Sewing a new car seat cover

OK, so I have been meaning to sew a new car seat cover for a little while as the padding in the old one was starting to disintegrate and I didn’t think it would stand up to being washed again. I had even bought the fabric but just couldn’t seem to get motivated…

…My little one must have known because last week she had her first go at ‘poop painting’ while we were in the car on the freeway aghhhhhh!!!

Needless to say I found the motivation to make a new cover and here are the results:

New car seat cover in action

Here is the finished project

This actually looks a lot more impressive than it really is, this is a pretty easy project, although a little fiddly in parts, and don’t worry, there is no quilting involved:)

What you will need:

  • Your old car seat cover
  • New fabric (pre-quilted) approx 1 m
  • Binding of some sort (I used fold over elastic but bias binding would work too)
  • Elastic (if you are not using fold over elastic for your binding)
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (and a serger/overlocker is optional but makes it a lot easier)
Before you start, note that your car seat is going to be out of action for the duration of this project so make sure you have plenty of time to finish it before you need to go anywhere, or a spare car seat :)

This is the fabric I used for this project – It is a pre quilted fabric with a different colour of cotton fabric on each side. I got this from the quilting section of my local spotlight store.

double sided quilted fabric

Double sided quilted fabric

The seat and back rest of my car seat has additional padding separate to the cover, so this fabric was padded enough for my cover. If your car seat doesn’t have additional padding you may need to devise a plan for adding some in these areas.

Get started by removing your car seat cover and cutting it apart exactly on the seams (there are a number of different ways to make a pattern without cutting your old cover apart, but cutting it up is by far the easiest and fastest, and my cover had reached the end of it’s useful life) .

As my cover was symmetrical (as I imagine yours is), I cut one side apart to make my pattern pieces and left the other side together to remind me how the pieces went together.

Lay your pattern pieces out on your new fabric and draw around them with a fabric marker adding enough for a seam allowance. If you are using a serger/overlocker you only need to leave about 6mm, if you are using a sewing machine you may need to leave a little more. Cut your pattern pieces out.

Cut your old car seat apart

Lay your pattern pieces out and trace around them – remember to cut 2 of each of the side pieces

Pattern Pieces cut from new fabric

Pattern Pieces cut from new fabric – I swapped the colour on some pieces to add interest :)

The next bit is the fiddly bit, but it is not too bad if you take your time.

The centre piece of your pattern, you will notice, has lots of little slits and holes for the seat belts to come through. With your old car seat cover piece on top of your new fabric simply trace around all the holes and slits. Next carefully cut the holes and slits in the new fabric.

Next use your binding to bind the cut edges of the holes and slits. Fold the end of the binding to the back and sew it down to finish each one. I found it easiest to cut the binding to the right length and pin it in place before beginning to sew each one.

This is how mine ended up looking:

Seat belt hole bindings

Seat belt hole bindings

A closer view of the seatbelt hole bindings

A closer view of the seatbelt hole bindings

As you can see they are not the prettiest, and I am sure there is a better way to do this bit, but this worked and will stand up to vigorous wear and washing.

The next thing to do is overlock/sew the rest of the pieces together.

I started with the individual arm covers and then sewed each arm cover to the centre bit – see pics below:

Sew side panels together

Sew side panels together

sew side panels to outside panels

sew side panels to outside panels and then sew the sides to the centre panel

Remember when you get to the bit where the back rest turns to the seat you need to leave a gap in the seam for the sides of the seat belts to come through. I just overlocked the raw edges here but you could bind them if you wanted.

Finally sew binding around the entire outer edge of the cover. If you are using fold over elastic, stretch the elastic a little at the top at the back and on the sides so that the cover fits snuggly over the arms. If you are not using fold over elastic you will need to add a piece of elastic to these areas either before or after you add the binding. Add it along the inside edge stretching as you sew and using a zigzag stitch.

where to add the elastic

areas to add the elastic

And there you have it – new car seat cover!

New car seat cover in action

Here is the finished project

Just a quick note, by way of a disclaimer, I am not a safety expert and you should check with the manufacturer of your car seat to see if doing something like this would void your warranty. perhaps in this case you could make something to go over your existing cover :)

4 thoughts on “Sewing a new car seat cover

  1. Hello, I’m not sure if you are aware of this but thought I would let you know so that you can edit your post to include a warning/disclaimer for your readers, if you choose.
    Aftermarket products such as covers are not recommended or endorsed by any car seat manufacturer. Using one can void the warranty of the seat.

  2. Hi again! Thanks for posting my last comment. I do feel the need to clarify that even a cover that fits over the existing cover is not safe, either. Carseat manufacturers do not endorse the use of any aftermarket products, which means that anything that didn’t come in the box with your seat should not be used. Thanks. (If you like, I can provide you with links to back this up)

    • No problem, I think it is a good idea to check with your manufacturer if your are uncertain about safety when it comes to anything to do with your kids. Links are unnecessary, people who check with their manufacturer, as suggested, will get it straight from the horses mouth (so to speak)

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