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Shrinking leather upholstery

Shrinking Leather Upholstery

Hi to all, I am still fooling with upholstery, but it cannot be long before
I get done. I am putting the seat covers on and have successfully put the
covers on the seat bottoms and I am working on the seat backs. In my
dealings with Bartlett they told me the leather could be wet to facilitate
stretching and a heat gun (large hair dryer) could be used to shrink
leather to get rid of wrinkles. Has anyone done the shrinking part. I took
my wifes hair dryer to the leather and do not believe I can see any
noticable shrinkage. Do you have to wet the leather before taking the dryer
to it. I may not be getting the leather hot enough. Any comments or hints
on how to do this would be appreciated.
Prosperous New Year and safe Jag driving to you all. - Neville Laing

I have used a heat gun to get a wrinkle out of leather upholstery.  I did
not wet the leather first and I don't know that I would recommend doing so
as leather and water is never a good combination for subtleness later on -
besides, it took me so many hours to get the seat backs looking right, I
would have had to resaturate the leather several times and with it, no
doubt, the foam and batting underneath.  The heat gun I used is very hot -
normally used to strip paint.  Needless to say, you have to be very careful
with it, especially around the upholstery piping, which is plastic and will
melt easily.  I used a bit of corrugated cardboard to insulate the piping
and judiciously applied the heat until the wrinkle came out.  The
appearance of the leather that had been heated changed slightly from the
surrounding material, taking on a more glossy look - aside from that, the
technique worked well. What I haven't tackled yet is the moquette on the
seat backs - I still haven't figured out how to apply it without creases
... any advice? - Nick Saltarelli

Nick, Thanks for responding to my question, could you tell me how long you
kept the heat on. Did you get the leather as hot as you could and then
immediately allowed it to cool, or did you have to get it up in temperature
and keep it at that temperature for a long period. If so approx how long.
To date I have tried my wife's hair dryer which I don't think is hot
enough. I am trying to borrow an industrial heat gun but have not been
successful yet. I have not atttempted the moquette on the backs of the
seats so cannot offer any words of advice, but that will be the next
challenge. - Neville Laing

Neville: I got the leather very hot with the heat gun,  much too hot to
touch, leaving it on until the wrinkle started to shrink, then taking the
heat off.  I applied heat three times before I was satisfied. I think it
would be very easy to damage your seat cover if you are not extremely
careful with this, so be forewarned.  It would be better to have a little
wrinkle in the leather than a burn! All the best ... - Nick Saltarelli


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