The myth is over. Sewing upholstery is no different than sewing regular fabrics. The only difference is with the equipment and consumables you will use to tackle your thick upholstery projects. Thicker upholstery fabrics require you to use heavy duty walking foot sewing machines equipped with thicker thread such as 69 nylon bonded thread.
Why? Heavier material needs to be held together by heavier thread and stronger stitches. You will also need industrial grade sewing needles when working with upholstery. Normal needles will bend or break when trying to penetrate upholstery. Make sure and use sharp scissors to cut through your thick material.
Also when sewing upholstery you will also need to include backing, which requires you to use a portable walking foot sewing machine to handle this weight. You can’t use a heavy duty thread and an industrial grade needle on a regular household sewing machine. Make sure and use the correct machine for your sewing needs-otherwise your project will look inconsistent. Now on to how to sew upholstery:
Inspection: First examine your material. Take your sharp pair of 6-7 inch scissors and trim all the worn out or frayed edges of your material. Make sure and cut just enough. There is no reason to cut excess material that is in good shape.
Sewing Machine Setup: Medium Stitch Length. Mid-Range Tension.
Pattern Pile or Nap: You want to determine if your material pieces have a nap. Don’t know what a nap is? Imagine brushing your dog’s hair down, when it’s neat and shiny. And then imagine brushing it the other way and you’ll feel and see the resistance. Make sure all your upholstery pieces are facing the same way-nice and shiny. This will affect your end esthetic result.
Double Check Equipment: Make sure you are using a portable walking foot machine. Make sure and use a size 18,20, or 22 needle depending on thickness of fabric and sewing machine recommendation. Make sure you are using nylon bonded 69 thread.
Upholstery Placement: Most built-in walking foot sewing machines have a 3/8” lift which allows you to put more material under the presser foot. You always want to leave a little seam allowance. Make sure and place the raw edges right on top of eachother while the right sides together.
Sewing: Start sewing normally as you would with a regular household sewing machine. If you have some loosely woven fabric that might unravel, finish the raw edges with a serger. If your project doesn’t have backing, you’ll need an extra seem so it doesn’t unravel.
For more information on portable walking foot machines which are built to sew heavy duty upholstery fabrics, click here: http://www.tuffsew.com/straight-stitch-industrial-walking-foot-sewing-machine