Introduction: Motorcycle Back Rest - Reupholstered

About: Nothing special. Yet ;)

Reupholstering is EASY.  A bit tricky ( I put the stitches in backwards -- twice ), but cost effective and possibly FUN!?

I used my Techshop membership and their industrial straight stitch sewing machine to do the job -- it went fast.  This job second time around or by sweat shop worker ( support human rights ) could do this in under 10 minutes, but it took this lil old cook about an hour and a half. 

So down to the basics.  What you need to buy:

1. Vinyl (your color, thickness, marine grade, etc)  I purchased this black marine grade vinyl for $20 a linear yard... I have 3/4 of that left.
2. A replacement zipper. - Make sure you pick a good one, I went for a hidden zipper (it tucks up inside).
3. Thread - or just go to techshop they had it all there. - Make sure to use a thick thread to avoid tearing and fraying.

Advise to remember:
1.   If your reupholstering anything, try to take the existing material and use it as a stitch plan for your new piece of work, it takes out all the time measuring and guessing.
2. Be patient, since it's not your day job you are going to screw up, sometimes really bad, but as long as your ready to remove stitches by hand, all will feel good in the end.
3. Try not to let your stitch patern group too close together, Vinyl is nice, but not as durable as leather or even some fabrics, if the stitches are back to back or just to close you will just end up perforating your material. (Like the pages of a notebook ready to be torn).
4. Think in reverse.  If you like puzzles you will love reupholstering... Thinking backwards and inside out are the keys to hidden seams.

- The rest of this instructable will go a little bit fast, because a lot of this will depend on what you are attempting to reupholster and how it looked before.  Essentially I was taking my original backrest (bought for $20 of ebay) in which the material was already in poor condition and used it as a guide for the new vinyl.

Step 1: Take the Old and Cut the New

Essentially the backrest material breaks down into 4 parts.  The front (not shown) and back upside down "U" shape.(back has holes for mounting, front does not).  The ~1" thick loop that connects the front to the back all the way around, and finally, the 2 sides that hold the zipper at the base.

I placed each piece on top of the vinyl, traced, and cut with a circular cutter (or scissors).  It's quite simple once you spend 30 minutes removing all the stitches by hand with a stitch remover :(

Now onto the zipper.

Step 2: The Zipper

I keep screwing this up.

Essentially, the zipper is sown on the outside of the vinyl, to that when it is folded and resown -- it will be on the inside. :)   Sounds really simple until you screw it up.   -- If you do just try again.  The key to doing this right is to pin down the side, sew it, and then repeat on the other side.


Step 3: Sew It All Together. Inside Out Outside In, Etc.

The zipper, plus the front face, plus the ~1" band around the top = the picture below.  Notice how the sides are simply stitches together, once everything is folded inside out, all of the stitches will be hidden and the outside will look like it is folded together.

The second picture is with the back attached in the same fashion and all the remnants of the old rest sitting next to it.

Then comes the flip.  Starting with the zipper area and flipping it inside out = THE NEW BACKREST.  Wow it's actually that easy (or only looks that way because I didn't take pictures of every time I stitched on the wrong side and had to undo all the mistakes I made prior).

Step 4: The Back Rest

This is a great opportunity to add more padding to your back rest or shape it the way you like.  For me I just opted to put a plastic bag around it to keep moisture out and stop any potential rotting while it's on the bike.

After that I simply squeezed the new vinyl pocket over the backrest.  Snug as a bug in a rug...

Poke some holes in the back for the back plate nuts and attach.

Picks coming soon with the rest on the bike (I have to pull it out of the garage first :)

Happy riding hoped this helped.  Feel free to ask any questions.