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Instructor Interview: Dillon Coffey

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Dillon Coffey joins the Narragansett Sailing School team of instructors. In the interview below, Dillon shares his background in canvas/sewing/upholstery:

1. How did you get into upholstery?

I went to WyoTech in Pennsylvania back in 2011 for autobody. I took upholstery simply as an elective class. After finishing school, I found an opportunity in upholstery and I’ve stuck with it ever since!

2. What made you interested in autobody work in the first place?

I went on a vacation and didn’t want to go back to work. At that time, I was an optical technician. I’d work a 14-hour day and come home to work on my truck. So, it hit me that I should go back to school for that, which lead me to WyoTech. Sewing was a bonus skill that I learned and it came natural to me. My truck needed seats, so I was able to fix them myself. That’s where I really saw the value of having upholstery skills.

3. You’ve done upholstery for ten years now. What’s kept you interested for this long?

I get a positive response when I get something done and do it well. It’s rewarding to see something that you fix. It’s like when I’d renew a 30-40 year old car. Boats are just the same. You start with something shredded, get to work on it, and it ends up looking new again. That end result and the big reveal of it is something that’s really appreciated.

4. Who do you think should take an upholstery class and why?

The DIY people who want to get things done themselves. I never wanted to rely on others to take care of my things, and I like to know when it’s done right. It’s good to know how to fix something yourself, especially when you’re out on the water; and at least having a basic understanding of how it’s put together.

5. Anything you’re looking forward to teaching most – like a certain thing to create or a certain skill?

Cushions are fun. You can get creative with them, adding stitching, diamonds, etc. Whatever you want to do. You can get a little artistic. It’s a great project to start learning on, along with sailbags.

6. What’s it like learning upholstery long-term?

You get the basic concept in the first class and then you start to see all the work that goes into it. It’s one of those things you need to and will want to continue learning about, even with the foundations covered in class one.

7. Outside of your work, what’s something you love to do?

I’ve always enjoyed tinkering and building things. Cars, furniture, curtains, anything!


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