How to Reupholster a Classic Car Back Seat

SKU: X-HT-300378



Creating custom car upholstery may seem overwhelming, but here at Sailrite®, we’d like to make it a little easier for you. Our detailed step-by-step video will show you how to reupholster the back seats, including the backrests and the seat bottom, for a classic ’46 Plymouth using only the highest quality products. In a separate video, we’ll show you how to reupholster the front seats. Even if you don’t have a classic car like this one, you can take what you’ve learned here to tackle your next automotive upholstery project. Let’s get started!

Luckily we had assistance from a professional upholsterer, Kenny Sims of Sims Upholstery, to help us with this project. This tutorial will guide you through marking and measuring the old seat, patterning, adding sew foam, sewing pleats and panels, adding piping and much more. And while Sailrite offers an enormous variety of high-quality seating vinyl, we’ve selected Morbern® Seabrook Stinger Cream and Naugahyde® Universal Sky Blue for this task. Both brands of leatherlike vinyl are well known for their incredible resistance to abrasion, mold, mildew, stains and fading, and come in a number of vibrant colors. We even stock samples of these top-notch fabrics so you can experience them firsthand before you select one for your next automotive upholstery project.

A note on vinyl stretch factor: Construction vinyls like Morbern and Naugahyde have about the same amount of stretch on the running length and cross width, but they have more stretch on the bias. If you choose to pattern along the bias it will take more fabric, and we chose not to for this project. Instead of a construction vinyl, you could use a four-way stretch vinyl like EverSoft™ or Sunbrella® Horizon®, which have more consistent stretch and are a great choice for automotive upholstery. With a four-way stretch vinyl, you do not have to worry about panel orientation.

To sew the thick, multiple layers of vinyl and sew foam that are required in automotive upholstery, we’ve selected the Sailrite® Fabricator® Sewing Machine. This full-size, straight stitch industrial sewing machine features the Workhorse® Servo Motor for incredible power at slow speeds, so you can punch through thick assemblies with ease and precision. Turn to the Fabricator for any project that requires a professional look, such as automotive upholstery, heavy canvas, awning fabrics, upholstery fabrics, denim, soft-medium weight leather and drapery fabrics. You’ll be glad you did!

Our comprehensive, easy-to-follow video explains everything you need to know in order to create your own DIY custom automotive upholstery project. We’ve also included a detailed list below to give you a better idea of the fabric, tools and supplies necessary to completely transform any car upholstery. When you’ve successfully finished your own project, we’d love to see photos in the comments below! Good luck, and thanks for choosing Sailrite to guide you on your next DIY.

  • Marking Old Seat for Patterning – 0:49 min.
  • Removing Old Cover – 4:37 min.
  • Creating Patterns from Old Cover – 7:18 min.
  • Patterning New Fabric – 15:53 min.
  • Adding Sew Foam to Fabric - 29:24 min.
  • Sewing Pleats - 33:42 min.
  • Sewing Panels Together - 35:42 min.
  • Adding Piping (Optional) - 40:58 min.
  • Joining Banding/Facing to Sides - 43:12 min.
  • Installing Cover - 59:03 min.
  • Materials List - 1:20:09 min.
  • Marine Vinyl Fabric – we used Morbern® Seabrook - Item #105971 & Naugahyde® Universal - Item #100618
  • Fabric Backed 1/4" and 1/2" Sew Foam 58" - Item #124306
  • Tex 70 Thread from Sailrite Nylon or Polyester - Item #20235
  • Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas - Item #129
  • Vinyl Welting/Piping from Sailrite - We used Morbern Seabrook - Item #120140
  • Hog Rings Clamps 5/16" - Item #100956
  • Insignia Adhesive Backed UV Dacron 10" - Item #721
  • 21 Gauge 3/8" (10mm) Staples 10,000/Box (Stainless Steel) - Item #8010SS
  • Staple Lifter - Item #120037
  • Gingher® 8" Scissors Right Handed - Item #19104
  • Rotary Cutter 28mm - Item #139900
  • Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat 24" x 36" - Item #120257
  • Foam Lock Spray Adhesive 12oz - Item #120464
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" - Item #102400
  • Hog Ring Pliers - Item #100950
  • Professional Revolving Hole Punch - Item #100050
  • Sailrite® Short Nose Upholstery Staple Gun - Item #121410
  • Sailrite® Fabricator® Sewing Machine, Table & Workhorse® Servo Motor (110V) - Item #400500
  • Marker, Yardstick, Wire Cutters, Pen, Pencil, Duct Tape