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Converting cloth interior into leather


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vbel 
Copper - Posts: 246
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Joined: July 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posted: September 06, 2006 at 3:26 PM / IP Logged  
I got this crazy idea to make a leather interior out of my clothed interior car. Did anyone try this? I want to know if this is something I can handle. I've done fiberglass work before, so I can do something, but not sure how much harder or easier upholstery will be. I'm thinking of buying some automotive leather like from yourautotrim.com and doing whatever needs to be done to install it. I'm not sure of the process and tools needed to do this job. Can anyone briefly explain how it goes? I'd buy books to get me into deeper detail, but for now I want to see if it's worth bothering with it.
davedyer79 
Copper - Posts: 178
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Joined: February 18, 2004
Location: United States
Posted: September 06, 2006 at 4:53 PM / IP Logged  

I probably would be cheaper to go with a good leather kit like katzkin ( www.katzkin.com).  I dont know what make/model car you have, but there are many different ways to attach material to the foam on the seat.  If it is a newer car, then it they probably used velcro on the seams.  If older, maybe glued and hogrings.  To replace the cloth with leather on your seats it will go something like this.  Get the leather from somewhere and try to find some vinyl to match it.  You don't want to cover the entire seat (front and back) with leather.  That would cost $$$ money.  You will need some good glue (preferrably with an air tank), 1/4--1/2 foam, an industrial size sewing machine, some good thread, pack of razor blades, and a sharpie.  First, remove your seats and take the factory covers off.  Using a SHARP razor, cut the factory cloth at the seams until you have no more seams.  Then you will trace the cut off pieces onto the leather, keeping in mind where they go. Glue the backed foam to the leather.  The best way to do this is to use plenty of heat.  Have someone stretching the leather while you are applying the backed foam so the leather wont wrinkle when it cools. Now cut out the shapes with the SHARP razor until you have all of them for one seat.  Start sewing them together using tons of thread along the seams that attach to the velcro.  Get all the pieces for the top and bottom of the seat and then slide back over the foam, making sure all the lines are straight with each other.  You can change the style of the seams (tuck/roll, french seam, etc) for styling reasons.  After you are done with one seat, move onto the next seat.  Also keep in mind that some armrests are injected molded, meaning the factory slid the cover over the metal in the armrest and injected the foam into it to give you the shape.  That is a pain to do. 

You can go thru all this, or you can call katzkin and tell them what color and you will have it in about 6 days.  Installation is fairly simple.  Best of luck to you.

davedyer79
vbel 
Copper - Posts: 246
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Joined: July 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:02 PM / IP Logged  
Thank you for the write-up! It gives me an idea of how it is done. It doesn't seem too difficult, but I have no sewer and they are expensive. Though that of course isn't a huge problem, just a difficulty...
Do you know what they charge for a kit at katzkin? They don't display prices. That will go into a 03 Civic 2dr, if I decide to do anything with it.
davedyer79 
Copper - Posts: 178
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Joined: February 18, 2004
Location: United States
Posted: September 07, 2006 at 8:47 AM / IP Logged  

Go to www.autoleathers.com, they are the authorized site for Katzkin.  Call them and they will give you a price.  The prices are usually pretty good considering you are getting a great leather kit.   Not having a sewing machine isn't a huge problem??  You will have carpel tunnel syndrome after you get through hand stitching all those seams!!  I have seen them on Ebay a few times for pretty cheap.  You might look there for a little while if you really want to do it yourself. 

davedyer79
SoundAudio 
Copper - Posts: 242
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Joined: May 26, 2004
Location: United States
Posted: September 07, 2006 at 9:46 AM / IP Logged  
Katzkin is the way to go. They are very nice interiors and installation is pretty easy.
Good Luck!
-Thad
vbel 
Copper - Posts: 246
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Joined: July 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posted: September 07, 2006 at 10:32 AM / IP Logged  
davedyer79 wrote:
    Not having a sewing machine isn't a huge problem?? You will have carpel tunnel syndrome after you get through hand stitching all those seams!! I have seen them on Ebay a few times for pretty cheap. You might look there for a little while if you really want to do it yourself.
No, no...I know that hand stitching isn't the way to do it. I had to stitch like 30 feet of material for my photo studio by hand and it wasn't fun, nor acurate :) What I meant is I can find one or buy one and return it after a one time use. But it's even easier for me, 'cause actually my girlfriend has one :)
davedyer79 
Copper - Posts: 178
Copper spacespace
Joined: February 18, 2004
Location: United States
Posted: September 07, 2006 at 5:04 PM / IP Logged  
Your girlfriend has an industrial strength sewing machine??  Any sewing machine from Target or Wal Mart WILL NOT do this.  You have to have a big sewing machine with an even bigger needle to puncture the double layer of leather and foam for the seams.  more power to tou on doing your seats yourself.  It will add some character to them.  But again, thr Katzkin kits would be your best route.
davedyer79
vbel 
Copper - Posts: 246
Copper spacespace
Joined: July 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posted: September 08, 2006 at 12:37 AM / IP Logged  
I'm not sure what she has, but probably not something huge. Is there some sort of a rating for these machines that would tell me if this or that sewing machine can handle the job?
The kit for 2003 Civic is $679-729. Kind of expensive...probably could get it done for at least 1/2 the price if I do it myself...but then it's not 2-3k, so...won't throw this option out of the window...especially when the kit includes the center console and door inserts. How are they installed? They sell a self-installation kit for $99. Is it really necessary? Don't I just pull it over the seats?
KarTuneMan 
Platinum - Posts: 7,056
Platinum spaceThis member has made a donation to the12volt.com. Click here for more info.spaceThis member consistently provides reliable informationspace
Joined: December 14, 2004
Location: Isle Of Man
Posted: September 08, 2006 at 1:19 AM / IP Logged  

Do you know what a hog ring is...? It's the small metal "rings" used to hold the seat covers on.  You cannot do this cheaper yourself....it will take you forever to sew your own seat covers. Plus you will need to destroy your old covers for patern's.  Cowhyde sells by the square foot. an average hyde is 60 sq ft. @ 8 to 12 bucks a square......are you good at math? The katzkin kits are the ONLY way to go unless you got a friend in the upholstery business.

They sell a self-installation kit for $99. Is it really necessary? Don't I just pull it over the seats? You remove the stock seat covers first then recover the seat cushions with the new leather. The extra 99.00 bucks for the install help will make the job TONS easier....


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