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Submitted By: Ram-Rod
Date: November 16, 2008, 11:59:55 PM
Views: 5120

Leather Seat Covers - Ram-Rod

Tandy Leather

Here's a picture of the materials I used, it is thicker than a quarter and thinner than two stacked pennies.




Tools:

I had to get some new tools for this project. A hole punch and a lacing needle. I used a hard rubber mallet for the hole punch (a hammer will damage the tool). The punch worked very well and was a time saver. I was able to punch through as many as 4 layers at a time. I also used a utility knife for cutting the leather with lots of new blades.

Here's the picture of the tools I used.



The seats I used are the stock buckets seats with the single armrest from an 88 RamCharger. I’m sure you can apply the same concept for any seat. I’ve also done the rear bench seat in a similar fashion.

First remove seats and remove seat and any adjustment mechanism on the seats. Next remove the armrest. To do this, remove the Phillips screw under the armrest (with armrest in down position). Now it should slide right out. Then remove the seat covers. From the underside of the seat remove the clasps holding the covers (sorry I don’t have any pictures of this part). The bottom of the seat will come rather easily the top has some additional clasps just under the headrest cushion. Fold up the cover to access.

Once the covers were off, I took one and unstitched the whole thing at the seams. I left one to use as a model of how it all goes back together. The unstitched pieces will be the template or pattern for the new seat covers.

Unfortunately leather does not come in nice square pieces. So good planning is critical at this stage. I tried several different ways by laying the pattern over the sides of leather. Don’t figure too tight or it may cost you the whole section. There will be some waste just want to minimize.

Note: Observe the leather scares and brands (if any) for positioning on pieces. I intentionally picked sides with brands and scares for character. Since I opted for a plain non-embossed or carved patterns, I wanted some features.

The tracing of the patterns to the leather was most difficult part of the project, second only to actually cutting the leather.





I used a few scrap pieces of leather and punched several sets of holes at different spacing.
This way I could try different stitch type to see which I liked most. I liked the 1/2 inch space with a loop stitch, but do some different type to your liking

Using a ruler I marked the edge of the pieces on a 1/2 inch spacing. On curves you will need to turn the ruler and keep the 1/2 inch spacing. This will help the pieces match up.





Prior to putting the cover on, dunk the pieces in water. This will make it soft and pliable and will cause the leather to stretch. When the leather dries it will shrink to a snug fit.

Keep a spray bottle with water and spray if it starts to dry too quick. Be sure to block out an hour or longer when starting a long section of lace.



I cut the back piece as a single piece, in hindsight I should have cut into three pieces with two vertical seams similar to the decorative stitch on the front. This would allow for a more efficient use of the leather. Big pieces create waste but smaller ones require more stitching. The seam would be too thick to consider for the front piece (1).


Back Seat (Bench seat see picture below):

The same basic concepts explained above with a few variations. I used a single piece for the front and back. Then I added a piece on each side to make a headrest. I extended it up and over with wing (side piece) pieces for the raised headrest.

For the bottom (seat) I cut it into three pieces, and then stitched together with the slim piece in the middle. Which is actually flared wider towards the back to line up with seat belts. Also the middle piece does not have a splice at front edge, but rolls down in front.

I spent as much time to do the back seat as it took me to do the two front seats.

Total time spent was about 30 hours across a five week period.



You can easily follow the original pattern also. I just wanted to make it a little unique. I decided not to cover the armrest on the back seat. Just to keep and not totally loose the burgundy color scheme.

I had never done this type of work before. I am pretty handy though. The whole project turned out to be much easier than initially expected. It also turned out o be more expensive than initially thought. All materials and special tools including sealer totaled $596.45. I actually bought the leather at wholesale prices which saved me more than $200.00.
 
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