View Full Version : re-doing upolstery by myself?

Kevin 89MC
11-02-2005, 06:03 PM
My seats have really taken a beating in the last few years. Mainly, my observer's coushin. In '89, they used a perforated fabric, and there was a seam about 4" from the front edge. When I bought it in '96 there was already a small tear at the seam, and now it's about 2 feet long. :eek: I took it to a local marine upolstery shop, and they could not match the color & pattern. They could get close on the color, but really recommended against the perforations. It appears that some of the perforations now do have holes through the fabric, which means that water gets inside, and can sit in the foam, and the wood base. I may re-uposter the whole thing down the road, not enough $ right now. He said about $150 for the one piece. Ouch! Then I got to thinking, maybe I should try my hand at the observer's seat. I'm fairly handy, and it can't get any worse than it is now! I searched all the upolstery threads, and it doesn't appear that anyone has done the work themselves. If so, can anyone point me to the threads? Doug, I know you did your small extension. That turned out great! Does it seem that doing the bench would be manageable? It appears that MC still does have some skins, so I'll have to inquire. I'm assuming having them pre-cut would make it much easier? If it's not too hard, maybe I'll re-do it all myself! Any special tools required? I've got a hand powered stapler and stainless steel staples. Any thoughts on the perforated vinyl? I suppose it gives a bit more slip resistance, but all the new boats have smooth vinyl, right?

11-02-2005, 08:28 PM
If you can get the skin from MC I would assume this sould be as easy as removing the old skin by removing the staples. Then get a staple gun and some stainless steel staples and staple away. Maybe change the foam when you have it appart. Of all the pieces I would think this would be the easiest to redo.

I plan to do about the same but am waiting until my garage is complete. I bought a full set of skins plus an extra set for the seat bottoms since those take the biggest beating. I will replace the bottoms this winter on my '87 and then redo the full interior (including carpet) in a couple of years and hope I can get another 20 years out of it.

Let us know if you make a go at it and your results.


11-03-2005, 07:56 AM
I recently did some upholstery work myself. The quotes I got for repairing my ripped vinyl were a little steep, something like $275 per section. Especially, when I knew that the material cost would be something like $30 or less. Iím waiting on my ďafterĒ pictures to develop (still marinating at the film store) before I posted a thread. Also, I was a little embarrassed to say I new how to use a sewing machine (stupid home economics class).

My results were good, but I should have chosen a wiser thread material. Need something water resistant, but very strong. Depending on what you are doing, it can be fairly easier or fairly difficult. The gray color on my seats is paper thin, and has been completely destroyed. Check out the picture.

This picture is from early last year, it was much worse at the end of this summer. I took the skin off, cut the thread for just the gray section, and then sewed in a new piece of gray vinyl. The ski locker hatch door took about 2 hours to complete (start to finish) and looks brand new IMO. The back rest for the back seat to much longer because of the complicated intersections of the different colors where they come to a point. I think used the sewing machine for about 1 hour and hand stitched for 4 hours. Doesnít look perfect, but compared to the original picture itís night and day. Getting the skin back on was a super challenge for the back rest. I looked like a cat with a front paw trapped in their flee collar. Used stainless steel staples also.

Let me know if you have any questions, and just don't tell my friends that I sewed the vinyl myself.

11-03-2005, 08:55 AM
just don't tell my friends that I sewed the vinyl myself.

Hey don't sell yourself short. I would be telling all of my friends that I sewed it myself. Nothing wrong with that. Can't wait to see an after picture.

Workin' 4 Toys
11-03-2005, 08:57 AM
A side tip for you. I think you will want to get an electric or air powered stapler. The hand powered ones just don't do the trick. The staples need to be SET into the fabric, not just lay on top as most hand staples will do. Not to mention, if you end up doing all the seats, using the hand stapler will end up being soo much more effort you may throw in the towel before finished. And yes, stainless steel, aluminum, or galvanized staples are a must. No steel.

Just my 2 cents.

Kevin 89MC
11-03-2005, 09:39 AM
Thanks guys! I figured this might be a good excuse to buy another power tool (electric stapler, not the sewing machine!) I may see if my mom still has a sewing machine, I know my wife doesn't! I wouldn't be afraid to try it, but only because it's for a boat, not a dress! If all goes well, maybe I will have to see if Black & Decker makes a sewing machine. :D
Hoff1, I can't wait to see the results! The more I think about this, the more I want to give it a shot. Doing the bench and driver's seat cushion first should hopefully get me off on the right track. Especially using replacement skins, if they don't break the bank. If that goes well, then I can venture into doing some custom work on the seatbacks, engine cover, etc.

Workin' 4 Toys
11-03-2005, 09:53 AM
Husqvarna Viking
Is the only Machine to get. (Not that I know;) )
You could buy all the equipment and material you need to do it yourself if your not affraid of it and still probably come out ahead. And if not, at least learn a valuable lesson. Leave the stitching to Mom, or maybe you could get her to help.

11-03-2005, 10:11 AM
I'm close to completion on mine and have done ALL of the work myself from redesigning the color scheme, locating suppliers (B&A if you're in Atlanta for replacement foam, marine vynil, thread, etc.) Pics are located on the board under tristar 190 restoration and a few of the guys here have seen the boat (Mag Mania).

11-03-2005, 10:15 AM
Wouldn't let me add a pic.

11-03-2005, 10:18 AM
3rd time's the charm....

11-03-2005, 10:29 AM
Pilot that is looking awesome!!! :worthy: :guitar:

east tx skier
11-03-2005, 10:31 AM
I redid my observer seat base with a replacement skin from MC (this is the o-seat base, not the extension). It's a piece of cake. Just requires some patience taking out the hundreds of staples. After that, just put the new skin on and start firing SS staples from the staple gun. Start in the middle and work to the corners. Just keep everything nice and tight. My seam had ripped, too. Resewing is sometimes hard as the vinyl has probably rotted a bit.

Here is my observer seat after the replaement (I thought I had one without the jump seat, but oh well).

11-03-2005, 11:20 AM
Its time consuming and not as much fun as working on a motor but If I can do it, you can too..I have an extra dog house cover from mastercraft..they sent me the small block by mistake....its red/white... I havent finished my back seat and dog house yet but the observer and drivers seat wasnt too bad but I bought the factory skins($785)....You can probaly get the boat done for close to the price of the original factory skins by a shop...If I did over I would have gone that route....like I said time consuming!....I had to rebuild my side boards.

11-03-2005, 11:55 AM
I had my upholstery done at a local shop (for my 86' MC) did the observer seat area, new motor box and fabbed up the side panels for $700 if remember correctly. I bought a new captains seat to replace the original one and that cost me $150 new from Overtons. The upholstery work was custom and absolutely top notch. To me it was worth having done and not as much as I thought it would be. :twocents:

11-07-2005, 07:53 AM
Got my pictures developed. Hereís a shot of my locker hatch and back seat that I repaired. Of course the pictures were taken at WOT. There were a couple of areas that I didnít do a great job, but pretty good for my first time. The back rest was definitely the most time consuming, but all said and done it cost me about $10 and 10 hours.

Workin' 4 Toys
11-07-2005, 10:39 AM
Got my pictures developed. Hereís a shot of my locker hatch and back seat that I repaired. Of course the pictures were taken at WOT. There were a couple of areas that I didnít do a great job, but pretty good for my first time. The back rest was definitely the most time consuming, but all said and done it cost me about $10 and 10 hours.
And at the uphostery shop, $10.00 materials you'd pay $100 for, and at what $98.00 hr. Saved yourself about $800 I'd say. Nice work.

87MC owner
04-23-2006, 10:30 PM
I own a 1987 PS and am looking furiously for a set of skins that most closely resembles the originals. The driver's seat is actually the worst. Where did you find the fabric?

04-24-2006, 07:37 AM
You can usually pick up marine vinyl at most fabric stores. Probably not as good as what the boat originally came with, but I viewed it as extending my skin life for a few more years. Usually about $6 for a square yard. You will start to question your masculinity the longer you are in the store, so take a female if you can.