Originally Posted by mxhideout
Figured I should start a thread in this specific section... My dad and I bought a '91 prostar 190, and most of the upholstery is in fair to poor condition. We're not going to pay someone 3k to do it, as I am very cheap. I would like to know who has done their own upholstery on here and where they got material for it. I realize it may be difficult to find oem skins for this old of a boat, so we are willing to get an old industrial strength sewing machine and do it ourselves. I would like the colors/scheme to look as close to stock as possible. Since we have all winter to do this, we'll just pull the seats out one by one and pattern the material after each one. Any tips or suggestions welcome.
If this is your first time doing upholstery, I may be the first to ask- how many times do you want to do it before the results are considered 'good'? An experienced upholsterer will know how to make new skins that fit well, not "kind of". Also, the foam will undoubtedly have collapsed over time and they know how to determine the resiliency, so any patching is unnoticeable, it won't separate or be seen from outside, after the skin in in place. Knowing which materials will last and which won't isn't something that just comes to you, like a new idea. Also, if you don't have a wholesale account, your options for finding a source will be very limited and even within one brand, they have several levels of quality. A consumer-grade sewing machine may not do well with multiple layers of material, either. Then, there's the thread- not all hold up well in direct sunlight and exposure to water.
If you want it to look good, call around to A) find out who has a lot of very satisfied marine customers, B) who does this at a decent price and C) who will quote a price for a job that may not all be done at the same time. This spreads the pain over a longer time period but the thing to consider here is that the older vinyl will look a bit different from the newer pieces.
I would at least check into having the skins cut and sewn for you, check out the foam to make any repairs and if you want to install them, you can do that to save money. You'll need to learn some of the tricks to making it look good- it doesn't fall into place on its own, looking like new.
The first thing to do if you buy a machine- make sure it's not sloppy and worn out. If it is, have it repaired before you try to sew the skins- you'll never get the results you want. Go to an upholstery shop and ask if you can grab some scraps of material to practice sewing different types of seams. Pfaff and Singer are two of the main brands you may see but there are many others, including some Asian ones. A Singer 111 is a good bet- it's definitely heavy-duty enough for this and will work for many layers of leather. If you can, get one with a DC motor- the motor responds a lot more smoothly to the pedal's movement and the speed won't jump up so fast that you'll pinch your fingers (this is incredibly painful but not as bad as actually running the needle through a finger).