Yeah so I know a guy who has an industrial sewing machine and I am wondering how hard it would be to do my own leather seats in my car... Not just cover the origional seats but pad them too... Anyone tried this?
If your seats still have the fabric on them it will be alot of work, but its not really hard it just takes time and patients and some $$$. Just buy the supplies (leather, padding, adhesive) Take and cut all the hog nose clips off and strip the fabric off in peices by using a razer blade carfully to cut the seam threads. Now that all the fabrics off you can use it as a pattern to cut your leather if your wanting a stock cover for you new padding. If you plan to do something custom like adding more padding or a custom desighn then allow room for it when making the patterns. If your just replacing the seat buns with OEM replacments sew your leather together at the seams making a cover or a glove and turn it inside out spray it with adhesive at the top let it tack up and put it over your replacment seat bun like a glove; spraying the back of the leather glove about 3-4" at a time letting it tack up then sliding it over like a glove tightly while smoothing it with your hand on the leather surface to make sure its straight and smooth. Once the cover is on just replace the hog nose rings where they were in the previous cover with new ones. Making a custom cover with padding is much the same process, but the pattern will have to compensate for the added padding so it will be bigger. If the custom padding will contain patterns or convex/concave shapes then before you sew you have to use the adhesive and the pattern or shape cut padding on your leather. For convex(raised) areas take the cut shape or pattern padding and spray the padding with adhesive let it tack up and place it on a flat sheet of padding. Place the leather over the padding working from the center out and with a spatula, your fingers or whatever you need to use press around the shape or pattern you wish to be convex so the leather is forming around/over the shape smoothly. Then sew and follow the steps above for the cover instalation. For a concave (indentation) of the pattern place a full sheet of padding with the pattern or shape cut out on top of a flat sheet of padding spray adhesive let tack up and from the middle out place the leather on top and with your fingers or spatula mold the leather in the pattern. For tight corners or just for good measure people sew around the perimeteer of the pattern to ensure adhesion and a sharp corner. Follow the steps above for installing a cover.
This is how I do it and it turns out well, I am by no means an upolsterer, but Vintage on this board is so wait for his advice and guidance to correct or show you a different better way than I have.
Some added information. The padding you will be glueing the leather to is called sew foam. You should know it by name when buying your supplies. The easiest (in my opinion) to work with is a Scrim (think cheese cloth) backed sew foam. You will need 1/4" and 1/2" sew foam. The sides and back of the seats you will use the 1/4" thick sew foam, and you can also use the 1/4" sew foam on the seating surfaces of the seat. The 1/2" could be used on the seating surface if you want to add a bit of padding, but i would recommend just using 1/4" throughout the whole seat, this will make it a LOT more managable in the sewing machine.
If you have never done this before, I wouldnt recommend trying to change the shape or contour of the seat. Take the original seat cover off, split it apart at all the seams, and use all these pieces as patterns to cut the exact same pieces out of the leather. Then glue these pieces of leather to the sew foam, trim the sew foam to match, and double check all the pieces to the original patterns you split apart. Sometimes the leather can be stretched a bit bigger than the pattern when you are gluing the pieces to the foam. Once you have duplicated all the original pieces with leather backed with the sew foam, sew these pieces together exactly how the original seat cover was done and you should have your new leather seat cover.
Upholsterers use what you call "registration" or "alignment" marks. Before you split apart the original seat cover, make a line or mark every 5 or 6 inches, on both sides of the seam. Then when you make the new pieces out of leather, transfer these marks from the original pattern to the new leather pieces. Then when you are sewing two pieces together, be sure to line your marks up, and you will be certain that the cover is sewn exactly the way the original was.
You should be able to use all the original listing strips (the grey colored pieces of fabric hidden under neath the seat and inside the cover that hold the cover down in the creases and on the underside of the seats. Seats usually use one of three types of listings, they are either hog ringed on, held on with J-clips (plastic clips shaped like a "J" that slip over the edge of a piece of metal under the seat), or heavy duty velcro. Like I said, you should try and retain the original fastening method, you do NOT want to glue the cover directly to the seat foam (bun or cushion, whatever you want to call it). The seat cover needs to be able to move and breath a little bit, and shouldnt be directly glued to the seat foam.
oh yeah! piece a cake!!!if u can flip a burger, u can do this...take a look a kristkustom's website...take a look at my stuff in the photo album...then when u r done wasting all that leather,foam, glue,time,money,expletive language...then take it to a real trimmer,who probably spent years tearin'seats apart so he could get the jist of how a seat is actually assembled.let alone just getting the cover off the frame in one piece.oh,yeah,i forgot...needles are $40 a pack,thread is $20 a spool...that's the top thread,bobbins are $45 abox,that's the bottom thread.razorblades-$6...glue-foam-leather???get it??????
Like vintage said, there's a hell of a lot more to it than what I typed, including years of learning all the tricks of the trade of upholstering, some people have the knack for it and others don't. Many of my friends have attempted to sew on my machines, some I can tell could learn to sew decently, and some of my friends I can tell there is just no hope what-so-ever. I would suggest not "experimenting" with leather, try a material that is a lot less expensive than leather. And never throw away your original patterns until you are absolutely positive you don't need them anymore.
I know what your getting at, you are saying we don't think you can do it. I'm not saying that at all, just speaking from experience. If you think you are comfortable doing it, then by all means go for it. If I thought you shouldnt try it yourself, I wouldnt have typed that really long post saying how to do it.
I'm not an expert in upholstering - but I do know a little about materials they use.
I believe that Vintage & Krist would agree that if you use an alternate material that the 'stretch' of that material may not be the same as leather ~ therefore the pattern(s) may not be the same.
actually I have no money... that is why I am looking at the option of doing it myself... cuz I hate the interior of my car and once my car is painted (again doing that myself) and has the engine in (again that too) I wanna have the interior in nice leather... I have a picture of it done in black and grey with z-28 (front buckets) and the bowtie (back seat) embroidered in the seats.... it looks great and since I might be doing my car either red or yellow then I think it would look great with these colors as the secondary and redo my carpets and everythign black... (right now it is some bronish tan color that is ugly, matches my beenie baby chihuahua I hang from the rear view mirror...)
just a little word of caution, never use your home sewn seats as templates, keep the original cover and use that every time you try. if you use the last attempt every time, your inaccuracy will get multiplied and the fit will get worse every time you re-do it. And if i were you id go for it and use some quality marerial, and but a roll with imperfections. that way you get something that is decent to work with but doesnt cost an arm and a leg.
but go for it.. it cant be harder than doing quality bodywork, or good enginework, something that doesnt deter people in here.
I dont want to get on here and knock another companies product, but I have installed a customer-purchased Katzkin leather kit, and was very unhappy. The quality of this kit was VERY low. First and foremost, the leather was very cheap and hard. They used a low grade of leather. And the back seat cover wasnt even sewn right. We had to split apart the cover in a couple of places and resew it. I would never install one of these again, and wouldnt recommend them.
Thanks for the help guys.. KristKustoms or anyone else for that matter... would you mind emailing me any info you happen to have on doing this.... I can never be too informed before i attempt something... [email protected] is the email...