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Making A New Seat Cover For A Lawn Tractor

recovering a lawn tractor seat seat cover upholstery

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#16 Texas Deere and Horse OFFLINE  

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Posted January 04, 2016 - 05:17 PM

Pm sent.
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#17 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 04, 2016 - 07:11 PM

Marking Out The Pleated Section

I measured the width of the pleats at the front, the bend and the rear of the pleated section and using this information established the width of the pleated section.  I checked that the taper from the front to the bend and the bend to top was uniform  and found out it was not – the taper from the front to the bend was different to the taper from the bend to the top.  I then began to mark out the pattern on the paper adding 3/8” at both sides for the seam allowance as well as 1/16” in the centre for when the centre vertical seam is sewn as the vinyl gets a little bit smaller every time a seam is sewn with the ½” sew foam.  When you are working with tapers make sure you mark the width at the point where the seam will be sewn and not at the outer edge of the seam allowance- depending on the amount of the taper this can affect the proper width of the finished piece.  Knowing this and that the original pleats were 1-1/2” spacing I marked out the pattern with the help of a square and yard stick with a spacing of 1-5/8” between each pleat and added a 3/8” seam allowance at the bottom and the top.  This may sound a bit confusing but there are several videos on you tube that show what I am talking about – here is a link to one

 

 .

 

  Please Note that the 1-5/8” spacing is not a fixed number – in this case I knew what it was because the pleat spacing was the same as the 1050 cover I already had a pattern for.  The spacing distance will vary depending on the spacing of the original pleats and the thickness of the sew foam.  You can figure out the amount that the material looses for every pleat by sewing several test pleats side by side using a small width of vinyl and the sew foam.  If you do not wish to do this you can mark out a pleat and sew it and then measure to see how much it shrunk and mark out the next pleat and sew it and see if it worked out and adjust the distance accordingly – using this method will result in a slight variance in the first few pleats but to the naked eye you probably will not notice the variance unless you measure it.  If you do use this method make sure you leave extra material at the end to make up for the shrinkage as the pleats are sewn - I would recommend sewing several test pleats on a scrap piece of material.  Once the pleats, tapers and seam allowances were marked out I cut the paper pattern out and folded it in half to verify that things were square and symmetrical by matching the pleat lines at the outer edges – nothing worse than angled pleats unless they are supposed to be that way. If you look at Picture 7 you can see how much shorter the pleated section is after the pleats are sewn compared to the original paper pattern underneath it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Bolens 850 Pleat Spacing.jpg
  • 2 Width Of Pleated Section At Front.jpg
  • 3 Bolens 850 Width Of Pleated Section.jpg
  • 4 Bolens 850 Width Of Pleated Section At Bend.jpg
  • 5 Laying Out Pleats.jpg
  • 6 Pleats Laid Out.jpg
  • 7 Pleated Piece Sewn Versus Length of Pattern.jpg

Edited by 29 Chev, January 05, 2016 - 11:54 AM.

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#18 toppop52 ONLINE  

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Posted January 04, 2016 - 07:36 PM

Those Pfaffs are fine machines, not as touchy as the Consews and other Singer knockoffs. Those and old 111W Singers are hard to beat. I was in the upholstery business for 37 years before closing up and retiring, only to go back to work as a service manager at a dealership for their final 2 years.
You do nice work! I rarely made patterns from paper, I usually took measurements pinned the vinyl on the part I was making,marked and cut it on the seat, but for beginners your way is great and let's you duplicate it on the next identical seat. I use to measure the insert, cut it slightly bigger, sew in the pleats, then pin it on and make my final cuts.
However, I'm not giving you advice in any way, just telling my way, you're doing great! Keep it up.
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#19 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 04, 2016 - 08:09 PM

Thanks for the kind words and input - always nice to know how people in the trade do it - all comments / opinions welcome as this is how we all learn.  As I stated I am not a professional upholsterer and am trying to pass on to others what I have learned, what works for me and some of the mistakes that I made because I didn't think three or four steps ahead and see how doing something would cause problems as I started to sew the cover pieces together.   

 

You are correct the Pfaff is an awesome sewing machine - it has yet to miss a stitch other than due to operator error.  My brother picked it up for me in the city this summer as it was priced to sell - sometimes it pays to sew up seats for relatives.  It came with a clutch motor which I tried and could not control so I got a new Sewquiet  servo motor from Reliable Corporation which has lots of power and lets me control the speed down to about two stitches per second.   


Edited by 29 Chev, January 05, 2016 - 11:57 AM.

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#20 TAHOE OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2016 - 07:55 AM

That is a great write up, thread needs to be a sticky.

 

I would need the stitch ripper....to tear out all my mistakes haha

 

My sister does seamstress work as a part time hobby, she can sew some amazing stuff. I keep razzing her about making me a seat cover for the old sears DB


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#21 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2016 - 12:20 PM

Double Check Your Paper Patterns Against The Cover

 

Once you have the paper patterns marked and cut out lay them on the cover against the piece they represent and see how they look.  Check to see if they lay flat or wrinkle badly – if they lay flat the vinyl should lay flat as well but if they wrinkle or don’t fit quite right it will be reflected in the way the cover fits when you are done.  In these two pictures you can see that the paper pattern has been reworked because when I laid it on the cover and pressed it into the bend it ended up in the wrong place at the top and was about ½” too short – unfortunately I had already cut out the vinyl piece and caught the error when I went to attach this piece to the middle piece (told you I make mistakes).  I am pointing this out so that you do not make the same mistake.  Verify that you have left a 3/8" seam allowance around each piece where they will be sewn to other pieces - remember the seam allowance is there to provide strength to the material where the seams are.   

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Checking Paper Pattern Against Cover.jpg
  • 2 Paper Pattern Beside Cover Piece.jpg

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#22 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2016 - 01:36 PM

Marking And Cutting Out The Vinyl

 

Having verified the paper patterns you can now use them to mark out the vinyl that will be used to make the new cover.  Try and visualize how the patterns can be laid out to use the material efficiently and avoid waste – you can see in Picture 10 one way that you could lay the patterns out to accomplish this but there are others.  Place the paper pattern on the bottom side of the vinyl and draw around the outside edge of the pattern and mark any reference points.   I use a pencil to do this and while it is harder to see the marks than a ball point pen or marker would make it will not mark the vinyl material should you happen to touch the top side of the vinyl – ink and marker stains can be hard to remove from vinyl.  If you do happen to get ink on the vinyl I have had good success in removing it by taking a small bit of hand cleaner and rubbing it gently on the mark and let it sit for a minute or two and then wiping it off.  I use a small item with a bit of weight to it such as a tape measure or clamp to set on top of the paper pattern to hold it in place while I mark around it.  Verify that the pattern has not shifted and that all the marks are where you want them and then you can use a pair of scissors to cut the pieces out of the vinyl.  Once they are cut out you can mark out the centre and fold any pieces that should be the same on both sides and verify that the piece you have is symmetrical.  If the edges don’t match you can trim the edge with a pair of scissors while the material is folded over so that the edges do match.  Any pieces that are left hand and right hand can be laid on each other and the edge shape verified that the edges match and if there are any variances you can trim them with scissors.  Remember that where you need a left and right piece the same pattern can be flipped over and used to make the opposite side.  I usually mark out the seam allowance on the back of all the pieces so I have a reference line of where the actual seam will be sewn and recommend you do the same - this is easily done by cutting a 2" piece of scrap vinyl 3/8" wide and then using it as a guide as you work your way around the back of the vinyl you are marking.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Paper Pattern On Top Of Back SIde Of Vinyl.jpg
  • 2 Paper Held In Place With Clamp And Tape Measure.jpg
  • 3 Note Centre Mark For Reference.jpg
  • 4 Edges Marked In Pencil And Centre Marks.jpg
  • 5 Centre Marked Down Back And Vinyl Folded.jpg
  • 6 Slight Difference In Upper Edge.jpg
  • 7 Edge Trimmed.jpg
  • 8 Marking Out Lower Piece.jpg
  • 9 Paper Pattern Flipped Over To Make Piece For Other Side.jpg
  • 10 Pieces Cut Out.jpg

Edited by 29 Chev, January 06, 2016 - 04:54 PM.

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#23 Bolens800uk OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2016 - 02:24 PM

Thanks for sharing us your considerable skills.. I agree with Tahoe's comment that this should be a pinned thread.

Edited by Bolens800uk, January 05, 2016 - 02:54 PM.

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#24 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2016 - 02:27 PM

Special Pieces That Can Be Marked Out Using A Yardstick

 

 The rear filler piece on this cover is a uniform width and straight so I did not bother making a paper pattern for it – instead I just marked it out on the back of the vinyl using a yardstick and a square.  The piece is 1-1/2” wide between the front and back and is cut at an angle at each end where it joins the lower side pieces.  To determine the length that I needed to make it I measured along the seam where it was joined to the front and then measured the seam where it was joined at the back using a cloth tape measure as it allows you to measure around curves easily.  With this information I added a seam allowance for the front and back and made the total width of the piece 2-1/4” by adding the 1-1/2” width and 3/8” for the front seam allowance and 3/8” for the rear seam allowance.  I then took the two length measurements and added a 3/8” seam allowance at both ends to determine the total length of the material I required and then added about 1” at the edge to start to mark out the filler piece so that I would have enough seam allowance on the one end.  You can see in the picture where I marked the piece originally in pencil and then remarked the ends and centre line in blue pen – since the ends are on an angle the seam allowance requires a bit more material at the outer edge of the material. If I had not moved in the 1” from the edge then the seam allowance for the back side of the filler would be missing for the last 3/8”.  The centre mark is used to verify that the piece is symmetrical using the fold test and is also used as a reference point to position the piece when it is sewed to the back and front pieces.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Drawing Out Rear Filler.jpg
  • 2 Rear Filler Left.jpg
  • 3 Rear Filler Right.jpg
  • 4 Coth Tape Measure.jpg

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#25 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2016 - 03:21 PM

Thanks for sharing us your considerable skills.. I agree with Tahoe's comment that this should be a pinned thread.

 

Thanks for the kind words.  I am hoping the Moderators will turn it into a "How To" article when I am done posting all the steps.


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#26 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2016 - 12:14 PM

Making The Pleated Section - Attaching The Sew Foam To The Vinyl

 

The pleated section is made using sew foam which is usually sold by the yard – for this cover I used ½” thick sew foam.  Sew foam is simply soft foam that has a backing applied to one side so that when you sew the foam the thread will not pull through the foam.  It is usually available in ¼” and ½” thickness and saves the extra work of using a backing on the underside of the foam to give the thread something to hang on to.  When storing any excess foam I would recommend you roll it up and tie the roll with a light cord or strip of vinyl as shown in Picture 1. You could use regular foam and cloth or a piece of vinyl on the back side as a backing – I find for the difference in price the sew foam is a worth while investment.  First thing to do is mark and cut out a piece of sew foam about 1/2" larger all the way around than the piece of vinyl you are using to make the pleated section with.  Once you have the piece of foam cut mark the centre of the foam at each end as a reference point.  Next the sew foam gets attached to the back side of the vinyl making sure that the side of the foam with the backing on it is away from the vinyl - this will keep the pieces from moving as you are sewing the pleats.  I would recommend you wear a pair of disposable gloves as you work with the adhesive.  I use a 3M general purpose trim adhesive (product #08088) to glue the foam to the vinyl but any general purpose automotive trim adhesive should work or you could also staple or pin it in several places around the outside edge in the seam allowance (the 3/8" area around the outside edge).  Remember that any holes (such as staple or needle holes) you put in the vinyl that are not in the seam allowance will show in the final cover - if you can afford it the spray adhesive does a nice job.  The spray valve on this product can be adjusted for the pattern and amount of adhesive that comes out so that you can control where the adhesive goes ( I usually select the lowest setting).  Lay the vinyl and the foam end to end with the side that you want to spray the adhesive on facing up on some disposable paper (I use masking paper but newspaper will work as well) - the paper will keep any adhesive from getting on your work area.  The pleated section in this cover is wider at one end than the other so lay the vinyl and foam out that the foam can be folded over like a page in a book to align with the vinyl piece.  Mark the centre point of the ends of the vinyl on the back as these will be used as reference points to line up the foam.  Spray the adhesive to the back of the vinyl and the sew foam following the manufacturers directions and let the adhesive dry for a few minutes.  Flip the sew foam over and using the centre points to align the ends stick it in place on the back of the vinyl making sure that the foam extends to the edge of the vinyl (this is why I said to make the foam 1/2" larger around the outside edge). If you get wrinkles or the foam ends up a little bit off don't panic as the foam can be pulled back off, repositioned and stuck again.  Once you have the foam in the correct position you can flip the vinyl over and gently smooth the vinyl against the foam to make sure it is stuck - start at the centre and work your way towards the outer edges - make sure you do not have any adhesive or other contaminants on your gloves or hands that could mark or stain the vinyl.    Once the adhesive has dried you can trim the excess foam around the outer edge with a pair of scissors.  As a note there are heavy duty adhesives for gluing headliners available but I would not recommend them as they are more money and on some occasions they can stick to sewing needles and cause problems when sewing the pleats. 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Half Inch Sew Foam To Make Pleats.jpg
  • 2 Sew Foam Marked Out.jpg
  • 3 Sew Foam Cut Out.jpg
  • 4 3M Spray Adhesive.jpg
  • 5 Adjustable Valve Settings.jpg
  • 6 Sew Foam Sprayed WIth Adhesive.jpg
  • 7 Back Of Vinyl Sprayed With Adhesive.jpg
  • 8 Vinyl Glued To Sew Foam.jpg
  • 9 Sew Foam Bottom View.jpg
  • 10 Foam Edge Trimmed.jpg

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#27 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2016 - 01:30 PM

Making The Pleated Section – Marking Out Where To Sew The Pleats And Sewing Them

 

I am assuming that you made a test piece and sewed several pleats to get the correct spacing as shown in the Upholstery Basics video in the “Marking Out The Pleated Section” post and marked out a paper pattern using that information.  Using the paper pattern you can now mark the top side of the vinyl where you are going to sew the pleats.  I use a grease pencil (which can be purchased at an upholstery supply place) to mark the vinyl but a piece of chalk will work as well.  Again I will point out that any marks you put on the vinyl that are not in the seam allowance will show on the finished cover so you do not want them to be permanent.   You can also clamp a yard stick to the vinyl and then mark where the pleat would go using some ¾” masking tape.  The object of the game is to have a crisp straight line to act as a guide to sew the pleat seam that will not show after the pleat is sewn.  The grease pencil can be washed off with water once the pleats are sewn as can chalk and the masking tape can be peeled off when you are done.  I use an offset method to mark the pleat location – the line I put on the vinyl is not where the needle actually sews the seam for the pleat – the line is lined up with the left presser foot of the sewing machine (as illustrated in Pictures 8, 9 and 11) and as a result is about ¼” to the left of where I want the actual seam to be.   If you use this method make sure before you start to sew the seam you have the piece oriented with the offset correctly or the seam will be in the wrong spot.  Mark the locations of the pleats along the outer edges in the seam allowance as illustrated in Pictures 2, 3, 4 and 5.  Once they are marked I would recommend that you fold the piece in half, first side to side and then end to end, this will let you check and verify that the marks are in the same location on both sides or ends.  Once you have verified the marks are located correctly you can mark the top side using the grease pencil.  I am going to be sewing the pleats using a sewing machine but if you are going to use a sewing awl to sew them I would recommend using the masking tape to mark the pleat.  With the tape you can mark the tape with a pencil using a ruler so that you get consistent stitch widths.  I would recommend using a wide stitch spacing (3/16” to ¼”) when sewing vinyl – stitch spacing is the distance between the two points where the needle makes a hole in the vinyl.  The needle holes will act like perforations do on paper and if they are too close together they will allow the vinyl to rip easily at the seam.  The thread I am using for this cover is a B-92 designation polyester thread that is rated for UVR stability in sunlight - http://www.jtsoutdoo...&scBrand=0=  . The needle size is #18 and designed for sewing vinyl - if you are using a sewing awl I have found that needles designed for use in sewing machines will usually fit into most sewing awls.   Start at one end of the vinyl and sew the first seam – back stitch the first few and last few stitches so that they are locked.  Back stitching is simply sewing a few stitches in the regular direction, then reversing the direction and sewing back over them and then sewing in the regular direction again.  In the video you can see they use a variation of back stitching as they sew a few stitches and then lift the presser foot and move the material back to the edge again and sew over the stitches again.  If you do not back stitch the ends of the thread can be easily undone and let the seam come apart – if you do not wish to back stitch you can leave extra thread and pull the top thread through to the bottom side and tie a knot in the two pieces of thread.   Try and follow your guide line as you sew as this will ensure straight seams – you may find the speed of some electric sewing machines hard to control so I would recommend just turning the sewing machine by hand – it will take longer but this way you remain in control.  Once the first seam is sewn you can sew the next seam the same way and once it is sewn I would suggest that you measure the distance between the seams and see if the spacing is where you want it – if it is continue to sew the pleats verifying the spacing after each pleat as you go.  If the distance is not correct you can stop sewing and adjust the lines as necessary and then sew the next seam and verify the spacing.  If you are using a sewing machine you will have to roll or fold the pleated section once you get a few seams sewn so that it will fit through the throat opening without catching on the machine – I use a small clamp to hold the material in the rolled or folded position so you are not constantly fighting with it.  Once all the cross pleats were sewn I sewed the seam in the centre that runs from end to end making sure I had the piece oriented correctly since I use the offset of the presser foot for my guide.  Then I would recommend you sew a seam all the way around the outer edge (about 3/16” in from the outer edge) as this will make joining the other pieces to it easier with the foam pulled together at the outer edge.  You can then wash off the grease pencil marks and trim any excess foam that sticks out past the vinyl at the outer edge.  You want the foam and vinyl to be the same size along the edge as this will make aligning the pieces sewn to it easier.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Grease Pencil.jpg
  • 2 Left Vinyl Edge Marked.jpg
  • 3 Right Vinyl Edge Marked.jpg
  • 4 Rear Edge Marked For Centre.jpg
  • 5 Front Edge Marked For Centre.jpg
  • 6 Drawing Lines For Sewing Machine Foot To Follow.jpg
  • 7 Lines Marked.jpg
  • 8 Left Presser Foot On Line And Needle Will Sew Seam Where Pleat Goes.jpg
  • 9 Better View Of Left Presser Foot On Line And Needle Will Sew Seam Where Pleat Goes.jpg
  • 10 Three Seams Sewn.jpg
  • 11 Sewing Fourth Seam.jpg
  • 12 Pleats, Centre And Outer Edge Sewn.jpg
  • 13 Close Up.jpg
  • 14 Grease Pencil Washed Off.jpg
  • 15 Pleated Section About Three Quarters Inch Shorter.jpg

Edited by 29 Chev, January 07, 2016 - 08:05 PM.

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#28 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2016 - 04:41 PM

Sewing The Upper And Lower Pieces To The Pleated Piece

 

Now that you have sewn the pleated piece you can compare it to the pleated section of the old cover – it should be very close in size (it will be 3/8” larger all the way around where the seam allowance is) and the pleats should line up.  Once this has been verified you can add the upper and lower pieces to the pleated section.  These can be pinned but I prefer to use three staples in each piece to hold them in position - again I will point out that the staples are in the seam allowance area so that the holes will not show in the finished cover.  You can use a couple of paper clamps to align the piece that you are adding to the pleated section and once you are satisfied they are lined up you can staple them together - start in the centre with one and then put a staple at each side as shown.  The staples will hold the pieces in position while you sew them and will not catch on anything as you feed the material through the sewing machine - once the pieces are sewn remove the staples using a small screwdriver being careful not to damage the vinyl or catch any thread at the seam.  Sew the pieces on the seam allowance line remembering to back stitch to lock the thread in place.  Once the pieces are sewn and the staples removed you can verify the new cover with the same sections in the original and see how they compare.  Take a few minutes and give yourself a pat on the back if things look good and admire your work - you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the new cover you create is a piece of quality workmanship made by your own hands!  

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Checking Pleated Section Against Original Cover.jpg
  • 2 Checking Pleated Section Against Original Cover.jpg
  • 3 Checking Pleated Section Against Original Cover.jpg
  • 4 Upper Piece Stapled To Pleated Section.jpg
  • 5 Upper Piece Stapled To Pleated Section.jpg
  • 6 Lower Piece Stapled To Pleated Section.jpg
  • 7 Lower Piece Stapled To Pleated Section.jpg
  • 8 Sewing On the Seam Allowance Line To Join Pieces.jpg
  • 9 Upper Piece Sewn On And Staples Removed.jpg
  • 10 Lower Piece Sewn On And Staples Removed.jpg
  • 11 Top Side View.jpg

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#29 29 Chev OFFLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2016 - 05:52 PM

Adding The Side Pieces To The Middle Section

 

Now you can add the side pieces to the middle section.  Make sure before you sew them together that they are oriented correctly - the left is on the left and the right is on the right and the inside and outside edges are in the correct locations - you can verify this by clamping the pieces together and then flipping them over so the outside of the cover is facing up and see if they look correct compared with the original cover. Since the edges along the join cannot be laid side to side to make sure they fit I recommend that you use a paper clamp at the top end to temporarily hold the two pieces together.  You can then walk the two pieces you will be joining to each other starting where the paper clamp is and see how they line up at the bend and where the ends will be in relation to each other when they are sewn.  If you are having a problem doing this you can actually clamp or staple the pieces together every inch or two starting at the top to simulate the pieces joined - the disadvantage of this - it will take more than a couple of clamps (probably about 20 which cost money) or, using the staple method,  you will have a bunch of staples to remove when you are done.  The reason you are doing this is to verify that the alignment marks (in this case where the bend is at the second pleat) and the ends of the two pieces will be the same when they are sewn.  As I stated earlier I originally made my pattern wrong for the side piece and as a result the side pieces I cut out did not align properly and were about 1/2" off at the bottom end - you can see the difference in Pictures 1 and 2.  The new pieces I made from the reworked pattern did align properly and so I stapled the two pieces at the top and sewed them together using the seam allowance line on the outer pieces as the mark where the seam should go.  Take your time and go slowly - these pieces will constantly require you to check that the outer edge of the pieces are aligned.  As I mentioned you may wish to just turn the sewing machine by hand so that you can control it as you sew them.  When you are sewing the right side you will probably have to fold the material over (and hold it with a clamp)  so that it will pass through the throat of the sewing machine without catching. Once you have joined the one side you can join the other side the same way starting at the top and using the seam allowance line to sew your seam on.  Try not to stretch the pleated piece by pulling on it unnecessarily as this will affect how things align at the bottom end.  When they are both sewn on the ends should be within 1/4" of each other and the left and right side should be the same - again you can use the fold test to make sure they are close and trim them so they match if they are off a little.  If you have to trim more than 1/4" off then something is probably out on the edge or the pleated piece has been stretched as it was being sewn.  I would recommend that if this is the case that you remove the seam using the thread ripper being careful not to cut or tear the vinyl and adjusting the pieces to get the alignment closer and sewing the seam again. Once you have sewn the pieces you can verify how this section compares to the original.    

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 Wrong Piece On Top Of New Piece.jpg
  • 2 Wrong Piece Beside New Piece.jpg
  • 3 Alignment Marks And Where To Staple.jpg
  • 5 Bottom View.jpg
  • 6 SIdes Sewn On.jpg
  • 7 Checking Fit.jpg
  • 8 Checking Fit.jpg
  • 9 Checking Fit.jpg

Edited by 29 Chev, January 07, 2016 - 08:38 PM.

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#30 toppop52 ONLINE  

toppop52
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Posted January 06, 2016 - 07:21 PM

Nice work!
  • 29 Chev said thank you




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