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Old 06-23-2008, 03:29 PM
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Recovering a leather steering wheel

I'm interested in any help or experience folks have in recovering a leather steering wheel. I'm not interested in Wheelskins or similar aftermarket covers, so please don't suggest those. I'm looking to replace the factory leather and restitch it. I can get the leather. The question is, how do you stretch the material while stitching so that it conforms to the finger grips, spokes, etc? There are high-dollar vendors who recover wheels for Porsches and the like, but I'd like to try this myself. The current material is solid but badly worn at the top of the wheel. Thanks in advance.

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Old 06-23-2008, 04:07 PM
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There are a few different ways to do this. The first thing you need to do is cut about an 9" wide piece of leather that will go completely around the circumference of your steering wheel. In other words, if you have a 16" outside diameter wheel, you multiply it by 3.14 (pi) to get the circumference which gives you 50 1/4". Add 1" to that for a seam allowance to make 51 1/4", and then add 3/4" to that in case you mess up, so 52". This will be too long, but better long than short. Stretch the piece of leather around the steering wheel until it is good and snug, and then mark it to cut off the excess, but maintain that extra 1" for a seam allowance when you sew it together, which is the next step. Sew the ends together with a 1/2" seam, and you should now have a circle which fits snugly around your wheel. You will want to french seam it at the seam, but wait until you have the length right before you do that.

Center the french seam at the middle of the bottom of the wheel. Next you want to trim around the spokes of the wheel, and then take the leather back off and edge the leather on your sewing machine. Make sure you leave enough leather to turn under. Now you're ready to put the leather back on and hand sew the thing onto the steering wheel. You can do this a couple ways...one way is to use a punch, cut evenly spaced holes in the leather and lace it on. You will need a good quality rotary punch to do this right. Tandy Leather is one place to get a good punch, along with the lacing material. Click Here The other way is to sew it on as you go, adjusting the seam allowance as you go around. You will need a curved hand sewing needle for this operation. You can buy curved needles with a triangular shaped leather point, or with a smooth point. If you punch holes and lace it on, you can use the smooth point. Lacing it on will be much faster.

This is not an easy task, so be prepared for some frustration.
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
There are a few different ways to do this...
Thanks, Dan. Am I better off using the old cover as a pattern (for both the shape and the hole locations) or do I run the risk of it being too distorted?
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:56 PM
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Does the old cover come off easily? You would have an easier time of it if you could get a starting point from the old one. You could at least get the hole pattern, that shouldn't be too far off and should be very helpful. I applaud you for wanting to try this!
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