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Sew foam

Started by JuneC, January 13, 2012, 03:37:25 pm

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JuneC

After all these years of boat upholstery, I think I've finally found a decent quality sew foam.  IMHO manufacturers seem to use absolutely the lowest density foam they can manufacture to glue to the absolutely lowest quality knit scrim they can find.  Not much variety available even at large suppliers.  The pink foam with brown scrim was one of the better ones, but even it doesn't hold its loft and the scrim only stretches 2 ways, making fit difficult when the vinyl has a lot more give.  I hate it when the sew foam prevents me from pulling the vinyl tight enough to look just how I want it to.

As it happens, my foam supplier has started carrying a dark charcoal grey foam with a charcoal knit scrim that actually stretches 4 WAYS - though it does stretch more in one direction than the other.  And it appears the foam is also higher density.  It actually has "body".  Comes in 1/2 and 1/4".  The scrim is NOT slippery like most though, so for use on ez-dri foam with large pores and a scratchy surface, I think the foam will need a very thin layer of dacron to prevent abrasion from ripping the scrim to shreds.  I'll post pics tomorrow. 

June
"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

     W. C. Fields

Mike

id be interested in that info  ,pm me who it is if your dont want to post the name

JuneC

I'll send you a swatch, Mike.  IM me your address.  I buy most of my foam from Barco Mfg. in Oakland Park (Ft. Lauderdale). 

June
"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

     W. C. Fields

Mojo

I had a full roll of scrim that I used on my boat. I really liked it. It was blue in color and I felt it was a good quality scrim. I used it all up and ordered another roll from Mike and it is pink with a white back. I am not real crazy about it as  compared to the blue stuff I got.

The blue stuff seemed to be more dense and had a good fabric backing. Mikes stuff worked OK and I still have some left but I preferred the other stuff.

Chris

sofadoc

I don't use sew foam that much, so a big roll lasts me a long time. My supplier brings me a kind very similar to what June is talking about.....charcoal color with a wide mesh muslin backing (my backing is white,though). It is definately better than the white or pink foam with the white synthetic backing. It can be a little stiff for furniture applications, but overall I like it better.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

Mike

TnANks June but you dint need to go out of your way . Your opinion is good.  
I do t like the wide spaced scrim backing. I've bought what is called tricolor backing and it was nice.  Morelike miamis headliner foam 1/4" and a tight knit soft fabric.    

JuneC

Of course I forgot to take a pic yesterday when I was at the shop.  I'll do it today - hopefully I'll remember.  The scrim on this foam is a fine knit, not an open mesh (I've tried that and don't like it).  It's difficult to describe - it has "dimension".  Not super smooth and slippery like the white or brown.  Hopefully a close-up pic will show. 

June   
"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

     W. C. Fields

jojo

I don't use sew foam at all when I do boat seats..am I wrong?

baileyuph

I would like to see some engineering analysis on the best foam, best foam backing, and the best vinyl to use.  Maybe another way to put it is where should the emphasis be to produce a durable sew foam pleat?  What is the hightest priority in sew foam materials to produce the most durable pleat?

If something stretches the most, does that make it the best quality result?  It is recognizable that stretch and suppleness enable pulling down a cover for a smoother fit, indeed the discussion purpose here.  

In auto work, at least equal to smooth fit is durability.  Pretty today but flattened pleats soon afterwards is not a good outcome.  Smooth fit is also a high priority.

Quickly or for sure the density of the scrim foam should be a high priority of all the parameters one can think of.

There are a number of other parameters that seem important, when producing a durable pleated seat.  I have mentioned scrim foam density but surely the foundation comes into play, how much flex under the pleat, more pointedly?  And does more backing flex play into quality of the product?  For example, pleat a material and apply it to a board, that foundation won't flex; therefore, to sustain loft, there is just about only one other important issue, the foam density.  What the finished product is used for certainly enters into consideration, for. if one just looks at it, anything other than foam density is almost a dead issue, regarding durability.

Again, I appreciate the initial interest here in attaining a smooth fit, that is not in dispute.  So, I may be digressing considerably by bringing up the durability consideration?

I appreciate the pleated leather work the Germans demonstrate in their older cars.  Beautiful work as expected, but the way they built their foundations and seamed their pleats, and fillers used, results in a product that not only looked sophisticated, but is very durable.  Mercedes to be more specific.

There is so much to consider, I suppose.  But I am left with questions about what is best in terms of scrim?  Is more stretch in backing  what we want?  Does that come with the risk of seam breakage and pleat flattening?  But,  of course much depends on foundation build?  Maybe that is the point, there is so much to consider.

Anyone ever seen an engineering paper written on this subject?

Sorry, I hope I am not muddling the primary intent of the thread, obtaining a smoother look in the pleats and most desired color of the foam and backing. :)

Doyle

JuneC

Of course my photos came out all blurry because I tried to get too close with the camera.  I'll try again tomorrow. 

Jojo, while I don't think it's really necessary to use sew foam on marine seats, I do think it improves the results.  The fit is better, corners are rounder, tops are smoother.  I just like the way it looks.  BTW, for a regular welted boxed cushion, I typically use sew foam on the top plate only.  The side boxing is plain - unless it's a non-welted cushion.  If there are french seams along the edge, I use sew foam on all parts except for the bottom plate.  If re-using existing foam, it helps fill out any depressions or irregularities.

Doyle, I don't do pleats - not because I don't want to but my customers simply don't want it.  Even those who could easily afford to have me do tuck and roll don't want the maintenance.  Those tucks gather lots of dirt.  They actually prefer the heat-pleated stuff. 

But, as you suggest, a less-stretchy scrim might be an advantage when doing pleats.  If everything stretches, what's to hold the loft of the pleat?  other than the density of the foam (which doesn't last forever, regardless of quality).  I think, given the time (budget) when doing high-end work, I'd be tempted to attach my pleated face to a woven, non-stretch backing before final assembly just to ensure the pleats don't go flat and make the face too large.

With my cushions, I've found that I need to sew the sew foam to each and every piece around the edges before assembly, and I sew with the two layers curved, so as to insure the foam is larger than the vinyl.  This helps me get the vinyl stretched.  It makes me truly crazy when I'm trying to get wrinkles out of the face of a piece during installation and the scrim inhibits my pulling it taut.  Over a span of maybe 10 inches, I keep the foam about 1/4" larger than the vinyl.  It's a pain to do all that "pre" sewing, but I think this new scrim might eliminate the need. 

Oh, and I'd gladly pay a few bucks more per yard for a high-density sew foam.  99% of the stuff out there is total crap IMHO.

June
"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

     W. C. Fields

byhammerandhand

Try using the "macro" setting (usually the icon is a tulip).   You may also need to turn off the flash to keep it from washing out.  Then hold the camera very still by bracing it against something solid.

Quote from: JuneC on January 15, 2012, 04:04:21 pm
Of course my photos came out all blurry because I tried to get too close with the camera.  I'll try again tomorrow. 

Keith

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison

jojo

Thanks June. My customers are usually bargain hunters, so I try to cut out anything that's not absolutely necessary. But I agree, it does give a much smoother appearance.

baileyuph

January 15, 2012, 06:25:16 pm #12 Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 06:46:47 pm by DB
I agree, the market for the most part are bargain hunters, seems very integral in our culture.

I read your issue with much better clarity June, thanks for the explanation.  Yes, the assumption was pleats. instead of foam padded sections.

I do my seats a lot of times like you using 1/4 inch scrim because I too am trying to achieve smoothness.  Those tired boat seats often need a little umph!  If they are really beat up and replacing extensive foam is not in the equation, then I might use some 1/2 inch.  Further, as we boat people know, a lot of manufacturers use foam backed vinyl in the new productions.  The practice does add luxury to the seating.

As a topper, I use very flexible scrim.  As said, the 1/4 inch usually works best.  Did you know that a lot of the new auto seats are backed with a 1/8th scrim with essentially no backing (guess that would merely be called foam).  The only backing is a bias tape applied in the seaming process.  It usually won't last much more than a couple years if used regularly.  This foam may have a very thin film of tissue as a backing, but that isn't near equal to cloth backing.  When these type of seat repairs come into the shop, the 1/8 foam has to be torn off and that is when I look for the characterics in replacement that you are seeking, but in the OEM thickness.

My truck seat renovation work, I too would want to use the gray foam scrim.  Presently, the pink is in my inventory.  The objective is to create a covering structure that is stable and as durable as possible.  We get a lot of very heavy duty earth moving equipment with sophisticated seats that will blow your mind if you remember when these seats were primarily steel and at best padded with a molded foam and vinyl padding.  I did a CAT seat couple weeks ago that cost $3000 bucks.  It was interesting to work on because it was not "just" a padded piece of vinyl.  Surprisingly so, much of that equipment has gone to a cloth to accommodate the operator's posterior better in the heat.  The last two or three that came in with vinyl, cloth going back on was specified.  I have to emphasize that the seats are very sophicated in design and represent a lot of engineering with their bolsters and lumbar facilities.  

Back to boats;

Like some have said already, for marine, I do not create channel pleats for the same reasons already expressed.

Good discussion,

Doyle

Mike

The only time I dealt
use need sew foam with a backing is doing pleats like theese
http://i782.photobucket.com/albums/yy102/Mike8560/Upholstery/100_1728.jpg
otherwise on flat seats I will use 1/4" foam on the vinyl and will use just 1/4" foam with no backing if I can find it   

jojo

Mike, me too. There is a guy on ebay who sells giant rolls of 1/4" or 1/8" foam for super cheap, and he markets it as packaging material. I've used it with no problems whatsoever. I'll try to get you a link.