Monday, June 16, 2014

Car seat cover remake: a tutorial review

Three days before Henry's arrival, I decided he'd need a new car seat cover.  There was nothing wrong with Monkey 9's old one; I just wanted a cover with bright, happy colors!  I took to Pinterest, and came across a tutorial by Make It and Love It.


The tutorial, I mean.  Well, and the car seat cover, too, but the tutorial is pretty darn painless.  The author's pictures are clear, and her instructions are easy to follow.  I would recommend this tutorial for intermediate sewists, just because of the bulk and wrangling that I had to do to sew the all the fabric layers together.  (I also recommend not waiting until the last 72 hours of gestation to begin a project such as this.  The thought that I might not finish it in time was a little stress-inducing....)

click on any photo to enlarge to see more details

In the tutorial, you will use the original car seat cover as a pattern for the new one, and attach the new fabric directly onto the old one.  I loved this process for simplicity's sake, but also for the safety factor involved. Since you're merely attaching more fabric to the cover, you're not changing its design integrity in any way.

*** Please do your own research and use your best judgment on remaking car seat covers.  Some have said that this voids the manufacturer's warranty, and some are of the opinion that this renders the car seat unsafe. I am obviously of a different opinion on that last bit, which is why I made the new cover.  So use your best judgment, folks. ***

2 1/2 weeks old, right after Monkey 4's bone surgery

Following the tutorial's instructions. . . .

I deconstructed the existing car seat cover.

 I was SO lucky that there were so few pieces involved!

I took notes and made markings directly on the back of the cover.  No one would see it!

 LOTS of notes. . .

Then, I constructed my new cover fabric panels.  I wanted patchwork, so I used some cotton batik and a gorgeous Spoonflower elephant print fabric. . . .

pieced and pressed.

I used reclaimed denim for the middle panels.  I wanted something strong and tough, but soft to the touch. The denim was perfect!

I used the basic idea of QAYG (Quilt As You Go) to attach the new fabric to the old cover.  I added one panel / pattern piece at a time, stitching it firmly and securely in place, directly on top of the old cover.  I then adding topstitching for details and additional security.

you can see the QAYG process in-progress on the right-hand piece.  I attached the center denim panel first, then added the two side patchwork panels, finishing off each panel with lots of topstitching.

patchwork, topstitched and pressed

I don't have any in-progress photos of the assembly of the car seat cover.  Which is probably a good thing. No one wants to see a huge, sweaty pregnant woman wrestling with her sewing machine.  Those last layers (the old car seat + new fabric + darts and folds + bias tape) were quite a beast.  Go slooowwwww.  Take your time. No rush.  Unless you waited 'til the last minute, like I did.

Next, you'll need some bias tape, to finish the car seat's edges, and to help hold everything in its proper place.  I made my own bias tape, using my favorite crafty friend, Erin's awesome tutorial.  Here's a closeup of the back of the seat (and the bias tape.)  The cover looks a little loose, but I assure you, it is not. . . .

The new cover fit perfectly, and has never, not even once, slipped off, slid down or become shifty.

finished, with about 10 hours to spare

And here it is today, 7 1/2 months later!  Grubby, in need of a good washing, and the batik has faded a little, but no weakened seams, rips or tears.

If I had it to do over again, I would NOT choose a print with a white background, and I would certainly NOT place it on the high traffic (or scuff-prone) areas, such as the head rest or the "bumper" areas.  What was I thinking?!

White background aside, I LOVED this cover, and highly recommend Make It and Love It's tutorial if you decide to make your own!

Have you ever sewn / recovered a car seat cover?  What tutorial did you use, or did you just wing it?  Any tips?

Talk to you soon!

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