Tahoe Z71 renovation project - Interior Thread (Custom Leather)

Discussion in 'Interior' started by The Raven, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. The Raven

    The Raven Member

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    I almost traded my NNBS Tahoe Z71 in back in February because I had a ton of GM card points to use and the Tahoe needed some TLC. Unfortunately i'm not a big fan of the new Tahoes nor spending near $70k for one and I just wasn't happy with anything smaller. Got real close to a deal on a new LT Trail Boss but I backed out because i've never been a big fan of pickups. So i've decided i'm going to invest some money into the Tahoe and hold onto it for at least another 3 years. The idea is not to build the ultimate Tahoe - just to bring my NNBS more up-to-date with many of the now-available features that the GMT900 didn't offer.

    I've got a bunch of threads detailing the different phases of the project - this is the main interior thread.

    One of the things that bothered me about my Tahoe was the condition and quality of the leather. It wasn't terrible, I know many of you reading this have 150k mile plus trucks with torn leather and broken foam. But as part of the renovation project I wanted to renew the interior, and that just wasn't happening with the stock leather.

    I ended up going with Custom Factory Interiors (aka Leatherseats.com) as my supplier because i've worked with them on multiple projects in the past and both their product and service rivals the best in the business. I deliberated for months over what color theme to go with...for the longest time i've wanted the baseball-glove leather but it just didn't work with my black-with-red-accents exterior theme so I decided it would have to be some version of black with red. It came down to either black with red stitch, black with red inserts and red stitch, or, the ballsy-est route - red with black stitch. I even surveyed my family and friends to get a bearing on what I would probably be happiest with over the long term. Black with red inserts won, red with black stitch came in a close second though. So I was all set on black with red inserts until I realized that i was not going to be able to achieve red stitching on my dash project (see thread)...my sewing equipment that had worked in the past on my WS6 and Z06 interiors just was not able to reliably complete the 5ft long stitch I would need across the dash. So at that point I said F-it, i'm going all red. I did the lower dash in matching red vinyl and ordered the seat kit. They quoted me three weeks from start to doorstep, and it actually took two weeks and two days.


    Saturday morning:

    20190907_101248.jpg


    The leather happened to show up at a perfect time...wife and kid were going to be away for much of the weekend and I had planned on working on undercoating the Tahoe. As you can imagine, I very quickly changed my plans for the weekend.

    So I got to work:

    When disassembling the seats, I steamed each cushion. This is especially important on the front base foam because it's going to be very compressed from years of being sat on. Steaming is a nice cheap way to restore the foam to like-new condition so you don't have to spend $100+ on a new cushion (or many). I picked up a used commercial steamer for $36 shipped on ebay and steamed all the foam.


    Driver's cushion before:

    20190907_111633.jpg


    Notice the left bolster is deformed and flat, with deep indentations from the leather seams.

    20190907_111637.jpg


    After steaming - notice the bolsters are back to original shape and the indentations from the seams are gone:

    20190907_124306.jpg
    20190907_124822.jpg
     
  2. The Raven

    The Raven Member

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    The installation of the leather is not nearly as hard as it's made out to be on line. Patience is the thing, you have to take your time and make sure you are lining things up and pulling consistently as you go. As long as you make sure you pull out the wrinkles as you work, you'll end up with a factory-level finished product. It's really not hard at all. The worse parts of the NNBS install are - getting the base foam over top of rear of the base pan (that's a PITA), the rear 60% bench side back (the little flip-down cupholder is a PITA), and the g'damn headrests...my God the headrests. I'd rather do an entire additional seat than another headrest.

    Front seats completed:

    20190907_141323.jpg


    Screwed up the leather on the bases, didn't realize that driver and passenger ARE slightly different. So I decided to just swap the cushions too, only to find out that those are also slightly different. I ended up just modifying them slightly so they were symmetrical. Basically I just had to remove some foam where the seat controls go so the trim panel would fit:

    20190907_135136.jpg


    I then finished the assembly of the front seats and re-installed them. This went a lot faster than I had planned - I had planned on doing a row per day, but the two front seats only took me about six hours. So I decided to tackle the console cover, which was a nightmare of it's own. But it came out nicely after lots of swearing and complaining.

    20190908_132637.jpg


    Then day 2 (Sunday) I tackled the rear seats. Didn't know what to expect here because for all the tutorials out there on the front seats that show in great detail how to completely disassemble, install leather, and re-assemble, there's NOTHING out there on the back seats. Dunno. So I went in blind. Turns out, you can actually do the rear (bench) without removing it. It takes some careful maneuvering but it's really not bad, and the work saved from not having to remove it far outweighs the inconvenience of working in tight quarters.


    All done:

    20190908_132608.jpg


    For some reason the color comes out a lot brighter in pics...it's not bright red, it's a medium red. Here's the most accurate pic I could get of the color:

    20190907_101640 (1).jpg


    So there you have it. Red leather interior in GMT900 Tahoe. It's definitely a love/hate thing...my wife has declared she will no longer drive it, but my son just sits in it admiring the seats now. I have a friend who has declared he will never speak to me again and others who want to buy the truck now. So it's all over the place. The opinion that really matters though - I LOVE IT. Could not be happier with how it turned out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  3. The Raven

    The Raven Member

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    During the interior reno process I also installed the lighted door sills, Lloyd Z71 mats, and footwell lighting:

    20190909_184306.jpg 20190909_184246.jpg 20190909_195543.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  4. ivin74

    ivin74 05 Yukon Denali

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    That color combo looks badass.
     
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  5. Keanen55

    Keanen55 Full Access Member

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    Love it! Those covers fit perfect! Are you going to tie it into the doors? Maybe the inserts?
     
  6. The_Burban

    The_Burban Full Access Member

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    Excellent work. Very well done.
     
  7. DirtyBlackHoe

    DirtyBlackHoe Full Access Member

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    That looks so damn good!
     
  8. The Raven

    The Raven Member

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    I am planning to do the inserts to match. Not in any hurry though, kinda getting tired of constantly working on the truck, and I seem to have screwed up my PAC OS module when I fixed the dash so now i'm falling down the rabbit hole of sound system upgrades - you know, while I have everything apart I might as well...
     
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  9. The_Burban

    The_Burban Full Access Member

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    Wow. I keep gawking.

    All leather? Exquisite line? Color name?$$$$ all in? Done this kind of work before?

    Lessons learned? Tips on back and back-back seats?

    Smell like new leather? Heated seat elements stay put?

    Looks like what I'd want is about $1700. Really not bad.
     
  10. The Raven

    The Raven Member

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    All leather tops. It's their "Premium" content setup, so only the sides and backs of the seats are vinyl. So basically everything on the top facing surfaces out to the edge french seams is leather.

    I went with their standard leather cause this is a truck, and I use it like a truck. What they call "Ecstasy leather" or Katzkin's version - "Tuscany leather" is for luxury cars...it's much softer and doesn't hold up well to abuse. Their standard leather is a major upgrade over what comes stock in our trucks (it's arguably nicer than my XTS Platinum) so I can't imagine you'd find yourself missing the ecstasy stuff.

    Color is "Red". I got samples of "Bright Red", "Red", "Cardinal", and "Medium Red"...I had originally chosen "bright red" but I was afraid that would be retina-melting in large amounts...even with the regular "red" it still turned out brighter than I expected. I could have gone with "Cardinal" but the sample looked too brown in sunlight. So i'm pretty sure I picked the one i'd like the best. "Medium Red" is real dark...I would have been fine with that too but it would be too different from the red on the exterior.

    Cost was just under $1k cause I only did two rows. It is possible to order just one row so I might decide to do the third row at a later date. I just couldn't see spending the extra $400 because in the 7 years i've had this truck, i've used the third row three times and that was 5 years ago. Plus I figured two rows would give me all I could handle in terms of installation anyway. My hands were so sore by the time i got to the last part of the 2nd row that I could barely work.

    The biggest lesson I learned is that it's not nearly as hard as you'd think. There are so many pics of hack job installs and if i'm being honest, those guys should have known better than to attempt something like this. You have to really not care and rush through it to make it look as bad as some of those look. Seriously, all it takes is patience. Don't worry about finishing the whole thing. Pull one front seat, and give yourself a full day to start. Start with the center left-right clip rail and work outward from there, pulling the leather taught as you go. Keeping working the wrinkles out as you go, and by the time you have the cushion wrapped, you'll already have removed all the wrinkles. The cost for professional installation varies majorly by region but the only two shops in my area that would consider tackling something like this wanted over $1k. So it was well worth it for me.

    I do have upholstery experience but i've never done a full interior's worth of seats.

    If anyone needs recon on the back seats I can walk them through it. You need to flip them forward and remove all the base trim, then you can get at the clips and pivot the seat forward and back for access. It makes getting the leather tight a little bit harder, but it's a lot better than removing the whole bench. That stupid cupholder thing is a massive PITA though.

    And of course it smells incredible. The new leather combined with my new floor mats makes my truck smell like a brand new Cadillac.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019 at 9:12 AM
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