Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Sewing a SAAB c900 - Seat Bottom Repair

This is the most tedious part of the seat repair.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that it appears that my strategy is actually going to work.

This is the rod that both helps to give the seat bottom its shape.  Originally it was covered by fabric (the light brown fabric you see in the picture).  The rod passed through the fabric, almost like a tunnel.

Then there are vertical clips that clip over the rod and onto the seat mesh frame below.

You can see how my fabric is torn up.  The plan is to make a new strip of fabric to function the same way the original did.

Side note:  I am told this failure is not uncommon on c900s.  Oddly enough, the other three I have owned (still have one of them) never did this.

I procured some upholstery fabric - it's actually a bit heavier than the original material.  I hope the added weight will help keep it together over time.

I measured the original piece as best I could.  In this picture, you can see that the fabric tore.  One side of it is about 15mm, so the original was probably a bit over double that - maybe 35mm.

The original seams were all sewn as one piece - the brown fabric - the seam where the two leather pieces join - and a piece of foam padding.  We'll see this closer a bit later.

I decided to play it safe and use more material than I probably needed.  I can always trim of the excess.

So I cut strips about 40mm wide from the new material.

The original plan was to sew the material onto the rod and the leather seam at the same time.

I quickly found out that the rod wouldn't stay in place, and running a needle though the leather was going to be difficult.

I reverted to Plan B.  Instead of sewing the whole thing all at once, I decide to first sew the material onto the rod, then sew the material onto the seat cover.

This is a shot of sewing the material to the rod.  Piece of cake, and it got me some sewing chops in the process.  (Like practicing scales on the guitar).

I used a standard hand sewing needle - the thread is a #90 automotive thread, which is about the weight Saab originally used.

This part took an hour or so.  When I do this kind of work my mind goes into thoughtful mode.  This time, I decided the theme song for this would be Miles Davis' "So What," but renamed to "Sew What," or alternatively "Sew WHAT?"

I also recalled Toy Making Dad saying to me "99 percent of car owners wouldn't attempt what you're doing."  I'm still not sure if that was meant to be encouragement or a comment on my sanity.

Here we have the new material sewn onto the rod.  I never said it would be pretty.  At this point, I'm very encouraged that this will actually work.

The "X" marks are the approximate locations where the clips will connect to the rod.

You can also see that (fortunately) I had a "pocket" of the old material at each end that I could tuck the rod into.  This helped enormously for the next phase.

And here's the next phase.

I lined up the new material with the old.  One important thing the height of the rod.  If it's too far away from the seat, there won't be a deep contour on the other side.

Then I used a darning needle to sew the new fabric though the foam and the leather seam.  I have some leather needles with special points, but they're machine needles - the heads are too thick to go though the leather.

In the picture, the red arrow points to the seam where two pieces of leather come together.  You can also see that when the seat was made, the two leather seams, the foam insert between the leather and the brown fabric were all sewn together at once.  Since this was done on a big machine, it wasn't too hard to do.

I don't have that luxury, hence my somewhat piecemeal approach.  I'm also only running the thread through one side of the leather.  The leather's heavy, and I'm hoping it will work this way.  So far I have a nice tight join.

Finally, you see I have to use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through the thick leather.  It's slow going, but it's working!  I think it's going to work.  And I'm trying not to think about the second seat I have yet to do.


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