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How to Make a Pleated Seat Cover for a Motorcycle

How to Make a Pleated Seat Cover for a Motorcycle

This video is brought to you by Sailrite.
In this video we are going to show you how to make your own pleated motorcycle seat cover.
We will be transforming this seat cover into a beautiful pleated or channeled seat using
supplies from Sailrite. This video will show how to pattern, how to sew pleats, create
your own boxing, topstitching and of course stapling. Let’s get started… We are going to create a pleated top for this
motorcycle seat. To do this we need to make a pattern for the top of the seat. We will
use paper and trace around it with the seat turned upside down on top. Fold the paper
in half lengthwise and match up the lines as best as possible. Then cut the pattern
out while it is still folded, this should create a uniform pattern. Our seat is rather
small, so we will not worry much about shrinkage as the pleats are being sewn.
However, if you are creating a larger panel which includes pleats we recommend you do
some calculations for the amount of shrinkage that will naturally occur with each pleat.
Each pleat will usually shrink the project by about an 1/8 inch, depending on the thickness
of the scrim foam. Use these calculations to determine the cut length of the fabric
and foam, so you do not end up with a panel that is too small for the job when done sewing
the pleats. To create our pleats we will be using the
Polyurethane foam with fabric backing this is a ¾” form from Sailrite.
Polyurethane foam with fabric backing ¾” is a wonderful scrim foam that is often used
for creating pleats in fabric or sometimes called channeling. Polyurethane foam is backed
with a Spun Bonded Polyester fabric and this fabric keeps the stitch from pulling thru
the foam when channeling or pleating is done. In this video we are using it to create a
pleated motorcycle seat, but it’s also great for boat and automotive upholstery applications
and even for making handbags and purses. Polyurethane foam with fabric backing is available at
We will now cut the foam, often called scrim foam, to the approximate size of the seat
top, cut it bigger. This should also be done to the vinyl fabric.
Once cut out we will now glue the fabric to the foam side, not the scrim side. To accomplish
this task we like to use 3M Super 77 spray adhesive. We will spray only the underside
of the vinyl fabric, but you could also spray the foam as well.
Now simply apply the vinyl fabric to the foam side and press down being sure all wrinkles
are removed. Gluing the fabric to the foam will ensure that it does not easily move around
while the pleats are being sewn in. It is a very important step, so do not skip it!
Our desired pleat width is 1 1/8 inch, yours may be different. So, we will mark the underside
of our foam with the spun bond fabric scrim to 1 ¼ inch. Why the 1/8 inch more? Because
when each pleat’s top stitch is completed it will shrink the fabric and pleat by about
an 1/8 inch. So the resulting pleat will be about 1 1/8 inch when done.
Let’s rewind and take a look at the first pleat marked on the foam. You will notice
that this first pleat marked is about an extra ½ inch away from the edge of the fabric.
That space will be for the seam allowance of a ½ inch. So do not just start right at
the edge of the fabric marking your first pleat 1 ¼ inch away, but add a ½ inch for
seam allowance for that first pleat. This ½ seam allowance should be factored in for
the last pleat on the opposite end as well. Always be sure your bobbin is full before
sewing pleats, you do not want to run out of thread in the middle of a pleat. Angela
will carefully position the needle over the line she marked on the panel and then will
slowly sew down the length of pleat being diligent to guide the fabric so the stitch
stays as straight as possible over the line. Since we will be cutting the edges off this
panel we will not do any reverse stitching to lock the stitch in place. Sewing thru foam
and vinyl fabric will possibly play tricks with your tension, so it is best to test on
scrap first. Too much tension will cause excessive wrinkling of the fabric.
Just because we marked the underside of the foam for our pleats does not mean you have
to do that. If you like to keep a close eye on your tension and how it looks from the
topside. You can mark the fabric pleat lines on the vinyl side and sew with that side up.
Just be sure the lines will easily come off the fabric so you may want to use a grease
pencil or other fabric marking pencil. Next we will lay our pattern on top of the
finished panel and trace around it. We will not be adding any seam allowance here since
the pattern is a little on the large size and will be pulling it firmly over the seat
bottom to make a tight fitting cover. This should position our boxing seam right along
the outer edge of the seat when finished. To cut our boxing to size we need to take
some measurements off the seat. We will measure from the top edge to the bottom side of the
seat where it will be stapled. Do not short yourself, better to have extra width than
not enough. Then we will measure around the seat sides to ensure we have enough length,
again go extra by a few inches at least. Now simply cut a boxing strip to the width
desired and the length. Fold the assembly in half and mark the center
location. Do the same with the seat top that is pleated.
We will sew the boxing starting at the front side of the seat positioning the center lines
directly on top of each other. We want to sew our straight stitch about a ½ inch away
from the raw edges of the fabric. And we will do some reversing here to lock the stitch
in place. As it is being sewn down we will carefully line up the raw edges as we sew.
Notice that Angela is pulling ever so slightly on the pleated panel and the boxing. This
is typically not something that is done with regular sewing, but with a channeled fabric
like this we want it to laying fairly flat when the boxing is secured. So, a slight pull
often results in a better looking finished project. Watch carefully to see how much she
is pulling the fabric, too much pulling and your project will be ruined, so be careful.
When she gets to a corner she will carefully line up the edges and sew around slowly.
Here we are coming to the backside of the seat. We have only sewn down one side, the
other side is still not sewn. We want to stop short of the center line by about 2 inches.
This unsewn area will make it possible to sew the two half’s of the boxing ends together
at the rear of the seat in a later step. Here’s the unsewn part you can see it is approximately
2 inches from the center line. To sew the opposite side flip the assembly
and again start sewing at the front of the seat’s center line. Sew around just as you
did with the opposite side stopping a few inches away from the back of the seat’s center
line yet again. You notice now the boxing is on top and the pleated fabric is underneath,
that is because we flip the assembly to sew this side.
Also take note to see how much Angela pulls the boxing and the pleated fabric as she sews.
Just as she did earlier. Ok we are coming up the seat’s back center position and we
stop a few inches from the center line. To join the boxing ends together try to determine
where they should come together by walking them along the unsewn section of seat top.
Then hold them together at that location and take them to the sewing machine and sew down
the boxing length at that exact location, being careful to keep the stitch at a 90 degrees
from the boxing’s bottom edge, another words straight.
Here it is sewn and you can see it is perfect. Cut away any extra length of boxing, but leave
at least a ½ inch or more going past the stitch we just sewed. We will cut a strip
from the left over boxing that is about 1 inch wide.
We will splay the backside of the boxing seam open and place this 1 inch strip of fabric
over the splayed section of the fabric. We are creating a French seam here. A French
seam has a top stitch on both sides of the main center seam.
Here is a quick illustration to show how we will accomplish this French seam.
With the fabric spayed open and the extra strip of fabric on the bottom side Angela
will now carefully sew a stitch about an 1/8 away from the first stitch using here presser
foot as a guide to help keep it straight. As with any top stitch as you sew be sure
to pull the center seam apart to keep it flat and in the center.
Once the top stitch is done on one side switch to the next side and repeat the process. It
is always a good idea to sew on the same side of the presser foot, if you’re using that
as a guide. That is why she flipped the panel around here.
Now go back and finish off the area which was left unsewn. After this is done we will
sew a single top stitch to the boxing where it is sewn to the top of the seat. We will
do that in the next step. To sew our top stitch we will need to turn
the cover right side out. And then we will sew about a 1/8 inch away from the first stitch
being sure to catch the bottom flap of fabric as we sew. It is best to place this top stitch
on the boxing and not the top channeled plate. Here Angela is starting at the back side of
the cushion where the French seam was just created. She did a little bit of reversing
and then continues to go around using her presser foot as a guide. Note, as she sews
she pulls on the two halves of fabric so it is nice and flat and laying open on the center
seam. When we get to the back side do some more
reversing and you are done. Next up we will staple this cover to the seat.
We have fit the cover over the seat and will now staple it in place. We will start be stapling
the front and rear of the seat first. We are using the EZE ½” crown stapler with Stainless
Steel staples. This is a pneumatic stapler. These ½” crown staples are wider than normal
crown staple of 3/8″ so they resist splitting the vinyl fabric. Here’s a demo showing stapling
the same vinyl fabric the first is a standard 3/8″ crown staple and now with the EZE ½”
crown stapler. Watch as we pull on the vinyl, you can see the ½” crown does not pull thru
the vinyl as easily as the 3/8″ crown does. Also because we it is a pneumatic stapler
you can turn down the PSI amount on your air compressor to reduce the force that is applied
to the staple which in turn helps to keep the staple from driving in too deep and thus
cutting the vinyl fabric. Now that the front and back are stapled in
place we will secure the sides pulling the fabric over the seat and checking for a good
fit and look. The EZE TC-08 Staple Gun with ½ crown is
a reasonably priced staple gun for upholstery applications and it is sold at
If you do not want to spend the money on a new staple gun you can use a standard Arrow
brand stapler to do this job also. We recommend using stainless steel staples or monel staples.
Once stapled in place just trim away the excess fabric with scissors.
Our pleated or channeled motorcycle seat is now complete. Coming up next is the materials
and tool list that we used to make this pleated or channeled motorcycle seat cover.
For more free videos like this be sure to check out the Sailrite website or subscribe
to the Sailrite YouTube channel. It’s your loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these
free videos available, thanks for your loyal support! I’m Eric Grant and from all of us
here at Sailrite, thanks for watching!

100 comments on “How to Make a Pleated Seat Cover for a Motorcycle

  1. Well, I have an old sewing machine, but I'm not going to try this because I know I would just screw it all up.

  2. Beautiful, thank you so much for sharing all this. I have an old (1923) Singer sewing machine that pulls much heavier fabric than my new(ish) Neff, it's amazing what that old tractor can do. I'll give it a try with vinyl, the seat of my new motorbike got a nasty tear and I'll take the chance to completely re-do the seat (I didn't like it anyway!). Cafe-racer, here I'm coming!

    Question: what is the best thread that can be used with a home sewing machine for stitching vinyl? The thicker needle I have is a 110 for leather.

  3. It's so easy when you have the right tools for it. I have done several seats with a sewing machine that was not designed to sew so thick materials (it was a pain) and I have done a few without any sewing machine. I have never used any glue for the foam just marked the different layers at the same locations so I could keep them aligned.

  4. another great video. wonderful job. And yes, I had a few Tomos mopeds, and I did recognize the seat. Good job Aimlessmoto, keen eye

  5. Снять старую кожу, распороть и по ней снять лекала, нее, не судьба. Упоротые американцы.

  6. How would one do this for a metal seat pan, as for the staples wouldn't go through the metal? would you use a rivet type method? Also this is not a factory metal seat pan so it doesn't have the triangular "teeth" to bite the fabric, and is why I am asking

  7. Never sew were your top thread is from the (stock thread)bobbin, as top thread from the spool is better for top thread, looks and finishing, also sewing were you finish material is face down risks damage from the machine. I alway try to make the primary stich shorter than the top stitch [email protected]:48 we can see the tension on the bobbin thread wasn't tight enough to pull the top thread below sight and shows up on the finished work as incorrect stitch. Over all fair to nice work.

  8. How is the best way to re-install the new finished cover on a steel seat pan with robots as opposed to staples? is there a method to do to get it even and stretched tight?

  9. I have a stock motorcycle seat that is hard and causes discomfort after about 30 minutes of riding. Does anyone sell softer foam or maybe even gel that I can glue to the stock foam seat after removing the cover, than reinstall the cover? If I can add even 1/4" to the stock seat where the rider sits with either a softer foam or gel, than it should make the seat more comfortable. I don't want to alter the stock seat cover, but I can alter the stock seat foam. Thanks….

  10. Great Video, I am going to cover my 5 motorcycle seats, just bought a Pfaff 1245 machine, can't wait to get started. many thanks for making your video. Cheers From NZ

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  12. that foam looks so much better thing than just regular sponge. That was great vid. I sew but automotive upholstery are every once in a while challenges ( as needed ). I will surely use some of your tricks. Thanks

  13. Hey, no problem. All you need to do a cover like in this video (with the same quality stitch and to not possibly break your machine), is a ($2000+) heavy-duty, fully commercial sewing machine with a walking foot, like the one shown in the video, and be trained on it enough not to ruin your materials. Simple.

  14. i am teaching myself to sew (clothes). your videos are so good that they make me thirsty to learn anything (sewn or not). …and your work is so very neat. thanks

  15. This was GREAT!

    I have a question.

    Have you seen a stapler that would work in tight spaces, with no more than 2" height to work with?

    I've run across this situation twice recently when rebuilding large boat seats with recessed cushions.

    There's no convenient way to staple down the "pulls" which keep the vinyl taut.

    When I get out to the edge there's no more room for our Senco stapler.

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  17. Wow! Very comprehensive Video presentation! Thanks for Sharing! I’m proud to be a subscriber! Have A Super Week!…..Gus

  18. Incredible job…. I'm in the upholstery side but i need quality materials and tools for my work…you give out your contact so i get in touch with you for more information???
    My phone number is +233 247923429

  19. the back stitch should be done on the inside of the 1/2" . This way you will not put a million holes in the vinyl as well you will not see the backstitch joint. This would not apply with a french seam though. I have sewn many miles and this is routine. The band on the seat should be cut concave on the seat corners slightly to draw in the material so it will fit much better around the corners too

  20. Thank you for this very nicely put video. I want to do a DIY and fix my very old 86 civic seats. I'm learning leather stitch, yeap from youtube university, and your video was crucial to learn about the 1/8 inch seam measure – THANK YOU
    Semper Fi

  21. Looks good. Don't forget with a pneumatic stapler you'll also need a compressor. There are also Electric ones that should have similar results.

  22. i lurn somting..
    only one ting is not mi way.. on 13:42. in on the side.. the old marks from the old seat viseble…
    sow i repair this first.. than the coffer .

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