How to Make a Toddle Car Seat Cover

If your children are anything like mine, (heaven forbid!) and they eat and drink in the car (even though they are not supposed to), dropping goodness knows what, goodness knows where, then no doubt you will have to wash their car seat covers on a fairly regular basis!

Maybe your child has ruined his or her cover to the point that it is so disgusting it needs to be replaced? If you are handy with a sewing machine, I may have the solution to your problem; replacement car seat covers.

There are several ways to do this depending on your skill level, a couple of which I have listed below:

You will need:

  • 1-3 yards of fabric, washed and ironed, please check to make sure it is fire-retardant fabric and that it retains this protection after washing.   The quantity you need will be determined by which method you have chosen.
  • Bias tape
  • Seam ripper
  • Measuring tape
  • Dressmaker’s pencil
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Pins
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Craft knife

Pick Apart Method – ditching the old fabric for new and re-using the wadding:

Before you start please take as many photos as you can from all angles, doing this will help you to reconstruct the new cover easily at the end and will act as your point of reference. Pick apart your existing cover (again I recommend taking a photo each time you have removed a piece – numbering each piece as you go either with a marker pen or a post-it note pinned on the back), then remove the top fabric from the wadding.

Place these pieces onto a large sheet of paper and lay them out in the rough shape of the (flat) cover (rolls of Kraft paper, wrapping paper or old newspapers are perfect for this). Draw around each piece, making sure to leave the same seam allowance as the manufacturer (that way you won’t be struggling to make it fit on the frame at the end). Then cut out the pieces to make the templates.

On a flat surface, re-arrange all your pieces in the shape of the cover, I suggest this just as a sanity check as this will give you a visual reference and help you make sure you have cut out everything you need (there is nothing worse than starting a project and realizing that you have left an essential part out!).

Now pin your pieces of fabric onto the original wadding and sew the edges (zig-zag stitch is my personal preference, but it’s up to you).  The pieces that have the harness and crotch straps coming through will need to have holes created in them, the best way to do this is to lay the original fabric as a template over the newly sewn piece and, using your dressmaker’s pencil, mark in the middle of the harness gap directly on to the new fabric.

Take a ruler and measure the width and height of the gap on the wadding (at the back of your new piece) and transpose this to the new fabric using your original pencil mark as a midway point.   Measure the height of the gap and mark the top and bottom above and below your midway mark, this way you will have the correct width and height for the strap holes.

Using a button hole stitch, sew around your measurements and then create the physical hole by cutting the fabric open with a seam ripper. Place your bias tape wherever it was present on the original cover, referring back to your photos for a visual reminder. Once you are happy with all the pieces you can go-ahead and re-assemble the cover.

Creating the back (top) of the cover first then the seat (bottom) and then joining the two pieces together at the end is an easier way of reconstructing the piece than trying to recreate it all in one go. Keep referring to the photos you took at the beginning to reassure yourself you are going in the right direction.

Pick-Apart Method – keeping the old fabric cover and covering it with new fabric

For this method follow the the instructions above BUT ONLY unpick the pieces of the seat cover from each other and remove any bias tape, DON’T remove the fabric from the wadding.   If you want to play it safe make templates using the Kraft paper method above, if not just lay each piece right side down onto the new fabric (which should be facing right side down/wrong side up), mark out the pieces and cut them out using pinking shears (this helps reduce any fraying).   Next, using a zig-zag stitch, sew the new fabric onto the old fabric and wadding.   Using a dressmaker’s pencil and the method above, mark on the fabric any harness holes and use a button hole stitch to reinforce the edges, then you can open the hole with a seam ripper.   As in the previous method, sew your bias tape onto the same places as the original cover and re-assemble the cover, using your photos as a guide.

Tips

  • Do take lots and lots of photos (the more the merrier!).
  • Wash and iron your old cover (if you are using the second method) and the new fabric.   This is very important because you really don’t want to put your new cover in the wash just to see it shrink!
  • Number each piece as you take it off, either with a marker pen on the back or pin a little number to it –  it will help with the re-assembly at the end.
  • Assemble the back (top) then the seat (bottom) separately and join them both together at the end.
  • Use a heavy duty thread.

Finally, if you have a booster cushion for an older sibling, why not pick apart it’s cover and redo it in the same new fabric, you may as well, the sewing machine is out anyway!!!