You can make a custom cover for your toddler or infant car seat in an afternoon. Whether you need a washable slipcover to keep your car seat clean or you're covering up the worn original cover, this project isn't difficult if you have some sewing skills and tools.
How to Make a Cover for Your Car Seat
Click on the image of the car seat cover to print the instructions that will help you make one tailored to your individual seat. If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.
This project takes a few hours, but it isn't hard if you have a bit of previous sewing experience.
Things You'll Need
- One and a half yards of fabric
- Two packages of matching double-fold hem binding
- Two yards of 1/4-inch elastic
- Measuring tape
- Dressmaker's pencil
- Sewing machine and thread
- Safety pin
- Craft knife
What to Do
- Remove the existing cover from the car seat. You'll be using this as a pattern for making your cover. The existing cover will have three main pieces: a center strip that the baby sits on and two side pieces that wrap around the outside of the seat.
- Turn the existing cover inside out and fold it in half. Tuck the side pieces into the center strip so only the center strip is showing.
- Measure this strip at its widest point, and fold your fabric over to create a double layer of the same size. Place the original cover on top of your fabric, lining up the folded edges of both.
- Cut around the original cover, leaving about an inch of extra space on all sides. Don't worry; this doesn't have to be exact. You just need the general shape.
- Measure the width and length of the side pieces of the original cover. This can be tricky, since they are often held on with elastic, but once again, you don't need to be exact. You'll be fitting the cover to the car seat in a few minutes. Add two inches to your measurements.
- Create a double layer of your fabric in the same size as the side pieces. Place your center piece on top to use as a guide for the adjoining seams. Cut a double-layered piece that has the appropriate dimensions. This will give you the two side pieces.
- Place the original cover back on the car seat. Lay the center piece on top of it, face down. Pin each side piece to the center piece, and smooth the cover down. Adjust the pins to make both seams lie flat.
- Check to see if you need to go around a carrying bar. If you do, carefully trim the fabric to the appropriate shape around the bar. You'll be adding elastic later, so don't worry about the rest of the outer edges.
- Sew the two seams you pinned. Trim the excess fabric to about half an inch.
- Turn the cover right side out, and place it on top of the seat. Use the dressmaker's pencil to mark the location of the slots for the straps. Remove the cover, and make sure the spots are even on both sides.
- Use a craft knife to cut the slots to the appropriate width.
- Pin the hem binding around the raw edges of the slots, and sew in place. Be sure to turn over the ends of the binding so there aren't any raw edges.
- Place the cover face-down, and trim the outside edges to even them up. Don't remove much of the fabric. You just need an even line to work with.
- Pin hem binding all around the outer edges, and sew in place.
- Roll the bound edges toward the back about an inch, and pin in place all the way around. Starting at the center bottom, sew all the way around to create a channel for your elastic. Stop about an inch before you reach the place you started sewing.
- Place a safety pin through the end of the elastic. Using the safety pin as a guide, thread the elastic through the channel you created. Use care not to lose the end of the elastic in the channel.
- Put the cover on the seat over the existing cover. Adjust the elastic to give it a good fit. Pin the elastic in place and remove the cover.
- Sew the two ends of the elastic together, and trim the excess. Sew up the open area of the channel.
- Put the cover on the seat for a final check.
Tips for Success
Keep the following tips in mind to ensure your project is a success:
- Choose a fabric that is machine washable. Car seats get very dirty, and you'll want to be able to keep it looking nice.
- When in doubt, cut your pieces larger than you'll need. It's easy to trim them down in the fitting stage, but you can't add more fabric once you've cut it off.
- If your car seat has additional strap settings, make slots for these as well as the ones your baby currently uses. You can get more use out of the cover this way.
- Consider making two covers. That way, you can have one to use while the other is in the wash.
- Machine wash and dry your fabric before you begin working with it. This will prevent shrinking after you're done with the project and will ensure the cover fits your car seat after washing.
- Although minky fabric is soft and adorable, don't use it for this project if you don't have previous experience with it. It tends to stretch and shed terribly while you're working, resulting in frustration.
- Never let the seat cover fabric get in the way of the functioning of the car seat straps or buckles. These parts of the seat protect your baby, and they must fit properly.
Add Some Style to Your Baby's Ride
Making a car seat cover is an excellent way to personalize the look of the seat, and add a little fun style to your baby's ride. You can choose fabrics that are fun and funky or simple and clean-lined. Either way, you'll love showing off your handiwork and giving your little one a comfy and cute place to sit on car rides.