How to Sew Car Upholstery

Updated February 21, 2017

Car interiors that are used regularly and for long periods of time will start to show wear. Small tears or fraying of the upholstery might occur on car seats and lead to the padding coming out. However, you can stitch up any holes in the car upholstery, just like you can repair a piece of clothing. You don't need to be an expert, but you will be need a few simple tools to complete the job. Fixing it yourself will save money and extend the lifespan of your car upholstery.

Assess the damage on the upholstery by looking to see what needs to be repaired. If there is padding that is coming out of the tear you may be able to push it back in and sew over the top inside the car. However more extensive damage will require removing the car seat cover.

Buy a needle and thread from a upholstery supplier that is suitable for the material your seat cover is made from. For example, leather will require a stronger needle than polyester.

Buy a patch of material that is big enough to cover the damage on the car seat cover. When you repair the cover, this will reinforce the area. Use a material that matches your car seat cover.

Remove the seat cover. Ask for assistance from a friend to avoid damaging the interior of the car and to ensure that you are unfastening the cover fasteners correctly.

Bring the edges of the tear together evenly and loosely stitch the area together using your needle and thread. If the material is stiff and tough, try holding the needle with a gardening glove to protect your hands and improve your grip.

Fit the seat cover back on the seat but do not fasten in place. You want to make sure that you haven't changed the shape of the seat by bringing the edges of the tear together and that it still fits.

Remove the seat cover again. If you have put the stitches in the correct place, stitch the tear securely in place. If the seat cover didn't fit correctly, remove the stitches and repeat steps 5 and 6.

Glue the patch of material to the underside of the tear on the seat cover. This will reinforce the area. Let dry according to the glue instructions, usually 24 hours for industrial glues.

Check for damage on the other areas of the car upholstery before reattaching the car seat. A loose spring might have caused a tear in the material or padding may be out of place. Fix a loose spring by replacing the spring or removing altogether. Padding can be pushed back or glued into place.

Replace the seat cover and fasten into place.


Consider cleaning and washing your car seat cover whilst you are repairing it to keep it fresh and clean. Remove those stains that have been staring at you for years. Needle work requires patience so if you're having difficultly at first, have a break and come back to it.


When removing the seat cover make sure you remember how to reattach it. Write down where each fastener is located so you don't become confused or waste time.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Patch of material
  • Strong glue
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About the Author

Based in Bristol, Philippa Jones has been a music journalist and script writer since 2007, working across a range of radio programs in the U.K. and Australia. Her articles have appeared in "Impact Magazine," "The Mic" and in local newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics from the University of Nottingham.