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Old 12-20-2011, 10:18 PM   #1
coreyk
 
Drives: 2011 Camaro 1LT Inferno Orange
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Location: Middlesex, New Jersey
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Convert cloth to leather upholstery

**EDIT 1/4/11** TIP
johnthegreat sent me a great tip he heard from an upholstery guy. If your leather has wrinkles in it, or isn't tight enough you can use an iron set on "cotton" with a brown paper bag in between the iron and leather. johnthegreat tried this said it worked perfectly, I will be doing the same to mine an a couple small sections. Most of the wrinkles will work themselves out over time without any help. (IE. the wrinkles on the side of my seat do not exist anymore, just from sitting in them)
*************

Ok, so I just got my leather upholstery kit from leatherseats.com. It was quite a project, since it was my first time and I haven't found any official writeup for this. The kit I got includes, Front seats, rear seats, manual shift boot, door arm rest covers, center console lid cover, and door/dash insert covers. So far All I did was the seats, shift boot, and one arm rest (I ran out of time, but I will include the arm rest too)

Final product (minus the headrests, I got tired, finishing up this weekend)


Stuff you'll need:

Needle nose pliers
Diagonal cutters
Phillips head screwdriver
Small Flat head
Plastic panel popper (or large flat head but use carefully)
Metric socket set
Torx bits (T47, T45 & T25)
Hog ring pliers (and hog rings, both I got from Leatherseats.com)
Upholstery glue
Prep-All
Sand Paper
Leather upholstery kit
and LOTS of patience


They say it is supposed to take 4 hours for a professional to install the kit (I think just the seats tho). Sounds reasonable, took me about 10. Once I figured out the tricks (since I had no write up) it was real smooth.


One tip they gave me. If your car is not brand spankin new (mine happens to be brandy new, only built this year, and purchased a few months back) then you will need to steam the foam. Steaming the foam will plump them up and bring some life back to them.


First up, remove the seats. The front seats are held down by 2 Torx bolts on the back side of them. Move the seat all the way forward to reveal them. These bolts seemed to get tighter as they came out. Real tight, I recommend using a real long extension so you can get some leverage (my 345ft-lb torque impact wrench wouldn't make them budge)

Once those bolts are out just rock the seat forward and lift, the front is just held in by hooks. Then you want to disconnect the seat connector from the car. It has a grip on the side that slides out and pushes the connector apart. (I recommend laying the seat all the say back before taking it out. The release on the back of the seat will allow you to then move it back and forth with it out of the car)


Repeat the process for the passenger seat.


The back seat is VERY easy. Just lift the bottom cushion up between the middle of the left seat and right seat for it to pop out. Then swing the front of it back and it will unlatch the back hooks. (no tools required. The back of the seat then swings down (as if you were accessing the trunk from inside the car). There is a little spring loaded latch on each side to prevent it from coming up. Just move those back, and swing the flat of the hinge to match the opening and it will pop right up. (The black bushing around the hinge gave me a little problem, just be patient and try to prevent it from moving.



Now, it is recommended you start on the back seat for reupholstering. It is definitely a lot easier and will give you the idea of how to do it. I was able to do the back with no help at all.


I started with the bottom cushion. Flip it over to reveal the hog rings all along the bottom. I believe there was about 27 of them here.

Now you can start peeling back the cloth. The left and right sides of each rear are lined with velcro. Make sure you separate the cloth from this going straight down. DO NOT pull from the side, it will start to peel the hook side off your foam.

Once the velcro is removed, to the center, it is held together in the middle by three hog rings on each side. Just clip these with your diagonal cutters. Pull the velcro all the way to the bottom, and there are 6 more hog rings in the angle of the cushion.

Cushion completely exposed, 12 hog rings, 4 strips of velcro.


Now spray the foam down with upholstery glue. The can says, shake well, hold 6-8 inches from foam, let sit for 5-10minutes before adhering upholstery. It needs time to get tacky. Putting on the new leather is the reverse of the removal.

Once tacky you can start laying on the new upholstery. I recommend starting at the angle of the seat. Line up the hog ring strip, then the velcro (make sure everything is lined up before adding all your hog rings). Continue with the whole front, making sure the velcro is lined up and placed correctly. Wrap around the sides and finish up the hog rings on the back. Make sure you manipulate the foam any way you can to make it fill in everything tightly.



Now, doing the back cushion is basically the same. First thing, remove the latch cover on the back. There are 2 tabs on the inside of the cover, pull those out and it will slide up. I used a small flat head, it worked well, but I scratched it up a bit. No big deal, it's covered 99% of the time. If you have a panel popper try that instead.


Now separate the bottom hooks. MAKE SURE you take not of how this is joined together, this is KEY to putting it back together later. I didn't pay attention to this and it caused me to struggle with the passenger seat for HOURS. The "J" section needs to stay flat, the flat strip will get rolled over and pushed into the "J".


This cushion is just held in place by two sections of 3 hog rings and 4 strips of velcro.


Repeat the same process as the last seat. This time when you get to the hook strip at the bottom make sure you roll the flat part under and press it into the "J" section. Now the back needs to be cut to make the latch cover go back on. Take a sharp knife, feel for the latch and begin to cut near the latch. Slowly take away a little more until the cover fits back on. Doesn't have to be perfect, the rim of the cover will keep it clean.


The back seats are now complete. Mine were a little wrinkled still, they should soften up and go away after a little while. They say you can also steam the leather to help relieve them and also make it more pliable while working on it. Only thing is, steaming makes them slippery. I used a cheap heat gun I found (used for crafts, gets real hoot tho) you can also use a blow dryer.



Taking apart the front seats are a little more time consuming, not too bad tho. I recommend starting on the passenger seat. Gets you some practice and you can still drive the car if need be. First you need to get the plastic covers off the sides of the seat. Should be 2 phillips head screws on each side. Then the button side will have a few clips, pop these out. Now you are going to want to disconnect the cable from the side button. Use a big flat head (Carefully) or panel popper and pop off the button cover. Then you can remove the wires from the back. The connecter clip is against the plastic housing so it is difficult to get to unless you remove the whole wire assembly.


Start removing the upholstery from the bottom cushion. There are 3 hog rings holding the back in place underneath. Then clips along the sides and front, just push these down to release them. You will also see 2 white hooks with elastic attached up front, remove these, these are for the top upholstery. Remove all the hog rings and such from the bottom cushion just like the previous seats. You will need to get the top cushion apart to get the wire out of this section of upholstery (wire is for the airbag).

Now you need to remove the headrest clamps, and the shroud around the seat lever on the back of the seat. Pop the top caps off the headrest clamps, just makes it a little easier to see the next step. The headrest clamps are held in in one spot. move the cloth out of the way in the front of the clamp and use a small flat head to push the clip into the center of the clamp and pull up.

Now remove the shroud around the lever. You should be able to pull the bottom part up and out.

Now you can separate the bottom by pulling from the side (same as the back seat). Unzip the sides and begin removing the cover. The right side (left on the driver seat) has the airbag in it. Be careful with this, you don't want to damage it. There are 2 small nuts on the inside that need to be removed to get the airbag out. Also remove the wire going to the airbag (slide the orange piece up and the clip should come right off, used pliers, gently, or a flat head). You will also need to take the plastic out of the pocket of the upholstery, this will need to no in the new covers. Be carful not to damage the flex sensor on the bottom of the passenger seat. Add the new upholstery, make sure the situate the airbag back in place.

Once the upholstery is on zip the back and here comes the part that took me forever. The way that worked the best for me to seal the bottom was to move the bottom section of foam. I pushed it up over the bar is goes over. That gave me the extra slack I needed to get the clips together.


REMEMBER***** to keep the "J" strip flat and roll the flat piece over to push it into the "J" strip, I did the opposite for hours with no luck. Then had the "genius" idea to switch it up and it went right in. Just attach the middle section first. Then you will need to undo the zippers so you can push the foam back around the bar in it's correct position. Now zip it up and attach the 2 side sections. This is the part that took me forever. I struggled pulling the leather together for hours until I decided to wisen up and move the foam. Reattach the bottom cushion, all the plastic pieces and then you're set. You may need to trim some leather around the back lever, like I did, in order to get the shroud back on. You will also need to cut holes in the top for the head rest clamps, just take your time and be careful.



Now rinse and repeat for seat #2. *****MAKE SURE YOU CHECK WHICH SIDE THE LEATHER STRAP FOR THE SEAT BELT IS ON. this is what sets the driver side and passenger side apart.

Reassemble the seats into the car and you're done.


Next is the shift boot and door armrests.

I will post them soon.
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Last edited by coreyk; 01-04-2012 at 08:50 AM. Reason: new tip
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:34 PM   #2
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Excellent. Getting ready to do this myself very soon.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:16 AM   #3
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Awesome info in here =) Thanks for this

How does the color look? I was planning on buying the OEM leather but it looks like you have an aftermarket that looks similar or is the OEM color/style.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCarrot View Post
Awesome info in here =) Thanks for this

How does the color look? I was planning on buying the OEM leather but it looks like you have an aftermarket that looks similar or is the OEM color/style.

The color is a perfect match, I couldn't be happier. Just so you know, this color is Tangerine and the leather configuration for this is Two-tone Body, if you want the whole front face of it orange that is Two-Tone Faces.

Leatherseats.com was half the price of the katzkin seats, and the quality is awesome. It cost me $816 for all seats, install kit, and shift boot. I got a few dollars knocked off for a black friday sale so it will be around $900 for everything normally. Speak to Tim, he is a lot of help.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:14 AM   #5
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Great write-up. I got the same package you got. Even the same two tone style and color. I was never able to figure out how to get the head rest polls out, I ended up just stretching the leather around them. Since I still have the driver's seat to do and the door arm rests. I'll be sure to use your guide, you did a fantastic job.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mikk2K View Post
Great write-up. I got the same package you got. Even the same two tone style and color. I was never able to figure out how to get the head rest polls out, I ended up just stretching the leather around them. Since I still have the driver's seat to do and the door arm rests. I'll be sure to use your guide, you did a fantastic job.

Thanks!

Yea it took a minute to figure out the headrest polls. I was pulling things apart on the bottom first, then noticed the latch.

I like the two-tone body, in my personal opinion the faces was a little too much orange. I may or may not to the center console lid yet. If I do I will post that as well.
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Old 12-24-2011, 10:54 PM   #7
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Great job. My Camaro I bought with the leather but for my Silverado I thought I could change out to leather myself. I watched a few videos and decided I did not have the patience so I paid a shop to do it while I watched. I salute you guys that do it yourself. The pictures look great.
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:03 PM   #8
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I forgot to mention the guy that installed my leather gave me a tip (like I was going to do another car, right) but thought it was cool. He said he saw it on TV and uses it on occasion. The head rests on some vehicles can be difficult to recover with leather because the foam expands a lot. He said take a plastic bag like you put vegetables in from the grocery store and slide it over the foam in the head rest. It makes it easy for the leather to slide down over the foam and you leave the plastic bag on or under the leather on the head rest and you will never know it is there. I thought that was a neat tip if you guys come across that problem.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:59 AM   #9
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Thanks Ozzie, and thanks for the tip!


Guys I just finished the door panels and the dash board. I added the same orange vinyl from the seats to the dash insert and door inserts. In my opinion it looks much better then the factory, plastic, inserts because it is an exact match to the rest of the interior rather then the exterior.

I will be adding this to the DIY as soon as I get a chance. Here is a picture tho:

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Old 01-22-2012, 11:08 AM   #10
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good write up. wanna do mine haha. not looking forward to this gonna need to get all my paitence up for it.
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:14 PM   #11
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Thanks. haha yea it takes a lot of patience, just pay attention to the trick I mentioned (moving the foam out of the way for the back of the front seats) and you will breeze through it. A second hand is somewhat helpful.
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:01 PM   #12
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hey ozzie, what did they charge you for the installation out of curiosity?
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:09 PM   #13
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Is the upholstery glue required?
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:02 AM   #14
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I car answer that question for sure because I don't have much experience with both extremes but I would say its a good idea. Seems like it woul help keep the material in place, keep it from shifting, and keep it taught. Looking at the seats it seems like the hog rings are more to keep its shape than anything. The glue is real simple to apply, probably the easier part, I would skip it just for the hell of it, it's also cheap.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:25 PM   #15
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When I took the factory covers off, there was no trace of glue. I wound up not using any.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:24 PM   #16
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Just some added clarification on removal of the head rest pins.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:04 AM   #17
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Hey guys, just so you know, if anyone is looking for the factory cloth I am selling the kit that came from this job. Let me know if you're interested. Looking to sell as a kit, but I will piece out for the right $$.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:05 AM   #18
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Just some added clarification on removal of the head rest pins.
Good call, thanks man.


Did you end up doing this convert?
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:00 AM   #19
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Yes
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:00 PM   #20
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I am having some embroidery done on the seat backs. Does anyone know if I can run the car with the seat air bags unpluged? Can the air bags be unpulged at the air bag?
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Old 06-07-2012, 07:12 PM   #21
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I am having some embroidery done on the seat backs. Does anyone know if I can run the car with the seat air bags unpluged? Can the air bags be unpulged at the air bag?


The airbags for the seats do get unplugged right at the airbag. when you get to it just use a small flat head and needle nose pliers to slide the orange retaining clip up and that's it.





Now, as far as driving the car around without the airbags plugged in. I can't say yes or no for sure on this. I wouldn't see why not tho. It would be the same as driving around with a seat removed or something. Plus people add aftermarket seats that may not include a side airbag like that. I would assume your airbag warning light would just go on. Do a little experiment... Unclip the power connector from the bottom of one of your front seats and go for a drive, see what happens.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:34 PM   #22
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I drove mine with the entire passenger seat removed. Just had an airbag warning light.
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Old 06-07-2012, 11:55 PM   #23
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I'll be finishing up my driver seat tomorrow
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Old 09-03-2012, 02:46 AM   #24
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Thumbs up Hog Ring Tip

When removing the existing factory covers, use tin-snips to clip the factory hog-rings. They will give you better leverage vs regular wire cutters and are easier on your hands. I figured this out 2/3rd of the way through the swap. Made it a lot easier to get through the project after that.

Also, you will need to use an 8mm socket to remove the airbag from the front seats.

This is a great DIY. Thanks for posting, it made the project a lot easier, since I knew what to look for. The project is very straight forward, and works great for replacing with OEM leather (I just completed my install).
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:56 AM   #25
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When removing the existing factory covers, use tin-snips to clip the factory hog-rings. They will give you better leverage vs regular wire cutters and are easier on your hands. I figured this out 2/3rd of the way through the swap. Made it a lot easier to get through the project after that.

Also, you will need to use an 8mm socket to remove the airbag from the front seats.

This is a great DIY. Thanks for posting, it made the project a lot easier, since I knew what to look for. The project is very straight forward, and works great for replacing with OEM leather (I just completed my install).
Thank you sir... Good tips!
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