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horvath 12-14-2008 07:23 PM

I'm Back ... and Working On A Pair of Seats!
Hello, All ...

I've been in the middle of some very cool changes in my life this year -- you can get an idea of it from the link below -- and I've (finally) started a new project on my truck (54 Chevy); the *first* one this year (good grief) - where does the time go to!?

Anyway, I was given a pair of bucket seats from an '87 Ford Escort and decided to use them as new seats for two reasons: First, because they are low-backs (a deal breaker, for me) and second, because they looked simple enough for me to make new covers out of black and cream-colored elk hides; I've never done seats before.

I started fabricating the covers a couple of days ago ... you can watch my progress here:

Dan! Are you here? I need your help: You can see what I'm working with via the pictures seen via the link above. The fabric used in the original seat covers has 1/2-inch foam on the back of it ... naturally, my elk hides do not and I know I need to use it. My questions:

1. Do I glue and sew 1/2-inch foam to the back of the hides? Or do I just glue it? Or do I just sew it?

2. What do I need to buy? I have no 1/2-inch foam at present and need to get some.



DanTwoLakes 12-15-2008 08:24 AM

Hi Alan, and welcome back. You need to take a look at the truck seat tutorial. It will tell you everything you need to know. The way you do parts with sew foam is to 1) make a pattern 2) make a rectangular or square blank big enough to trace your pattern onto, which is made from whatever material you're using glued to the foam side of 1/2" sew foam 3) trace your pattern onto the blank 4) sew a stitch line as close to the inside of that line as possible 5) sew another stitch line 1/4" inside the first stitch line. You do that for all the parts that make up the top of the seat.

horvath 12-15-2008 10:24 AM

Thanks, Dan.

I will dig in to the tutorial and read it thoroughly ... and I will follow your steps outlined above, too. I don't want to make any mistakes if I can avoid them -- these elk hides ain't cheap, Brother!!! LOL!

This is going to be a whole lot of fun ... and a great learning experience, too! I'll be posting links here to all my photo/updates, each and every step along the way.


Pope 12-15-2008 01:28 PM

Hey Alan,
Nothing really hard about it, just time and planning and a good dose of Dan.
Finished my first two seats a little over a week ago. I think they came out great. Good luck.

horvath 12-15-2008 11:02 PM

Wow! That seat is beautiful, man! It's, basically, the same seat I'm gonna be reupholstering, too.

What kind of leather is that? It doesn't look like the usual stuff -- nice quality!

DanTwoLakes 12-16-2008 02:05 AM

Alan: Here is the thread that explains all about Pope's seats and his thought process while he was deciding how to do them. CLICK HERE He sure did a fabulous job, and this was his first attempt at car seats.

horvath 12-16-2008 02:56 AM

I agree, Dan ... great job!

I just read through your truck seat tutorial again and I think I'm ready to do my first set of seats. Using the elk hides means the sew foam is going to be more important than I thought; the elk hides *do* stretch easily.

I also refreshed myself on your French seams tutorial.


Pope 12-16-2008 06:56 AM

Alan, I will tell ya that I used one hide per seat. My hides averaged 40 sq.ft. That included two big mistakes. You must foam! Leather will stretch differently on different parts of the hide.
I got extremely lucky on the leather, its 3 1/2 oz., full grain leather and full aniline dyed, where the surface of the hide is visible and shows its true character. Most auto leathers were heavily processed, meaning they were top sanded, a grain pattern is embossed over the top and a solid pigment color was put on top so you could not actually could not see the leather. It stiffens them up a little.
The color is called CHERRY and was not what I was originally intended. But the price was so good, that I had no choice. NOW, after I am done and I look at the seats, I couldn't imagine a better color in my car. Funny how that happens.

Dan, Its funny to read through that entire posting again, it seems so long ago.

I have one rule for Alan to follow.


DanTwoLakes 12-16-2008 06:58 AM

Just take your time and follow all the steps, and if you don't understand something, ask. You'll do fine.

horvath 12-16-2008 09:53 AM

Thanks, Pope.

I can see you and I think much alike. I found the same thing about processed leathers ... the grain is too obviously patterned and man-made. That's why I went after the elk hides! Man, oh man ... there's absolutely no doubt about it -- elk hides have the most beautiful grain there is!

I got 2 black hides and 1 cream-colored hide (both elk) ... 3.5 oz. -- problem is, that was a year ago and now I'm having trouble. The supplier I bought them from (ACS Trading Post) isn't handling them any more ... so, he sent me to *his* supplier (Hershey Internat'l) and his supplier isn't handling them anymore either! No one is buying elk hides ... so they are shying away from them.

Trust me ... I'll find them somehow. **Someone** out there must have them and when I find them, I'm gonna buy all I can, to be sure I can finish my truck interior -- the 2 seats, the ceiling, door panels, under the dash, console between the buckets and all behind the seats, too.

If anyone knows anywhere for me to call and ask about elk hides, please let me know.

Just look at these pics! :

PS -- DAN: How many square feet would you say I would need to do my entire interior?


cornfieldcars 12-16-2008 11:28 AM

Hey Alan,

You might do a search for someone who raises elk for meat. Don't know if any of these folks actually process the hides or not but it's worth a shot. There is a place just up the road here in Iowa that raises elk so I know they are around. Ever think of taking up tanning as another


Pope 12-16-2008 12:07 PM

Use this link and scroll down till you get to elk. Prices on web are just a little off from when you call.

Dusty82 12-16-2008 02:56 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Welcome back Alan! Good to see you!

I checked out your site, and have a couple of suggestions for you. First would be to get hold of a steamer and go over your seat foam with it. It'll soften and puff up the foam and remove some of the dimples and divots left by the old upholstery.

Take care of that foam, BTW - it's expensive to replace. (I checked into new foam for the Chevy truck seat I did in class, and the cheapest I found was $300 - and that was just for the seat bottom!)

The steamer also sometimes helps out when it comes time to pull the finished covers over the seat. Heating up the corners of the new cover softens everything up and helps it to form around the contours of the foam. (Dan may have some input on this too. I have to say that I haven't worked with leather yet, so I don't know if steaming it is necessary when it comes time to pull a leather cover over the seat.)

The picture is the steamer I have, and I use it quite a bit for a number of things.

You may or may not need any of that plastic film to pull your seat back cover over the seat foam. I was going to use it on the Chevy bench seat, but Dan told me to give it a try without it first, and I didn't need it. The way I did my seat back was to turn the cover inside out, steam the corners, line up the top of the cover on the seat foam, then start pulling the cover down over the foam, turning it right side out as you go. (Does that make sense?) Remember that I was using vinyl and cloth with no sew foam sewn onto the back of it. I know that foam against foam doesn't slide much at all, but the fabric backing on the sew foam should help.

Welcome back Alan, and good luck on your seats!

DanTwoLakes 12-16-2008 03:33 PM


Originally Posted by Dusty82

The steamer also sometimes helps out when it comes time to pull the finished covers over the seat. Heating up the corners of the new cover softens everything up and helps it to form around the contours of the foam. (Dan may have some input on this too. I have to say that I haven't worked with leather yet, so I don't know if steaming it is necessary when it comes time to pull a leather cover over the seat.)

DO NOT, under any circumstances, steam the inside of leather!! You will shrink it. DO NOT, under any circumstances put water on the inside of leather, for the same reason. ( leather can be cleaned with just a damp cloth after the seat cover is on)
I have never heated or steamed a car seat cover to get it on in my life. If it doesn't look good after the first time you put the seat cover on, there is another problem that needs to be addressed. Steaming or heating is not a substitute for cutting and sewing the seat cover correctly.
Steaming seat foam may get indentations out of a piece of foam, but steaming will not completely revive old foam. Even the best seat foam loses its density over time, and nothing will make it come back.
I'm not trying to preach, and I'm also not trying to criticize you, Mark.

horvath 12-17-2008 12:18 AM

I love -- it's great to be back and into a good thread again!

Barry: LOL! Let me tell you ... if it was necessary, I would take up tanning!

Pope: That's a great link! Thanks! Dan also sent me one:
The Tannery:

Dusty: Thanks, Bro'. I was thinking about the inside-out routine and I will try that first.

Dan: Thanks for the heads up! PS - Have you ever heard of using bags from the cleaners before? I never tried it ... but it's something I heard a long, long time ago and filed it in the back of my head. It does make sense that sliding one of those bags over the seat before slipping your cover on would make things go easier ... I've just always wondered if you might hear crinkley-noises every time you shifted in the seat (THAT would suck!).

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