Do It Yourself

1085 Martin Ave

Santa Clara, CA 95050



M–F 9:00am–5:00pm

Estimates given on Saturdays by appointment

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So you want to save some money and at the same time get to do your own upholstery work. Harolds Upholstery has been helping customers do their own upholstery and saving money for many years. It all started with something I called Saturday School. This is where a customer, Father & Son team etc. came in on Saturday and rented out my shop for the day. I stayed around and worked on other projects and gave estimates. They would be able to use all the tools and equipment to do their own project. I would also be there for technical sewing and patterning (for a fee) if needed. This worked great for about 20 years!

However, now because of insurance regulations I can no longer do the Saturday School. What we can do is give you guidance to tear down things at home and bring them to the shop for us to sew or work on. A lot of the cost of upholstery is the time consuming, tedious and meticulous teardown and preparation. Some sewing and especially pattern making can be just as time consuming. At any rate, the more grunt work you do yourself, the more you save. Also we have access to thousands of pre-patterned upholstery kits as another money saving option. We will even show you how to make patterns so all we do is the sewing!

Here's an example of a DIY project on a pair of BMW buckets in leather:

Remove 2 front seats .5 hrs
Disassemble and remove seat covers 2 hrs
Cut apart seat covers for patterns 1 hr
Pattern and cutout leather 4 hrs
Sew seat covers 6 hrs (Journeyman time)
Install covers and assemble seats 4 hrs
Install 2 front seats .5 hrs
Total Time 18 hrs

The time given above is the average for a Saturday School customer from past jobs. The only time reflected by a journeyman upholsterer is the actual sewing. This is to give you an idea of what to expect in your upholstery journey as far as your own labor hours go. Removing seats and disassembling and reassembling, installing covers and putting the seats back in involves about 7 hrs. So if there is a kit available it makes sense to use it as it saves 11 hrs of your time or ours if we are doing the install.

I wrote this out so you are aware that this is not washing your car, giving your car a tune-up or a simple head gasket replacement. A lot of Saturday School customers became regular customers after finding out how difficult upholstery work is. If this information hasn't discouraged you, we will be happy to help in whatever capacity you would like.

I also want to emphasize — as not to scare you off — that we have had teens of both genders perform many upholstery skills quite well. Even complete novices have done well. You do have to have patience. That is the most important trait. Below I have put a photo of a leather steering wheel done by an 18 year old male who had no prior experience.

It cost him $85.00 for leather and me sewing the cover. We would have charged about $400.00 to do this job.

What we offer:

  • Upholstery supplies — vinyl, cloth, leather, foam, etc.
  • Weekend tool rental (prices vary)
  • Seat rebuilding supplies — springs, burlap, jute, etc.
  • Offsite welding and powder coating
  • Technical sewing and pattern making
  • Professional installation and steam fitting covers

Owner: Ron Ayers, Mastercraftsman in Auto, Marine and Aircraft Upholstery, 39 years experience

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