Sunday, September 8, 2013

Heinkel Upholstery Revisited

A few people have asked me about seat upholstery. It's one of the most notable and admired features of the car.

I'm no expert on upholstery- that's my wife Ann! In order to help you upholster your seats I've provided measurements, sources and hints from her which will help you to complete the job.

You should use these notes in conjunction with my blog posts on upholstery:

Seat Bottom:

Heinkel Car Seat Bottom Fabric Dimensions

Seat Bottom Notes:
  • All measurements are in inches
  • Add 1/2" to 5/8" seam allowance at each seam
  • Add several additional inches of cloth to the back to wrap around the frame

Seat Back:

Heinkel Cabin Cruiser Seat Back Dimensions

Seat Back Notes:

  • Seat is fabric in the front and vinyl on the sides and back
  • The sides are 3" wide and 48" long (wraps along the sides and top)
  • The cloth and the vinyl need to be longer in order to wrap around the attachment bar at the bottom of the seat frame
  • Make the entire seat cover as a sleeve; then pull over the frame.

Bottom Skirt:
Heinkel Kabine Seat Bottom Skirt

Skirt Notes:

  • The skirt is 72" long to wrap around the sides and front
  • About 4" of the skirt shows
  • Actual width of the vinyl is 10" plus- it needs to be longer to attach to the frame

Heinkel Car Kinderseat
Kinderseat Notes:
  • The seat is fabric on top, and vinyl on the sides and bottom
  • The sides are 3" wide
  • You can make the front of the cushion up to 38" wide so it fits snugly into the space as shown below
  • This requires more sewing and cutting, but keeps the cushion from sliding forward while driving.

Trojan Car seat with snug-fitting cushion

Materials, Hardware and Attachments:

  • We used 2" high density foam,  which makes the seat much more comfortable to sit on. It does make the seat backs a tight fit and a little harder to fold forward, but I don't have any little kids trying to get into the back of my car.
  • On the seat bottom my wife sewed a channel and we inserted a 3/16" steel rod. 
  • We then attached the rod to the seat frame with zip ties. This gave us more control and flexibility than we would have had with hog rings.
  • You should add extra fabric to the seat bottom as it pulls around the back and underneath. I did the same thing with the rod and zip ties. 
  • Speaking of top fabric, I was searching on one of my favorite blogs (, and he had a source for plaid fabric: For those not in the US, this site specializes in VW camper restoration supplies. Of course you can also get fabric from Nick Haddon at the UK Heinkel-Trojan club.
  • All piping was made from vinyl material wrapped around a 1/8' diameter piece of cording. See the picture below.
  • We attached the base underlying fabric (the rubberized stuff between the springs and the foam with some little clips that go around a lip on the seat made for this purpose. There's a picture of them below, I don't know what they are called.
  • When attaching the fabric to the seat back you need a 3/4' or so round clip that attaches all together. Also, the back had a cardboard insert the fits into the seat frame.
    Making Heinkel seat piping with cord and vinyl 

Round clip is for the back of the Heinkel seat; the others attach fabric to the bottom seat frame

Cross Section:

Cross section of materials of bottom of Heinkel Seat
Notes on Cross Section:
  • On the seat base all materials sit on top of a layer of rubberized tarp-like fabric to isolate the fabric from the springs
  • The batting is a 1/2" synthetic (see photo below). On the seat backs and kinderseat the batting wraps around the front and back (top and bottom for kinderseat)
  • The entire seat cushion sandwich (batting plus foam) is wrapped in muslin. This keeps the pieces from sliding around and falling out of position. It also provides a backing for the tartan plaid fabric, which is thin
  • We suggest you make an entire set out of an old sheet as a test run. This way you can refine your measurements and not risk accidental cutting of the top fabric. 

Synthetic 1/2" batting for Heinkel Seat

Final Product:
Heinkel Seats- a favorite of dogs all over the world!

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