How to Recover a Personal Watercraft Seat

This video is brought to you by Sailrite.
In this video were going to be showing you how to recover the vinyl fabric seat cover
on this personal water craft. The vinyl fabric we will use to recover the seat is a 4-way
stretch vinyl called Allsport from Sailrite. Watch this video then purchase a few yards
of the Allsport from Sailrite and do it yourself and save. A full materials list will be show
at the end of this video. Before we get started Matt Grant from Sailrite
is going to detail the steps that we will take to recover the personal watercraft. Here’s
Matt Grant. I’m Matt Grant with Sailrite and today were
going to show you how to cover or recover your personal water craft vinyl seat. You
can see in front of me here we’ve got a three person vehicle here and the vinyl has started
to crack and the plasticizers have left the vinyl which is typically when this starts
to happen, so it get brittle and you can see the crazing. When that happens there is very
little that you can do to make it look perfect again other than replacing the seating vinyl.
Now if we inspect the seats carefully and we push on the material you can see this bubbled
area. And the material, I can move the material around on the foam. See how I can even pinch
it here. So, this is a very pliable material here. This is an Allsport type vinyl which
is a vinyl which stretches in all directions. Here’s a scrap piece of Allsport in black
and you can see I can take it and get a lot of stretch on the material. Which means I
can pull it over a surface and staple it to the underside, I can create a nice conformable
vinyl covering for this seat and I can accomplish essentially the same thing that we got at
the factory level. And we will show you how to add the strap. How to staple it underneath
and a number of other things that will make this look factory new when we are done. But
if we come back to the aft seat panel you will notice I can’t move the vinyl around.
It feels a bit harder in this particular case and basically what we have here is we have
a vinyl that has been molded to the foam. So, it is not a separate fabric it’s actually
been molded right to the foam assembly. Indeed I can prove that by removing the seat and
here we’ve got an area where some staples are missing. If we look under here you can
see it has been pulled away a little bit here. But you can see here that the foam is permanently
attached to our vinyl material. Which would means it would be impossible to take this
vinyl off without destroying the foam. Which we don’t want to do. So what we’re going to
do here is where going leave, leave this vinyl in place and were going to put our Allsport
vinyl over the top of it. But because we have a dip here, where we want it to be nice and
tight we don’t want a bubble here. Like is acceptable here. We are actually going to
do this seat a little bit differently. We’re going to pattern it in pieces and there will
be some seams in here so that we can get a nice tight fit. Because any of these dips
will create areas where we can’t get the material pulled down unless we were to put a pull strap
into this location and pull it thru to the bottom. Which we don’t want in this case because
we have a lot of water here and we don’t want any water coming thru the seating assembly.
You can see of course these are all built on a plastic frame which is what this vinyl
is stapled to. So, again we are going to cover this particular assembly without removing
the material. This particular seat were going to actually remove the material and use this
as our pattern and put our new material over the exposed foam and we can do it that way.
So, follow along and even if your personal water craft is slightly different I think
between the two approaches you will determine which is best for you.
We will start by recovering the aft seat. This is the seat that Matt explained to us
has the vinyl bonded to the foam, so we can’t remove the old vinyl without damaging the
foam. So Angela places the vinyl wrong side up on top of the seat then to begin her patterning
she will find the center of the seat and mark it on the underside of the fabric at several
locations. When her patterning is done she will fold the assembly in half and cut it
out resulting in a mirrored pattern for the opposite side.
The goal here is to make separate panels along the contoured shape of the seat. So later
on she can sew those panels together giving the cover some shape right over the construed
sides of the seat. As you watch her she is trying to feel the
seat below to determine where the valley or peak of each of the contoured shapes fall.
Then she marks the underside of the Allsport way stretch from Sailrite with a marker.
Along the underside of the seat (where the vinyl will wrap around the edges to be stapled)
she must leave enough vinyl so it can be pulled tightly over the seat and stapled. She is
leaving about 2 to 4 inches of excess fabric to do this task.
Her patterning is now complete. She will next pull up the vinyl slowly and let you see the
countered shape of the seat below, so you can judge how yours at home should be done.
Since we will be using the Allsport 4 way stretch vinyl from Sailrite we do not need
to add seam allowance to each of the seams. So, our job is easy all we have to do is cut
the panels out and sew them together matching up the cut edges. If you do not use the Allsport
4 way stretch vinyl from Sailrite you must allow for seam allowance. We will not be showing
that here. Strike a line down the center ontop of the
marks that were made earlier. Then fold the assembly in half along that line carefully
and cut along each of the patterning lines cutting both layers of fabric. Be careful
that each layer does not move while you are cutting.
After it is all cut out our personal water craft aft seat will result in 4 panels. Yours
may be different depending on the shape of the seat.
Now all we need to do is sew them each together. As discussed earlier the Allsport 4 way stretch
vinyl does not require seam allowance since it can be stretched over the seat for a perfect
fit. Here Angela has found the correct corresponding two panels and has laid them so the outside
surfaces are facing each other. She will start sewing from the center line that was marked
on the fabric. We will sew this first stitch with a 4mm long straight stitch. This seam
will be what is called a “semi flat felled seam”. We will not do reverse stitching when
we start our stitch as this often shows up too easily when the seat is finished. So instead
we will make sure both panels are matched up along the center line and we will start
sewing very close to the raw edge of the fabric then sew at an angle in until we are sewing
about a half inch away from the raw edges of the fabric. Then when we sew the opposite
side of the seat we will do this same procedure and thus sew directly over the end of this
first stich helping to lock the stitch in place without doing reverse stitching in the
center of our seat. Sailrite recommends using a V-92 Polyester
thread for heavy duty sewing machines or V-69 Polyester for home sewing machines. As this
thread is UV resistant. We have skipped showing some of our sewing
of the seat, but as you can see she carefully was matching up the raw edges and tried to
keep the stitch consistently about a ½ inch away from the edge while sewing until she
reaches the very corner of the seat panels. At the end here she does some reversing to
lock the stitch in place. Now simply follow that same procedure to finish
off the opposite side of the two panels. This time we will flip the panels around and work
from the opposite side. Let’s take a look at the center of the seat
where the stitches started. Here we did not do any reverse stitching, but our two stitches
overlapped each other at the center line. To finish our top stitch of the semi flat
felled seam we will set our straight stitch length to about 6mm now. The panels must be
splayed apart so the under flap which should be about a ½ inch is laying where it will
be sewn under while performing our top stitch. We like to place the top stitch always in
the lower panel not the upper panel. Here at the corner of our seat this is very small
and thus a little difficult, but it is possible. Most of this small end will likely be cut
off when we get to the stapling job. We want to keep this stitch about an 1/8 inch away
from the first stitch or seamed area. Notice that Angela is pulling gently on the two panels
to keep the seam lying flat and open as she sews. The panel to the right is our lower
panel of the seat and that is where we want the top stitch placed as we discussed earlier.
Take your time here and try to sew consistently and accurately, as this stitch will always
be visible. Also be sure to gently pull the panels apart while you sew. Be careful, this
is a stretch vinyl, and if you pull too hard it will deform the natural shape of the top
stitch, so be consistent while pulling the seam apart and sewing. Remember also you must
sew the ½ inch flap on the bottom side, so be sure that is happening as your sewing.
Here you can see Angela checking for that with her hand going under the panel to feel
for that flap. We’re sewing today on the Sailrite 111 Sewing
Machine with the MC-SCR Power System. The Sailrite 111 features a compound walking foot
to easily feed this assembly of vinyl through the machine and the MC-SCR Power System provides
excellent slow speed power and control to carefully stitch through even the thickest
of vinyl assemblies. These two panels are now sewn together, we
are ready to sew the next panel to this assembly in the same manner. We’ll set our stitch length
to 4mm to create our first stitch. Match up the panels in the center with outside surfaces
facing each other and start sewing from the center spot just as we did previously. We
are going to skip way ahead and now we are ready for the top stitch which means we will
switch from 4mm to 6mm in our stitch length. For this top stich we will again sew it in
our lower panel, not the top panel and we will be sure to catch the flap on the bottom
side as we stitch. We will skip ahead yet again and show the last of the panels very
briefly. The panels are all sewn together and is now
ready to be stapled onto the seat. On this aft seat we cannot remove the old
vinyl without damaging the foam since it is bonded to the foam. But before we install
the new vinyl over the top we must first remove any edge or corner protectors, if any. They
are typically stapled and glued in place so we will remove the staples and then pull them
off the old vinyl carefully. Since we will be placing new vinyl fabric
over the old, we will remove any excess vinyl at this corner which will help ensure the
corner protector will still fit over this corner when the new vinyl is finished being
installed. Now we are ready to install the new cover
we just sewed onto the seat. “OK, Brian, I am going to get the front stapled
first, so what I want you to do, is I want you to hold it just like you’re doing. And
we have to figure out where the rim is to staple it, right there. Pull it down just
a little further.” The Allsport 4 way stretch vinyl does just
what the name implies it stretches to fit the seat. So, Matt is stretching the vinyl
and then will staple it in place. We are using the Duo-Fast electric stapler which is a very
powerful staple gun. However we found that the small crown had a tendency to sink into
the vinyl and thus created a cut. It does get the job done, but we had to be careful
to avoid slitting the vinyl, especially where it was pulled very tight. It is recommended
to use a staple gun which can accommodate a larger crown of ½”. This wider crown will
help alleviate this issue. “Are we in the valley? Yes, we are in the
valley.” As you can see several helpers makes it easier
to stretch the vinyl appropriately over the seat, thus ensuring a proper fit prior to
stapling all the sides. “I think we need to come this way a little
bit, shift it towards me. There we go. You still ok over there Angela?” “Yes” “OK good,
you got it held Brian? Ok, Angela let go. Ok, we need to flip it, So, you’re probably
ok Chris. Brian you got your edge held? “Yes” OK, you just got to get this unfortunately
this is the hard part you just got to get it stretched.
I need to see where that edge is, there we go, I see it, ok.
Although we used several helpers to stretch the vinyl onto the seat here, it can be done
with just one helper and a few pony clamps. When we show the forward seat, coming up in
this video, you will see that process. “Ok, let’s get one more in. Now, let’s flip
this sucker back over again and see if we are centered pretty well.” “Ok Angela, pull
on that side.” At the time of this filming we did not carry
a staple gun that would use the 1/2 inch wide crown staples, however now we do so be sure
to check it out on our website. The wider the crown the less you have to worry about
cutting thru the vinyl fabric. Sometimes cutting relief slits on the edge
will allow the vinyl to take a sharp bend better. Just don’t cut too far in that it
may go into the actual cover portion of the seat.
“All right let’s see what we got.” “Yep, sides will pull that out fine.” “Ok, I think that
will hold that area.” Notice that sometimes the staples hit other
staples that were used to hold the old cover in place that is not big deal we will just
pull those out and position another staple. “All right, so now were going to get the sides
and we will hold it and flip it. So we are getting our seams right along the edges. Make
sure we have tightness everywhere… That looks pretty good Brian, can you flip it?”
“Let’s see where we are, we are pulled where we want it. That looks pretty good, you got
her?” “Yes” “Now this is all going to get covered by our,
our end caps. So we don’t want all this, this is too much… so were going to cut this out
of here, I am going to stretch it pull it and cut it, ya.”
Notice that if the cover takes a shape bend or turn you can create a pleat on the underside
of the vinyl and staple in place. On outside curves like this it is necessary
to leave a few wrinkles in the vinyl. Obviously the wrinkles are due to the fact that the
fabric has to shrink to make the curve here, so distribute the wrinkles evenly while you
staple so they are small and less noticeable. “I’m going to flatten this right in there.
Push that flat right there, ok. There we go. Let’s not cut a hole in it at, this point.
Look pretty good, Ya, looks nice” “Let’s flip it and see. I think you got them
all to the underneath.” “Just a little bit of that one.” “That will come out when we
cut.” “Ok, Ok, OK!” Our cover is now secured to the seat.
All that is left is to trim away the excess vinyl, check for areas that may need more
staples for security and then to glue and staple our end caps or corner protectors back
in place. We are going to use HH-66 Vinyl Cement, but
a good contact cement should also work. Be sure to test any and all glues on the vinyl
before using. Glues may react differently with vinyl depending on how it was manufactured.
Our end protectors were designed to be stapled also on the back side. This concludes the
cover for the aft seat. We will briefly show recovering the forward seat in the next chapter.
Since the forward seat’s vinyl is not bonded to the foam we can remove the staples, end
or corner protectors and the vinyl itself. However then passenger hand hold strap is
riveted in place and thus we are not going to remove it. We will simply pull the vinyl
away from under it and then push the new vinyl back under it in a later step.
This seat has a lot of sharp edges and our Allsport 4 way stretch vinyl, when stretched
tight does not do well with Sharpe edges, so we will use some scrap vinyl and staple
it in place to create chafe protection for any and all sharp edges, especially where
they take a sharp turn. One thing we did not cover well in the first
video was trying to protect the new vinyl while stapleing it in place. You should notice
that our table top has some vinyl fabric laid over it to help protect the vinyl being stapled
onto the seat. You will constantly be turning this seat over and over again while stapling
and the stretching, so try to protect your project with a soft work surface area.
Since we do not have as many helpers here we will use pony clamps to position the vinyl
over this seat. The process is exactly that same as it was when we showed the aft seat
in the earlier chapters. “I am going to put just a little bit on tension
on the front and clamp it. Here? Yep.” “Ok, now what we’re going to do, is now that we
have this and this clamped, now were going to pull and work, pull and work. And then
well do the same thing on the other side. And that working everything out thru there,
I think.” “Put a couple between my hands here.” “Put
one in-between those!” “Keep them closer.” “Now were going to come to this side.” “I
think what were probably going to end up doing here, take this clap off.” “Pull a little
harder.” Let’s roll and see where we are at.” “I think
I am going to give the back another tug, no, keep those because we don’t have anything
behind them!” “Now we want to do the same thing coming towards the back.”
“OK, let’s roll and see where we are at” “That will be fine!”
“Oh, we better stop there, we still have to go under the strap don’t we!”
“Got you, doing the same plane. Oh, we can roll it” “Same plane as these?” Ya, kind of
connect the dots.” “Got you” “Hold on let me get in there and pull, oh here we go.”
Do the
pretty much same exact thing here… Ya, connect the dots.”
Here we need to cut a large relief slit since the vinyl has to take a large inside curve
going down. Don’t cut too deep or you may cut into the portion that may be exposed on
the surface or sides. “I did come very close to going too far.”
“Yep!” Sometimes relief slits can help to pull the
vinyl around inside curves, just don’t cut too deep. Sometimes we will fold the vinyl
back on top of itself and staple thru two layers on the underside, this is an acceptable
practice. To make the job easier we are going to cut
away some of the excess fabric here. Then we will push the vinyl cover under the
strap that we left in place and cut around the sides so it will lay flat at that area.
“That looks good!” “This is the point of no return.”
Here Brian is cutting a chunk of vinyl away so it will fit right beside the strap without
causing any wrinkles. He will do this to both sides.
The strap was riveted in place and looked difficult to remove, so we left it in place
and decided to work around it instead of replacing it.
“Sides good, now I will do the other side the same way.”
Then continue stapling. “That one did not hit anybody in the eye did
it?” “Oh…” When we get to the outside curve here we have
way too much vinyl to create small wrinkles while we staple. So, we were going to create
two large pleats or folds in the fabric so they are pleasing to the eye.
The only way this could have been avoided was to create a separate panel that had been
patterned from the seat and then to sew it in place prior to stapling the cover to the
seat. Since this area of the seat is hidden (it is on the side) we figured this would
be acceptable for our customer. Now cut away the excess vinyl and check for
any areas that need extra stapling. Then glue an staple the end or corner protectors back
in place. Both the aft seat and now the forward seats
are completed. What about the little piece of vinyl covering the handle bar pad? That
may look difficult, but it’s not when you use Allsport from Sailrite. That’s coming
up next! Here’s the old handle bar pad cover, it’s
in great shape except for the vinyl does not match the new seat vinyl that were using.
So we are going to remove the staples and the vinyl and replace it with the exact same
vinyl we used on the seats. The process is the same as what was done to recover the seats
stretch it over the cover until you are happy with the appearance and staple it in place.
We have cut the vinyl piece rather large which is always a good idea, but it is also as important
to trim it to size as you secure it which makes it much easier to stretch and fit over
the object. Cut away any excess that restricts the job of creating a nice tight fit, you
do not want a large bulk of fabric stapled in place, but rather small pleats or tucks
of fabric. Brian is working on this alone, so he will
use the pony clamp yet again to hold the vinyl to the cover to position it.
Looking good, now cut away the excess yet again to keep the bulk out of the way and
make it easier for a good fit. “I got way more meat than I need!”
Allsport from Sailrite is a truly amazing 4 way stretch vinyl. You cannot accomplish
this with any other type vinyl fabric that we know of.
Notice how Brian is distributing the wrinkles along the edge. He is keeping them small enough
that they do not show up on the visible outside surface.
Then when done trim away the excess and your job is complete! Nice, even Brian likes it!
“It did not go nearly as bad as I thought it would!”
Let’s go over the materials list and the tools that we used to install these covers to our
personal watercraft. For all the covers on this personal watercraft
we used a little more than 2 yards of the Allsport 4 way stretch vinyl from Sailrite.
Our project is complete and hopefully you too will be able to successfully recover your
next seat using supplies from Sailrite. For more free videos like this be sure to
check out the Sailrite website or subscribe to the Sailrite YouTube channel today. It’s
your loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these fee videos available, thanks for your
loyal support.

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