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Messages - Stephen

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4
General Discussion / Re: How To: Cushion Stuffing Video
« on: December 13, 2012, 03:53:04 PM »
Sunshine Foam has a 100 yard roll for 20 bucks. I'll never go back to the noisy stuff,
I've never used the silk film. When you use the silk film do you leave it in the cushion after the cushion is stuff or take it out?

General Discussion / Re: How To: Cushion Stuffing Video
« on: December 13, 2012, 11:33:20 AM »
ive tried that but I use a much thinner slick film plastic no noise but I couldn't get it air tight and shrink. I wonder if it was the plastic?

I haven't tried the silk film plastic. Don't want to spend $130 or so for the roll right now.  What type of silk film did you try? Did you get a roll of silk from an upholstery supplier and was it made for stuffing cushions? How powerful of vacuum were you using? Could a more powerful vacuum of made it work?

how did you mo?unt the camera

I just have the camera on a tripod. I move the tripod around to get the best view for each shot. The camera has a video screen that can be turned around to face the front of the camera so that I can see where to stand, etc. I made lots of goofups and mistakes as I was trying to explain what to do. As I was talking on the video, each time I made a mistake, just stop and wait a few seconds (to allow for space in the video to cut out the first mistake) and begin again. I also used a video editor to cut out most of the bigger mistakes and also cut to out the beginning and end of each shot where I turned the camera on and off. Then I joined all the various shots together.

Best Wishes,

General Discussion / How To: Cushion Stuffing Video
« on: December 12, 2012, 12:07:08 PM »
Over the past years I've taken many thousands of pictures. My old Canon 520 digital camera was getting about to the end of it's life. So a week or two ago I replaced it with a new Canon SX40 digital camera. One of the nice features of this camera is that does an outstanding quality of HD video. The video quality is much much better than that of the "video" recorder I got a couple years ago. The ability to shoot good quality video in low light is great.
 So, I created a kind of a sample video last night, about stuffing a cushion. To make the video I only used the shop's regular lights.
Here is the link to the page "How to Stuff a Chair Seat Cushion" page. I wrote an article to go along with the video. This shows and tells how I stuff cushions nowadays.

Best Wishes,

General Discussion / Switching Lazy Boy handle from one side to the other
« on: November 17, 2012, 10:26:55 AM »
Have any of you switched the handle on a LaZBoy recliner from one side to the other side? I had a visitor to Upholstery Resource website ask if that was possible. Apparently he is going to have an operation in the near future and it would be very helpful for him to have the handle switched to the other side.
I have an old LazyBoy recliner at home. I closely inspected the mechanisms and the handle. It looks like it might be possible. I'm just wondering if anyone has actually done if. I have written out a set of instructions that I think would work. LazyBoy Recliner: Changing the Handle to the Other Side. Could you look the article over and see if it seems workable?

Best Wishes,

Oh, that makes sense. For the cutting layout diagrams, I generally work with a scale of 1:20 so that all the pieces are easier to work with on the screen and most print out on 1 or 2 sheets of paper. But, to make it be an actual pattern, wouldn't it need to be full size? Do you want to be able to just print out the patterns to be able to lay then on the fabric and cut around them? The reason I'm' wondering this is, how else would having layout pieces having the shapes and curves be of any value? Then, if you are printing out the pattern pieces at full size, how many pieces will be in each layout. Will you be printing out all the pieces at full size? Then are you using common letter size (8 1/2 X 11) paper? If so, you'll have a lot of pieces of paper to print out and piece together for the layout. Or will you be using a printer that prints out large sized documents? Anyway, just for reference, the largest page size that LibreOffice will take is 118" X 118". (since I work at a scale of 1:20, that would handle a layout using up to 65 yards of fabric. So the size of my layout has never been a problem.) Anyway those are my thoughts and questions.

Best Wishes,

And if you had an odd shape that didn't conform to any of the tools? Could you draw a fabric piece that had to fit an odd shape with angles and curves?

I'm not sure how practical it would be for a cutting layout, but LibreOffice Draw has lots of drawing tools for making all type of drawings. I made this using the "Curve" tool.

However, for making a cutting layout, it seems like it would be more practical to just do a rectangle of the widest and tallest part of the item, and then finish trimming it to size  on the fabric itself.


Stephen, I see in your sketch that all pieces are rectangular blanks that will probably be trimmed during installation. Do any of these programs you've used allow you to enter an odd-shaped piece as you would expect to have for the faces of a T-cushion?
Hi Rich,
    Yes, I use a drawing program, which can draw all kinds of shapes. You can use the polygon tool to draw a T-Shape or L-shape drawing. If you wanted to have measurement attached to that shape, you'd have to do attached the measurements manually. In contrast, by using the rectangles that would have been set up with the template, you would just copy the rectangle, resize it, put the ID on it, and it is ready to go. It already has the dimension lines attached. The measurements would automatically change when you change the size of the rectangle.

As I said, you can manually draw the T-cushion shape and manually attach the dimension lines, if you want them.
Here is a sample that I just created:

Best Wishes,

We all have different skills, experiences and talents that equip us to do things one way or another. The trick is to find a way that works for you. It is foolish to try to tell someone else that they have to do it your way because you are good at doing something a particular way.  For example, look at the various ways to do personal finance. Some people just use their checkbook as their finance record keeper. Some people use a paper spreadsheet to hand write in all their figures. Some people use a computer spreadsheet to keep track of all their income and expenses. Others use personal or business finance software, such as Quicken or Quickbooks. We each get the training we need or use what works for us.

In another example some people, like my daughter can see full color picture in her mind, (just like looking at a photograph) and she can also play moving picture, like a video, in her mind. No matter how I have tried, I can't do that. I don't have that ability. But my daughter does.

Some people say that they can organize the cutting of the fabric in their mind. I've never had that ability.

We should each show our own ways of doing things and let whoever values what we say use it. Some will do it this way, some that way, and some yet another way. As long as we are doing our work with skill, honor, and integrity, there is no condemnation in however we do it. The quality of the finished product is one of the determining factor.

I for one choose to do my layouts on the computer. It is what works for me. It is a good option for whoever needs it or wants to try it. To be honest, it takes some set up and training to be able to do it effectively. It will seem slow and clumbsy at first. But with time and practice the skill will come to those who want it. It is a worthy goal to those who desire it.

Best Wishes,

I do not use Flexi Sign to do cutting layout or any layout for uphostery.  
If you don't use it to do layouts in upholstery, then why did you bring it up? What do you do for cutting layouts in upholstery? How do you determine where to cut the fabric in upholstery?

How do you handle pattern matching?
It would take more to explain that than I have time for right. But just to give some glimpses of some pieces that I have matched, look here and here and here. Also, here is the beginning section of a video I shot (but haven't yet edited yet) about matching plaids.

Like I said before, what you are doing is an interesting concept, and somethin that the big furniture manufactures and factories have been using for a while, and have taken it a step further having machines that can cut through 20 layers or more of fabric if you are doing production of the same piece of furniture.
Just a note, we have discussed the concept of automatic layout software before here: Nesting Software.

You might realize that a little one-man shop like me doesn't have the funds to purchase multiple thousand dollar software like the furniture manufacturers use. They can spread the cost of buying the software and doing the initial cutting layouts over at least dozens, hundreds, or thousands of furniture. So the cost of the software and layout per furniture piece is very little when spread over so many pieces of furniture. Also, the manufacturer is the one who chooses the fabrics that they will use, and (unless they have software that  automatically figures out the layout and take into account the fabric patterns) they set up the layout for each particular layout. In any case, the cost is way beyond reach of a one man home business upholsterer. No one is going to make such an elaborate software and just give it away for free, or very inexpensively, to an average Joe like me. In addition, the average upholsterer has a lot more and a huger variety of furniture styles and fabrics and fabric patterns to deal with than any manufacturer. Besides that, I question whether the software that manufacturers use would handle the wide variety and complexity that the average upholsterer has to work with. And then to sell the software at a price that the average upholsterer can afford. From my experience, there are just a minority of upholsterers who are proficient with computers who might buy such a software.

I have been using computerized equipment (including a computerized photo-setter) since the mid 70's. I finally got my first personal computer in 1986. Over the years I have downloaded and tried out hundreds of software and put them each to the test. I am very fussy about how software works. I like using good quality software. I easily get bored with junk software.

As I said in the first message, I've been doing cutting layouts on the computer for a number of years. During much of this time I've done a lot of looking to find better or more automatic software for doing layouts. I haven't found anything that seems more automatic that within my budget. I'd love to find some software that automatically does every part of the cutting layout for me, including pattern matching. Oh well, as long as I'm dreaming, in addition to doing the layout, I'd love to take some pictures of the fabric and the furniture, feed them into the software so that the software could show me  3D images of the furniture on my computer screen and where it would place the pattern on every part. In addition to that, I'd like it to allow me to adjust the placement of the pattern on each piece on the computer screen.

Now, getting back to reality, although it's not perfect, the way that I'm doing works for me. If someone who is actually using a fabric cutting layout software can recommend it himself, then I'll attentively listen to him. I'm not going to run after some software that "might" work or that is super expensive. Right now, what I am doing is working adequately and I'm sharing the process with others. I'd also love to hear from anyone who is actually using other software that works for them.

Best Wishes,

How expensive is Flexi Sign Plus? Do use it to create layouts for upholstery? What are the other free programs that you mentioned and where can someone find them?
How do you figure you where you will cut each piece on your fabric? Or do you even make a cutting layout. I know that some people just use the old cover to make a pattern.

What I'm doing is nothing as elaborate as I image Flexi Sign to be. Here is a sample of one of my recent cutting layouts

(Click on the picture to see a large picture.)

With my method, I measure all the pieces on the furniture and make a list like this:
IA   32w X 25 h    2 pcs
OA  33 w X 16 h   2 pcs
F Deck 38 W X  15 h  1 pc

Using those measurements I create the layout of rectangles on the computer, as shown in the above picture.

You asked about the benefit versus time. Yes, it takes time, but anything that you do to figure out where to cut the fabric takes time. One of the biggest benefits is the peace of mind I have in having all my cuts planned in advance. To me, the peace it gives me is worth far more than any little extra time it might take. I hate the uncertainty and stress that I felt when cutting a job and not knowing if there is enough fabric until everything is cut. I hate the feeling of knowing that if I cut the wrong pieces in the wrong places, it might be the difference between having enough fabric or not having enough. Using my method I know whether or not I have enough fabric for the job before I even take the furniture apart. (So I rarely ever have to put aside a job while I rush in some more fabric to finish the job.) I also have a cutting plan that tells me when to cut which piece.

I'm always open to a better way, if you have some better way, tell me about it. But I will never go back to not having a cutting layout. And making a pen and paper cutting layout is far too troublesome for me. Have you ever tried to readjust a cutting layout that you've drawn on paper? On the computer it is very easy to just move around your cuts until you have it the way you want it.

Best Wishes,

A Little Background
In the past I've mentioned that I do most of my layouts on the computer. Before going on, please read my thoughts on Cutting Layouts and Computerized Layouts. I do what I'd call manual layouts on the computer. I should say here that if the software is configured properly, and if a template (which has many things prepared for each layout) is created, and with some training and practice, creating a layout is fairly quick straightforward. (On simple jobs I might not make a layout and may just make a simple pen and paper layout.) Over a number of years I've tried out various software (Open Office, Microsoft Publisher, TurboCAD, etc.). Near the beginning of my trying to do layouts on the computer I use Microsoft Publisher for a little while, but just doesn't have enough fine measurements or specific drawing tools. I used Star Office, which turned into Open Office for perhaps a couple years or so, on and off. All the time I kept looking for some software that would have the right features to make manual layouts easier. Eventually I found out about TurboCAD and bought it when it was on sale. It seems like a great software, it has a lot of features that were missing in Publisher and in Open Office. However it uses a whole different terminology than what I'm use do and it is a lot to wrap one's mind around. It also takes a lot to set up. It took me a couple years (on and off) to finally begin to understand it enough to use it pretty frequently. After some time I left Open Office a few years ago because it was a little clunky to use and it just wasn't printing out larger documents very well. For perhaps a couple years I used TurboCAD almost exclusively. Using TurboCAD helped me to learn some better ways to do layouts. However, since I had to buy it, I couldn't use it on both my laptop and my desktop. And it was complicated. I still wanted something simpler. I wanted to find something that other upholsterers could also use. TurboCAD was just too complicated to fill answer that desire.

I finally decided to go back and give another try to OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Because of LibreOffice has some improved features that Open Office didn't have, I decided to go with it instead. After having used LibreOffice for the last year or two I have mostly, kind of, settled on using LibreOffice Draw for now. LibreOffice is a fork of Open Office, so those two would be very similar in how they work. In LibreOffice (and maybe also in OpenOffice) the print out problem with large sheets has been fixed, and it does a fairly good job at print out cutting layouts. They have improved LibreOffice enough, and now I understand it better, that using it for making cutting layouts is going pretty well.

In some ways you might say that I'm kind of a software junkie. One thing I do a lot of is testing and experimenting with software.  Over the years I've done a lot of changing settings, looking through the help systems, trying to see if there is anything that I can change, or learn to do differently, to make the software better meet my needs. Sometimes I find settings that make things go better, sometimes I just learn to do things differently, and if neither of those two works, sometimes I just learn to make do with what the software will do, at the time. But I never quit trying to find a better solution, all the while I am using the software.

About the Tutorial
I say all this say that I think I've learned how to do cutting layouts on LibreOffice well enough to try to also teach others how to do it. While the methods I've learned may not be idea for all people in all circumstances, I think that it will work fairly well in most circumstances. So I just want to let you know that I've been writing a tutorial about using the Draw module of Libre Office for making Cutting Layouts for upholstery, which probably also may apply to Open Office Draw.

 The first draft of Part one of the tutorial (setting up the software to use for cutting layouts) is here: Setting Up LibreOffice to make cutting layouts.. For any of you computer types who use OpenOffice OR LibreOffice who are brave enough, could you do a test run on the tutorial and see if it all makes sense to you? Are there any parts that are hard to understand or that needs revision? Thanks,

Eventually I want to make Part 2 of the tutorial, which will go step by step in making a cutting layout. I don't have time to work on Part 2 right now, but Part 1 is at least a beginning.
Best Wishes,

General Discussion / Conveyor Catch Traps
« on: February 27, 2012, 06:32:58 AM »
  I have a very unusual request from a potential client. He is involved with a large food processing plant in Portland that has large conveyor belts. These conveyor belts need to have tarps hanging below them to catch anything that drips off the conveyors. He has previously purchased some catch tarps from a company that is a large distance from here.

(Click on the picture to see all 5 of the pictures.)

Those tarps don't fit very well. He is looking for someone in the area to make some tarps that would tarps to fit the conveyors. He said that the tarps would have to be fit around some obstacles, etc. Here is a drawing of the conveyors that need the catch tarps.

He said that he can't find anyone in Portland that does this type of work. I'm located about 1 1/2 to 2 hours away from the plant. He found us on the Internet and wondered if we could do the job. Realistically, it seems I should have said NO right away. But I seem to be a glutton for punishment and something about the job intrigued me. (Maybe I was flattered that someone "wanted" me to do a special job for him) Anyway, for whatever reason, I told him that I would give it some thought. In addition, I like to plan out unusual stuff (part of my thought processes). Here are my thoughts about the job that I have been writing out.

Could you give me some feedback about what I might be forgetting if I choose to do the job. (Or you can tell me I'm crazy  ::) for already putting so much time into the job and that it's not reasonable to even consider doing the job.)

Also, what type of vinyl would you suggest for doing this job?

Thanks for putting up with my nonsense.

Best Wishes,

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Who Depends on Website?
« on: January 14, 2012, 09:36:31 PM »
To answer your question:
Please describe your business and situation if staying in business is dependent on your website.
I've been doing upholstery since 1966. Up until 1988 I worked with my dad until he died. Most of that time we had a regular fabric store with an upholstery shop in back. When we learned that Dad had cancer we closed down the shop to work out of his house so that we could take care of him better. Some months later he died. About a year later I got married and  worked with my sister in her garage. We did doing mostly wholesale work for decorators for about 5 years. Then my sister and I started working separately. About the same time we moved to Salem, where I worked out of my house in Salem for about 15 years. About a year ago we moved to Independence (about 8500) and bought the house where we currently live and work.  I still work out of my garage, which is right next to our house.  Since we stopped having a separate shop, I love working at home. For a one man shop it just doesn't make sense to have a separate shop expense.

 Since I've had the Winters Sewing website up for about 8 years, and we also advertise in the phone book and in two newspapers it made the move very workable. A large part of our work comes from the website. Many people call or email us to get estimate. We've had people from all over the nation call about the possibility of my doing work for them. Of course, not all of them are economically feasible. But we have done work for people in San Francisco and in Ohio. Having a website is extremely beneficial.

Best Wishes,

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Let's talk websites
« on: January 14, 2012, 09:08:27 PM »
Here is an article I've written about "Making Your Own Upholstery Website.

A Larger Website Is Very Useful
It looks like I have vastly different ideas than some of the others here. I've had my website, Winters Sewing, up for about 8 years, and over the years it has grown to over 150 pages, and it continues to grow.  The website has a lot of useful detailed information for potential clients. It answers many of their questions before they even call. The can look at the slideshows to see how we do our work. They can read the many articles on a variety of upholstery subjects.  Many times before they call us they have already made up their minds to have us do their work.

In addition, since the website is so large, and has so much information, it consistently ranks at or near the top of the first page of the search engines, without paying any per hit fees.    I know other business people who have small websites and who mention that they don't get much business from the website.

Websites Should Have More Text Than A Newspaper Ad
There is a big difference between how you write for a newspaper ad (where every word cost extra) versus how you write for a website. On a website you are not as limited as in a newspaper. My idea is that you write out enough information on each page to tell people what you do and what your policies are. I've had a lot of clients tell me that they love my website.

Pictures Are Very Useful on a Website
In addition to the text on our upholstery website, on the Upholstery Pictures & Slideshows pages I put both before and after pictures, as well as slideshows. Each slide show has between 20 to 150 pictures. It is extremely helpful for the client to see your process of working through the furniture. That says as much about the quality of your work as anything else that you could do. Over the last few years I have taken process pictures of most of the jobs that I've done. I easily have twenty to forty thousand process pictures of the work we've done. Some may I'll put more of them on my website.

Plan and Organize The Content
I'm a firm believer in giving the potential clients plenty of information. However, it shouldn't be put in haphazzardly. Instead some careful thought and planning should be put into it before each page gets published. The content should be laid out and designed to make it easy to glance over or to read. I like to use larger headings that give the main points, and smaller text to give more details for each section. Then the client either can read just the headings or whatever text that interests them.
It takes a lot more thought and effort to effectively organize the website content, but it is well worth it. My motto could be, "Put in the extra effort so others can better understand the content."

Best Wishes,

General Discussion / Re: Wrinkles and Puckers -Help Please
« on: October 07, 2011, 11:20:09 PM »
Every boat cover that I make is full of wrinkles and puckers when finished.... Any suggestions?

Hi Tim,
When you are still learning it seems pretty natural that your work would have some wrinkles. I notice that the boat seats also have wrinkles. Those curves can be pretty tricky to get it cut and sewed just right. But don't worry, with practice things will get better. June's suggestion about the tension is a good one.

In addition to what was also said, I would suggest that, whenever you have a tricky area to fit, you might want to think about making a prototype, as suggested here: Making Upholstery Prototypes.

Best Wishes,

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