When I bought my Westy, its front seats were pretty old and beat up. They lacked arm rests, which really annoyed me on long journeys, there was a popped spring in the back of my seat, and what little cushioning they started with 30 plus years ago had been pounded away by countless bottoms.
Last summer I located a set of later model Vanagon seats with the fancy adjustable arm rests from a junker on thesamba. These had been sitting in his backyard for a "couple of years" and looked like it. They came complete with cigarette burns, loose stitching and copious amounts of dirt and dust. For $150 for the pair, I knew I would eventually have to get them redone, but I grabbed them regardless as later model seats with the adjustable arm rests are getting tough to find.
Fast forward 8 months or so and I finally got around to getting them redone. In my research I found some covers I really liked made by Sew Fine in Denver (see photo above). The browns really matched my vans interior well. I thought the two tone and the tweed really complimented the seats and as a added bonus if I ever spilled my coffee on the seats, it would hide it. Sew Fine sells kits, the one I wanted would have run me around $450 and I would still have to install the kit myself (or have someone else do it). I knew I could do better. Photo of what I wanted in hand I began to drive around and get quotes from different shops. Prices ranged from $600-$1000 for both seats which was a little more than I wanted to spend. Ideally I wanted to try to stay at or close to $500-$600 for the pair.
My searching eventually led me to a little hole in the wall shop in Garden Grove, CA named Juan's Upholstery. I immediately liked Juan, he struck me as hard working old school craftsman type, somewhat of a dying breed in my estimation. He took a look at the photo of the seats that I wanted and my current seats and quoted me a price of $490, $540 if I wanted him to sew seat pockets on the back. I agreed and he brought me a fabric sample book. I chose Tan Vinyl for the sides, Sable Tweed for the outside edges of the seat, and Curry Tweed for the inner seat fabric. I gave him a deposit, he ordered the fabric and I made an appointment to bring in the seats the following Friday.
While my seats were being done, I took the opportunity to clean up, paint and re grease my swivels, which came out really nice. I couldn't have my new seats sitting on rusty old supports.
On Monday I went and picked up my seats. Juan and his guys did a fantastic job, the seats actually look better than in the photo I gave him. I'm no seamstress, but I can tell the stitching is tight, and the fit and finish is top notch. It's amazing how much seats can upgrade the appearance of the inside of your van. If you live in SoCal, make the trip to Juan's shop. He also does headliners, home furniture and more. Guys like this won't be around forever, and you'll get access to his 30 years of experience at really fair prices.
You can find Juan on Yelp here...
He doesn't have a website, he gives you old school hand written receipts, and he prefers cash. A few people were turned off by that. I think people tend to forget that that's how things were done up until maybe 5-10 years ago. Everyone seemed to get along just fine before then :) Ok rant over. Now go give Juan your money!