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Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-03-2009, 2:44 PM Reply   
I had some interest in my first boat upholstery project and some people wanted a step by step process so here is how I am doing mine. If you have any constructive critisism or good tips or how something should be done different it is welcome but if you have never done upholstery I don't want to hear how you think it should be done.
Before getting the boat seats out of your boat make some marks on the upholstery if you want to change some of the lines in the trim work so you will be able to make everything line up when finished. Then remove all pieces to be worked on. Then I drew on my exsisting back rest what I wanted to change with the different pattern.
The first thing I made was the piping for the bottom cushion. At first I pinned the pipping every 2" or so and then sewed it, but then learned by doing it free hand at 3" at a time saves a lot of time and is easy. With your zipper foot and needle to the side this was a very basic way to start getting used to sewing. Make sure the cord you buy is a marine foam type cord and is not the cotton kind. I am using a 4 oz. bonded nylon thread which I don't really know if it's good or not but thats what the lady at the place where I bought everything told me to use. I am also using a #16 needle and am stitching about 8 stitches per inch.
Next with a seam ripper or razor blade cut and rip all the seams that you want to take apart. Make sure to label everything how you want it to make it easier and not mess up with the wrong colors. For me DG=dark grey LG=light grey BL=blue obviously.
Next I lay my vinyl face down on my table and put my patterns face down on the vinyl and trace out all the patterns. On all sides that are not stapled to the seat base I allow 1/2" for the new sewed seam. All the old seams are folded over and if you unfold them it should line up with your pencil mark you just made or be a hair smaller. The factory seams are only about 1/4" and I am sewing everything at a 1/2" so take that extra 1/4" into account or you will have to really stretch your final skin over your seat.
Then sew all your patterns together to make your new skin. To get the most important seams lined up I start at that seam even if it is in the middle of a longer stitched seam. Like the blue stripe wrapping around the edge of the seat. When your skin is done snip all the curved seams about half what to the stitching so it will form around the curve nicer.
Put you skin on your padded seat base for a test and it should look a little small to cover you old foam seat base. For your piping seam there will be an extra piece of vinyl to conform around the foam and look like to different panels on the cushion. I draw to parallel line on this piece to see how I can keep the staples in the same place so my finished product looks even.
Then I finish stapling the skin to the back of the seat base and insert the front foam peace and staple the rest of the cushion. The staple gun I am using is a standard hand staple gun, not electric or knewmatic. In harder surfaces the staples are left up 1/32" and I just hit them in with a hammer.
Here is my finished product of the observers seat. I am very happy how it turned out and it is very simple once you get doing it but does take a lot of time and patients. This cusion and back rest took me approx. 6 hours start to finish.
Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-03-2009, 2:47 PM Reply   
If you have any more questions let me know and I'll try to help but the biggest thing to do is learn by hands on it will become easier as you go. Start with a simple smaller piece and then "The sky is the limit"
Old     (h2ohangtime)      Join Date: Aug 2002       11-03-2009, 3:31 PM Reply   
Nick, that looks freakin' sweet...can't wait to see the whole thing done. Great choice on the color combo. The blue really pops.
Old     (phenom_1819)      Join Date: Jan 2008       11-03-2009, 3:46 PM Reply   
Wow, that is really impressive!! Nice work!
Old     (nbigger)      Join Date: May 2008       11-03-2009, 5:43 PM Reply   
These threads are great I am now looking forward to this as a winter project.
Old     (dpauly84)      Join Date: Aug 2009       11-03-2009, 5:49 PM Reply   
Great Job. I am practicing sewing now on some cheap vinyl. I tore apart one of my front cushions and made patterns pretty much the same way you did. Everything looks like it came out well but I still need to stretch it over the seat. If everything looks well, I will order the vinyl I want and then do it all over again
Old     (266crownlinebr)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-03-2009, 8:42 PM Reply   
I am very impressed. That takes balls to start a project like that.
Old     (rio_sanger)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-03-2009, 9:00 PM Reply   
Beautiful Nick, very impressive work!
Although that dark grey would cook our butts off in the southwest, then again where you are, you might welcome the added heat factor!
Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-03-2009, 9:20 PM Reply   
Thanks for the good comments. When I went looking for a how to section on doing something like this I couldn't come up with much so hopefully this will help someone out. As for the dark vinyl getting to hot, that is a concern of mine but I guess I'll have to have some damp towels on board to wipe them down. The place I bought the vinyl from didn't have a lighter shade of grey except for the light grey I am using and I was sick of waiting for samples to come in the mail all the time.
Old     (splashbenidorm)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-04-2009, 1:07 AM Reply   
Wow, that's not a DIY! This is really Pro!

Well done.
Old     (jmanolinsky)      Join Date: Dec 2005       11-04-2009, 10:13 AM Reply   
It really looks great, Nick. FYI, stainless upholstery staples will not rust like ordinary staples. You can also neaten up the look of the underside of pieces that open or lift out by using hydem to hide the staples. You can see an example of it here.
Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-04-2009, 11:10 AM Reply   
Thanks, it did have the hydem seams on it when I took everything off but I don't plan to put any back on but now that you said that it does make it look a little nicer so I might just have to get some. I just ordered some thing from and it got here pretty quick. And for the staples I am using stainless Arrow 5/8" staples. It took me a few places to find them but they are only like $8 for 1000 compared to $3 for 1000 non stainless.
Old     (jmanolinsky)      Join Date: Dec 2005       11-04-2009, 11:39 AM Reply   
Glad to hear you got the stainless staples, Nick. Money well spent. IMO, The hydem just adds the finishing touch. It looks much better than all those staples showing. You've done a great job, saved yourself some serious coin and I'm sure you are proud of your handy work. Get ready for requests to do the job for others!

Old     (andrewjet)      Join Date: Jan 2003       11-04-2009, 11:51 AM Reply   
WOW! I am amazed. great job. Jet

come do mine..
Old     (ilikebeaverandboats)      Join Date: Jul 2007       11-03-2010, 10:42 PM Reply   
holy shet man thats impressive
Old     (mike2001)      Join Date: Feb 2008       11-04-2010, 10:13 AM Reply   
Are you planning to do the entire interior to match the seat? Would love to see the whole thing when it is done. And did I mis-read or is this just the 1st boat upholstery project, seems pretty well thought out if its the 1st upholstery project you've ever done.
Old     (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-04-2010, 11:30 AM Reply   
Wow! Nice work! Good luck on the rest of the project! So far it's looking awesome!
Old     (csaidler)      Join Date: Aug 2010       11-04-2010, 2:13 PM Reply   
That looks great. Did this on a car I was rebuilding when I was younger and that stuff gets tedious. Takes alot of patients. good luck with the rest of the boat. boat should look 100% better
Old     (csaidler)      Join Date: Aug 2010       11-04-2010, 2:16 PM Reply   
HA! just realized this thread was a year old. Howd it turnout?
Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-04-2010, 10:17 PM Reply

Thanks for the comments, but i didn't think we could post in this DIY thread thing.
Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-04-2010, 10:22 PM Reply
The malibu logo I did. And the VLX logo.
The first boat I did was the '89 Nautique.
Old     (greg2)      Join Date: May 2002       11-05-2010, 6:46 PM Reply   
Very impressive!
Old     (konaking)      Join Date: Mar 2008       01-24-2011, 7:06 AM Reply   
Hey great work just wandering what sewing machine you are using, needle size and thread ? Thinking of doing some of my own.

Old     (chattwake)      Join Date: Jan 2010       01-24-2011, 7:27 AM Reply   
Btw my wife does embroidery and has a brother pr650 commercial machine if any of you guys want something custom.
Old     (murphy_smith)      Join Date: Dec 2005       01-25-2011, 10:05 AM Reply   
Have any of you done a drivers seat and seat bottom.

I have a new skin from Chee and wanted to see if there are any tips for putting it on.
Old     (mjfan23)      Join Date: Nov 2003       08-19-2012, 10:30 PM Reply   
Wow. That looks really nice.
Old     (steezin4noreason)      Join Date: Mar 2009       08-30-2013, 8:48 AM Reply   
Thanks for posting this. I am getting ready to attempt to replace my upholstery as well. Great job.
Old     (saberworks)      Join Date: Sep 2010       08-30-2013, 5:16 PM Reply   
Cool old thread. Is there any point to piping other than to look nice?
Old     (Jed)      Join Date: Aug 2013       08-30-2013, 5:47 PM Reply   
My understanding-- Piping mid-seat provides contrast and hides the stitching a bit. Piping between the boat and the seat back improves the look of that interface. Upholstery panels look like they're tight against the wall even if there's a little gap or mis alignment.

I'm just starting my first upholstery effort so I could easily be wrong.
Old     (nick_in_ssp)      Join Date: Aug 2006       09-04-2013, 11:56 AM Reply   
Thanks for the good comments. It is on its 3rd season and still looks about the same as when I got done with it. No seperating seams from ripped stitching or bad vinyl spots. This last winter I did boat number 3, I will have to post up another thread of the finished product. And I would love to see some other custom style upholstery jobs, I will be waiting for some pics from you guys. Be creative because those small details and modifications you can put in there really make the boat your own and something to be proud of.


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