What Is Automotive Upholstery?

  • stitching hex panel for leather upholstery kit
  • stitching hex panel for leather upholstery kit
  • Thread spool for upholstery kits

The term upholstery is not used very often in today’s digital age, and even sounds archaic to many people who have never heard the term before.  What is upholstery?  Upholstery is an ancient craft that has survived centuries and still thrives today in many industries. Upholstery is defined as (1) the cloth, leather, etc., that covers a couch, chair, seat, etc., and (2) the process or business of covering pieces of furniture with the cloth, leather, etc.  The first definition used the term upholstery to describe the material covering something. In contrast, the second definition describes the craft of covering an item with a specific material.  An upholsterer would be the craftsman that produces and covers an object.  There are many areas of specialization that an upholsterer can spend his time on, like furniture, marine, or automotive.  Automotive upholstery requires the mastery of specific knowledge and skillset, including specialized machinery and materials, especially in late-model vehicles. Automotive upholstery mainly refers to the recovering, reupholstering the seats and trim of a vehicle’s interior.  The seats are the most commonly reupholstered part because they see the most damage and use.

Traditionally, reupholstering a vehicle’s seats has been completed by experienced craftsman who must have the vehicle on-site for disassembly, patterning, and reinstallation. The upholstery on most automotive applications is attached to the seat’s frame and foam through plastic clips, hog rings, and Velcro.  Once these attachments are released, the factory upholstery will come off the seat frame and foam and then be patterned and reproduced.  However, this reupholstery process can be time-consuming for the upholsterer and expensive for the customer.  It also requires at least a few days of downtime for the vehicle. This is where LeatherSeats.com comes in.  LeatherSeats.com specializes in pre-sewn, ready-to-installed, automotive leather interior kits that can typically be installed in a single day.  We pattern the interiors of late-model vehicles as they are released to produce custom interiors on demand for our customer base. For example,  the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado received a brand new interior from GM. We then arranged to receive a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado to disassemble and pattern all the cloth pieces in the vehicle. Once the pieces are patterned, we then digitize these patterned pieces into our computer system and detailed sew order instructions so that they can be reproduced repeatedly. For more information on this process, please take a look at our production process page. Our pattern archive goes back mainly to the mid-90s and has many vehicle patterns from that date forward.  We have some older patterns than the mid-90s, but these are typically archive patterns that you should contact us directly on for more details and pattern verification.

Our leather interior kits are designed to supply our customers with a kit that replaces all the upholstery on the seating areas. This means that our packages on the website are priced to include all the pre-sewn upholstery covers needed to reupholster all the seats in your vehicle. For example, a GMC Yukon XL with three rows of seating will be priced appropriately on the website to include all the covers for all three rows. There are a few exceptions where we do not have the pattern for the full interior, but these exceptions are few and far between, and we will make sure to inform you if the pattern you selected does not have the full interior available.

So this should answer one of our most commonly asked questions… “do you sell the actual seats or just the covers?”  As described previously, we do not sell any of the physical seats. We only sell replacement upholstery which will replace the existing upholstery in your vehicle. The seat frame and foam of your seats will stay in place while the old, stained, or ripped covers on your current seats will be removed, and our interior package will be installed in its place.