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Topics - bobbin

I sent specifications for a binder, machine parts, and a deposit to a contractor nearly one year ago.  To date, I've received nothing.  The machine parts are (I suspect) lost (to Wyoming, if he wasn't lying to me).  I've been direct and polite (until last week) and would like your thoughts/suggestions on how to proceed.
General Discussion / Jute or synthetic webbing?
October 29, 2014, 02:15:32 pm
I rescued a very clean mid-century modern sofa a few weeks ago.  Original upholstery (nearly mint), I suspect a fully tied back and deck (1959-1965), a lovely slipcover, and two replaced deck cushions (done "on the cheap").  I got a price to re-upholster the piece ($900 labor), the guy uses jute webbing. 

Can you give me your opinion on synthetic webbing (what do you use for twine to tie springs?) and if you think it's important to spec. the synthetic for the job?
General Discussion / Sew Foam
August 04, 2014, 02:54:26 am
The many curved and shaped yacht seats shared here lead to the following questions:

1.)  Some of you glue the foam, some sew it.  When do you do which and how do you arrive at your decision?
2.)  Do you ever apply sew foam to add some loft to an existing foam base?
3.)  Do you glue the foam side or the tricot side (guessing the foam side)?
4.)  How do you decide if you'll used 1/4 or 1/2"? which size is your favorite, "go to" size?
General Discussion / Need some ideas
August 03, 2014, 05:30:07 am
I did a nice job in Ultra Leather earlier this year.  Buttoned the backs and it looked great.  Dum de dum, dum... .  Received a call that the seats wrinkle and they want them to be buttoned, as well.

I am nervous that buttoning will cause tearing of the vinyl if one of the buttons snags on a cargo pocket... etc.  I have not seen the "wrinkling", so am unsure about the cause (cover is too loose? didn't seem that way to me, but...).

I'm toying with adding a layer of batting or maybe sew foam to add some loft and take up any slack in the vinyl (if that's an issue) and allow the buttons to really settle down into the foam (4").  I'm not experienced with sew foam, so any thoughts you guys could offer would be much appreciated. 

(looking for closure on this one!)
General Discussion / Ikea
June 29, 2014, 09:59:02 am
My brother and I own a home that has required considerable work.  Evidently the mice moved upstairs from the cellar last winter and into a sofa.  I was dismayed that my brother took it to the dump without consulting me, but he did.  (early '70s, 3 deck cushions, upholstered back, it was nicely constructed).  So I "scored" an Ikea sofa today (free, roadside, very clean, and I know the family).  It's perfectly serviceable, but what a piece of -hit! looks as though it was made from leftover construction lumber.  And the slipcover is really bad.  It was a dope slap about how shoddy furniture is constructed nowadays!
General Discussion / Zig Zag machine
June 20, 2014, 08:08:38 am
Who has one? what make and model?  Do you like it? why/why not.

I don't own one but I've operated them before (Consews).  I found them to be cranky in general, but the last one was so poorly maintained it would be unfair to judge them all by that one.  I have gotten requests for a zigzag stitch recently and am toying with getting one.  Thoughts?
General Discussion / Custom marine bedding
June 18, 2014, 01:58:44 pm
Today was my day to play around with custom bedding.  Nothing fancy, just bottom sheets cut and shaped for V berths.  I made 4 of them.  I had the patterns for the V  berths and worked from those (do any of you work from just measurements?).  The real challenge was getting reacquainted with my overlock machine!  I don't think I've used the safety stitch in well over 20 yrs. and I had to use the manual to thread it up (lol).  Also, my 50+ yr. old eyes no longer see the eye on the ss looper as readily as I once did... .  Could those of you who make bedding chime in on how long it takes you to crank out a fitted sheet for a V berth arrangement?
General Discussion / Buttoning patterns
May 19, 2014, 12:54:53 pm
The Year of the Button continues!

I am doing the salon on a big sailboat.  New port dinette (3 seats, 5 backs, 2 of which are "corners"), and a settee to starboard.  In UltraLeather (beautiful stuff!); customer wants buttons on the backs, but not seats.  None of the backs are reversible as they will be snapped to their specific sites.  I can do #30 or #36 buttons in marine grade. 

This is a beautiful boat and I have the opportunity to do something more than just 3 or 5 #36 buttons in a line half way up the back cushions.  Could any of you upholstery whiz kids help me with other button patterns that might be more "interesting"?  Do you have "favorites"?  Are button sizes ever mixed, or is that a no-no?  The little corner cushions have me scratching my head. 

General Discussion / Delivered and looks great
May 09, 2014, 02:31:41 pm
I delivered phase one of a big job today.  An aft cabin berth (latex foam in a folding berth), and a "fix" for a botched V berth configuration.  They looked great and they fit great.  (and they sucked to muscle into place, lol).

I was thrilled with the V berth.  Original cushions were way too small.  I think the person who patterned them failed to factor in the height of the foam and the resulting cushions were too small.  I had to use my patterns to make the best use of the existing latex foam inserts.  I used left over latex foam (from the aft cabin folding cushion) to correct the sizing on the V berth.  It worked out beautifully.
General Discussion / Tying off buttons
April 24, 2014, 12:35:55 pm
This is the year of the button!  I have several customers who want buttons on their cushions.  I bought the marine grade coverable buttons (#36) and the plastic tufting discs (can you buy these in different sizes, too?).  Is there an easy way to knot that minimizes loosening of the twine?  (something akin to putting your finger on the ribbon before you actually tie the bow?). 
General Discussion / Latex foam
April 02, 2014, 10:43:26 am
Today was my first experience with latex foam (6").  Man, it's heavy and it's "floppy"!  I cut and stuffed a big folding cushion for a queen size berth in the aft cabin of a big sailboat this morning.  It stuffed up nicely, but it was a real "dog" to get the foam properly placed in the corners of the cover.  And it's going to be a real drag to get it onto the boat even though it folds in half and has snaps to keep it folded.  (good thing I had breakfast this morning!)
General Discussion / Opinion on joining widths
February 06, 2014, 06:07:18 am
I am making a folding cushion for a queen size berth in an aft cabin (6" latex foam).  The goods are 54" wide, so I have to add on to get my cut width for the top piece.  Normally, I'd add on at the selvedge of the goods, but since this cushion will fold in half I'm thinking of cutting 2 pcs. and joining them at the centre (where it will fold) because I'll have to stitch the two zipper boxings down the centre anyway.  What do you guys think about this?
The Business Of Upholstery / "Tire kickers"
January 18, 2014, 12:04:11 pm
Brutal customer.  All about price. Lazy about looking at suggested fabrics (because he has no clue how much they cost since it's from a wholesale house!) and "pushing the envelope" with respect to time and ordering nice samples for him to look over. 

I have been more than patient and finally sent a reply e-mail that was terse and "to the point".  And still I feel uncomfortable!  How do you guys deal with this sort of thing?  When do you "blow them off" and how do you do it POLITELY?
The Business Of Upholstery / Resale certificate
December 13, 2013, 10:05:35 am
I received notification that my resale certificate would be revoked in January '14 for failure to meet minimum sales requirements.  Huh? cold sweat... panic about what that would mean for purchasing supplies.  I called the number of the revenue service and received a pretty frosty response and a couple of "stories" that were intended to tell me something (but evaded my panic clouded brain).  He finally asked me about the nature my business; and realized that an income statement for the year would make all manifest.  I supplied it, all was resolved, and I now know what figures to enter on what line of the e-file form to avoid this in the future. 

Moral of the story? just because you enter the figures properly doesn't necessarily mean that all the branches of the bureaucracy understand the information!  And just because you get a form letter that scares you doesn't mean there isn't an easy solution!
The Business Of Upholstery / Pricing and estimates
December 09, 2013, 11:10:48 am
DB asked a great question about pricing and my own recent experience with "negotiating" pricing on slipcovers has me thinking (always dangerous). 

IMO, we live in a time when people think a google search or a few mouse clicks will give them a firm price.  That's how it works on Amazon, right?  What those very same people fail to understand is that not ALL things can be priced with a mouse click.  Or two, or even three!

The key for us (by the piece, individually priced, "custom" workers) is to figure out how to convey what makes our workmanship special.  I struggle with this! not so much with yachts, but a great deal more with slipcovers, custom cushions, soft home furnishings.  I'm still fumbling to find my "market" for the latter.  Word of mouth is great, but I need more mouths to spread the word about how great my work is, lol.  Thoughts?
The Business Of Upholstery / It had to happen...
December 06, 2013, 10:03:39 am
OK, I delivered a handsome slipcover a couple of weeks ago (sub-contracted).  Went to the site, patterned, returned home and received  goods, worked up the slipcover, and delivered it a week later.  Looked great.  (contractor verified the quality of the workmanship and fit). 

Now, contractor wants to "talk price" on future work.  Methinks NOT! 

I have the equipment.  I have the requisite skills.  I know what my margins are.  I have ZERO intention of minimizing my margin to bolster that of a "contractor".  My quandary is how do I politely and unequivocally convey that to the contractor in question?

Given the above, I clearly need to more effectively promote my manifest talents to the general public.  I don't care a fig where the fabric is purchased.   I only care that it will be of suitable quality and in suitable quantity.  Need your good thoughts on how to most effectively use "print" media...
General Discussion / Thanksgiving thoughts
November 27, 2013, 01:16:44 pm
Turkey is "brining" in the 'frig..  Pumpkin pie is all done.  So is the turkey stock.  Bread is all ready to become stuffing tomorrow.  House is passably clean for our only guest (my brother) and bed linen is changed in his quarters.  

Best to all my upholstery friends and for your help and humor I'm thankful.  May your day be relaxing and I sure hope you won't be racing out to begin shopping before you've had a chance to digest dinner!
General Discussion / Wicked dumb motor question
November 18, 2013, 02:00:56 pm
I have a Singer 31-15 with an official Singer motor (1/3hp).  It was my first industrial machine and I have had it for over 30 yrs. (I'm sentimental).  I haven't used it much since 2005 but hauled it out, cleaned it up, oiled it, and fired it up to do some zipper work.  I also have a 1 1/2" double fold binder for it, so dedicated binder? :) .  It whirred along this morning, then made a different sound.  I put some fabric under the needle and tentatively used the treadle... .  It sewed in REVERSE.  Mind you, this a drop feed machine with NO reverse capability.  (unless to use the knee lifter and pull the goods toward you gently). 

I know a lot about different machines and how they are/can be used.  But I know "jack" about the actual mechanics of a clutch motor (that's why there are mechanics!).  Can any of you explain what has happened inside the motor to effect such a change? (the head is 1929 and I have to believe the motor is about as old). 
General Discussion / Reupholstery/slipcover?
October 24, 2013, 03:47:20 pm
I received a request from a friend to look at a Drexel "Lawson style" sofa for slipcovering.  The piece is 20 yrs. old, original upholstery (they bought it new), and she said it felt, "saggy". Maybe that means the deck cushion foam is kaput, maybe it means the webbing is kaput and what's needed is reupholstery, NOT a slipcover.  She'll consider either option and I want to give her good advice.

Is the piece worth the cost of reupholstering?
At what age is a piece ready for reupholstery (complete rebuild)?
When you look at piece how do you determine the relative remaining "life" of the guts?

She is a friend and I want to give her good advice, but your replies will help me immeasurably when faced with the same questions in coming years. 
General Discussion / Marina negotiations
October 11, 2013, 11:15:07 am
I went to look at two interior jobs at a very post marina.  Both customers assured me that they were "getting other estimates".  I'm fine with that.  What troubles me is that my estimate (a marina referral) will not be competitive with "outside" bidders.  I am fine with giving the marina a "cut" of my hourly charge.  But I'm not so fine giving them the same "cut" on any materials I may supply.  How do you guys handle this... do you concede the "cut" on your hourly charge and negotiate the "cut" on the materials charge?  I don't want to cut off this link, but rather wish to impress on the marina that GREATER GOOD that a thoughtful negotiation will deliver to us both!