In case you were wondering why there's just one post on this supposed blog, it's because I've migrated to elsewhere on the web & got rid of most of the content on here. I left up my car tutorial because it is popular & helpful, but otherwise moved things to my new online home. Thanks!

Saturday, August 25

Pimp Your Ride

If you want, come check me out at my new blog

Update 5/5/15 - All is still well with the fabric. It hasn't peeled or faded (as far as I can tell), but I might try taking it off & putting something new on this summer just to switch things up!

So recently, the glue holding the upholstery to my car doors had melted, and it was looking a little rough. I decided, then convinced my helpful father, that it would be easy to put a new fabric in. Surprisingly, it was! Disclaimer: any technical knowledge I picked up from my dad during this process, and I would have been totally lost without him. If you have a handy person around, convince them to help you out!

First I picked out a heavy cotton material - I'm not sure what it was (edit- helpful commenters told me it is called duck / duck cotton / duck canvas), but it was almost like a thin canvas. A yard and a half was more than enough for my car.

This was the first photo of the day, so excuse
my lack of skills & the blurry thumb in the corner. 

The other super important supply was this adhesive (3M Headliner & Fabric Adhesive) - I bought mine at Hancock Fabrics for $14. An auto parts store might carry it as well. It sprays on, and it stays tacky for up to 15 minutes, which is good because you can reposition everything and work with it for a bit before it dries. 

Other tools included an exacto knife, a plastic putty knife (a sharp metal one won't work well), painter's tape, sandpaper, scissors, a pencil, poster board or foamcore board, acetone, a rag, and an assistant. 

Rub off any old adhesive with a piece of cloth or a rag, then sand the area, then give them a little cleaning with acetone. Do this for all of the doors, so that they are all ready to go. Also cut your material to size, leaving plenty of extra room on all sides. Be careful, because not all door panels are the same size. My driver's side one was slightly smaller than the rest, I think. If you can remove any parts of the door that would be in the way, do so! The parts around my door handles came off, so we got those out of the way. 

Next, cut a template from your poster/foam board. This guy will help you not spray glue all over the enture car, so it should be larger than the space you need to cover in adhesive, but not too large.

Also important in preventing your car from being covered in adhesive is tape! Get it as far in the little divot between the foam and the plastic as possible - the putty knife can be helpful here. 

Using your template, as demonstrated by my cheerful model above, spray the adhesive on to the area. It looks all funny and bubbly, but it works perfectly, don't worry! It is crazy flammable and very fume-y, so if you were planning on doing this indoors for some odd reason, I would not recommend that. 

After trial and error, we found that it was easier to take the tape off, except for the part on the door handle, after spraying the glue, because otherwise the adhesive on the fabric sticks to it and pulls the tape off and just makes a big awkward mess. Any glue you get on there is easily cleaned up with acetone at the end. 

The next step, spraying the fabric, is a two man job, so I don't have any pictures of that. Follow the instructions on the can, which say to spray vertically and then horizontally, so that it has two coats. Let it air dry for about 30 seconds, depending on how patient you are, and then carefully line it up and place it on the car. Pay attention to how you want your pattern to line up if you have a patterned fabric. 

When you put it on, start from the center and work towards the ends to avoid wrinkles. Put as much of it on the foam as you can - it will want to stick to the door and everything else it can reach, but pick it up and smooth it down as much as possible. 

Next, use your putty knife to cram the fabric into the crevice. You have some time, since this adhesive stays tacky, but I wouldn't work at a super slow pace or it will be more difficult towards the end. 

Once your fabric is tucked into the crevice and all nice and smooth on the area it is supposed to cover, go around with a (very sharp) exacto and cut the fabric. It's okay if your cuts leave a little extra fabric, as that can be jammed into the little crack, but try to be precise! 

Doing the part around the handle is a little trickier, but not too bad. Start with a cut in the middle, where you know there is nothing under the fabric, then feel around for the edges and cut out the center of the fabric. We didn't have to be as precise here, since the plastic thing snapped back on top and helped hold the fabric in place.

Ta-daa! Put back any parts that you took off, and leave the doors open for a while. In a few hours, you can have a totally unique car. 

For anyone wondering, I'm driving a 2002 Ford Escape, and it is perfect and I love it! Well, it was imperfect when the interior was peeling off, but now it looks sharp again. 

Feel free to ask questions on anything that didn't make sense - I'm not a professional car person (mechanic? re-upholsterer?) or how-to writer, so I'm sure I've left something out! 

Thanks for reading! 

Update (June 30, 2013)
I've gotten lots of questions about how this held up, and it still looks perfect! It legitimately looks the same as in the pictures from the day we did it, so yay! Also, I was at Hobby Lobby for the first time and noticed that they had a TON of different colors & patterns of duck cotton, so now would be a prime time to try this out :)