Monday, August 13, 2012

Repair Jobs: Motorcycle Seat Recover

             In a perfect world, every designer is brilliant, without flaws, and everything made sews together perfectly. However, in the real world, we all know that doesn't exist. Very good shops have a 1-2% failure rate and poor ones have a 20-40% failure rate. That means that all things being equal, eventually if you sew you WILL be stuck doing repair work. AKA, fixing yours or others mistakes. Today, I am posting a repair job I completely struggled with. Figured it would do you my reader good to see that in the real world...sometimes upon taking apart a job you find instead of simply replacing a lower quality fabric with a higher one, the entire job  must be reworked before you can fix the item in question. When I first got started, I thought that lower price points had to do mostly with lower quality finishes, but being in the seems to touch every aspect of the manufacturing construction. If you cut corners in the final fabric, you also cut corners on the hidden elements customers can't see. Especially true if you move from Made in the US or Europe or Made in China or Asia. You need those guts to last you 15-20 years. An expensive looking bag without the interfacing and lining necessary will fall apart just as quickly with you having wasted your money to no purpose.
              Sounds pretty esoteric right? Let me demonstrate. The following is a "leather" motorcycle seat a friend gave me to fix for them as a favor-in-trade. Upon getting the seat, the entire thing was actually ripped up VINYL in pretty bad shape...I probably should have handed it back at that point, but what girl doesn't love a challenge every now and then? I honestly think that my guy friend's wait and ambush me on day's I'm feeling empowered for something hard.
               Anyways, upon taking it apart...the entire thing was a nightmare! Cheap foam under the vinyl was falling apart. No guts. No reinforcement at all. Oh my... Before I could even begin to fix the seat, I had to add a new foam padded core, top, and muslin cover. You can see it all pretty here with the sewn leather pieces below it all clipped together with clothesline pins. The thing looked like an old couch you neighborhood puppy got into in his chewing phase before.
              After you finish the foam upholstery, you have to cut out and assemble the leather cover. With heavier leather like this automotive upholstery leather, you need to pull out your sewing hammer and harness needles to beat and force any misbehaving points into shape before you sew them. Sewing hammers are great for working with bitchy heavy weight leather you need to sew right the first time without screwing up. Going from vinyl to leather is horrible in terms of pattern-making because leather stretches much less as it is more durable and less resistant to wear and tear. You also have to add seam lines for rider resistance so they don't just slip off the back end the first time they give the bike gas. And you will need to have a hole punch to sew those hard to reach places a machine can't get properly.  I don't know why, but most repair jobs I do involve at least some hand-sewing on my part. I think mostly because I'm assembling them in a different order than the original maker and haven't done a million seats.
           Finally, you are left with a finished seat cover ready for stapling and sending out the door.  Wow, that was a lot of work. Hopefully I can avoid any more repair work until after the Christmas season. I had to do a lot of boat repairs this spring (funny enough I don't think I bothered to post any of those on the blog). Maybe next year I'll get remember to post some of those. Not sure how many people like watching me restore old things to working order. But upgrading products are awesome.

Have a great day people!

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