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Old 3rd July 2019, 13:01   #1
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Default GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

Forum members who have read my ownership thread (My pre-worshipped Volkswagen Polo GT TSI with lots of DIYs) know how much I love modding my GT TSI.

My love affair with the Polo started in 2013, which was the year that I learnt driving and bought my first car at the ripe old age of 32 years. If you remember, that was the year that VW launched the GT TSI. I didn't know much about cars at that time though, and it was way beyond my budget anyway. I bought the 1.2 MPI in June 2013, and my Team BHP membership was approved the next month. After a couple of years with the MPI, the itch for more power started. I finally scratched it in 2018, when I bought a pre-owned GT TSI.

Inspired by our in-house DIY wiz Gannu, I have carried out a number of mods and DIYs in my car. I mostly put them up in my ownership thread, but this one deserves a thread of its own in my opinion.

Last edited by TheLizardKing : 5th July 2019 at 14:05.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 13:14   #2
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Default Inspiration

If I had to pick one thing as the inspiration for this mod, it would have to be Santoshbhat's GTI ownership thread (Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI) and the wonderful pictures he has put up there.

Having finally bought the GT TSI, the logical next upgrade for a hatchback lover like me is the GTI. But just like the GT TSI was out of my budget in 2013, so too is the GTI in 2019. So as a way to distract my heart, I came up with the idea for this mod.

Now that I think about it, my GT TSI's transformation started with the Euro-spec taillights (VW Polo GT TSI DIY: International Polo 6C Tail-Lights) that I installed earlier this year. I love them, but I feel like I ended up spending a lot of money on a mod that I can't even enjoy when I am sitting in the car. So the focus this time was on the interiors.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 13:50   #3
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Default Homework

For me, the single most attractive thing about the GTI interiors are the tartan fabric seat covers with the red stitching. Click here for a very interesting article I found about the origin of the design. It has been used since the Mk1 GTI, and is undoubtedly an automotive design icon (even though it has been described as fabric that could be used to make "an old man's unfashionable suit").

I decided that my GT TSI had to have the tartan fabric. The red stitching, unfortunately, is part of the overall theme of the GTI. It is present on the seat covers, the head restraint covers, the handbrake cover, the DSG gear boot, and the steering wheel wrap. My GT TSI, on the other hand, has white stitching in all these places. I parked this problem for later, however, because I first needed to source the fabric.

I searched online, and bingo! I found a UK vendor by the name AS Trim who sells OEM spec scrim backed VW GTI Tartan Red fabric. The prices however are eye-watering. I was given an email quote of £162 (including shipping) for 2 metres. It would work out to almost Rs 20,000 with customs.

My mod was in serious danger of dying a premature death, when our good Chinese friend AliExpress came to my rescue. The same design (obviously not the same quality) was available for $80 with a seller. There weren't too many orders, and even fewer reviews, so it was going to be a leap of faith.

Before I took the leap however, the biggest piece of the puzzle remained. Which seat cover shop would entertain a unique requirement like mine? I looked on Team BHP and found a lot of praise for Orchis. I decided to give them a call, and the owner, a Mr Anil Shinde, asked me to pay a visit to their workshop in Powai. When I went down and explained my idea to him, it took him only a few moments to come on board and green light it. As I found out later, Anil is a true enthusiast with a penchant for taking on "special projects".

We decided to stick with the stock design of the covers since they had templates readily available and could guarantee proper fitment. The GTI seats have a different design with separate side bolsters, and the tartan fabric doesn't go up all the way to the top edge. It would therefore not be easy to replicate the GTI design 100%, and I was willing to live with that. We decided to use plain black fabric for the pieces around the tartan fabric, and leatherette everywhere else. As a bonus, he told me that he could also redo the steering wheel wrap and DSG boot. My heart was very excited to hear this, but my head registered the added cost.

With Orchis as my partner, I went ahead and placed the order on AliExpress. Delivery was super-quick by AliExpress standards, and in nine days flat I had the fabric in my hands. The gods must have been smiling on me, because it didn't attract any customs duty.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-img20190701wa0016.jpg

Source: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32814259544.html
Cost: $80 (shipping included)

Disclaimers:
  1. The Orchis team has requested me to not share pricing information, and I will honor the same. So no PMs asking for the prices please. Thanks for understanding. All I can say is that, given the scope of work, it won't break the bank.
  2. Most of the pictures, even the ones taken in daylight, do not do justice to the real thing.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 9th July 2019 at 10:43. Reason: Link corrected
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Old 3rd July 2019, 15:49   #4
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Default The big day arrives!

I called up Orchis the same day I received my package, and took an appointment for 2 days later. Since this was a special case, Anil had forewarned me during the first meeting itself that he would want me to be present at the workshop while the work was being carried out. I didn't need a second invitation of course.

As luck would have it, it rained very heavily in Mumbai that night, and my manager asked me not to come to office the next day. I asked Anil if he could do my job a day earlier, and once he confirmed that his team was available, he asked me to come over. And so I set off!

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-stock-covers.jpg

This is how the car looked before the Orchis team worked on it.

When I reached the workshop, the lady who manages their office (a Ms Kirti) told me that there was a small goof-up and they didn't have the black fabric in stock. She immediately sent a team member to their vendor's store in Sion. In the meanwhile, Anil reached the workshop and suggested that we use leatherette for all the pieces other than the tartan fabric. I wasn't very keen on this idea, and so Anil suggested that we wait until we saw the black fabric and then decide.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-black-fabric.jpg

In a couple of hours, I laid my eyes on this beautiful foam-backed fabric. I loved the deep black shade, which I thought would bring out the tartan fabric perfectly. After a short discussion with Anil, the decision was made and work started on my project!

The process of manufacturing seat covers consists of three broad steps:
  1. Marking & Cutting
  2. Stitching
  3. Fitting
The Orchis team has dedicated members for each of these steps, and each one is clearly an expert in his/her respective task. I spent the whole day at the workshop, and it was a lot of fun to see the whole process.

Last edited by TheLizardKing : 8th July 2019 at 13:07.
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Old 5th July 2019, 14:21   #5
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Default Head vs Heart

All this time, right from the moment I planned this mod to the moment the first piece of fabric was cut, my Head and Heart had been battling about the white vs red stitching decision. I have spent a lot on the car already in the last one year, and Head insisted that I stick to white stitching. But my Heart would just not listen. I exchanged a lot of messages with my DIY partner Viraat13 that morning, and he tried to help too. It began to look like a victory for Head.

Things took a turn when Anil told me that the covers would look really great with red stitching. I couldn't help myself anymore, and asked him about options for the steering wheel wrap. He had three samples for display, and I instantly fell in love with the perforated leather used in one of them. And as luck would have it, he had some stock of the leather left over from a previous job. I told him that I would also want a new DSG boot with red stitching. He gave me a pretty sweet package deal for both, and like on so many occasions in the past, Heart ended up finally winning this round.

Last edited by TheLizardKing : 8th July 2019 at 13:09.
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Old 5th July 2019, 14:55   #6
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Default Transformation!

It turned out to be a long and eventful day, and by the time the rear bench went it, it was 8:30 PM! There were a few moments during the removal and refitting of the steering wheel and DSG boot when I had my heart in my mouth, but thankfully everything went off smoothly. There was so much to observe and learn that I didn't take a lot of pictures.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-03-fabric-cutting.jpg

Fabric marking & cutting in progress.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-04-steering-wheel-wrapping.jpg

Steering wheel wrapping in progress. This job really requires a LOT of skill and patience.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-05-orchis-team.jpg

The Orchis team is all smiles at the end of a long day.


It was too late to take pictures of the work done, and it would have to wait until the next morning.

Last edited by TheLizardKing : 8th July 2019 at 12:06.
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Old 5th July 2019, 16:13   #7
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Default Pictures

And here are the pictures for your viewing pleasure. This is a purely cosmetic upgrade, but it has managed to transform the driving experience for me. Whether it be sitting on the tartan fabric seats, or running my hands over the steering wheel, or using the DSG lever, every action now seems special.



GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-06-new-covers.jpg

This is the money shot. The interiors of the car have transformed and how!

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-06-02-new-covers-back-details.jpg

Details of the back.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-06-03-new-covers-bench-details.jpg

Details of the bench.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-a1.jpg

Red stitching!

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-08-01-steering-wheel-full.jpg

A joy to hold, and behold!

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-a2.jpg

Perforated leather with red backing.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-a3.jpg

A closer look at the fabulous stitching work.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-09-dsg-boot.jpg

More red stitching!

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-010-keychain-red-theme.jpg

Happy coincidence that my keychain now fits the new red theme perfectly.


Last edited by TheLizardKing : 8th July 2019 at 12:36. Reason: Pics orientation changed
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Old 8th July 2019, 12:32   #8
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Default Thanks, Orchis!

It was my first experience with the Orchis team, and I would like to thank Mr Anil Shinde and his fantastic team for supporting my mod idea, and being an enthusiastic partner in executing it. The quality of the work is exceptional, and fit and finish is near stock.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-011-orchis-decal.jpg

As a rule, I hate decals on my car, but I didn't think twice about this.

GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI-012-parting-shot.jpg

A parting shot, as I am about to slide into the driver's seat of my GT( TS)I.

Last edited by TheLizardKing : 8th July 2019 at 12:33.
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Old 9th July 2019, 06:48   #9
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Default re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th July 2019, 09:49   #10
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Default re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

Let me be the first to congratulate you (again) on this wonderful mod. Wish I could have done it side by side as we planned initially.

I really will get this done, probably alongside my (eventual) steering upgrade.

All these mods, so little time.
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Old 9th July 2019, 11:44   #11
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Default Re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

Great looking seats. Worth all the efforts.
Did you strip the seats of the original cloth cover and fitted the new one or it was just a over-wrap?
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Old 9th July 2019, 13:36   #12
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Default Re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by KkVaidya View Post
Did you strip the seats of the original cloth cover and fitted the new one or it was just a over-wrap?
The original seat covers were removed and cannibalized (fitting strips, backing cloth for the rear bench, etc.) for the stitching of the new seat covers. I meant to mention this at the start of the thread, but I guess I forgot. Thanks for the reminder.
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Old 9th July 2019, 13:45   #13
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Default Re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

This is a great little upgrade from the otherwise boring fabric upholstery on the older TSI models!

Needless to say, it's on my to-do list, but not in the immediate or near future. I'd like to wear out the existing upholstery and then consider changing it. It may even consider re-bolstering / re-cushioning the seats as they aren't very comfortable and supportive.

Great upgrade! Very well executed too!
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Old 9th July 2019, 21:21   #14
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Default Re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

Stunning piece of DIY! I'm definitely going to copycat this mod in a few years!
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Old 9th July 2019, 22:03   #15
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Default Re: GTI-esque tartan fabric seat covers on my VW Polo GT TSI

The car is looking really good - lively interiors. And must appreciate Orchis too for obliging with the custom request. I wont be surprised if we see a few more cars with such covers, importing from Aliexpress/ other places. Heck, why not - if we can get nice designs ?
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