Bucket Seat Upholstery Replacement



Tools Needed:


1)     Hog Ring Pliers (good ones, with a rubberized grip. Your hands will thank you!)

2)     Heavy duty Diagonal Cutters.

3)     Razor Blades

4)     Pliers

5)     Heavy Duty scissors




1)     1lb. Hog Rings (approx. 1”x3/8” before compressing)

2)     Listing Wire (or heavy coat hangers, welding rod, etc.)

3)     1”x2” light gauge “No-Sag” spring material and upholstery clamps (only if your frames have any broken springs)

4)     Heavy Twine.

5)     Jute padding

6)     Burlap

7)     Good quality seat covers made for the frames you’re covering.

8)     Seat Foam. Preferably from your old seats if available and usable. If not, order the correct ones from an aftermarket supplier, such as Year One, Classic Industries, etc.

9)     3M “77” Spray Adhesive


Disclaimer:  I am no expert! I’m not an upholsterer. I’m documenting the process I used to recover my seats. Experts may use other tools or methods and I would defer to their expertise, when possible. This is not an easy process, but if you’re used to tackling projects and are willing to learn, you should be able to complete your seats and be proud to say, “I did the upholstery myself!”, when you’re done. In the process you’ll save yourself three to four hundred bucks versus having an upholstery shop do them.


Have Fun! (I did!)



Part 1, The Seat Bases


The seats I’m working on are from a 1965 Chevelle. The process for Nova seats is identical. Also, there is no reason (in my opinion) that these techniques would not work with a bench seat. If you’re removing the old upholstery, pay attention to what you’re removing and where it came from. This will help in the re-assembly. Also, remove and set aside ALL of the wire (listing) from your old covers. If you do not have covers, therefore no wire, you can buy it from an upholstery supply store. You can also use old coat hanger, but use the thickest coat hanger wire you can find.


1)     After making sure the seat frames are solid, rust free, and preferably primed/painted, use twine to tie the springs so that they move as a unit as they are compressed. If individual springs need to be replaced due to breakage, buy “1”x2” no-sag” spring from an upholstery supply house. This can be bent to the exact shape of the spring being removed. If too many springs are broken, it is probably best to buy a complete spring set for your application.


This frame/springbed was completely cleaned and derusted with naval jelly, wire brushes, elbow grease and lots of patience. It was then primed with DP90 and tied with upholstery twine.

        Photo 1



2)     After priming and tying, burlap is used to cover the springbed. Use 3M spray adhesive to attach the jute to the burlap. Allow the adhesive to dry for five minutes, before attaching the two materials. Hog rings  can be used to attach the fabrics to the springs on the perimeter, but care must be taken to cover them in later steps so they don’t damage the finished upholstery. Jute should also be attached (glued) to the rear of the frame. This will pad and protect the upholstery once it is pulled tight over the back, see photo 2.

3M Spray Adhesive was used to attach the Jute to the burlap and to the rear of the frame (backside).


Note: Openings were cut into the Jute padding. These openings are positioned directly over the listing wire which is attached to the spring bed, beneath the burlap (See Photo #3)


Photo 2



Listing wire is used to attach the upholstery to the springbed. It is aligned with the pleats of the finished upholstery. The listing wire should be hog-ringed to the springbed in several places, as there will be considerable pull against the wire when the seat cover is secured into place.


Photo 3




3)     Before installing the upholstery to the seat frame/springbed, the foam must be modified by cutting the slots completely through. (Photo 4 and 5) Use a new razor blade to do this, keep spares on hand!



Photo 4


    Photo 5


4)     Slide a piece of listing wire into the cloth loop provided under the rear of the seat cover (photo 6). This will be secured to the springs from underneath (photo 7) and will hold the upholstery in place while you set the foam, to begin.


       Photo 7


     Photo 6




5)     Install the foam on the springs, under the seat upholstery. Make sure to center the foam on the springs, with the slots positioned over the listing wire. Photo 8




Photo 8



Photo 8 


Insert listing wire, cut to the correct lengths, into the loops (2 places), provided. These will be secured to the listing wire already attached to the springs on the seat base.




6)     Starting as far to the rear of the seat as possible, begin hog-ringing the listing wire in the loops, through the slots into the foam and secure the hog rings to the listing wire on the springbed (photos 9 and 10). Place two hog rings approx. 2 inches apart on one side (pleat), then position two more in similar positions on the other side (pleat). Alternate placing two at a time until you’ve worked your way to the front of each pleat (approx. 8 hog rings per side). This is NOT easy!


NOTE: Be careful not to poke through the finished upholstery with the hog rings, as they are VERY sharp.



Photo 9



Hog rings from the top secured to the listing wire under the foam.


Photo 10







This seat is nearing completion. All hog rings are in place and the pleats are secure.




Photo 11


7)     On a clean surface, turn the seat base upside down and insert listing wire into the loop around the bottom edge. Photo 12


Photo 12



8)     After inserting the listing wire, make sure the foam is extending beyond the spring frame around the entire perimeter. The upholstery will be stretched around the foam, in order to secure it. Photo13


Photo 13


Note: Foam around edges, covering the jute and burlap and protecting the finished upholstery from wearing against the spring frame.



9)     You are now ready to attach the upholstery to the frame. It is best to have someone help you when performing this step, but I was able to stand on the frame in order to compress the springs sufficiently. Carefully stretch the upholstery around the base. Align any pleats or patterns so that they are symmetrical on the frame. Starting at the corners, hog ring the edge of the upholstery around the listing wire to the loops in the frame base. Hog ring in at least two places on the corner and then shift to the next corner before allowing the springs to relax. Put at least two hog rings in that corner. Photo 14


Photo 14


Hog rings through loops on frame corner and through cloth loop around listing wire



10)  Proceed from the corners to the rear of the seat, leaving the last loop   

      on each side unfastened. Now, hog ring the front edge of the  

      upholstery to the front edge of the frame, using all the loops provided.

      (photo 15)

Additional hog rings installed toward rear of seat base and around front edge between corners.


Photo 15



11)  After securing all but the rear most hog rings on the side, the seat back pivot studs will be pushing hard against the upholstery and will need to be exposed. To do this, use a sharp razor blade to cut a small “X” in the vinyl directly over the center of the stud. This will allow the stud to protrude. This may need to be trimmed later. Photo 16








Cut a small “X” directly over the center of the seat-back pivot stud.


Trimming may be necessary, here.

     Photo 16


12)  Place listing wire (cut to length) through the loop in the cloth flap under the rear of the seat and secure it with hog rings in four places, to the springs. Pull this as tight as you can. Photo 17

Secure cloth flap to springs in four places, here


Photo 17



13)  At the rear of the seat base, there should be two flaps of upholstery 

     that still need to be secured. Pull the down tight under the seat base and 

     pull them forward as far as possible. Secure them around the seam and

     bead to the rear most loop on the frame.  Photo 18










Photo 18


Pull this “flap” tight and hog ring it to the rear loop on the seat base bottom frame.



14) Voila! A completed seat base. If you’re concerned about wrinkle, or 

     un-evenness in the foam under the upholstery, leave the seats in the  

     direct sun for awhile to warm them. They can then be “massaged” and

     manipulated with your hands to smooth them.




With new seat foam, the finished seats will appear “puffy” and over-stuffed. This tends to settle down a bit after installation and use. You may be able to trim the foam prior to installation, but I haven’t been brave enough to try.









Stay tuned for Part 2 (The Seat Backs). Upon completion, the total for the complete bucket seat upholstery was as follows:


Seat frames:  $150.00 (used, from a local source. I have paid more for the correct Nova seats on E-bay!)

Foam: $129.00 (from Original Parts Depot)

Upholstery: $169.00 (PUI, from The Paddock)

Misc. supplies (hog-rings, glue, burlap, jute, spring stock, etc. from a local upholstery supply store): $25.00


Total: $474.00 (Not including shipping, your experience may differ, but look around!)


Please note: There are several GM seats that appear to be the same, but are different! These differences are subtle. Be very careful when buying “correct” Nova seats, as many look the same to the untrained eye, but will NOT work due to their differences. Please do your research to make sure you know EXACTLY what you’re buying. (that’s how I ended up with seats for a Chevelle!)


Again, more to come!  Good Luck and Enjoy!