I was going to do a DIY leather wrapped steering wheel on my Land Cruiser, and seem to have gotten carried away. As I was working on the steering wheel, I came across an issue of The Heritage Post. It’s a good looking magazine out of Germany that covers plenty of vintage and new pieces in clothing, cars, bikes, watches and all kinds of interesting old stuff. In the issue was a vintage Land Rover that was nearly covered with sewn-in leather – seats, door panels, headrests, visors, steering wheel and more. Needless to say, it sent me down a path.
So, next was the passenger side grab bar, then the pad on the console. Probably the shifter handle next. Visors later? I have plenty of leather, so why not?
Anyway, back to the DIY. First thing – measure your steering wheel. Write down your measurements and then subtract a little. I was using some Horween Chromexcel, and it can be very stretchy on the vertical. So cut your leather accordingly and then size down where appropriate. I wanted a really tightly stretched surface so it contours to the wheel, so I subtracted at least 1.5″ on the round and .375″ on the thickness.
After cutting the main piece, I needed lacing holes, but didn’t want to space and punch each one. If you sew the holes on your sewing machine without thread, it makes perfectly spaced holes with almost no effort. Load your machine with a huge needle so you get a decent sized hole. Next, I sewed the ends together with a lap stitch. If I would redo this, I’d French stitch the seam instead to make it smoother.
When together, stretch it over your steering wheel. Make sure it fits snugly and can easily be sewn around the wheel. I used some very thick waxed thread, with one needle and just laced it. It gives a folksy look, but I liked it. The waxed thread holds itself more securely when stitching, and just tighten your stitches every inch or so. It will take some patience to run around the whole wheel. After the outer is laced, you’re going to have to cover your spokes. I traced them roughly with some paper and a pencil and cut pieces of leather to fit. I punched holes on the sewing machine the same way again and laced everything together. It could be tighter, but not to bad for the first try.