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TVR Tasmin, Getting My Sew On

The final piece of the puzzle for getting the interior finished was the gear and hand brake boots. The old ones were worn out, torn and manky. I couldn’t refit them, they’re letting the team down.

Old Gross Stuff

From day one I wasn’t really happy with the boots and knew I was going to have to do something about them. The shift boot in particular just looks gross, all loose and full of splits and holes. The top of it didn’t seem to fit either.

And the hand brake boot was old and hard, with a big split down the back. Not to mention it was glued to some of the worst looking carpet in the car

So I knew what I had to do. I could hardly just buy these off the shelf, so it was up to me to make replacements.

Singing Machine

The first step was to decide on a sewing machine and obtain one. We were lucky enough to use our Airpoints to get this, so didn’t cost us any “real” money. Its a Singer Heavy Duty 4411

Its still a consumer machine, but its meant to be gruntier than your average dinky little white plastic thing.

At the advice of my sewing pro Sister in Law, I also purchased a teflon coated plastic foot, some “leather” needles and heavy-duty dark blue thread. These items are highly recommended when sewing vinyl as its quite thick and hard, but will also stick to a metal foot if used.

Automotive upholstery grade vinyl was obtained from Trademe cheap, as someone that had redone their interior had some leftover. This was perfect as it was dark blue and cheap.

I did some initial practice on an offcut of the vinyl, just to see what the machine could do. It seems as long as I get the settings right, it actually does pretty well through multiple layers. Its been probably 20+ years since I last touched a sewing machine, but hey, I still kinda know what to do.

Grotty Tracing

In order to make copies of the old pieces I needed to unpick all the existing stitching and flatten them out for tracing around. I started with the hand brake boot as I thought this would be easier as there are only a couple of stitches.

It was pretty gross. To be fair, most of it is old contact adhesive (why there is so much INSIDE the boot, well, who even knows?)

This is the template I made on brown paper. I flattened the original out as much as possible, including the folded over edges.

I then traced this onto vinyl, cut it out and whacked a needle through it a few times. The trial fit actually came out looking pretty decent

The shift boot was more complex. For a start, it was all one piece, not four panels stitched together. This is the one real join, the rest are all just “fake” stitches.

Eww, grotty.

This resulted in a weird looking template

Which I decided was too hard, so turned it into four panels, two short and two long (as the recess in the center console is rectangular). In hindsight I would make these from scratch instead of tracing the original, as it ended up with those weird looking shapes.

Stitch Up

With the templates traced up and cut out of the vinyl, it was time to get sewing.

The trick here was to sew the inside seam of the two pieces, to join them together, and then stitch the outside to reinforce them, and give it a nice external stitch like the original had.

If I didn’t do that external stitch, you just get this ugly fold

With all four sides stitched, and only a couple of issues (probably user error), it was time to trial fit

The top didn’t look right, so I tried folding it over and attaching it to the rubber boot under the shift boot

It was better, although still needed some tweaking at the top. Unfortunately, the new vinyl is thicker than the old stuff so appears bulkier. It also needs a lot of free and loose material as the throw of the shifter is so long into 4th gear that the boot gets quite tight when shifted. This was an issue with the original boot too.

A little bit of tweaking at the top and we had an OK result. I was planning on remaking it, but tbh its OK as it is and I would probably make it worse if I did it again

All that was left to do was to staple the boot to the underside of the console, glue the carpet and board to the handbrake boot and install it all. One note is that the handbrake boot cannot be attached to the console, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to install it all in one go (or it appears that way anyway, the old one shows no signs of being attached previously).

Jobs a good ‘un.

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Ann Wilson
Ann Wilson
3 years ago

WOW you have come along in leaps and bounds with that machine. That looks great, I bet you are pleased with yourself for that. Pretty good considering its your first attempt. What will you make next ??