In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we have come to know just how much freedom really does cost. Fleeing the island because of a mandatory evacuation, I was glad to change scenery and break out of the rut we’d been in for over four years. Now, even though we are still obligated to work and try and save enough to move on down the road, we are finally back in my beloved VW Bus, Peniki.
Work-camping among suburbanites and city-island dwellers has proven to be just what I had expected: constant scrutiny, all eyes upon us, and a bit unnerving at times. Still, I am happy to be back in our camper van: free to live and see the sun rise and set, see the stars at night…in the quiet moonlight. Once again, I am happy…no matter what judgement is lain upon us by ignorant ‘inside the box’ thinkers.
In my ‘opinion’, I am much richer than any of these sticks and bricks folks will ever be. Because I welcome myself back from a long…long nap, I am letting go of all the things that have bound me and my family these past few years. Mermaid Mansion is no longer on the market, mostly because she is worth MUCH more to us than anyone cares to offer. Therefore, when we do hit the road in our Peniki bus, MM will be securely stored on family property; where she will be safe til we return to her again. And although our future plans are tentative at best, we feel Blessed to have such freedom to choose a path less traveled.
*Here’s to freedom…no matter the cost! And letting go of all that threatens to bound you to the ordinary and mundane*
So it only took a hurricane…and a mandatory evacuation, to get our home on the road! This being my first hurricane, I didn’t know what to expect…so we packed what we could carry on Peniki or our tiny home on wheels, and we evacuated. I thought that’s what ‘mandatory evacuation’ meant! ‘Leave with what you can.’
Never mind that we left a mess behind of bits and parts that were attached to our Mermaid Mansion. And never mind that the old BAG living in her ‘double wide on stilts’, felt compelled to take a pic of what we left during our evac; sending it ever-so tattletale-ish to the owner of the lot we’d been planted on for waaaaay too long. And never mind the phone call from said land owner, asking us what was going on?
To which I replied something along the lines of, “Well, we were told to leave…so we did.” I didn’t realize that we were expected to stick around and tie up those loose ends while #HurricaneHarvey blew our way. Really, it’s not like me to leave such ends untied, but when it comes down to protecting our family and home (that we stayed put faaaar too long to remodel); I guess I might tend to be a bit…hasty. I meant no disrespect to anyone; not even the old BAT next door! I guess humanity only exists on the news.
So in Part I and Part II of the DIY reupholstering of my front seats, I’ve been working on the driver’s side first…just to get it out of the way. Most folks might think that both front seats are the same in VW Buses, but they aren’t. The drivers side seat has a full back side (back side of back rest), while the passenger’s seat (at least in my 71 Westfalia) only has a partial back panel so it can lock into place with the ‘hoop lock’ attached to the van itself. I’ll post some pics of this when I get to the passenger side seat re-upholstering.
For now, I am still in the throes of figuring out the various shapes I am having to create from the very worn out, tattered, and barely there pieces of the old driver’s seat. I am hoping for the best, while bracing myself for the worst.
I’ve lost a bit of momentum, I admit, since it took over a month to receive the faux burlap I ordered from Baja California Sur, Mexico. I wasn’t very pleased when I received it, because it is quite transparent. So…with hopes of remedying this problem, I have plans to fuse a very thick layer of PellonWonder Under fusible webbing to the underside. I guess we’ll see how that goes.
For now, here are a few pics of the patterns I have created from newspaper. I will post more pics in the next part of this series; when I cut and fuse the fabric. If you have re-upholstered the seats in your VW Van…ever, please feel free to drop me a note or two of advice. I could use it at this point!
Thanks for stopping by, and uber thanks for commenting!
*Never stop learning new, exciting, and useful things.* *Amaze yourself every now and then!*
Fold Back Panel Piece, Trace, Then Cut…Marking Fold on Pattern
Seat Side Panel Pieces – Cut 1 Pattern but 2 Fabric Pieces
Faux Burlap and Pellon Heavy Duty (not too stiff, but still strong)
Faux Burlap (feels almost plastic coated), and Pellon Fusible Webbing – Heavy Duty but Flexible
Close up of Turquoise Faux Burlap from Baja Mexico
Pellon will add strength and opacity to transparent-like faux burlap fabric
Back Panel (not seat back rest) Pattern Piece Cut From Newspaper
Seat Side Panels – Pattern Pieces
Allow enough room for sturdy wire insert, when hemming seat covers along bottom.
Seat bottom hem must have sturdy wire inserted within casing, to hook over prongs on bottom of seat frame.
All Driver’s Side Seat Patterns Traced From Old Seat Upholstery Scraps (guesstimation-like), and Created From Newspaper. Fabric and Fusible Webbing is Ready to Cut!
In Part I of my take on cheap seats in my Volkswagen Camper Bus, I showed the remains of the driver’s seat, the bare frame of the seat, and listed the products and items I am using to redo my front cab seats in my 71 Westfalia Camp-Mobile Bus.
Here in Part II, I’ll be showing the process of how I sewed a burlap cover to overlay the springs of the frame; which was not done in the original seat upholstery process. Originally, the coconut hull cushion was just lain right over the springs; which to me seemed haphazard. –Especially since the springs had, of late, been piercing through all the ragged layers and ripping my clothes. I felt it was a very necessary step.
Then I cut-to-fit (cutting quite big, at first…so as-not to undercut; since I have limited supply), the carpet padding and glued two layers (wrong/rough sides together), to give my driver’s seat plenty of firm cushion. Then…I went even further and stitched the cushion to the under-springs with Hemp Twine (see pics below).
I hope this tutorial will inspire some of you VW Bus enthusiasts to re-upholster your own seats, and let your creativity be your improvisational guide. Thanks for reading my Blog. Stay on the look-out for Part III, where I hope to finish this project with success! : )
Peace .V.. & Love!
The Process (in pictures) of the 1st Phase of Re-upholstering (Driver’s Seat): PART II
*Click on Pics to Enlarge*
Using Old Coconut Hull Cushion, Cut Burlap to Fit Frame
The Layout of Burlap on Frame
Cut Both Burlap Covers for Seat Springs
Pin In Place on Seat Back and Bottom
Using Regular, but Sturdy, Needle…Sewing Burlap to Frame With Heavy Duty Thread
Burlap For Driver’s Side Seat Back, All Stitched!
Pin Burlap Over Driver’s Side Seat Bottom and Repeat as Before
All Done With First Layer of Driver’s Seat Redo
Optional Step: Smear a Line of Glue Over Burlap Stitching to Reinforce
Up Close of Glue Over Stitching of Burlap
Cut Padding a Bit Large (You can Trim Later, if Needed…but You can’t make larger if cut too small), using old Coco Hull padding.
Cut 2 Each of Seat Back and Bottom, From the Make-shift ‘padding’
Spray Glue to Rough Sides of Padding to Double Thickness, Then Weight with Bricks or anything Heavy ’til Dry (I allowed 24 hours to dry)
Once Padding is Dry, Spray Glue to Burlap (topside) and to underside of Padding, then weigh down to adhere.
Seat Pad During Seat Gluing Process
With an Upholstery needle, this time using Hemp Twine, stitch through thickness of padding an tie two ends of twine to seat spring on underside
Natural Hemp Twine
Repeat in Stitching Pattern of choice ’til both top and bottom pads are secure to frame.
First Stitch – Back View
Second Stitch at Back
3rd Stitch at Back
Bottom/Last Stitch of Seat Back
Finished Pad Stitching of Seat Back Piece
Stitching Pad to Seat Bottom Springs
Finished Secure-Stitching Seat Pad to Spring
To be Continued in Part III
Using What’s Left of Old Seat to Create New Template for Upholstering. Still Waiting on Fabric to Arrive from Baha, Mexico! Aye, Aye…!
‘Need new seats in your VW Westfalia Camp-mobile or Bus, but you can’t afford to have them professionally done? Well…you’re not alone! I too found myself in this situation where the front seats in my old 71 Volkswagen Camper Bus were not only shredding and falling apart, but the seat springs were ripping our clothes when we sat down to drive. I knew I couldn’t put off upholstering any longer.
With minimal to no funds for prettying up my old bus, I had to get creative. Enter this Do-It-Yourself method I conjured up out of desperation and hard-headedness. Re-purposing some leftover (brand new and unused) carpet padding from re-carpeting our daughter’s tiny room, I found it was a perfect fit (firm cushion and water-resistant on top side) for the job.
So, here’s Part I of the creation of my van’s CHEAP DIY seats. : ) I welcome you to follow my blog for Part II of this project. I am awaiting my fabric so I can finish the job. Wish me luck! I’m learning as I go, and welcome any comments or suggestions any of you may have. Thank you for stopping by! : )
.V.. (Peace) & Love!
ITEMS USED for RE-UPHOLSTERING Seats —
A yard-and-a-half of Jute Burlap fabric
Tan Upholstery or Heavy-duty thread
Regular, but Large/Sturdy, Sewing Needle
New ‘Moisture Resistant’ carpet padding (enough for two layers on seat and back)
Hemp Twine in various thicknesses
Choice of Upholstery Fabric ( at least 4 yards) *Does not have to be upholstery fabric, but can be any medium or heavier weight fabric.*
Fusible Webbing like Wonder Under (heavy weight, but still flexible)
Elmer’s or similar school glue **Optional
THE PROCESS (in pictures) — PART I: The Tearing Down
The Driver’s Seat (the one I’m working on) Was Worse Than This!
Passenger Seat – Better Than Driver’s Seat Was
Coconut Hull Cushion From Driver’s Seat (what’s left of it)