January 28, 2011

Baby Love: Custom DIY Car Seat Cover

{This post is a continuation of the series titled Baby Love. If you came for the food, I'll be back to that in February.}

People often ask me about this carseat cover. Our firstborn is a boy. When I found out our second child was a girl, I didn't want to purchase another carseat, but I did want to "glam it up" a little from the original Graco Snugride Infant seat cover.

The Original Carseat Cover Pattern
I looked online for carseat covers and promptly passed out from sticker shock! Wow, those things are expensive, like two hundred dollars expensive! I knew I could make some MUCH cheaper, even if it wasn't as fancy as what I saw online. My incredibly talented Mom agreed to come over and help so I wasn't completely on my own.
Turned out this project was really easy and even with my entry level sewing skills I was able to make something that looks really nice. I started out by taking the carseat to a fabric store. I picked out a pattern that would go with the hood because I wasn't going to recover that. I also knew I needed a heavier weight fabric since it would be subject to a lot of use. Lastly, it had to be washable because babies leak out of all kinds of places. I picked the satiny butterfly fabric that worked really well, except if anything with velcro got attached to it like a bib, then it pulled the fabric. Even still, it was a great choice. For #3 child I made another cover in this cute dino pattern.

Dinosaur Pattern Cover
Sewing a Car Seat Decorative Cover
Lay the fabric in the seat to figure out how much fabric you need to buy (yes, very scientific). Be sure to account for a seam allowance (the part you are going to fold over and sew on the edge). Make sure you cover all of the old carseat cover when you are measuring because you are going to leave that on underneath the new cover you are making. Yours is only cosmetic, the original is still needed for padding. 

the original cover stays underneath your custom cover

be sure you don't cover the seat release for the base

At home lay the fabric in the carseat again and cut away any huge excess that hangs way over, err on the side of leaving too much if you are unsure. After you have the rough shape, lay it flat and cut the whole thing more or less symmetrical. Then fold over a small edge (1/4 of an inch) and iron it to hold the fold in place. Fold that edge over again to make a larger seam, about 1 1/2 inches deep to make a casement (a long pocket). This fold needs to be pinned in place and ironed. Put the cover back in the carseat to make sure everything fits, then sew the seam, starting and ending in the bottom middle of the cover (right where your darling baby's little legs rest). You must leave this opening so you can thread elastic through to get the cover to stay on with elastic. 

tie the elastic into a knot
Using 1/2" wide flat elastic, put a safety pin in one end to aid in threading it through. Just kept working the pin through the seam pocket around the perimeter of the cover. Kind of like when you lose the string on a pair of sweatpants.
After it is all threaded put the cover on the carseat again so you could mark the places to make holes for the straps. Be sure to smooth the fabric and fold it over where there is excess. Using a fabric pencil or washable marker, mark where each of the holes are for the five point harness to come through. That means you are making a minimum of 5 marks. Two where the straps come over the shoulders, two where the straps enter back through the seat near the bottom and one for the strap between their legs. I also had to make a hole where the adjustment strap comes out to tighten and loosen the harness. After you mark these, actually measure the real holes in the original cover so you are sure to make them long enough. You don't want anything impeding the safety of the seat.

button hole for straps to come through
To make the holes, you need to use a button hole feature on your sewing machine. I had never done this and had to read the direction that came with my machine. It was actually really easy and the machine does the work. After you create your "button" aka strap holes, you cut them open. Then you are ready to actually put the cover on. Once you get all the straps threaded through you need to tighten the elastic so the cover stays in place. Just tie it at the bottom and tuck the extra under the cover, making it easy to take off if you need to.

underside of carseat with elastic showing

tuck the elastic under the cover to hide it

And there you have it - a brand new look for your precious cargo!


  1. Great Tutorial! I have a suggestion for when you are threading the elastic... You can use a crochet hook, or even like a pen with a clip, thread that through the hole, hook the elastic to it, and pull the elastic through. I have done this when I have lost a string in clothing and it works great!

    1. Brillian Emily! I don't know why I never thought of that!

  2. i love your tutorial... i have been looking everywhere online to find one where i don't have to rip the original one apart and yet will be a standard size for almost all car seats... thank you for this one I greatly appreciated it...

    1. Aubri, Thank you. I'm NO sewing genius, but I knew I could create something for less than $200!! It was really pretty easy and only I knew how "rigged" it was ;)

  3. Do you know about how many yards you used? I'm due in a month and I don't want to carry the seat in just to buy fabric for it? Pregnancy is getting hard enough.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful idea! I received one of the fitted covers but it didn’t “fit” and my baby is tall as well, so I will be making one of these for him!

    Custom Car Seat Covers

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  7. I love your tutorial... I have been looking anywhere on line to find one at which I do not need to rip the initial 1 apart and yet will soon be a standard size for many baby car chairs... thankyou for this particular one I deeply valued it...

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