Driven to Sew: A Lifelong Hobby

The DIY spirit can take any number of forms — there’s no end to what you can create with the right supplies, a good idea and a little extra time on your hands. That’s exactly the same mindset held by Sailrite® customer and long-time crafter Louis Cossey. Following his retirement in 2016, Louis realized he had more opportunities than ever to start exploring the things he was really passionate about: creating custom projects of all shapes and sizes.

Louis has always been a car guy. Since high school, he’s successfully rebuilt eight cars, taking charge of the metal fabrication, welding, fiberglass, bodywork and paint all by himself to create a one-of-a-kind labor of love. Upon retiring, he started work on his 1923 Ford T-Bucket, a hot rod based Model T. As a pillar of American history, the Model T was built by the Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1927. The T-Bucket still retains many of its classic features but also has a more modern engine. Louis was determined to make this car just as immaculate as all his others, perhaps even more so given that he could now devote his full attention to it.

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Louis had his work cut out for him with the T-Bucket.

After getting past much of the bodywork, Louis began the process of sewing the interior upholstery but quickly ran into unforeseen problems. He had no real prior sewing experience before starting on this particular endeavor. Back in the ’70s, he’d taken a 15-hour auto upholstery class but explained that he’d never had the time or proper equipment to try any serious sewing projects on his own.

“The first mistake I made was to try and sew with an old sewing machine with no walking foot and use cheap interior material. It just didn’t work.” In search of a new sewing machine, he visited a local sewing supply store. There he was told to look into a company called Sailrite, as these would be the best kinds of sewing machines for the type of work he wanted to do.

“Of course I found Sailrite online and couldn’t stop watching the YouTube videos. I think I watched all of them several times and eventually bought the Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LS-1 machine. It instantly made me think I could sew!”

While the Ultrafeed had made the interior car upholstery sewing easier, there were still a few roadblocks in the way. Louis originally tried using an off-brand of faux leather, but after sewing three separate assemblies, he still couldn’t get things to lay down properly. He realized this was due to the poor quality of the material, not his sewing skills, and instead opted to try some Naugahyde® All American Black fabric. Voilà! The high-quality, abrasion-resistant vinyl made for the perfect car upholstery.

“I learned the hard way that I couldn’t practice with less expensive materials because it doesn’t act or react the same way that higher quality fabric does. After getting the Naugahyde, the project totally came together.”

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With help from the Ultrafeed, Louis began to gain confidence in his sewing abilities and could finally visualize just how the T-Bucket would turn out. It also helped to have support from his wife, as she aided in lining up seams and helping pull the material so it could be stapled down with his Sailrite® Long Nose Upholstery Staple Gun. After weeks of toiling, Louis’s first big retirement project was finally in its full splendor! Both the seats and the top of the T-Bucket looked amazing and it was time to start thinking of potential projects to sew with the Ultrafeed.

So what’s next on the agenda? Louis plans to stay true to his car obsession, as he’s got his eye on reupholstering the interior of his 1971 El Camino. Plus with more time for fishing, he also plans to sew a completely new bimini and cover for his old fishing boat. “Although working with old cars is my passion, I really enjoy making things with the Ultrafeed. It’s both extremely satisfying and a little aggravating! I’m getting all kinds of people wanting me to sew little projects for them. And between the quality of the Ultrafeed, the fabric and the staple gun, Sailrite is the only place I will purchase products from here on out.”

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The fully restored T-Bucket — ready to ride.

No matter where your DIY journey takes you, or at what point in your life, it’s never too late to start on that project you’ve been dreaming about. When you really love the type of work you’re doing, sewing becomes more of a hobby and less of a chore. Whether you’re young, or just young at heart, expressing your creativity can have impressive results.

7 thoughts on “Driven to Sew: A Lifelong Hobby”

  1. Great Story,
    Very similar to mine. I have been building Street Rods since the early 70’s.
    I and my wife have built 3 Rods of my own and 2 for close friends of mine.
    We have done everything on all of our builds. In the last 3 years we have been working on our latest car a 1931 Durant 4dr Sedan interior. With a lot of help with sewing videos from Sailrite. this is our 3rd interior and we wanted it to be of our own design. With the help of supplies and videos from Sailrite we have achieved those results. Thanks Sailrite.

  2. I am so impressed. I have been sewing for 30 years and although I have done many home decorating projects, I have never done auto upholstery. My husband and son are restoring a 1932 Ford Coupe and have asked me to do the upholstery. Your story has given me encouragement. I am still worried that my seams will not be straight or evenly spaced. Have you got any suggestions? Thank you for sharing.

  3. A quilting lady at a seminar said this and I totally agree, “ I only sew for love or money, and it takes a lot of either to get me to sew for someone else”.

  4. Beautiful work…I’ve been sewing for over 30 yrs & have a industrial brother.
    machine , but no walking foot…I think I may need to look into one soon

  5. This story rings so true. I’ve been building hot rods and customs for 40 years. Do all my own engine, paint, wiring, welding, ect. But when it came time for interior work, I would take it to the upholstery shop, hoping it would come out as I hoped. More times than not, I wasn’t pleased. So, I purchased a Sailrite Fabricator, and have been honing my skills for the next car, a 1932 Ford roadster. Looking forward to the challenge.

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