Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Car Seat Canopy Tutorial for Sewing Dummies

Being a sewing dummy myself, I thought I would try to help those out there who may be new to sewing and want to do a fairly simple, cute, and useful project for their bambino (or a nice shower gift). I do link up to four different tutorials I used to make mine, so jump around to those ones if you'd like!

Notes to begin:
• the car seat I'm working with is a Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Carseat. Here is a link to a tutorial that fits a Graco car seat, and here's another one.
• I've inserted personal sewing-related notes in italics throughout the tutorial. Feel free to ignore them.

Needed Supplies
Coordinating Thread
1 Yard Top Fabric
1 Yard Coordinating Bottom Fabric
2 - 6"x8" Coordinating Fabric Pieces
2 - 2.5" x 8" Coordinating Fabric Pieces
2 - 1.5" x 3.75" Velcro Strips
2 Coordinating Buttons

 (thread not pictured because I forgot...oops!)

The Blanket Portion
(This is the fairly easy part, so let's start here.)

Step 1: Wash your fabrics on cold and dry on highest setting
 As a sewing dummy I have forgotten this step and cut my fabric first and then had to re-cut after I washed them. It's annoying. 

Step 2: Cut both fabrics to 33"x42" 
 When cutting, I find that it's easiest to lay one piece of fabric (right side up) on carpet, smooth it out, then lay the bottom fabric (right side down) then smooth them out together. Then I pick up both pieces and move them to a wood surface to cut with scissors. If using a rotary cutter and cutting pad, you could stay on the carpet to do your cutting. 

Step 2 (Optional Rounded Corners): Fold both fabrics together in half and then in half again so all corners are touching. Then get a plate and either (a) use your rotary cutter to cut off corners of your fabric or (b) mark where the plate meets the fabric with a pencil or fabric marker and then cut off corners with scissors.

Step 3: Unfold fabric pieces and pin the fabric pieces together.

 (Pinning not pictured because I forgot, and even for dummies, pinning fabric is pretty straightforward)

Step 4: Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine and a 1/4" seam allowance (the edge of the pedal), sew the two fabric pieces together leaving an 8" opening to turn it right side out.
When I need to turn fabrics, I pin all around the fabric, then reverse two of the needles and pin them backwards. Then, using the picture below as a reference, I began at the yellow needle, stitched all around the fabric to the pink needle, back-stitched, stitched to the yellow needle, and back-stitched. Then I just pulled out the thread between the two needles.

Step 5: Clip notches out of the corners of your fabric or use pinking shears to do the same thing. Be careful not to clip the stitches!
As a sewing dummy, I strongly recommend you invest in some pinking shears! At my local craft store I got them for 40% off with a coupon and the total price was about $10. Such a good investment and it has saved me so much time and agony by not having to notch out every corner I turn and tuck! For this project I also just cut around the entire fabric to minimize bulkiness, but that probably isn't necessary.

Step 6: Iron the un-sewed portion of the fabric open. This will keep that portion tucked in nicely during the top-stitching in the next step.
Every time I turn a fabric I use this trick. A huge time-saver!

Step 7: Turn the blanket right-side out, top-stitch around the edge of the blanket with a 1/4" seam allowance, and admire your handy-work!
Have fun with the top stitch and use a fun color or a new stitch on your machine! On mine I used a grey thread on top and a blue on bottom and the stitch I used can be seen in the pictures of the straps.

The Straps Portion
 I used velcro to connect my straps because I wanted buttons, and I liked the multi-fabric-layered look, but there are tons of ways to do your straps. Here are some other strap tutorials I found: 

Step 1: Iron all four straps length-wise in half with the right-side facing out. Unfold them and fold the long-ends into the middle and iron again.
Clear as mud, right? Hopefully the pictures can explain better than I can.

Step 2: Place the wider straps with the ends face-up and the thinner straps over-top of them with the ends face-down. The edges of both of the fabrics should match up, but don't stress if it's not perfect.

(The pieces on the left just show you how each of the pieces should look after ironing, and the one on the right shows how they go together.)

Step 3: Sew the two pieces together by top-stitching the lengths of the thinner strips (be sure your stitch is wide enough so it catches both fabrics). When they both strips are secured together, fold the shorter ends of the strips down under and do a simple stitch straight across to finish them off.

This is where I really went rogue with my version because I had a hard time following the other tutorials. Admittedly it's not the most beautiful thing ever, but it's cute, does the job, and the ugliest parts are on the underside of the straps, rarely seen anyway.

Step 4: Sew the velcro onto the ends of the straps. Be sure the opposite ends of the velcro are on opposite ends of the straps. If you can wear it like a bracelet you have the velcro on right! 

Step 5 (Optional Decorative Button):  Sew the button onto the top of the strap through the velcro.


The Putting Everything Together Portion
(This is the hardest part of the project, but it's going to work out, I promise!)

Step 1: Lay your blanket out flat with the side you want on top facing up and position your straps about 12" in from each side (about 8" apart) and about 17" from the top. Pin them in place.
This part takes some guess and check work and can really takes as long as you want to get them as perfect as you want. I got one of my straps where I thought it needed to be, sewed it on, and then folded the canopy in half so I could match the other strap be

 (As you can see, the strap on the right isn't perfectly straight, but I didn't even know that until I took this picture. You really can't tell when it's strapped on.)

Step 2:  After you've pinned the straps on for placement, attach your canopy to your car seat to make sure you have them in the right place. Make adjustments if necessary.
I really wish I knew how to help you more with this portion, but it's really a guess and check type of thing. My only advice is to not stress over perfection, because the biggest lesson I've learned sewing so far is that small imperfections are not noticeable to anyone or are covered up by cuteness anyway.

Step 3: Sew the straps onto the blanket by going around the edges and then making an "x" in the middle for reinforcement. (The picture from this tutorial shows that best.)

Step 4: Attach to car seat, insert baby, and enjoy your handiwork!

Please post any questions you may have and I hope everything goes so well for you and all your sewing projects!


Meghan Withers said...

Thanks for the post! It was very easy to follow. I just finished my first car seat cover for our little one that is coming in August, and love it!

Rhonda Coleman said...

What kind of material did u use? I was thinking just cotton material or a flannel, but was sure if the cotton will be warm enough.

Rachel said...

I just used cotton. James started using the canopy in March, so it was on the tail-end of a Colorado winter, but if I thought he'd be cold I'd just lay a blanket on him or put a hat on. I liked the lighter fabric option in the summer for sure.

Danielle Stickel said...

This is a great tutorial! I made one for a customer and gave you some love on my blog!

Jessica said...

Will this size work for all car seat? I have. Britax B-agile one... If not what is the best way to measure the carseat ?

Rachel said...

It probably won't work for all sizes because all carseats are different, especially how the handles are configured. So, probably the best way to measure it is simply draping your fabric over the seat and pinning where it hits the floor. Then take off the cover and move the pin up maybe like an inch or so. A good idea is to remember you can always cut more fabric off, it's a pain in the but if it's too short. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Turned out perfect and so cute!

Nancy said...

Awesome tutorial. I've noticed that some on etsy have little flaps in the center that can open up (kind of like a tent) and be secured open. I imagine it's just a matter of cutting a slit in the front and sewing on velcro or snaps....It would be awesome to have a tutorial though :P

Anonymous said...

I do have a question about this.... you cut the fabric...33x42..... is 33 the width or the length??

Rachel said...

Nancy, that would be a great tutorial, but you'll have to commission it from a non-sewing dummy! ;)

So the cover is longer than it is wide, so 33" is the width and 42" is the length.

Harga canopy kain said...

Very interesting text,, very good

lisa said...

Love it, I'M due in September I'M definitely going to make one for my little guy I just have to wait til after the shower to see which car seat we will receive! Thanks for sharing

Pattern Lady said...

I just made this car seat canopy for one of my daughter's friends. I found just sewing around the outside edge did not anchor the two layers of fabric together well so I top stitched three rows going across. I did this by folding the body of the cover in half and pressing it, then bringing the bottom and top to the pressed line and pressing each of those folds. Final step, sew along the fold lines and press when finished.

Another change that could be made to this canopy is the addition of a small pocket to store, house keys, wallet or pacifier.

Thanks so much for posting this free pattern, I am certain the new mom I made it for will love it.

Lynn Thomas said...

Thank you for the free pattern! Your canopy looks great! Going to be making this for my granddaughter. :)

Harry Peter said...

Thanks for posting this awesome tutorial!! I just finished making one for our upcoming baby! I’ve been wanting to make one and your tutorial made it a breeze!

Silverado Seat Covers

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a canopy for this car seat in stores but no luck until I found the one I was looking for.. All thanks to you!! I made one following your directions and bam it worked like a charm!! Thanks again!!! 😀😀😀😀👍