Do this to repair your shoulder rest upholstery

One of my absolute favorite feelings is running my hands over brand new vinyl.  The clean, smooth, and uniquely soft feeling of Reformer upholstery is so satisfying, like new car smell.

Conversely, cracked, ripped and dented upholstery can make the whole machine feel old.  No matter how much scrubbing, dusting, and tuning you might do to the rest of the apparatus, the worn vinyl is like a broken headlight on a brand new car.  It just doesn’t fit with the high-quality movement practice you’re teaching.

While Balanced Body makes it easy to replace your upholstery without any sewing skills.   I always use their replacement kits for studios I visit because it’s a great way to ensure you get new vinyl and foam that lasts through years more teaching.  However, sometimes you don’t need to replace the entire upholstery kit.  When the foam is still in good condition and the damage to the vinyl is small, a quick repair might be the answer.

Today I’m going to walk you through my method for gluing a corner seam back together on a Reformer shoulder rest.  I see this kind of bulging a lot, and with five or ten minutes of effort you can make it look like new again.

Example of Upholstery Busted Seam

Photo of Glue and Tape

In order for glue to work (I use this one) you must make sure that you can use your fingers to push the edges of the vinyl together again.  This method will not work for rips, cuts or tears that are missing material or cannot be easily held closed.  If your material is not a candidate for glue, try using this black repair tape.  I love it because it’s meant for outdoor gear and has a great texture.

Once you’ve determined your repair can be done with glue, gather some masking tape.  Use small pieces of tape to mask around the edges of the rip/tear so that the excess glue will not smear over perfectly clean vinyl.

Photo of Upholstery with tape

Next, apply a medium amount of glue into the gap between the edges of the vinyl.  You don’t need the gap to be overflowing and making a big mess on your tape, but you do want to be sure the glue can penetrate between the edges of the vinyl.

Finally, to hold the rip closed, wrap more masking tape around the shoulder block.  The glue takes a couple of hours to dry, so you need some way to hold the gapped vinyl closed.

Upholstery covered in tape     Photo of finished glued upholstery

After a few hours, remove all the masking tape and check your handy-work!  You now have a great-looking shoulder block.  Caution: Avoid heavy usage of the repaired component for 12-24 hours to let the glue fully set.  You may need to use some tweezers to scrape away small bits of your tape, but in general using your fingers should work.

Happy Reforming!

This article was also posted on the Balanced Body Blog.

Balanced Body makes it easy to replace your upholstery and foam

After many years of use, especially in a busy studio, your reformer vinyl can start to wear.  It might crack, the corners might get nicked, your client’s jewelry or zippers might cut the vinyl, or it could get scuffed.  Underneath the vinyl, you might have foam wearing thin where clients commonly kneel or put their butts or feet.

Any of these reasons might make you want to replace your upholstery, but it sounds like a tedious process that requires a local upholstery service.  However, Balanced Body makes it really easy to replace your vinyl and foam on the most frequently used equipment with no upholstery skills required.

Every Reformer, Chair and Cadillac is built with removable upholstery blocks.  That means in order to change the vinyl and foam on your Reformer carriage, you only need to unscrew and re-install a few bolts.  This works because each carriage pad consists of a plywood backer, foam, and upholstered cover that is already stapled to the plywood backer.  Shoulder rests, headrests, chair padding, and Cadillac upholstery are all built similarly.  They come pre-upholstered and require only an allen wrench or screwdriver to remove and install the new one.

If you’re looking to replace less often used sitting boxes, mat conversions, Allegro 2 shoulder rests, or moon boxes, the process is slightly different.  In many cases it may be less expensive to buy a whole new part.  In other cases I recommend contacting a local automotive upholsterer (many of them are mobile and can come to you) to help.  These professionals are generally more than capable of matching your vinyl and repairing it, even if new stitching is required.  After all, the upholstery in your car has much more complicated geometry.

For short-term fixes, I use one of two products to prevent the damage from getting any worse.  For corners that are worn or asymmetrical cracks, I use Tenacious Tape in black (I LOVE using this to protect your sitting box corners!)  This product comes in a small roll and has a wonderful cloth-like texture and great adhesive backing.  I use a pair of scissors to cut it to size.

For smooth, straight cuts I use a vinyl repair glue called Performix VLP.  This is a great option for fairly straight cuts and tears with edges that can be pressed back together.  You can watch a video on how repair a cut like this by clicking here.

If you aren’t sure how easy it is to replace or repair your specific piece of upholstery, contact Salestech@pilates.com for help.

Happy Reforming!

This post also appeared on the Balanced Body Blog.