I wanted to put a leather cover on the seat, but wanted to get something that had a good looking grain and some grip in its texture. I stopped by the LeatherWise
leather shop in Santa Cruz, CA and talked with owner Ross Levoy. He told me all about leathers, and after looking over his stock I ended up leaving with a four square foot chunk from a black 2 oz. chrome-tanned
I did a trial fitting of the material and marked off the seam corners.
Then used some taylor's chalk and a rule to layout the seams. This shows the rear panel and its layout.
Since this leather was soft and fairly thin I just used a conventional electric sewing machine to stich the panels together using plain seams
I used some leather specific thread and a conventional #16 needle. I have seen leather specific needles though, and have heard standard nylon thread
will work OK. I'll try some leather needles next time, as I did have a little trouble with the thread binding.
Leather is kind of thick and stiff, so to finish the seam I used some Three Bond 1521
adhesive on the seam allowance
and adjoining fabric.
Once the glue setup I pounded the seam flat with a rubber mallet which put a nice crease in the leather.
I decided to put a stitch along the allowance to complete the finish, but I think the glue would have been enough to keep the seam flat.
Once I had the cover sewn I used some spray adhesive to glue it down to the foam and seat pan. I ran out of 3M Super 77 Adhesive spray so used some 3M General Trim Adhesive spray. I couldn't really tell any difference between the two.
On the bottom I used plenty of spray and stretched and folded the leather over the corners to get a smooth wrinkle free top. I trimmed down the excess and pounded the folds flat with the rubber mallet. I had planned on using some strips of stiff plastic and pop rivets
to hold the underside of the cover from pealing away from the pan, but the 3M adhesive alone seems strong enough for now. I'll add something more if it starts to peal.
Here's how it looks on the bike. I now have a custom leather seat to fill the gap behind the tank. It seems a little short when sitting on it, and I think I'd like to have a little padding on the sides too, but I'll need to do some riding with it to make a real judgment.
I've done a lot of sewing in the past but mostly with nylon and fleece. This was the first major work with leather. I always find sewing very satisfying and recommend it to everyone. Its like welding without the heat, gloves and helmet.