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  #1  
Old 05-02-2003, 01:09 AM
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Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
New leather seat covers

I've started on the leather seat covers for the 280 tonight -- spent the evening attempting to get the front seats out of one hide (won't work have to cut the aprons from a second one) -- glad I bought that extra one this week!

I think I've fixed the problem with the fit of the apron, it's not symetrical on the sides, the inside is shorter. I "fixed" the pattern, with the result that the vinyl covers are loose at the front inside corrner, the tack strip won't fit into the slot, it's too long even though the edges of the old cover and the new one match. Live and learn!

Should have them done in a week or two, will post pics when I get them in.

I gave up on getting the leather perfed, too much trouble, and if I use 1" foam, there is enough air movement through the pleats to prevent serious sweat even with the vinyl.

Once I get these done, it's on to my brother's 75 300D -- bought a pile of ostrich and elepant hide embossed leather for those seats, should be fun. They are closer to Congnac than Palomino, but hey, who cares? the MB tex is finally going south, mostly due to rot of the backing, but its staring to look pretty bad.

Peter

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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2003, 03:54 PM
gmask's Avatar
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Re: New leather seat covers

WOW.. so you are handstitching the leather?.. I have done a little bit of leather work but not in a long time.

So about how much is it costing to do the interior this way for one car?
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MB 72 250 M130.923 114.011 170k The Beauty
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2003, 07:53 PM
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No handstiching, except the recycled tack strip at the bottom edge, since my cheap (free for the taking) Japanese sewing maching won't sew through that. It did manage three layers of thin chipboard (not quite 1/8" if I took a run at it.

Total cost so far is $350 for leather, cloth, and heavy nylon upholstery thread (I'd like thicker, but will try this), and foam -- that is 3 1/2 navy blue leather hides, ranging from 45 to 55 sq ft, some cheap polyester remaindered curtain material (cotton doesn't do well with leather, appearantly), and some 1" foam from Hobby Lobby.

I'm looking at denser 0.5 inch foam -- the original padding is about 1/4 inch foam doubled on the outer (non perfed) parts of the seating areas, and cotton padding in the perfed pleats. It's gotten pretty hard, or I'd re-use it. The foam gives more loft and makes deeper pleats, I'm not sure I like the look as well as the original, but at this point, I'm ready to move one to something else (as in the rear seat).

I've also spent about $100 in various other materials for practice (the blue vinyl ones in the other post and cloth and vinyl "test" covers for the W115 chassis).

It takes about three evenings to make a set for the front seat -- I spend as much time marking up as sewing. The pleats are formed by flat sewing the leather to backing cloth, then sewing a narrow pleat on the back and sewing the channel together at the front edge of the bottom and the top of the seat back.

If anyone is interested, I can make paper copies of the patterns and write up some instructions. Making the covers isn't terribly difficult if you 've done any sewing, no really esoteric stuff. You will need a welting or cording foot (a zipper foot works, too, but it's harder to get the welring tight with it) and a leather needle. Worst part is wrestiling the seatback cover around while sewing the side panels in.

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2003, 08:30 PM
gmask's Avatar
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Location: Los Angeles
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Hey, sounds pretty good. I haven't done any sewing since I was very young. I actually was making uniforms for my GI Joe dolls when I was 10-13.. anyway.. I nearly ruined my mother's sewing machine doing that ..are you using a regular sewing machine for this?

I have been waning to put leather seats in my 72 250..I've been hopign to get a set out of a used car as buying them new doesn't make much sense..at least not for this car. I'd be willing to do the work myself but won't be anytime soon.
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Old 05-03-2003, 02:28 AM
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Gmask:

Yes, its a regular sewing machine, and the only problem I have (other than a sore left arm) is that the throat plate is broken and collapses, causing the needle to jam. It was pretty battered when I got it, not a really good design. It's an early zigzag, and the slot in the throat plate is obviously just a bored out fixed needle hole, much to thin on the sides (less than a mm). There were lots of needle scars on the thin part when I got it, so when the other side broke, it collapsed.

I will stop in at the local sewing place and see if they have a replacement. Probably do, they have everything else, have been there since the beginning of time.

Other than sewing the apron and side piece on, these are very easy as seat covers go.

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #6  
Old 05-03-2003, 06:42 PM
justinbowser
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Peter,

Have you been "trimming" for a while or are you following that series that was in Auto Restorer magazine?

Been trying to get the ol' lady to make some seat covers for several vehicles and it's always, "I don't know how to uppholster..." When that 6 part series about making seat covers was done I told her, "Her ya go, complete how-to on making seat covers!" She just glared, cursed me for subscribing to too many magazines, and said, "We'll see..."

Later...

Justin
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  #7  
Old 05-03-2003, 11:16 PM
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Location: Evansville, Indiana
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Justin:

Just jumped in, read a few books and picked the brains of a couple of friends in the upholstery business, and dusted off the old machine.

You may want to learn to sew this stuff, its fairly heavy and takes some strength to wrestly around. Expect to pay the significant other to do it, one way or another, its a pain.

Cheaper than new covers from Adsit or Benz -- prices ranged from $2700 at Adsit for a "complete" interior (seat covers and carpets) to $380 per for the font seats in leather.

Being rather naive, I just decided to do it myself. Keeps me off the streets, more or less.

Peter
__________________
1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #8  
Old 05-03-2003, 11:54 PM
justinbowser
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Good luck on it, if you don't know you're not supposed to be able to do something, so what! Remember, a bumble-bee shouldn't be able to fly but nobody has ever told it that it can't!

Justin B.
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  #9  
Old 05-04-2003, 02:19 AM
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Location: NE Okla
Posts: 1,104
Every now and then heavy duty sewing machines come up for sale. They are able to handle about any upholstery job you can think of. They are even used by shoe repair shops for doing really heavy duty jobs. The better ones seem to be the German Pfaff units, although I have also seen HD Singers and Nechis. These units have a very large (close to MB starter size) motor hung under the work surface and are then belt driven up to the crank pulley. Foot control pedals, bobbin feed racks and all of the rest of the simple goodies are available, however don't know if such things such as zig-zag or fancy stitch options can be had or not.
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2003, 09:39 AM
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Location: Alexandria, Virginia
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But, you should try hand stiching an entire seatcover! When I was in high school, my 180b upholstery was falling apart. I couldn't afford an upholstery shop on lawnmowing money so, one weekend when my folks were out of town, I stripped my seats and separated the old vinyl pieces to use as patterns. That's when I discovered that Mom's old Singer Featherweight WOULDN'T DO upholstery! Without pleats, it took about 9 hours just to hand-sew each seatcover (2 bench seats = 4 seatcovers) with Dad's stereo cranking and lots of Coca-Cola to help keep me awake!
I recently repeated this nostalgic experience, re-covering the seats in my '57 DKW! (2 buckets and 1 bench = 6 seatcovers)

Happy Motoring, Mark

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