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30,000 meters of thread


Thirty thousand meters of thread — that’s more than 18 miles — is how much British master tailor Nick Allen uses each year to create interiors for Spanish automaker SEAT.

Allen, who previously has worked at McLaren, Jaguar and Bentley, starts with materials such as leather and fabric, marks and cuts and shapes them into seats, steering wheel and gearshift covers and other interior components, “blending the functional and aesthetic together to create an environment that is welcoming and practical,” according to the automaker’s news release.

, 30,000 meters of thread, ClassicCars.com Journal

“The home of SEAT in Martorell is one of the world’s most technologically advanced car-production facilities, but creating the perfect 21st Century car requires more cutting-edge technology; it also demands the finest designs created with traditional techniques that have stood the test of time,” the news release continued.

“I’ve been creating car interiors by hand since I was 16,” Allen is quoted. “It’s a handmade craft, there’s no computers involved, there’s no real big technology involved.

“For my profession of trimming, three things are really, really needed: one is to work really well with your hands, two is have a good eye, and three is lots of patience”

, 30,000 meters of thread, ClassicCars.com Journal
Meeting with designers

According to SEAT, a part of the Volkswagen Group, Allen created 30 styles of every seat in the Ibiza model, performing tests on the upholstery and materials for two years before vehicle production began.”

“His finely honed skills allow him to sew all the steering wheels by hand with the help of a curved needle, using the German knot stitch which leaves the most exposed thread. He chooses the thickness and color from among 250 spools of up to 100 different colors.”

“Colors make a world of difference,” Allen noted. “Each car has its own personality and its own color palette.”

He added that customers unconsciously associate colors with vehicle types and characteristics.

“For example, many people link greens and light browns with crossovers, dark browns to more classic family cars, and black and red to speed.”

SEAT (Sociedad Espanola de Automoviles de Turismo) exports 80 percent of its production, to more than 80 countries.

Allen-designed seats are found in Ibiza, Leon and Arona models produced in Spain, as well as the Ateca and Toledo in the Czech Republic, the Alhambra in Portugal and the Mii in Slovakia.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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