How to Reupholster a Classic Car Door Panel

Item # X-HT-300405

As the final part to our Classic Car Series, we’ll be walking you through the necessary steps to reupholster the side door panel on your car for a professional, cohesive look in any vehicle. Here we’ve completed the project for a ’46 Plymouth, but you can take what you’ve learned here and apply it to other automotive projects. We wanted our car door panels to match the rest of our custom upholstery, so follow along as we explain this process step by step using tools and supplies from Sailrite®!

Closeup of the finished center console in our 1946 Plymouth.

As we said before, while the style of the door panel on your car may vary from ours, the basic principles of fabricating them are all very similar. Here we’ve started our reupholstery process by duplicating the door panel on waterproof cowlboard — this might be something you’ll need to consider if your original car door panel is in bad shape like ours was. We find that the Scribe-All® Water Soluble White Marking Pencil functions perfectly to mark on this material, and it washes away easily when the marks are no longer needed. We’re then using a hole cutter, the Barry King Mallet 3# and the Sailrite® Cutting Block and Die Holder to make holes for our rivet fasteners.

In terms of vinyl upholstery fabric, you’ll want to choose one that perfectly suits your upholstery project both in looks and durability. Luckily, we offer an incredible variety of these fabrics on our website. Two of the most notable brands of vinyl upholstery fabrics are Morbern® and Naugahyde®. We’ve chosen Morbern Seabrook Stinger Cream and Naugahyde Universal Sky Blue for their durability, easiness to clean, abrasion resistance and water resistance. But the choice is yours! If you’re unsure of what vinyl will work best for your project, it’s easy to order fabric samples off our website so you can experience these fabrics in person before embarking on your project.

This short video will detail the rest of the door panel reupholstery process. We’ve also listed the video chapters below so you can easily jump around depending on what information you need to see. How did your car upholstery project turn out? Let us know in the comments below!

Video Chapters:

  • Preparing Door Panels Board - 0:35 min
  • Cutting Vinyl Fabric to Size – 1:53 min
  • Gluing Sew Foam to Vinyl Fabric – 2:58 min
  • Sewing Pleated Channels – 5:06 min
  • Creating Transition Strip – 7:25 min
  • Attaching to Door Panels – 10:46 min
  • Cutouts for Hardware – 13:53 min
  • Material List - 15:17 min

Materials List:

  • Quality Marine Vinyl Fabric - we used Morbern® Seabrook - Item #105971 & Naugahyde® Universal - Item #100618
  • 3M™ General Trim Adhesive - Item #73211
  • Fabric Backed 1/2" Sew Foam 58" - Item #124306
  • V-92 Polyester Sewing Thread
  • Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas - Item #129
  • 21 Gauge 1/4" (6mm) Staples 10,000/Box (Stainless Steel) - Item #8006SS

Tools List:

  • Hole Cutter 5/16" ‑ Item #121384
  • Scribe‑All® Water Soluble Marking Pencil White - Item #120681
  • Barry King Mallet Hammer Style 3# - Item #68563
  • Sailrite® Cutting Block & Die Holder - Item #121597
  • Gingher® Scissors Right Hand Lightweight 8" Tea - Item #101017
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" - Item #102400
  • Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter 60mm - Item #9655
  • Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat 24" x 36" - Item #120257
  • Washable Wonder Fabric Marker Blue - Item #480012
  • Sailrite® Fabricator® Sewing Machine - Item #400500
  • Sailrite® Long Nose Upholstery Staple Gun - Item #121411
  • Straight Edge, Razor Blade, Pencil, L Square