Scott from Sew It Seams is one of those guys that's into upholstery because he loves it. That's evident since holding down a day job and having a line of cars waiting for upholstery is no easy feat. So thank you for taking time out to let us take a peak into your world. -Josh Laird
JL: So Scott, how does it all begin for you?
SZ: In the late 90’s while I was in Vocational High School for electrical engineering, I was able to go to work rather than sit in school. Who wants to be at school? I landed a job at the local car stereo shop I used to frequent. While working there, I helped in the fabrication and installation of high end car audio systems. This taught me a lot in the world of interior fabrication.
JL: Ahhh, car audio in the 90’s. Those were the days! Knowing what your day-job is, I take it car audio had a big influence on you?
SZ: I went to college thinking I wanted to stay with the electronics, so years later and with a degree in electrical engineering, I graduated with debt and no jobs available much over minimum wage. I then did what most do. I turned around and went back to school, this time to get my certifications in welding. Then into the job market I went with a skill, landed a job and started life.
JL: Where does upholstery come in?
SZ: In 2007 while helping friends build custom cars for actual paying customers, we started talking about interiors. We knew that if we wanted to go to the next level, we would need to start doing the interiors ourselves. There was no one in our area doing custom fabrication and upholstery. Because of the skill I possessed and past experiences, I was the one that stepped up.
SZ: Yup. I started teaching myself by reverse engineering seat patterns. By 2008, I was doing complete interiors. That’s when my best friend, Tom Barton, came up with my company name, “Sew It Seams,” and as they say, the rest is history.
JL: Remember your first job?
SZ: 1941 Hollywood Graham was my first complete including seats. (Love to get that car back and redo the seats.)
JL: You have a day job. Would you like to one day do upholstery full time?
SZ: While I work as a Design Engineer for a global manufacturing company, I just can’t push myself to take that “big step.” I have a growing family that needs a stable household income and I need retirement $$$$$. I have witnessed people who are in the automotive industry and how they have hand great hardships in their careers and that makes me gun shy.
JL: How do you manage doing both?
SZ: The balance is hard but what helps me is I’m private. I have a few key clients that keep me more than busy and they know my situation, so evening and weekends work for them. I have been growing that clientele as of late, and that’s creating its’ own bit of stress, but I’m hopeful it will pay off. I’m focusing on building relationships that will aid me in creating stability, so if I am to go full time, it will be a seamless transition.
JL: Do you have a favorite job you've done?
SZ: A black 1934 Graham with spoke wheels and wide whites. Did it in burgundy with diamond stitched black leather. We sent the dash and window escutcheons out and had them hydro-dipped with a classy burrow wood. The rear seats we motorized and made it so they reclined on linear actuators. In the headliner we did back-lit acrylic for the dome light.
JL: What's your favorite era of car to work on?
SZ: Pre 1950’s
JL: You’ve got some pretty darn cool cars coming up. Care to share what’s coming down the pipe?
SZ: We have a few cars in the works, but one I’m very excited about is the 1934 Packard Limo that is being built by Eldred Hot Rods in Edinboro, PA. The owner of the car always lets me just run with it with minimal input from him. Doug Eldred, the owner of the shop, has an awesome eye for design so I’m excited to see what we come up with.
Another is a 1969 Camaro being built by Bonnells Rod Shop. The car has a ton of body modifications. Full renderings of the car and its interior have been done, so this will be the first car I will be doing with that aid. The car will be very pro touring/pro street style, so I’ll be doing a lot of sculpting of panels as well as having parts one-off machined.
Both these cars are scheduled for 2015 releases.
JL: Speaking of renderings, do you prefer to have creative freedom or do you like working from somebody else's renderings?
SZ: It doesn’t really matter to me. I mean I have never really worked from a rendering. The only rendering I have been supplied with is the one for the Camaro and we have not even started that yet.
JL: Would you say you have a style?
SZ: Definitely not. I really do not want to have a coined style.
JL: Why not?
SZ: I don’t want somebody to walk up to a car and say, “Sew It Seams did that.” I don’t like doing the same thing over and over again. I like to mix it up…keep people on their toes.
JL: Ok, I like that. So what’s something you’ve been wanting to try?
SZ: I want to do a true tuck and roll where you actually stuff the channels with filler instead of using sew foam. Just finding time to do so is the problem.
JL: Who inspires you?
SZ: There’s a lot of inspiration out there with the social media. I can’t say there is any one shop or person that inspires me. There’s a ton of talent out there putting out work that sets standards. There are so many great design ideas out there it’s sometimes hard to pick a direction to go.
JL: You mentioned social media. Has it effected auto upholstery?
SZ: Social media I think has made a huge impact on the upholstery world. I think the game of custom automotive upholstery has defiantly increased even to the point where a business can do only custom automotive…that has been proven. Whereas in the past, they might have to do couches and chairs etc. to make ends meet. With social media though, I really like seeing the work of the newcomers.
JL: If you were to give a newbie one piece of advice, what would it be?
SZ: GOOD LUCK!
JL: What's the best piece of business advice you've received?
SZ: Do not over extend your overhead. If you don’t have enough cash to carry you through the slow times, you need to save and not spend.
JL: Why do you do what you do?
I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy fabrication and seeing the finished product. I don’t think my trade will ever be mastered. I hope to keep growing and tuning my skills.