We are all working in our sheds and figure out how stuff works by trial and error. Once in a while we start up the ol’ interwebs and go the CafeRacersUnited.com, to see what how to’s are online this time!
Today, Marcel Miller of Miller Kustom Upholstery, will provide us with some professional tips and tricks concerning upholstery. So, no more trial and error, only trial and success! Learn from the master!
First things first. Who, What, Where is Miller Kustom Upholstery?
Marcel is worldwide known for his upholstery for Muscle cars, VW T1’s and motorcycles. His projects have won a decent amount of shows and prices all around the globe. Miller Kustom Upholstery is a Dutch company and you couldn’t miss it when you drive by. In front of the building you will immediately spot a quite unique Volkswagen T1 owned, driven and upholstered by Marcel Miller.
“This thing is slow as can be, but riding it is pure joy”
After walking around this great non-motorcycle, it is time to step into the world of upholstery, so we can learn a thing or 50 (not 2, definitely not 2) on how a motorcycle seat, whether or not for a Cafe Racer, is made by a professional.
“Step into my office”
In the back you see Millers already working on his next Cafe Racer seat. His workplace can summed up as Garage meets Rock ’n Roll meets Creativity environment. It does have a real good vibe to it and perhaps the trash metal does help a bit with it as well.
We spot all sorts of material like leather, to PU leathers, different kinds of foam and a lot of home-made tools to make unique seats.
Next to that we spot a huge sewing machine, which has more HP than an average seventies Cafe Racer! Just kidding… Or am I?
We even noticed that he has stolen the electrical bread cutter from the kitchen… Stealing “tools” from the kitchen… a trade we can relate to 😉
Ok, let’s start with the upholstery.
To give you a more detailed view on the world of upholstery, we do not only show you a Cafe Racer seat as an example, but alsoa bobber seat. We stick to bikes, to keep it relevant.
Building a seat normally starts with you! Yes, dear reader, you are the person who has build / bought the seat that should/can be upholstered on the longrun. Some work with glass fiber, some with wood, some with metal and that’s all up to you.
Customers often bring Miller a modified OEM seat. However, a completely custom piece of metal, glass fiber or wood isn’t rare overhere as well.
Today we show you 2 examples; a Bobber and a Cafe Racer seat.
The bobber pan is made out of normal metal and did receive fresh powder coating before it arrived at Miller.
Hint 1: Make sure you finish the pan/seat base, before upholstery 😉
Hint 2: Make sure the seat is as symmetrical as possible and doesn’t have any sharp edges
Hint 3: If you do the upholstery at home, you can avoid a sharp edge bij cutting a fuel line in half : O –> C. This way you can slide it over de edge of the seat pan!
The bobber seat will get a white & red PU leather treatment, with a diamond stitch. The cafe racer seat will get a metal flake black vinyl upgrade.
The bobber seat needs PU leather due to the color white. Real leather is nice, but cannot be white/white. (like a pice of paper). You will always get an ivory sort of color in the end when you will use real leather. The owner didn’t know this, so this advice was given to him.
This is also one the reason why Miller’s customer remain his customers. He doesn;t just do the things people ask of him, but he thinks along with them.
After Miller receives a seat, he always checks it for sharp edges and imperfections, because in 99% of the times they are there. It is hard to make a symetrical seatpan or seat basis, so the choice of foam is very important to mask (minor) errors.
The bobber seat had some symmetrical imperfections (look closely at the previous pictures) and with some high densitiy foam, Miller can make this disappear.
This is very important, because no matter how cool your bike is; the seat and fuel tank get the first (and most) attention. So make sure these are perfect! <– Hint 4. Next to this, the choice of foam is very important. Hard foam is easier to work with, but also harder to sit on! Hint 5
That said and done, the next step is add thin layer of softening foam, to remove the small dents, but also to make your ride a bit more comfy.
Both layers of foam are glued (sprayglue) to the seat, to make it sturdy and last longer. Hint 7
After this, the seat is sealed with a high grade plastic layer. Why? Well, when it starts raining, moisture won’t get through the stitches. It prevents that you will have a wet ass each time it rains. Hint 8
Sometimes, to figure out the correct lines/design, the design is already drawn on the seat. Like you’ve seen above. You will never see this again when the seat is finished, but it does help Miller to make the seats as perfect as can be! Hint 9
The next step is to sew a pattern into the material used. This can be a diamond pattern, but also the popular “tracker seat” lines.
This is what separates the men form the boys.
Sometimes people like piping on their seat and this is also the case for the bobber seat…
To give you an example, how this looks behind the scenes:
The Piping is a flipped over piece of material with a solid rubberish material in it, all sewed together.
When you combine this, you will get something like this
Looks pretty sharp, doesn’t it?
As you may have noticed, the bobber seat has some holes (once again, if you want holes; make this happen before upholstery!)
The owner wanted the seat to be finished with pop ribbens, so the holes need to be there to get this result:
So, how about the other seat with the metal flake?
Both bikes are under construction as we typ/speak, but to give you already one sneak preview (rest will follow)
Well, dear creative readers, we hope this story of Miller Kustom Upholstery did help you on you way.