View Full Version : steering wheel wrap replacement process

09-24-2010, 04:24 AM
I shared this on another forum but since I just added a new wrap to my alltrac I thought I would share the results and the process it takes to do this.

Here is the Before and Afters of the alltrac wheel:





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So here is the process Ive developed for doing this.
Using an airbag style wheel here is the process step by step:

Old wrap stitching cut, wrap is ready to remove:

Wrap removed:


Old Glue and leather remains needs to be cleaned off


Wheel cleaned and prepped:


Pattern chosen and laid out


Pieces cut and ready to sew together. I take this opportunity to fine tune the amound of stretch I want, and mark the seams. Too much stretch and the leather looks stressed, too little and it becomes hard to get a nice fit without bunching:


After sewing the seams into it, its test fit (Notice LOTS of room for trimming and final fitting). Occasionally after this step I will have to re-seam it to get a tighter fit.


After Im happy with the fit I start a closer trim to where I want the stitching to meet. This part makes me nervous sometimes, Ive ruined a cover and had to start over due to one wrong move with the scissors.


I have to both stretch and even things out, then mark for a close cut. Its particularly critical in the pits of the spokes. What Im shooting for is a seam that pulls completely together while being stitched, but tight enough that the wrap isnt loose or wrinkled.


I then double (and sometimes triple) check my fit. I dont want to cut it too small, but more spent here makes for a better overall fit and finish, and makes punching and stitching it easier as well.


Seams are then glued and trimmed. I have several differnet methods for this depending on what I want for the final result. I usually hammer these down to sit as flat as possible.


Once Im completely happy with the trim I then prepunch all the holes to get them even and to save my fingers during stitching. Note on this cover that the holes are offset (look at the blue tape) for a single thread factory stitch. When doing my cross stitch I want my holes right across from each other. This is kind of a pain to get perfect, but its FAR easier on my fingers doing this step rather than trying to stitch one the fly freehand. I also think I get a more evenly spaced outcome.


I then refit the wrap and tape it in place temporarily to keep it evenly stretched and placed. If dont do this, the cover has a tendency to "walk" as I stitch around the hoop, trowing off all that careful trimming.


Actual stitching begins. On this wheel I was doing a factory style stitch as mentioned, so it requires I use a single thread and go from one end to the other with no breaks. It be kind of a pain to get started with this method, but the stitching itself goes pretty fast after that.


Another look as the stiching progresses. Its just in from the backside on each hole. I'll explain the cross stitch later.


First portion I usually start with is the top of the wheel. This kind of anchors everything down.


All the stiching done (by this point my finger tips are pretty raw)


Ends are glued...


...and sealed down.


Completed wheel, conditioned and ready to ship. I usually wax my seams using beeswax and a hair dryer. This helps seal the stitching and the ends of the leather and softens the feel of it. If I have any wrinkles I dont like I can usually work those out with a little steam and/or a hair dryer and a spray bottle.


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I have several styles of stitching I do. Each one has benefits and pitfalls. For look I like the cross stitch, for feel I like the single thread factory stitch. I think anyone with reasonable skills could do this themselves, but its a ton of work. I easily put 10 hours in per wheel.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this process.

09-24-2010, 04:29 AM
Looks good, you did a nice job!

joe's gt
09-24-2010, 06:51 AM
Looks awesome but damn that is a TON of work.

09-24-2010, 08:40 AM
Its definately a bunch of work. Part of the hassle is that every piece of leather and where you cut from on the hide makes a different in how it stretches. I find that to get the fit Im happy with that means I have to cut each one individually. If I could just cut several at a time and then punch them all it save time.

Im a pit of a perfectionist though, so I find this methods works well. Also its work I can do inside in front of the TV and at any hour of the day or night so it makes for good winter work.

09-24-2010, 06:35 PM
I'll be adding a demonstration of how to cross stitch and how to do a TRD style wrap on a stock knob here soon.

09-24-2010, 06:39 PM
Very nice write up.

Is there a specific type of the material that you are using, or a specific type of thread? I'd like to try this myself, but have never attempted it before. I do know that some threads work better with certain materials than others, so I was wondering if you had input on that..

joe's gt
09-25-2010, 04:23 AM
Anxiously awaiting the knob wrap. I'd imagine punching all those holes though takes forever for a first timer.

09-25-2010, 04:26 AM
So... what would you charge for a service? :)

09-25-2010, 05:25 AM
Very nice write up.

Is there a specific type of the material that you are using, or a specific type of thread? I'd like to try this myself, but have never attempted it before. I do know that some threads work better with certain materials than others, so I was wondering if you had input on that..

Yes, I use a waxed polyester thread specifically designed for this kind of work. If you decide you want to give it a try I can send you a link to the place where I get my thread. There are lots of colors to chose from.

Anxiously awaiting the knob wrap. I'd imagine punching all those holes though takes forever for a first timer.

I use a gauge to line up to. The punching isnt so bad, but its the being sure its where you WANT to punch that is tricky since one you punch its too late to change your mind. For a shift knob its not so bad because a screw up doesnt mean a ton of material wasted.

So... what would you charge for a service? :)

I charge a flat $200 per wheel to rewrap your wheel.

09-25-2010, 06:52 AM
Where in oregon are you?

09-25-2010, 09:14 AM
Little hole in the wall called Burnt Woods, about 30 miles west of Corvallis!

Eric Barrera
10-20-2010, 04:20 AM
Hey, I might send you my wheel, could you do my shift knob too, like trd style? Send me a quote in a pm

10-20-2010, 04:31 AM
Anxiously awaiting the knob wrap.

Aren't we all? :P

Great write up!

I have to learn how to do this now..

Have you ever played around with leather seats?

10-20-2010, 04:59 AM
Sorry got sidetracked on some other stuff and havent had a chance to do a shift knob yet.

I dont have the equipment to do seats. Basically what I do is all the stitched in place kinds of things.

10-27-2010, 10:06 PM
So I finally got a little time to wrap the shift knob I had on hand. Here is a quick look at the process of putting a TRD style leather wrap on one.

I already had a pattern for these and some precut pieces so I used those. Since its a much smaller item there is less stretch to worry about so precut pieces work fine.

Prepunch the back piece only. There arent that many stitches so I dont mind doing the other side on the fly. This way, I can be sure I have even length stitches, without having to worry about lining up with anything on the other side of the seam.

I do the first couple of stitches to line things up, then lay contact cement down the middle (with a matching stripe on the knob). This just helps keep everything lined up and in place for the rest of the process.

With the wrap in place its just a matter of stitching it the rest of the way around. Since I did a two thread cross stitch on this one, I could start in the middle and work to the end, then repeat on the other side. When doing a single thread stitch I have to start at one end.

Another look at the stitching. Notice the gap. Getting that just right leads to a nice fit and smoother seams. Like a well stitched baseball.

A completed shift knob. A huge improvement over a plastic textured knob.

Just a little side by side of the unwrapped vs wrapped:


I have a second one I could do a colored thread on if someone was interested. The one shown here is up for sale in the for sale section.

10-28-2010, 12:29 AM
Very impressive work! That wheel looks great!

11-10-2010, 05:48 AM
Amazing i have a steering wheel cover on my celica because the wheel is a mess but now i know what to do. Thanks amazing job

11-14-2010, 09:22 PM
had a request to do a shift knob with red stitching. Here's how it came out.