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ThrasherBill March 2nd, 2007 12:36 AM

Installing seat covers (Warning:Lots of Pictures)
Here's a quick and dirty guide to getting your fancy new seat covers on
straight and lookin' good!

I'll only be covering the seat bottom here as I ran a little short on time.

I started with the bare frame and cut a piece of carpet and attached it to
the top to cover the springs and add a bit more support.

Here's the foam in place.

This is 2" foam and you can get it in different densities (stiffness). I don't
know what density this stuff is it's just what i had kicking around. Lots of
the VW parts places sell molded pads that are really nice but I'm cheap
and wasn't terribly concerned about the final product being perfect. There
is no need to glue the foam to the seat frame. The cover will hold it in
place and it's better to leave it loose anyway so you can make minor
adjustments to the foam after the cover is installed.

Now for the cover. Start by turning the cover inside out and laying it on
the foam. Line up all for corners and line up the welting (also called piping)
with the edges of the foam.

Start at one of the back corners and use your hand to hold the cover in
place like this:

While holding it in place roll the back and side flaps down over the corner
with your other hand. You will end up with something that looks like this:

Do the same for the other back corner and you get to here:

Time for the front corners. If you are working with vinyl and it is cold
where you are the vinyl will be very stiff. You can heat it lightly with a
heatgun or hair dryer from the backside of the material. Be careful not to
melt the vinyl, it doesn't take much heat.

Lay your arm across the the front edge of the cover with your elbow at
one corner and your hand at the other.

With your free hand, start with the corner your hand is holding and roll the
cover down over the corner while holding the other corner in place with
your elbow. All this time watch that your welting is still lined up with the
side edges of the foam.

Do the same for the other front corner. This one will be the toughest to
roll over. Go slow and try to do it in more of a rolling down motion than
pulling motion. Vinyl is pretty forgiving but be careful not to snag it on a
spring. It will tear pretty easily if it catches something.
All four corners are rolled over and the cover is positioned properly on the

Look at the seams and make sure they are all equal side to side. For
example: the vertical seams between the side panels and front panel
should be somewhere close to the front legs of the seat frame and the
same distance from the center.

Once you are confident everything is lined up flip the seat upside down. If
you are installing nice new covers, put down an old (but clean) blanket
first so you don't mess up the cover. Now position the seat or yourself so
you can pull straight up on the back flap of the cover while holding the
seat down with your forearms. Throw a rag over the seat rails they will be
greasy. (This picture shows me stretching the front of the cover but I
forgot to take a pic of the back)

Pull straight up with both hands until the seam just pulls over the edge of
the foam and is straight across. now pull the flap back towards you and
down until the hooks on the seat frame grab the material. The original
covers would have had a wire sewn into the flap to grab the hook and
prevent the vinyl from ripping but the aftermarket covers usually don't.
You could sew one in but I'm assuming you bought aftermarket premade
covers because you don't have the ability or desire to sew your own so
we won't worry about that. The trick to not ripping the material is to relax
the vinyl slowly, letting the tension pull the material over the hook.
Now your seat looks like this:

Repeat this for the front flap, watching that the welting stays straight
and just pulls over the edge of the foam. Same procedure again for
setting the hooks.

Those wrinkles will stretch out when you pull the sides. Speaking of which,
here's me stretching a side panel:

As you can see, the welting is not lined up and there is a large wrinkle at
the front corner. Adjust the tension with both hands and watch what the
welting and wrinkles do. It should become obvious where you need more
or less tension. In the previous picture I need more tension with my right
hand to pull the wrinkle out and less with my left to even out the welting.
Same procedure again to set the hooks.

Repeat for the last side And you are just about done. On my seat I
fastened the loose ends of the flaps to the seat frame with hogrings. This
is a hog ring and hog ring pliers:

And the finished bottom. It doesn't have to be pretty under there, as long
as nothing is hanging down no one ever sees this.

Now you are ready to flip the seat back over and have a look. Note that
throughout these steps i never said to turn the seat over to check how
the top is lined up. If you follow the steps in order there is no need to
check between or during steps. The cover will be lined up almost (if not
completely) perfect at the end.

The last step is to make sure the seam allowance is all facing the same
direction. The seam allowance it the flap on the backside of the material
where two or more pieces are sewn together. The seam allowance under
the welting should face down and lay flat against the sides of the foam. If
you see lumps along the welting the seam allowance is sticking up at that
spot. Use your fingertips to roll it back down and the welting will smooth

This corner is a little messed up because of a loose spring. If this wasn't
my own seat and I cared, I would have either fixed the spring and/or
added some thin padding around the seat sides to smooth it out.

That concludes lesson #1. I will try to do the backrest cover early next
week. It is the simpler of the two. Basically the same procedure as the
bottom, Turn cover inside out. Roll over backrest from the top down and
fasten. I'll go over it in more detail with pictures next week.

Class dismissed.

ThrasherBill March 2nd, 2007 11:05 AM

Re: Installing seat covers
I just had a look at a TMI install instruction sheet here at work and whatever you do, do not follow their instructions!!! They say to start with a front corner and work around. This is a sure fire way to end up with a crappy looking wrinkled seat.They also say to pull the backrest cover on like a sock. DO NOT DO THIS!!!! Warm up the cover so it is pliable and turn it inside out. Line up the top edges and roll the cover down over the backrest. I'll go into more detail next week with pictures.

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