MG Leather Interior Project Guide.

8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #65690 by davmor
A couple of people have commented or asked so here it is, my DIY leather interior project. I wasn't sure if this is a how to or a project post so I'll stick it here and add as much info as I can. I'll put it all up tonight but it will be in bits due to picture limits. Bare with me...

Like most of you I had drooled over the forums at other peoples interiors however dearest wifey laughed when I showed her the prices in the catalogue so I thought I was doomed to cloth and plastic. Not to be deterred however and a great believer in the saying "How can it be?" I thought I'd give it a go but I should probably point out that I have never done this before.

My real inspiration came when I saw this on the other forum and wanted it! So first things first, strip out the old. I wont put a how to in as there are enough out there and I read/followed most of them.

Next was the dash prep, I decided to strip off all the old plastic as I thought it might end up to bulky to just go straight over the top of the old one. This left some pretty deep gashes and score marks in the foam which I filled with expanding foam and filler which was filed and cut to shape.

I had also originally intended to integrate a screen so took out the dash vents and began shaping it, the idea was to extend the binical over to the middle of the dash so it would look OEM. Unfortunately my little one smashed my screen (and few other bits) with a hammer (bless him :spank: ) . It wasn't really a huge deal I just decided to put a shelf in instead. You'll notice the shelf changes shape throughout the project.

I also took out some of the curves and simplified the shape around passenger side, I thought it would make life easier but in hindsight it wouldn't have made a difference.

The next step was the template. This was the hardest job so far, finding the right material to do it was a pain in the backside of trial and error and was the first point in the project (first of many) where I started surfing ebay to find a new dash to put back in and send the project to the skip! However I persevered and ended up using a thin polystyrene underlay sheet we had left over from our kitchen renovation. This was roughly cut to shape then finessed on the dash using masking tape.

Once done it was transferred to paper not really necessary but I found it easier to work with, plus I wanted to add a border for the overlapping stitch.

One of the side panels with the additional flaps so I could mark up the border

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8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #65696 by davmor
So far the project hadn't cost a peny however I obviously needed a peeled cow skin so I did a fair amount of research before I bought the hide and settled with a really good quality Italian leather. If you do this you have to be aware that a hide can have any number of blemishes and holes, it depends a lot on quality and therefore price but if your doing something as big as a dash I'd advise phoning the supplier in advance and explaining your needs, the last thing you want is to spend your money and not be able to get a single piece without holes. I was lucky my hide only had a single hole on one edge.

So I transferred all the patterns and cut out the first pieces. A few things to note when you do this:

1. Use permanent marker but only mark the back

2. You can't pin the template to the leather like you would say a dress making pattern, any holes you put in will stay visible.

3. Take your time, if you transfer it wrong you will cut it wrong and it wont fit. Mistakes at this stage would be expensive

So with all the pieces cut out I did my first dry fit. To do this I stapled the edges and laid it over inside out

Time to get sewing, I bought a leather sewing needle from ebay, cut off some scraps and set about practising, second scan of ebay for a new dash........

Stitching leather is way way harder than the utube videos let on. It takes so much pressure to get the needle through that by the time you have pierced the first side the second is completely out of alignment. Not to mention the amount of blood lost from forcing the needle through both sides and straight into the fleshy parts of your hand.

More research later and I finaly found a method for doing it. There are lots of ways but this worked for me. In the end I used these tools:

You can work out what most of them are the brown block is beeswax, used for lubricating the cotton but the important item is the stitch marker and the hammer. I'm not 100% sure if I used this properly but basically I punched the marker straight through the leather then it was just a breeze to pass the needle through the holes. Also doing this holds the two pieces together like a zip making it easier to sew.

The following user(s) said Thank You: mogatrons, PQD44, Leigh Ping, GOLDIE

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8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #65704 by davmor
First results were really disappointing, the seams looked really poor

However more research and more hammer play sorts that out, once stitched you basically pound it out with a hammer till it sits flat, the difference is amazing. This pic shows the seem hammered out and the finishing stitch marked up

Anyway onto other bits. I wanted some contrasting Alcantara, I was in two minds whether to stitch it in with the leather of do it separately. I did it separately in the end as it's lighter than leather and more difficult to get a good looking stitch in. first was the passenger side

And my first attempt at the binical

This was a real pig to do, I had used impact adhesive and completely cover the material and the binical but could not get it flat to save me. 3 or 4 attempts and about £50 worth of fabric later I found the best way to do it was as follows

1. Cut an oversized piece of material and glue a line about an inch wide down the centre and the same on the binical then stretch the fabric over as much as possible

2. then working from the centre back edge stretch and glue about two inches at a time

This is one side finished and wrinkle free :woohoo: ( I forgot to get a pic when it was complete)

I did try to do the cowl, I tried stretching a single piece and I tried sewing from a template. The most success I had was stretching and strategically folding a single piece and I did fit it at first but I was never really happy with the finish so I decided enough was enough and drew the line under my skill set and decided to spray it as close a colour as I could to the grey Alcantara (pics in the final fitting)

Back to the leather. I used this pic earlier but thought I'd add it again as it shows how the stitch works

Basically it works like a sewing machine, you pass the needle through and as you draw it back it forms a loop (red thread), you then pass a second thread through the loop and pull back. A couple of notes

1. push the needle through the wrong way and the stitch will lock. A pain but you will get used to it!

2. As I went on I found it easier for stitch consistency to make sure the stitch marker only just broke the surface of the secone layer of leather. If you rely on how hard you pull the threads it will be very inconsistent. This may not make sense to the reader but it will if you do this.

3. for the joining stitch use the same thread, colour and thickness as you will both in the seam but for the finishing stitch (you can see my white contrasting stitch in the next pic) I used a really thick thread underneath so it wouldn't pull back through

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8 years 2 months ago #65711 by davmor
The dash finished and fitted. No dark art to this as its tailored so just glued on with impact adhesive and pulled tight towards the back

I wont go into much more sewing as its basically a repeat for the T bar and tunnel with the only exception that I did the tunnel without a template. Its all straight lines and fairly simple to mark up on the job. Plus I think by that stage I was getting cocky or lazy or both, so a couple of shots I took through the process. Steering wheel was also simple, remove the old leather and use that as a template. Stitching is slightly different when it comes to putting the cover on your steering wheel. There are loads of different fancy stitches you can do detailed on utube but above my skill set I'm afraid. Anyway some mid project pics

The following user(s) said Thank You: mogatrons, PQD44, KentJohn

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8 years 2 months ago #65712 by dazlightyear
my stepson was a car trimmer until he broke his fingers playing football and they havnt healed right,And i used to see him work leather and its a skilled job.I think you have done a very good job and its taken a lot of time and for well done very impressed,I showed my son the photos and he said for a first attemp that is very nearly spot on,and doing a dash is a very difficult you should be pleased with your self,you never know I may get you to do mine,the trimmer who sent me a sample the other day was bloody useless.and he was a professional

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8 years 2 months ago #65713 by Jack of Hearts
Maximum respect for this mate. Not only does it look good. But the finish is superb. Top marks
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8 years 2 months ago #65715 by Leigh Ping
What a brilliant guide. I just wish I had your skills! Superb and much appreciated. :broon:

I've added the guide to the 'BLING MODS' section - (Accessory upgrades & modifications to improve your cars looks).
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8 years 2 months ago #65721 by KentJohn
Absolutely stunning! You must have a lot of patience, because I can see that some of this would be painstakingly slow repetitive work. Maximum respect for even attempting it - but awesome that you have pulled it off so well. Your car will be the talk of any event you go to - including Tesco's!! :woohoo:

Thankyou for sharing how it's done - however I very much doubt I will emulating your achievements! :dry:


Life is not a rehearsal - carpe diem!
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8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #65722 by davmor
OK so that's it for leather work. I had originally planned to do the door cards and seats in read aswell however my cars red and I agreed with my wife that would have been too much red! I will do the door cards in black at a later date, They look fine as they are but it now bugs me they're not leather so I know I will cave in one day.

I also got cold feet as far as the seats were concerend as there are strips and attachments and stuff to take into account so I bought some second hand MK2 seats with no intention of touching them. However this is what I found when I got them home, firstly was the usual scuff marks and damage

Secondly was the colour

I bought a leather colouring kit from these people for this, I wanted to keep the same pattern of black on red so I just wanted to recolour the outer trim.

The kit comes with everything you need from chemicals and dye to the airbrush even down to cotton wool balls and scotchbright.

So I masked up and set to them

I didn't get a lot of pictures during this but its a simple process and again well documented on utube. Basically the process is as follows

1. wash down the seat
2. Use a chemical stripper on scotch bright to break the old glaze and draw out the dye.
3. Use sand paper to flatten out scuffs and scratches. Like anything the more time spent in this prep phase the better the end result will be. For deep gouges you can buy leather filler separate to the kit I bought.
4. Use the airbrush to spray on the colour, just keep layering it till you get the colour you want. The dye is great, you could litterally go from black to pure white in about 3 - 4 coats if you wanted to.
5 Again with the airbrush spray on the the clear coat finish, I went with satin

Masked up and a couple of coats applied

You can see the reduction in the scuffs, like I said the longer you spend on this the better, I could have done more but this is what mine looked like at the end

and the colour match

Not perfect, there are companies who do a colour matching service but its better in real life than on the photos so I'm happy enough with it
The following user(s) said Thank You: mogatrons, PQD44, Leigh Ping, KentJohn

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8 years 2 months ago #65723 by davmor
There's not much else I can show you construction wise, so I'll cover a few other bits I did, not a lot of pics I'm afraid

Back lighting in the heater dials

Carbon film on the centre console and door inserts, LED switches and instrument cluster, metal monkey heater dials, and a Kev Kedunga stainless steel switch cover

I dont have a lot of fitted pics as I only finished late last night but here's what I have

There will be a few more bits to come

1. Metal monkey clocks and instrument dials with LED back lighting
2. I'll be taking off the carbon film and spraying those bits the same grey as the instrument surround. I'm not 100% happy with the carbon, its looks like carbon wrap and it doesn't stick to well so its going.

Other than that, that's your lot. All in about £300 including the seats and about 60 hours work all told.

It is hand stitched and I'm not a pro so you can easily pick faults with the odd dropped or wonky stitch but I'm happy with it and I'm pretty anal about stuff like that so I don't think its a bad job against my own standards. I've also been given some advise on straightening out some wrinkles, there aren't many but I know they're there so I'll have a go at sorting those out also.

A couple of general things I learnt doing this

1. Never spray leather dye in a room with white carpets!!

2. Never put your hand behind a piece of leather to support it as you forsce a needle through

3. Never complain to your wife that you have to spend hours of your time tediously sewing while she spends 2 grand on a f*****g handbag

4. Never read the forums, as soon as you read about a common fault other people are having it will happen to YOU :bang:

5. Give it a go after all "HOW HARD CAN IT BE??????"
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8 years 2 months ago #65726 by davmor
Thanks for the comments guys, much appreciated. I will get some more detailed pics of the finish next time I work on it

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8 years 2 months ago #65728 by talkingcars
Stunning - well done.

Home to black MGZS180, yellow MGZS180, blue MGZR160, green MGF VVC and red MG Maestro T16.

MG - the friendly marque.
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