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speedingpenguin 12-10-2004 08:14 AM

Question about re-covering seats.
(This is for my 89 Firebird Formula, copy/pasted from my post on another forum so i didnt have to re-type. if you want to see pics of the seats for any suggestions/advice, has a few pics)

I'm ordering the tweed for my door panels, seats, etc. tomorrow and just have one question. I plan on carefully taking the current seat covers off so i can trace/cut out the new fabric the same shape as the old ones, then sew it together and stuff. Shouldnt be TOO hard if i take my time and stuff, but my only concern is that i'll end up with that cheap 15 dollar wal-mart seat cover look...ya know, real loose, etc. How do I get the material to stretch nice and tight and conform to the contour of the seats? I dont want the fabric stretched flat across the seat back because of the bolsters or whatever, same with the seat bottom. Also, if I want to do some sort of design in the fabric, should I sew the fabric to some thin foam and sew the patern or whatever it is i decide to do in like that? That would be the only way I could think of to add shape to the seat covers so it looks better than just a sheet of fabric thrown over the seats. Thanks,
(BTW anyone have pics of seats theyve recoverd themselfs?)

Max Keith 12-10-2004 12:35 PM

Being an upholsterer, I guess its time to put in my 25 cents worth here.

First off, when you disassemble the origional cover, use a seam ripper. (can get at Wally World or your local sewing shop). Be as careful as you can not to cut the fabric with the seam ripper, when you cut the stitches. Once you have disassembled the seat cover, lay the panels out on some cardboard and using what are called T-pins, pin the panels out flat and let them lay that way for a while to somewhat restore the origional shape.
You will notice that on the back of some panels, there will be a piece of 1/2 inch foam sewn to it to give it "fluff" and to accentuate the stitching pattern. You will need to get this as well.
If you are doing both the front and rear seats, a 3 yard roll, should provide all you need.
If you are going to do your sewing on a regular home sewing machine, you may run into problems with penetration of the layers of material and keeping them aligned with each other, so you will want to pin the pieces together when you sew them, using the previous mentioned T- pins and spacing them about every 6-10 inches.
If you are going to have to do any channel stitching of foam backing to panels, do this before you cut them out.
Cut the panel and foam somewhat larger than what the size of the finished panel will be. Its easiest to do the stitching if you just cut the oversized panel in a rectangle or square.
Make the first stitch the one down the center of your fabric. As you stitch, and feed your material through the machine, press down and slightly pull outward on the fabric and foam so that the foot of your sewing machine has less compressing of fabric to do. You will want to sew the panel fabric and foam together with the fabric on top, using a thread that matches the fabric in color.
When you cut out your pattern using the old panel, lay the old panel on top of your new fabric, and using the T-pins previously mentioned, pin the edges of the two together at intervals of 4-8 inches, or as you feel that contures may direct. Be sure to work out all the wrinkle and puckers in the fabrics when you lay them out. Trace around your old panel with a felt tip.
If your seat has welt cord, this requires a special foot for your machine to properly make. So you may want to take your welt needs to someone who has a machine with a welt foot on it, unless you can get one for your machine.
Use upholstery thread for your sewing as regular clothing thread wont get the job done.
If you have any questions, dont hesitate to send me a PM. Ill do what I can to talk you through it.

When you remove the seat covering, a lot of the mysteries of how its made and installed will come to light. You will need a pair of good sharp side cutters to cut through hog rings that are placed at stratigic locations through out the seat.

Auto upholstery comes in rolls of an average of 60-64 inches wide and is sold by the running yard. You will need to measure your material and figure out how much you will need.
The way to do that is to carefully measure each piece then with a piece of paper lay out these measurements in squares and rectangles on your piece of paper.
Once you get your "squares" laid out, figure up your total yardage needed. Careful placement of your "squares" can help reduce the amount of fabric needed.
Welt requires long strips 1 1/2 inch wide and as long as you can make them. That makes for less splicing stips together. Splices can be a real pain for looks. This is another thing you will want to figure into your fabric needs. Measure out all your welt, then place the stort sections into your layout of fabric on your paper as you are able to place them. For instance, if you have a section 4 iches wide and 3 ft long with nothing in it, you can make two pieces of welt out of that and these could be used on the cushion and back of the seat. The welt going around the boxing or edges of the seat can require pieces up to 7-8 ft long. Those should be cut from the running yardage.

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