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Dave Dedman of 48 North Stitch Works (Kalispell, MT)

What does being an upholsterer mean to you? 

For me, upholstery is a type of therapy.  There is something about the rhythm and the melody, so to speak, of an industrial sewing machine clipping away. I guess that may be weird, but it helps sooth my mind.  

How did you get started in upholstery?

I needed some upholstery work done for some personal projects but the upholsterers in my area seemed to be unavailable or have long wait times and I was frustrated.  I opted to try it for myself, starting out with a knock-off machine on the kitchen table and working my way forward from there. I did this as a hobby for myself and friends and when I retired from my career, I needed to stay busy and pick up some supplemental income which snowballed on me and now I have a business providing more work that what I could have imagined.

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What types of upholstery do you do?

I basically will try anything upholstery wise at least once.  I have run the gambit  to learn as much as I can in this field - from auto, marine, air to tipis and horse blankets – it’s all good experience.  Marine work is the most popular request for my business, however.

How long have you been upholstering?

About two years.  I would do odds and ends on my days off before that but it didn't really amount to much, however, it was enough for me to catch the upholstery bug.  I do not consider myself to be an Upholstery Diamond by any means.  I am very much a newbie in this old craft.  Every day and every job, I learn something new and grow from there. 

What is your biggest consumer demand?

Again, for me it would be marine applications.  There are a lot of watercrafts in this area with limited shops that do the work. 

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What is your favorite upholstery project you've done?

I would have to say it’s not necessarily one job in particular, but I really enjoy doing golf carts for some reason.  Maybe it’s because of the simplicity of these jobs in relation to my experience. 

What is the strangest item you've found in a restoration?

I recently restored some camper cushions for a 50's Shasta camper.  I was expecting a mouse nest or two only to find none.  Instead, I pulled out a bird’s nest with a dried-out baby bird in it from the cushion.  It took me off guard.

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Have you noticed any up and coming trends?

Seeing how I'm very new it’s hard for me to answer this.  I know the custom diamond top stitching and other top stitch designs have been popular lately.  I would like to see more of the old school upholstery come back such as true tuck and roll designs and the like.  That's my personal preference, however.

What changes would benefit the upholstery industry?

More teachers.  I have been teaching myself as best as I can.  Conduits such as YouTube, Facebook and website instruction from the Lucky Needle have helped me tremendously however these can’t replicate the hands-on training and the sharing of knowledge from those that have been doing this work for years.  If this aspect of upholstery education does not change, we stand to lose so much knowledge and experience.  I don't know much but I do try to share with others what I do know.  Experience is key.  

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Have you ever been featured on television, online, or in another publication?

Not for upholstery work, no.  I have had a lot of features regarding my previous career that I retired from. 

Do you have a shop animal?

From time to time one of my dogs joins me in the shop. But she tends to be too much of a distraction between wanting her ball thrown and breaking stuff.  She’s a crack addict for her ball for sure!

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Some answers have been edited for clarity.

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