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Upholstery - first attempt at recovering a car seat.

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Thought this might be a helpful reference for anyone wanting to redo their seats.  The process is the same for any car seat. This is my first attempt at a car seat so I did a lot of reading and watching YouTube videos (Chechaflo is excellent). I've got a little bit of experience fixing up a couple of antique chairs so I thought I'd try my hand at some automotive upholstery. I bought an industrial sewing machine so I'm kind of committed now :) The plan is to do the interior on the 280ZX and 510 but thought I'd practice on my daughter's 240SX interior. The seats are BEAT! I can only make them better than what they are and that's not saying much - a piece of duct tape is a vast improvement :)


On the "to do" upholstery list :)


The 4dr 510 and future upholstery recipient :)


So lets start with some before pictures. Like I said I can only improve on this :)





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I won't put all the pictures I took here but I'll try and keep it as step by step as possible so you can see the process.  Take lots of pictures as you take it apart.  Sometimes there is something you need to go back as reference.  In this picture you can see where the top stitch was done so that you replicate it when you sew it back together and it lays properly.



Bottom of the seat - you can see where the hog rings attach the seat cover and hold it in place.



On furniture you use staples into the frame to hold the fabric in place.  On a car seat you use hog rings and wire in a pocket sewn into the cover.


or a reinforcement of some sort like these plastic sew on strips


I'm reusing the wires from whats left of the seat covers so I make sure they are labeled.  You can make your own of course.  It looks like they bend the ends back to keep it from poking through.

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Label and pictures....  if you don't need them no problem but once you're scratching you head it's too late :)






I tried ironing the leather to make a template but a lot of them have a coating similar to vinyl and it will shrink and pucker so I use weights from my barbells to cold press them as flat as possible.  Once that's done I stapled them to some heavy cardboard to make templates.


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Now the fun part - time to get creative.  My daughter wants to paint the car powder blue so the theme is mainly black with pink and blue for the interior.

A blank slate.  Vinyl on top glued to 1/2" foam then a bottom layer of fabric glued to the other side of the foam to make a vinyl/foam/fabric sandwich.  Layout is done in chalk - it doesn't stain and is easily erasable.  Just sharpen a stick of chalk on a piece of sandpaper to get a chisel edge to do fine lines.


I haven't seen this anywhere but I thought I'd try it.  Using a bamboo basket weave pattern embossed vinyl and glued diamonds onto the panel with contact cement.  You need to be very precise with the cutting so a ruler and Olfa blade works very well.

Before gluing down textured vinyl on base


Panel sewn.  You can see how the 1/2 foam sandwich makes nice pleats in the panel.


Close up of the diamonds

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So I start watching some YouTube videos so I can try and figure out how to do this and of course I decide to go with a blind stitch because it looks cool.  Problem is that it works for one row of diamonds but the material starts to bunch up if you add another set top and bottom.


Layout for blind stitch


Too much puckering 😕


But a chance to see what the upper panel will look like on the seat


Do over on the panel.  Colour is just washed out with the camera and lighting.  There is a problem with the stitch on the bottom RHS diamond which I have since fixed. Added a second row of top stitching.

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Now that I've got the main panel for the back of the seat done I'm going to do the seat.  These are the two main panels and the majority of the work.  My daughter and I decided on textured stripes to match the diamonds on the seat back.  The angles are the same as the diamonds and the pleats will match up to the seat back.


Test layout


Precision fitment is critical here.  Not sure if this is the way to do it but it looks sharp in the end.


Kind of wrinkly from manhandling around the sewing machine.


Some close ups to see the stitch work.


Colour is washed out but more detailed shots.


Rough idea of the main panels.

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