MG Bryan
MG Bryan HalfDork
1/20/12 11:08 a.m.

So, while this is very much not motorsports, it is grassroots. I have an MGB that was pretty vigorously raped by the previous owner. It served me as a driver for a while and then his shoddy wiring caught on fire.

It's a Mk I. It should have a nice looking steel dash in it, but unfortunately he hacked that to bits. The goal of the project is to have a usable, fun run around. It's never going to be a track car, and while it will probably be driven around cones at least a few times, I have no delusions that it will do as well as a 1.6 Miata.

Rather than spend money on everything the interior needs, I think it would be good to learn a new skill and upholster the dash, doors, transmission tunnel etc. I have no idea where I can find a good resource to walk me through what sort of threads, needles, and other stuff and techniques I will need. My guess is someone on this forum does know. It's not going to turn out like the upholstery in an Aston Martin or anything like that, but I'd still like to take a swing at it.

Thanks for whatever help you can render, Bryan

Appleseed SuperDork
1/20/12 11:29 a.m.

If you can, go to the HAMB and look up Do It Yourself Upholstery. I think Hellfish did a good one.

Woody SuperDork
1/20/12 12:06 p.m.

Buy Hog Ring Pliers.

They make all the difference.


Javelin SuperDork
1/20/12 12:13 p.m.

Try and find a local upholstery shop and see if the person running it will give you a few tips. Our local guy will sell people the material and rent shop space, it's pretty cool.

Taiden SuperDork
1/20/12 12:18 p.m.

I plan on doing upholstery when summer rolls around.

I asked around until I found a family member with an extra sewing machine.

Since then I have been doing small projects here and there to familiarize myself with pattern making, sewing, etc.

Thus far I have done a well matched shift boot.

And I am currently replacing panels in a pair of Nike's I have.

Honestly, these Nike's are pretty insane. I feel like if I can do a shoe well, car upholstery should be fairly trivial.

So I guess my point is, if you learn how to work wood, you can probably figure out how to build a boat. Same goes for sewing projects and upholstery.

Ian F
Ian F SuperDork
1/20/12 12:42 p.m.

I've done a little bit and I'm itching to do more.

I bought these books:

The first concentrates more on interiors as a whole and actually gives pretty good step-by-step instructions on how the interiors of customs cars you see on TV are done.

The other one goes through a few exercises and projects to teach basic upholstery stitches and whatnot.

I'm sure it's like anything - it'll take practice and experiece - but both books will give you enough info to make you think, "Hey! I can do this!!"

I bought a used heavy duty (but still light by commercial standards) sewing maching from a local sewing machine shop in Princeton, NJ.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
1/20/12 1:18 p.m.

I'll just leave this here:

Ian F
Ian F SuperDork
1/20/12 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I'll just leave this here:

Did you need to do anything to the foam?

I've looked around some, but haven't found a place that seems to sell seat foam that's hard enough. I need to rebuild the seats in my GT6 and it would be nice to add a bit of additional side-bolsters to the bottom and back.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
1/20/12 1:34 p.m.

My foam was in pretty good condition in the Esprit. On the Truck, the foam was getting pretty bad. I laid a layer of eggcrate over the existing seat for that one.

You can experiment with a can of the "Good Stuff" foam insulation spray. There's 2 kinds, regular and minimally expanding. I think the foam they end up with has different densities, and it ends up pretty hard, but not solid hard. Other suggestions I've read is take a bread knife to the pick-a-part junk yard and hack out a hunk of foam from a car there, then hack the same size out of your foam and put them together.

wlkelley3 Dork
1/20/12 8:30 p.m.

Not hard to do with patience. My interior I made as shown in readers rides. My foam was good. It is hard to find foam blocks in right density. I would suggest finding a place that has precut foam for seats and find a size close to what you need and trim to fit your needs. If you use thicker materials like vinyl, leather or anything as thick then an industrial sewing machine would be prefered. I disassembled the old interior at the seams and traced it out on posterboard for templates, added about 1/4-1/2" in size for fudge. Have a friend that does interiors as a hobby and he taught me, he actually did the hard part and looked over my shoulders for the rest. An industrial sewing machine can pay for itself when others find out you have one and know how to use it. I've made a few canopies for friends and always have people ask if I can sew up a boat cover or boat interior. Just learn to go slow because an industrial sewing machine will sew through fingers, my friend sewed 2 sections of paneling together just to show me what it can do. Electric carving knife does well on big chunks of foam, by the way.

MG Bryan
MG Bryan HalfDork
1/20/12 8:37 p.m.

Hopefully I'll be able to grab some materials tomorrow to do a test project. I'll also hit the book store and see I can grab something without having to wait for Amazon to ship it. If that doesn't turn out too poorly I'll proceed with the car. Thanks for the suggestions.

Dusterbd13 Reader
1/20/12 9:44 p.m.

its funny that i was coming here for essentially the same thing, only door panels. making the panel for mine should be easy (theyre flat and rectangular), but im tring to figure out how to put a couple of raised areas in them to give them some visual interest. i was thinking just another layer of wood at about 1.8 thick, then work the vynil into the corner real good.

and you can buy really nice vynil at hancock fabrics for cheap. i bought way too much for what i need tonight for 25 bucks,. enough to do my trunk closeouts as well.

also wondering what kinds of adhesive the collective would reccomend for vynil to wood.


Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
1/21/12 7:00 a.m.

The 3M spray on kind.

chandlerGTi Reader
1/21/12 9:26 a.m.

Yeah, super 77 or the specific stuff at Joann fabrics. Also to make reliefs in your paneling you can build it up with Masonite or even cardboard.

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