Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How To Create a Custom Car Seat Liner

Here's a project I've been meaning to get at for a while now but a couple weeks ago I was REALLY prompted to get it done.  We were visiting and staying with my parents for the weekend.  Early Sunday morning my little one was sitting in her car seat (she does that often) when she dirtied her diaper (she does that often too).  It went right through her jammies and onto the car seat cover.  No problem, we had just enough time to wash and dry it before we had to leave for church.  I tossed it in the wash and 30 minutes later I went back to put the car seat cover in the dryer.  When I got to the laundry room the lid on the washer was still open, the washer was full of water and soap and a dirty car seat cover.  I forgot to shut the lid!  Darn!  So I shut the lid and only had enough time to wash it ( but not dry it) before we left for church.  My poor adorable infant had to ride to a and visit a church all the while strapped into a car seat with NO cover :(  I felt like mom of the year that day and I prayed that she would sleep through the service so I wouldn't have to take a chance at someone seeing my short coming.
So, first thing when we got home from the weekend away I got some material to make this highly functional and totally adorable car seat liner.  I thought I'd share my efforts with you too!

2/3 yard cotton material
2/3 yard batting (80% cotton 20% poly) I like to use Hobbs Heirloom
2/3 yard PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) material
1/3 yard 1/4 inch elastic (you can buy Braided Elastic pretty cheap on Amazon)
coordinating cotton thread

Make the Pattern
1. Gift Wrap - Get out your ugliest, oldest gift wrap and make your pattern out of it.  The front design doesn't matter because you'll be using the white back to draw your pattern.  I'm using some wedding themed gift wrap that I've had around forever.  If you don't have any old gift wrap you can also use tissue paper but it's a little more delicate and less forgiving.  My grandmother used to use newspaper but I wouldn't recommend that.  Not only is it easy to loose your marks because of all of the writing (on both sides of it), but the black ink can rub off onto your project.

2.  Make it Fit - Carefully fit the gift wrap into the car seat cover (either on or off the base).  I started with the cover on the base and eventually took it off to lay and stretched it flat.

3. The Back Rest - Start with the back rest area and work your way down.  Carefully fold the paper on the seams that go down the sides of the seat, being sure to leave a little extra at the top of the pattern.

4. Gently Trim - Once you have the seams folded into your paper, take it off and  find the center point of your project the best you can.  Fold the pattern down the center and trim the back rest area of the pattern.

5.  The Seat - Fold the gift wrap horizontally at the bottom of the back rest (my car seat cover has a seam here).  Do your best to match your wrapping paper to the seat; around the edges and at the bottom.  Lightly mark the edges with a pen.  Mark the edge of the seat flaps for an elastic loop that will help secure your liner to your car seat.

6.  Make it the Same - Fold the pattern in half.  Draw a straight line across the bottom of the pattern (parallel to the horizontal line between the back and seat).  With the pattern still folded in half round just inside the edges that are marked.  I trimmed the pattern while it was folded in half.  Put the pattern in  the car seat, see how it fits and trim (or add) accordingly. *Another great reason to use wrapping paper is that if you cut too much off you can just tape a little more on!

7. Mark the Belts - Start with the belts that are attached right at hip level.  Cut horizontally about an inch and down about 2 inches on each side.  Next, mark the receiver buckle that goes between the legs.  Fold the pattern up where the belt lies and marked it with your pen.  (Make sure to mark both positions because you're little person is sure to grow.)  Finally, mark the shoulder belts.  Again, fold the pattern then mark them with your pen on the white side of the gift wrap.

8. Get it straight - Now that your pattern is marked for the belts, fold it in half again and make sure that they are even.  Straighten your lines with a ruler; make sure they are an even distance apart and that they stop the same distance from the center line.

9. Pattern Finishing Touches - Fit the pattern back into the car seat and make sure you like how it looks.  I ended up trimming a little off the side flaps of the seat bottom.

10.  Round it Off - Fold the top down to the height you want it fall.  Take the pattern out, round off the top and trim it while it is folded vertically.  Use the edge of a plate for the arc.

11. The Pattern - And there you have it; you're very own, very wrinkled, but very FREE car seat liner pattern!

Make a Car Seat Liner

1.  Layer the Fabric - Layer your fabrics in this order: cotton batting on the bottom, printed fabric face up, then PUL face down.

2.  Place the Pattern - Remember, the pattern fits the seat therefor you need to add a seam allowance; I added just under a 1/4 inch.

3. Pin the Pattern - Anywhere you put a pin through the PUL, IT WILL LEAK!  Be careful where you place your pins.  Put them very close to the edge of the pattern where you will be stitching or on the areas marked for the seat belts that will eventually be cut.

4. Cut it Out - Cut the pattern carefully, remembering to ADD a seam allowance around the entire outside.

5.  Mark the Belts - Use a pen or fabric marker to mark the seat belt slits on the PUL, but DO NOT CUT them yet. (You don't need to mark the belt that goes between the legs at this point even though I did)

6. Remove the Pattern - Place the pins in the fabric very close to the edge or in the areas marked for the seat belt.

7. Mark Your Stitches - If you're not super careful you can end up sewing in the wrong spot, so I suggest marking your stitches on the PUL with an ink pen with a contrasting color, like I did in blue.  Feel free to mark the whole pattern.  You don't need to mark the belts that go between the  legs (like I did) because they won't be sewn until after the fabric is turned right side out.

7.  Elastic - Put elastic loops on each side of the seat area in between the printed fabric and the PUL, with the loop inside the material as shown above.

8. Sew it Together - Sew on the blue lines - around each of the seat belt areas (except the crotch area).  Don't forget to leave an area at the bottom that is open so you can turn the project right side out.  DO NOT SEW around the center belt in the seat area or you will not be able to turn your fabric right side out.

9. Confession - I actually sewed a lot closer to the seat belt lines than I marked, because you don't want gaping holes, just enough room for that skinny belt to fit through.  You should probably sew them twice so that it will hold better when you turn the material right side out.  The contrasting sewing lines did really help keep me on track which was nice.

10.  Right Side Out - Turn the fabric right side out.  Very gently push all of the corners out with a blunt object, I used an ink pen with the 'ink' retracted.

11.  Cool Iron - Using a warm iron (I set mine on synthetic) quickly press the edges down.  Be careful that the fabric doesn't get too hot because the PUL can MELT! Yikes!

12. Top Stitch - Top stitch the car seat cover with a straight stitch.  Fold the fabric inside the hole that was left at the bottom and stitch over top of that too.

13. Mark the Belt -   Take your pattern and cut slits in it where you marked for the seat belt that goes between the legs.  Mark the fabric with a washable fabric marker through the slits you just cut in the pattern.  ( In the picture below you can see that I used a black ink pen so you can see the lines better; it may or may not wash off.)

14. Satin Stitch - Using a satin stitch (zig zag stitch close together), stitch around, but not on the lines you marked.

15. Clip it -  With your scissors, cut a slit in the fabric along the lines you marked.  Be sure that you DO NOT cut through your satin stitching.

There you have it! Your very own custom car seat liner that will keep your kid's seat clean and your personal integrity intact ;)

I think it fits pretty well and the fabric is super cute (and a little more girly).

My little one seems to like it too!

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