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Technical Vinyl or Leather?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by blowby, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 6,727

    blowby
    Member
    from Nicasio Ca

    Thinking about doing the simple bench seat myself in the Bantam to match the door panels, 1.5 sewn vinyl pleats leftover from a past iteration that don't look too bad. I have a machine and some experience.

    Ebay has pleated vinyl but it's heat seamed, not sewn. Good, bad?

    Then I got to thinking leather would smell good. On Craigslist there are 100 black leather couches for sale for under 50 bucks, probably some free ones. Would that leather work? Would give me enough material to practice sewing my own pleats. Or is this also a bad idea?

    [​IMG] dafsd.JPG
     
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  2. The Shift Wizard
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,005

    The Shift Wizard
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I like the idea of shopping for gently used leather on Craigslist or wherever. You'll be able to see how the material is holding up. Note that there's a lot of furniture out there that is only leather on the sitting surfaces but the ends, back, and front are actually lookalike vinyl. Make sure you get what you need and what you're paying for.
    Black is easiest to touch up small blemishes.
     
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  3. 26hotrod
    Joined: Nov 28, 2009
    Posts: 884

    26hotrod
    Member
    from landis n c

    As an x-upholstery guy it seams you have a good game plan. Go for it...……...
     
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  4. chargin03
    Joined: Jan 8, 2013
    Posts: 444

    chargin03
    Member

    Get the vinyl and put a piece leather under your seat and it will smell good.
     
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  5. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,684

    jimmy six
    Member

    I did a seat in a 56 Chev pickup with the heated seamed pleats in 1972. Looked great and held up very well. Today many may say I was cheap and give it thumbs down.
    As said above many are a combo with just the seating surfaces being leather. Using old couches and chair leather can definitely give you a weathered look.
     
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  6. KenC
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 433

    KenC
    Member

    Most leather furniture that I've seen lately has a sprayed on finish. Not that bonded leather stuff, but real leather only surface dyed and finished. Usually that is obvious on used stuff as it will have cracks and/or peeling. If you get lucky and find some used but high end stuff it will be vat dyed and much more durable.

    I like your plan. Fits my frugal nature. Or my cheapness, chose one.
     
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  7. 5window
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 7,458

    5window
    Member

    I re-did Fiero (sorry) seats for a car with a kit that had leather wear surfaces and vinyl sides. It has held up for 12 years with no issues-keep it conditioned. I used the heat pleated vinyl on door panels in my '31 A coupe. JC Whitney used to sell it and I liked the 50's/60's vibes, It also has done well. There's nothing like leather, but vinyl is more affordable and, as long as it's UV resistant, will hold up to abuse better. JMTC
     
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  8. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,942

    goldmountain

    Great idea. I had no idea that there were that many old black leather couches out there as a resource. As far as the heat sealed pleats, I think that is good too. I had a seat where the upholsterer just top stitched the pleats and of course that is where the thread wore out and came apart. I'm thinking of going that same way myself.
     
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  9. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,577

    RJP
    Member
    from PNW

    Why not sew over the heated pleats? They already provided you with the straight line.
     
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  10. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 5,631

    chevy57dude
    Member

    Leather gets my vote.
     
  11. adam401
    Joined: Dec 27, 2007
    Posts: 2,080

    adam401
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My buddy Koby upholstered a seat for me from couch leather. It was oxblood and it came out awesome. It had real nice distressed look and it was free. He also did an upholstery for a friends car that also came out awesome but we bought a whole hide (spelling?) and that material was about $1000.00. I'm no leather expert and the couch leather was probably not as good of quality but theres a significant savings there.
    I really like a vinyl interior in a hot rod too though. Its the stitching that really sets the job apart to me. Cool pleats and stuff.
     
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  12. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,514

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    I was looking for the distressed “bomber Jacket” look and went with a high end leather shop specializing in selling to interior decorators. Got caught in the rain a couple of times and had to have the seats done again with Naugahyde. Second time around looked better and I got the right look.
    D5FC45DE-D541-4B1D-9583-E7DA7C627697.jpeg
     
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  13. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 6,727

    blowby
    Member
    from Nicasio Ca

    Great ideas and suggestions guys, thanks! This will be a winter project, too much to do outdoors before, but there are two free couches right now, might go get one this weekend.

    a.JPG aa.JPG
     
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  14. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,654

    jnaki




    Hello,

    For something that is going to be in an enclosed area, used couches, leather or not will bring the “OLD” user’s smell with them when purchased. If you do not care, then think about what you will be getting and get your measurements correct. Most leather couches (actually any couch) have a 34-36 inch high back. This flat area normal people don’t see due to the fact that it is usually against a wall. The panels may be 36 inches wide, but that may not be enough flat surface area to sew in your hot rod seating door panel areas, as the lines scrunches a little.

    Since you cannot see if the couch comes from a smoker’s apartment or house, then you will definitely smell the odor of its old environment. It is usually not good. Regardless of where it comes from, you may be looking at different leathers, too. The less expensive one scratches easier and is usually thinner. But on the other hand, expensive aniline leather does the same… We have owned plenty of leather seating and if I remember, there was no flat panel in the back or arm sides that would be good for your upholstery project. Even the tall back one that has been given away did not have enough flat surface areas.

    When we moved into an upstairs apartment, my wife and I did not like the couch that was in the living room. It was vinyl and had awful smells coming from it. It was too large to get it down the narrow stairwell (don’t ask how they got it up) so, we thought we were stuck with it. But, the apartment had wooden casement windows that the center piece could be removed. An instant exit was created.

    I broke out the circular saw and started cutting up the vinyl couch frame and all. The smaller pieces got neatly pushed out of the upstairs window and fell down to the sand. It took a complete wooden floor refinishing and total, wooden wall scrubbing, cleaning process to get that “OLD” musty smell out of the apartment. The cut up sofa went to the local dump.

    upload_2020-8-1_6-59-37.png

    Jnaki

    In talking about small upholstered areas, if a person were going to replace the interior seating surfaces of a 35 foot sailboat, would they use recycled leather or vinyl? The small area would instantly make the cabin/sleeping areas have the smell of the used leather or vinyl. Daily use might get the people used to the “old” smell, but then again, new definitely has its advantages. I am sure the hot rod seating area inside will be better off if you decide to get some new leather from a fabric shop or upholstery shop if you want to do the job yourself.

    Otherwise, there is nothing better than getting inside of a small area that just got some new leather upholstery. Or, sitting on a well-designed leather couch to read, watch movies or just sit around in the NEW leather aroma. As the leather couches get older, one seat rub or minimal scratch brings out the leather aroma… YRMV
     
  15. mr.chevrolet
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 6,798

    mr.chevrolet
    Member

    I vote for couch leather. you can't beat free or cheap. few years ago I bought a large couch, love seat & large ottoman, in almost new condition, maroon leather. $25. more than enough for a couple Model As.
     
  16. Jacob Borshard
    Joined: Jul 5, 2020
    Posts: 13

    Jacob Borshard
    Member

    I made seat cushions from black leather I flayed from a black Italian leather love seat that was next to a dumpster.

    When I flayed the love seat the leather smelled like an old dog. I zapped it in several baths of oxy clean and fabreeze and it all smelled good and fresh.

    I made the cushions from scratch which took tons of work.
    After getting rained on once the leather smells like old dog again.

    So beware - if the leather has any smell whatsoever, the smell will return.

    I’ve since flayed two leather sofas that had no odors.

    Also keep in mind - the number of large usable pieces you actually get from a sofa is very limited.
    The thickness texture and suppleness of leather varies widely sofa to sofa so matching leather from more than one donor is difficult.

    Also, sofa leather soaks up water - it doesn’t have the same waterproofing as auto upholstery leather.

    I would try leather again but I would only do it for very simple patterns that I wouldn’t mind tossing or bleach zapping if they get nasty.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  17. I would bet pretty much every $50 couch is not real leather unless they are severely damaged. A real leather couch costs $1000's of dollars. People are not selling them for $50. They will be bonded leather.

    Sent from my SM-G950W using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  18. Jacob Borshard
    Joined: Jul 5, 2020
    Posts: 13

    Jacob Borshard
    Member

    I bet a lot of the ones listed as leather are fancy vinyl or pvc. It’s good to make sure before you bring one home.

    But there are lots of genuine leather ones for cheap or free. A fifteen year old shabby leather sofa has little to zero resale value.

    The three I flayed were all being thrown away, and they were all genuine solid leather.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,527

    continentaljohn
    Member

    As said the leather couch sounds great but the yield is very little in big pieces as well as where the couch came from. I got one from my buddy who is a smoker and has a few dogs. This was a high end couch what he said and the dog chewed the arm on it. So out in the trash it went and went over with a razor knife and pulled off the leather. I was surprised what I did come away with. I wasn’t interested in the seams just leather panels . Tossed them in a box and went home and went in the truck the next day to find the cab stunk like smoke and dog Yuck! I found other projects to make out of the leather like zip up tool bags tool rolls and fatsacks . This is a couch in pieces... I guess you can do more if you keep the seams and pleats and folds ... 180703BB-5C0D-42E9-8C80-DC49893AD414.jpeg
    I found you can get leather cheaper then you think and also vinyl and other materials cheaper to do a interior. I got a few leather hides from Tandy Leather for 49.00 bucks each and 2 or 3 will do a model a or 32 . They were on sale and not huge 15sf each and these were coated with waterproof coating . Also other materials to do a interior like Vinyl surbright sunbrella or waxed canvas that’s designed for auto /boat . This material can cost from 5 buck a yard to 20 bucks depending on your taste. 1C46103B-F407-4EA4-847B-AF6392C6CFFF.jpeg 5E2A8C65-A47B-4011-9F5F-A74286FEC479.jpeg 5E6B04F8-1FE6-48AB-9D02-272E5E943373.jpeg 5E2A8C65-A47B-4011-9F5F-A74286FEC479.jpeg F59593D1-25D0-4D63-A30A-5A9A99919A45.jpeg 67DE2E2B-E252-40BA-B408-3A6010E83E74.jpeg
     
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  20. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,514

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    2F0888C5-CB89-4596-A04F-2327E37CBBDB.jpeg

    One sure way to know you’re getting a genuine leather couch is to make sure it has a brand!
     
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  21. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,577

    RJP
    Member
    from PNW

    Used couch. Maybe somebodies naked ass has been sitting on that couch. No thanks. Upholstery fabric I'll buy new.
     
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  22. Thinking the same thing........ Or asses, or........ well, you know what i mean.........
     
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  23. There's leather and there's "leather". If you ever bought a belt made of split leather or bonded leather you know what I mean. Real leather is hard to sew and you should have a machine that's set up for it including lubrication for the thread. I'd bet couch leather made in the last 50 years isn't what any cowboy would call leather. Personally, I'd go with a leather looking vinyl and forget the stuff that Bubba and Gertie frolicked on.
     
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  24. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,527

    continentaljohn
    Member

    Thats cool and getting hides do have flaws like the brands cuts and scars. The tandy leather discounted ones on sale sometimes have branding on them. This is a black one I have for my model a roadster interior.. This has a few for some reason .. image.jpg
     
  25. adam401
    Joined: Dec 27, 2007
    Posts: 2,080

    adam401
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Eh, ever buy a used car with a back seat? Haha yeah....
     
  26. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,166

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Last free one I drug home ended up being bonded leather. It had the right distressed look though.
     
  27. bantam
    Joined: Oct 16, 2006
    Posts: 319

    bantam
    Member

    Let’s see the Bantam for which you are upholstering the seat. Better than looking at old couches any day.
     
  28. Might be a problem if you were making one of these.;)
    E7568A9A-C139-4714-BB7A-8E292A6AEC8E.jpeg
    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Now buying a ten speed from a nudist colony might be a little risky.:)
     
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  29. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 6,727

    blowby
    Member
    from Nicasio Ca

    An old thread by 3WLarry is what inspired me to consider couch material, he wasn't worried about it.
    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/never-let-your-wife-into-your-shop.801131/

    I agree most these days are probably bonded leather or some cheap derivative, especially the free ones. As I said I'm thinking about a winter project, plenty of time to look around and decide. The pleated vinyl would be much easier, and I guess you could sewn over the heat seams.

    Here's the heap.

    IMG_20200713_172003.jpg
     
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  30. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 1,175

    6sally6
    Member

    Most 'used' couches have had A LOT of pootz filtered through them..........neecked butts or covered!
    I might just pass on the used couch leather idea.;)
    You can get 'pleather'/naugahyde for a decent price at fabric stores that's as durable as leather.
    Buy you a 2 ft. square of leather and throw it under the seat and sniff away. Your buddies won't know the diff....:cool:
    6sally6
     

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