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How to upholster seats

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unclemoak View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 Feb. 2019 at 10:27pm
I needed to put new upholstery on my seats for my CJ3a. A prior owner had installed 2a seats at one point and they were kind of scabbed into the tub and didn't reach the support on the rear fenders. 

I sold my 2a seats and had a pair of the proper 3a seat frames, but they needed some clean up work. Being no expert in upholstery, I looked into having them re-covered locally, but the few places I called seemed to want quite a bit to do them, so after consulting some online resources and my dear mother who has upholstered quite a few things over the years, I decided to take a stab at doing them myself. 

Since there was little information available on how to recover early CJ seats, I figured others could benefit from what I learned. I'm going to break this DIY up into a few different posts:

  • Supplies needed
  • Prepping your frames
  • Covering the Springs
  • Covering the seat pans
  • Installing the back rests



Edited by unclemoak - 13 Feb. 2019 at 10:40pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote unclemoak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb. 2019 at 10:27pm
These are the Supplies Needed


Tools Needed
Sharp pair of scissors
Hog ring pliers
Marker
Utility knife

Most of these things are common, though I did have to order a pair of the hog ring pliers off of ebay for $10 and they came with 200 rings.



Materials needed
A serviceable pair of seat frames
Seat pans
Back rest screws
Seat Covers 
4 yards of Muslin
Hog rings
Four pieces of foam
Batting
Four sheets of cardboard

I was able to find the Muslin, foam, and batting all at the local Hobby Lobby. Any craft store like a Joann's Fabric, etc should have this stuff in the quilting or fabric section



Here is the Muslin I used.




This is the foam I used. It seemed like a synthetic foam would be best. I used 3" on the bases and 2" on the back rest.


Here is the batting that I used. Two bags of this was plenty







Edited by unclemoak - 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:08pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote unclemoak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb. 2019 at 10:28pm
Prepping your frames

If your frames look like mine did, it's well worth it to take the time to clean them up and make any repairs before you spend the time to upholster them. No sense in having nice seat cushions and the frames looking like hell.

Mine were a little rusty and had deteriorated feet on the driver's side, but were otherwise in good shape.

I spent some time wire brushing them to get them cleaned up and made some new bottoms to the legs out of 1" 16ga tubing. I flattened the tubing in a smooth jaw vise, then bent the ends to match the originals. 

I cut them to length and tack welded them on to the frames. Prior to fully welding everything up, I did a few test fits in the tub to make sure everything lined up. I did have to tweak them a bit to get them to fit perfectly.

















Next step was to spray some primer on them, then paint them. I first used some self-etching primer so I would get good adhesion, followed by some high build primer to hide some of the pitting, then a satin black.














Edited by unclemoak - 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:03pm
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Covering the Springs


This part was what I had to do the most research on. One might think that simply tossing the covers over the springs and slapping them on the pans or back rest would be the way to go, but after a little research, it showed that that wasn't the best ideas because the sharp edges of the springs would quickly wear through the vinyl (or canvas) covers.

This is the objective of what you’re going for. 



The first step is to cut a piece of cardboard that is the same size as the springs. 





The next step is the take one yard (of the four yards total) of the Muslin and lay it on your bench. 


Next is a layer of batting


Next is the piece of foam. I lucked out and my foam for the seat was exactly the right size, I did have to do some trimming for the backrest though, which I'll highlight later.


Next is placing your piece of cardboard on the pile, then the springs.



The next step is to neatly fold and secure all this to the springs using the hog rings. Do one side at a time, starting in the middle and working your way to the outside. 


Next do the opposite side, making sure to pull everything snug before securing it with the hog rings. It does help to have an extra set of hands with this part.


Again, pull everything snug, and start securing it from the center, and work your way outward.


The ends are a bit tricky. The idea is to pull everything snug, secure it, and try to minimize ripples or lumps in the whole thing as it will cause visible lumps when you put the covers over it.


Neatly fold the battering over the springs.


Then the muslin. I folded it kind of like a present being careful to not cause any unusual lumps or bumps. 


After it was all secure and I was happy with it, I carefully trimmed away the excess fabric.





I used the same process for the seat backs. However, for the seat backs, I wrapped foam up over the top edge of the springs. Be careful about the orientation of the back rest springs as they only go on one way because of their unique shape. I did mess this up on one of them and didn't notice until I went to put the cover over it and mount it to the seat frame. 








Edited by unclemoak - 14 Feb. 2019 at 9:44am
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Installing the bottom covers on the seat pans


This part can definitely aid from a second set of hands.

With everything upside down, slide the prepared springs into the cover.


When you orient the seat pan, make sure the tabs on the pan are on the same side as the strings on the cover, otherwise you'll have lumps on the front of your seat from the strings underneath the cover.



Now kneel on the pan so the edges of the cover come up around the edges of the pan. You'll want to pull the string tight, so the cover wraps around the pan. You'll then want to pull the cover the whole way into the hook and gently seat it using a mallet or hammer. I made sure that the string was under the hook to help prevent tearing the cover.





Edited by unclemoak - 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:36pm
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How to install the Back Rests

The back rests were a little more challenging than the seat pans. I quickly learned that I might have used foam that was a little too thick because my seats were somewhat over stuffed and I have to compress everything to get the screws in.



This first step was marking the two center hole locations at the top of the back rest. This helped figure out about where to start the screw. I made sure to put the screws equal distant from the edge of the cover and the stitching.




Next was starting the screws back hand through the cover. 



Followed by compressing the foam, while my helper turned in the screw 90% of the way.


I used this same pull taunt, mark, and screw technique all the way down the side being sure to pull the cover snug as I went so there were no ripples and any excess fabric was at the bottom.


To take some of the tension off the cover, I would compress the foam as my helper tightened the screw.


Once all the screws were in, I went back and tightened all the screws.


Edited by unclemoak - 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote unclemoak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:47pm
Final Product 

The seats ended up coming out great. I was pretty pleased with the results. They were firm, but comfortable, didn't have any wrinkles or lumps, and looked great.


Of course I couldn't wait to get them back in the jeep as I had been driving around sitting on the gas tank for the last few days.



Edited by unclemoak - 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TateC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb. 2019 at 11:59pm
Thank you for making the effort to put all this information together. I imagine this will be great help to many jeepers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote berettajeep Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 12:33am
Fantastic write up! Clap  Thank you for doing this.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbullism Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 6:05am
This is on my to do list so your efforts are appreciated and timely LOLThumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 8:41am
Well done Dave.Thanks for posting.Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JeepFever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 11:47am
WOW!  That is an excellent write-up !!

Hope to do seats for my '3A one day . .  this will help a lot.

THANKS!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LuzonRed47 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 1:27pm
Unclemoak, you are now the official SRG (seat restoration guru) of the 2Apage.com. Excellent step-by-step instructions, thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drm101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 2:44pm
Very nice, Thanks!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mictat2214 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb. 2019 at 5:55pm
Beauty job!! TU for explicit, easy to understand instructions.
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