How To – Upholstery: Recovering Seats

Hi all, its Guest Blogger Christian here.

Thinking about revamping your tired interior to give your classic VW a lift, or merely a change of colour? Well, Caught the VW Bug are here to help you guide you through the process. We used seat covers, which you can pick up from several VW Parts stockists. There upholsterers that do offer a service to make seat covers in just about any colour you desire, or to do the full job for you, we at Classic Volks can highly recommend The Trim Shop, you can click here to go to their Facebook page or call Iain on 01900 817499.

Fitting seat covers should in theory be an easy job, but can be quite fiddly and you need to remember the seat covers seem smaller than the actual base, allowing for a snug fit!  Don’t worry if you encounter problems as everything is a learning curve! After six seat recovering jobs, I have still run into problems so it’s always possible to have a hiccup here and there.

The front seats themselves are separated into two parts, bases and backs (high or low) and the rear seat are two separate parts as well, albeit longer than your front seats.

Before I run through the step-by-step guide, you will need the following tools to aid you in the process:

 2 – 3 People
A Pair of Mole Grips
Seat Bases and New Covers
Stanley Knife
Strong Wire
2 Pieces of Cardboard

 Ready? Let’s go!

Step 1: Heating up the New Seat Covers

Now this is a really simple task, find a vacated radiator in the house to place your new covers on. Leave the covers to warm up on the radiator for a few hours. This loosens up the leather and gives you an advantage when it comes to fitting. If you plan to do this in the morning, merely place them on the radiator, with the leather side facing the radiator the night before.

 Step 2: Kettle ‘On’

Old damaged seat

Old seat, looking a bit tired.

Cup of tea or coffee is imperative for this job, as it needs as much relaxation as possible.

Step 3: Separating the Seat and Removing the Seat Lever

Step 3a

Step 3b






This is really simple, a bolt either side of the bottom of the seat needs to be removed and simply lift the back off the seat base. The rear seats should already be separate to each other. The seat lever also needs to be removed.

Step 4: Removing the Old Covers

Whether you want to keep or ditch your old seat covers, you need to remove from the seat bases from the seat itself on both the bases and backs. The seat covers sit in small, sharp hooks that are folded over to hold the covers to the bases. A picture is below:

Step 4..To remove your covers, you need your mole grips to pull the hooks up, make sure you pull them up as straight as possible to help you later on when refitting. There are a lot of these, so it should take about 10-15 minutes to lift up all of the hooks and cover out of the bases and backs.

Once this has been completed, proceed to lift the old covers off of the seat.

Now you should be looking at a bare seat base and back. Whether that’s front or rear, that musty smell is always expected and you’re now ready to replace those tired seats with some new, shiny covers.

 Step 5: Pulling the New Covers onto the Seat Base & Back

Your brand new covers are toasty warm and a little more stretchy than usual. What your team need to do is to pull the cover onto the seat base as fast and as accurately as possible. The foundations are laid here so it’s important they’re on nice and neatly and even on the front and Step 5back of the seat. This can be tough to do, but don’t worry if you don’t succeed the first time as everything is a learning curve! After six seat recovering jobs, I have still run into problems so it’s always possible to have a hiccup here and there!

Double check the seat cover is neatly on the seat base and back when you have placed the new covers on. They need to be absolutely 100% level each side as you’re going to have to pull the cover over on those hooks we mentioned earlier.

 Step 6: Piercing the Seat Covers and Hooking the Seat Covers Down

Grab those mole grips again, along with wire if needed and a hammer to knock the hooks back down.

Step 6

In addition, we used wire to further hold the covers down to give that desired and refreshed shape; along the bars of the seat bases and backs, you can see a few holes in the same place as the hooks, which is handy to use. Of course that is optional, but you need to spin the wire tight enough to have any effect.


To fit your covers; starting one side at a time; you need to squash the springs on the base or back down as best as you can. One person needs to squeeze and hold the base in place while another lifts the cover over as far as possible to the position of the hook. When at that position, Step 6bpierce the seat cover on the hooks and knock down the hooks so they’re touching the bar.

Rinse, and repeat until all the hooks have been hammered down and you’re happy. If you need the extra wire, or have the resources to do so, this can be done in the same process.

 Step 7: Fitting the Seat Lever (Front Seat Only)

Nearly there! The seat lever needs to be refitted or you will have a seat that you can’t move forward to let your fellow VW addicts in to sit in the back!

A small slit is needed in that brand new seat cover, so no pressure! Grab your Stanley knife and you should be able to feel a small gap where the mechanism is to be fitted. Make a small slit in the gap and fold the leather inside, allowing for more room to fit the mechanism. Once completed, simply fit the plastic plate onto the seat first, and followed by the seat knob.

 Step 8: Fit Both the Back and Base Together (Front Seat Only)

Precursor here is that this can be challenging, yet extremely rewarding as this is the final stage.What’s needed here is your cardboard, your friends or family members, the spanner and your bolts as you have to guide your seat back onto the base. Place the cardboard into the bottom of the seat base and slide the back into where the bolts need to go.

Is your seat in position? Awesome, just remove the cardboard and don’t let go of that seat! Fit the bolts and voila, one new seat! Now it’s time to have that obligatory sit down in your new seat and crack open the nearest bottle of wine to celebrate.

Well done!

Any questions, please feel free to comment below and Christian will 
hopefully be able to help :) Have fun!