How to Reattach Auto Upholstery

by Louise Harding

Auto upholstery is made of various materials including leather, vinyl, fabrics and synthetic blends simulating leather. Reattaching auto upholstery can be accomplished with epoxies or by hand sewing loose upholstery onto or around the automobile seat. Purchase curved upholstery needles at fabric and craft stores to reattach upholstery yourself instead of spending hundreds of dollars on costly repairs at an automotive upholstery repair shop. Choose the attachment method that best fits your auto upholstery need.

Reattaching Auto Upholstery by Sewing


Trim any threads or jagged edges from loose sections of the auto upholstery. Trim rips, tears or flaps with scissors.


Thread a curved upholstery needle with upholstery thread or nylon hand-sewing twine in an identical or similar color to the auto upholstery. Tie a knot at the end.


Align the edges of the rip or loose upholstery against the original seam or damaged edges. Hold the edges in place, and connect the upholstery together by inserting upholsterer’s pins through the layers. Upholsterer’s pins are about 3 inches long and used like a straight pin.


Insert the needle under the upholstery near the top of the rip or loose section. If you can see original stitching holes and they are still intact, use them to stitch through.


Sew overhand stitches along the edges of the rip or loose section of upholstery. According to the Fix It Club, sew an overhand stitch by bringing the needle through the upholstery at a diagonal angle, pulling the thread until it stops against the underside of the upholstery. Move the needle over ¼ inch, and push the needle back through the upholstery. This stitch resembles the old Frankenstein scar stitches. Sew small and tight stitches, and they’ll barely be detectable.


Remove the pins as you sew, pinching the edges of the rip, split seam or loose upholstery together. Continue sewing until the upholstery is reattached.

Reattaching Auto Upholstery with Adhesive


Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the brand of epoxy or spray adhesive purchased. High-strength laminating spray adhesives come in metal canisters with spray nozzles. Epoxies require mixing two or more solutions to activate the adhesive. According to Solutions 3M, choose the adhesive according to the material recommendations on the package, such as the type of surface, density or porousness of the upholstery.


Apply the spray adhesive or epoxy beneath the loose or torn section of auto upholstery. Spray adhesives should be held about 10 inches away and sprayed onto the underside of the upholstery. Allow the spray glue to air dry until sticky to the touch. When you touch it, the adhesive shouldn’t rub off. If using epoxy, spread the mixed solution onto the underside of the upholstery section.


Press the loose upholstery, tear or flap firmly down onto the surface (usually a type of padding or under fabric). Put pressure on the upholstery for the time recommended by the manufacturer to create a good bond between the upholstery and the material beneath.

Items you will need

About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera convertible car interior image by Christopher Dodge from