If auto upholstery was offered as a college degree, freshmen would be assigned to read Dennis W. Parks’ How to Restore and Customize Auto Upholstery & Interiors. It provides a great introduction to the craft, but – like most freshmen textbooks – falls short on serious instruction.
The reason is simple: Parks is not a professional auto trimmer.
He is, however, a veteran automotive how-to writer who goes to great lengths to shadow and document the work of pros. His book covers nearly every element of a vehicle’s interior, provides loads of inspiring photos and even includes a few step-by-step pictorials.
Where Parks suffers is in his style of writing – which favors short summaries over detailed instructions. His tendency to gloss over vital details makes the craft of auto upholstery seem easier than it really is, and provides little help to anyone seriously interested in mastering the craft.
The only folks I can envision finding value in this book are newbies still deciding on whether the craft of auto upholstery is worth pursuing; and project-car owners interested in getting a better handle on what a full interior restoration entails.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend this book to any professional looking to pick up a few new tips or tricks – as it doesn’t offer any. For that, pick up a copy of Custom Auto Interiors by Don Taylor and Ron Mangus.
That one is in my library, along with Taylor’s “Automotive Upholstery Handbook” and Taylor/Mangus “Custom Auto Interiors.” And yes, Park’s book is a good overview. It provides enough information for someone to decide whether or not they should gve it a whirl. It offers some insight into how things fit together and “how did they do that?” But no, it doesn’t set the reader up to tackle a customer’s full-on custom interior.
Taylor and Mangus, on the other hand, know their stuff.
A good curriculum would be Parks as the intro, followed by studying Taylor and Mangus along with Sid Chaver’s DVD series on door panels, seats and headliners.
Yet nothing beats hands on. I’ve trained a few people to sew, and started out having them straight sew about 50-75 seams straight down a long piece of doubled over viny. Then practice sewing welting. Then attaching welting to a boxing. Eventually, they have covered the very basic steps for sewing a seat and understand the feel of the machine during it’s operation.