a regular sewing machine, a $20 special
What matters is how sharp is the needle, thinner needle is easier, but more fragile.
I broke a lot of them, and found it very frustrating much of the time, but I'll do it again.
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Old 18-02-2014, 20:06   #8
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

Welp, I went ahead and ordered 10 yards of sunbrella and 6 of yachtsman marine grade vinyl. I found a sample with the sewing machine the shop had given me showing it can sew through five layers of denim handily so that is a plus. Guess I'll test her mettle.

Jack, that is promising! I'll try not to drink margaritas until after I've finished!
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Old 18-02-2014, 20:07   #9
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

Just got done redoing mine on my c30. Used sunbrella and vinyl just like you mentioned. Did not add piping to reduce the # of layers. Used a reasonably new home singer machine with the biggest needle I could find. Worked fine except... could not sew with the vinyl side up. I.e. If the presser foot was on the vinyl side, I got feed problems since it would stick to the foot. A walking foot machine would solve that. (Or maybe a roller foot) No biggie, I just made sure the vinyl side was 'down'. I bet an older husky would work better.. not ideal like a proper upholstery machine, but will work just fine.

I switched the needle when the machine was working harder than usual. Used 3 IIRC.

I got good at zippers. Wife did all the "staple to the settee back" upholstery including some big upholstery buttons. I sewed all of the cushions.

Every large sewing project I embark on, I remember the magic of winding the bobbin, the whirr of the machine, the snick sound the scissors make.... And the very most important part: the "sewing words." -- These are words you must say during the project. My favorite one starts with an S. 'cept when you find out you need to rip out about 3 yards of seam... That word starts with an F. There's special phrases for running out of bobbin thread too -- They combine lots of words, and are uttered at a high volume.

Wine helps with the frustration and reduces the utterances of sewing words.
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Old 18-02-2014, 20:21   #10
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

It's actually a real relief to see all these men sewing! I was at a seminar at the Annapolis Boat Show in October about gender roles on board and heard many a man snort at the mere thought of tackling a traditionally pink job.

Thanks for the tip! I love this forum-- so much helpfulness!
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Old 18-02-2014, 20:25   #11
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

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I'm going to use 1/8 inch plywood when I redo mine. Use 1/8 inch staples and fold the fabric over where i staple it
I have never done this on boat cushions but some kitchen chairs I redid 45 years ago (yikes that can't be) were 1/2" ply. I am quite sure the staples will pop the first you sit on it with 1/8". Be sure to use Stainless steel or Monel staples and fold over the fabric. I think this is a lot better than using vinyl, especially if you mold issues already. Vinyl will only trap moisture against the foam and grow and stink. I am doing my cushions this summer 1/2" ply, 4" foam and sunbrella.
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Old 18-02-2014, 20:35   #12
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

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Originally Posted by luckywizard View Post
It's actually a real relief to see all these men sewing! I was at a seminar at the Annapolis Boat Show in October about gender roles on board and heard many a man snort at the mere thought of tackling a traditionally pink job.

Thanks for the tip! I love this forum-- so much helpfulness!
Hold on… aboard boats this is a man's job
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Old 18-02-2014, 20:55   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luckywizard View Post
It's actually a real relief to see all these men sewing! I was at a seminar at the Annapolis Boat Show in October about gender roles on board and heard many a man snort at the mere thought of tackling a traditionally pink job.

Thanks for the tip! I love this forum-- so much helpfulness!
Yeah it was funny to me that you put it on a woman's thread. I've been making things all my life and it was always funny to me that if I worked with wood or metal it was manly. if I worked with fabric or food..... Unless of course I was making money doing it. Upholstery, sail making and repair is man's work. ( insert tool time grunts here ) Curtains on the other hand....
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Old 18-02-2014, 21:10   #14
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I have never done this on boat cushions but some kitchen chairs I redid 45 years ago (yikes that can't be) were 1/2" ply. I am quite sure the staples will pop the first you sit on it with 1/8". Be sure to use Stainless steel or Monel staples and fold over the fabric. I think this is a lot better than using vinyl, especially if you mold issues already. Vinyl will only trap moisture against the foam and grow and stink. I am doing my cushions this summer 1/2" ply, 4" foam and sunbrella.
What size staples are you going to use? I have a hard time believing 1/8 will pull out. I'll probably put a staple every 1 inch. And wasn't a half inch used on your chairs because you needed it for support?
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Old 19-02-2014, 06:34   #15
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Re: DIY Reupholstery questions

Ok, another question. Skipper and I want to pick a good quality foam that resists mildew but doesn't break the bank. Should interior cushions have marine grade foam, or just the cockpit?
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