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Auto, Car, Marine or Boat, and Home Upholstery and Fabric Sewing

Updated on February 16, 2012
Upholstered chair for the home.
Upholstered chair for the home. | Source

The types of upholstery sewing, and the different fabrics that will be used on it, will depend on what type of furniture will be upholstered, or where the piece will be placed when it is finished. For example, sewing for marine upholstery will require water proof or water resistant fabrics and strong seams that are enclosed to prevent fraying. Other types of upholstery such as home sewing for upholstery will use a broader selection of fabrics because they will not be exposed to the elements.

Upholstering home furniture will require different sewing methods, mainly depending on the types of fabrics being sewing. Soft fabrics with naps, like velvet and Jacquard prints, are directional fabrics and must be lined up before sewing. Upholstering decorative elements that won't be subjected to repeated seating or use, like a decorative bench, can use fancy buttons or beaded trims that are nice to look at but may be uncomfortable to sit on. Slipcovers need to be sewn with strong seams, like enclosed French seams, because they will be removed and replaced as cleaning becomes necessary.

Hand sewing techniques are beneficial to know since they will be used on all areas that will not be machine sewn. This includes finishing up tufted buttons, repairing a simple zipper on a cushion, and applying an applique in an area that is hard to get to with a machine. Tools for hand sewing include a broad range of needles, from long sharps to curved needles, to accommodate different fabrics and areas.

Choose durable fabrics for autos, and weather-proof fabrics for boats.
Choose durable fabrics for autos, and weather-proof fabrics for boats. | Source

Marine and Yacht Upholstery

Sewing upholstery for boats requires the use of mold-resistant fabrics, since they will be out in the elements constantly. Saltwater and freshwater spray will wipe up quickly after a day on the water if the upholstery was sewn with a water proof fabric, like nylon or vinyl. Any cushions that will be specifically for marine use should be made and sewn with marine-grade upholstery foam to allow quick draining of water when it gets soaked, and the ability for humidity to evaporate quickly.

Automobile and Truck Upholstery

Sewing for automobiles is often done by professional upholsterers since the seat fabrics should be taught after being installed to prevent the fabric from sagging. The seams need to be very strong to accommodate repeated sittings, and industrial sewing machines can handle the bulk of fabric that will be encased in the seams. If doing the seats yourself, look for materials that will endure sun and constant wear. Generally, car upholstery fabrics come in wide rolls to allow for large sections to be cut rather than pieced together.


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  • DommaLeigh profile image

    DommaLeigh 4 years ago

    Do you know how to sew vinyl ? I am trying to make upholstery for a 1/4 midget. It is imposable to get it through the machine by it self. I have tried tape but that left a sticky mess. I tried tissue paper but it makes it hard to keep the seams straight and takes hours getting the tiny paper fragments out of the seams, not to mention dulling the needle.