This week I tackled a sewing project that truly scared me. A kind friend who is done having kids gave me her new-ish infant car seat. I am so glad I didn’t have to buy one, but the old one was a little boyish:
And a little boring. And I just couldn’t get the idea of recovering it out of my crazy pregnant brain. I remembered how you carry these car seats everywhere for the first six months or so. I tried to talk myself out of it. I was worried that I would get it all apart and not be able to put it back together, at least without many hormonal tears of frustration. I waffled back and forth for about a week.
But obviously I did it, because I’m posting about it. Ha ha. Here’s how it turned out:
*SQUEAL*!! I did it! It worked! And it’s so cute and cheerful and girly! Much better than tan plaid. Totally worth doing, and no tears were shed! I won’t lie and say it was an easy project. It took many hours (we’re talking 15+). My sewing skills were challenged and I learned a ton. I am even thinking about recovering the baby swing now.
If you are thinking about recovering a car seat, I would say go for it… as long as you are a fearless seamstress. This is not a project for beginners, just because there are so many complicated pieces and sewing techniques involved.
Reading Ashley’s tutorial at Make It and Love It helped me get the main idea of what I needed to do. But there is no way to make a one-size-fits-all tutorial, because you have to use your old car seat cover as the pattern.
So you start by taking pictures and labeling everything. Can I just say how important this is? You think you will remember how things go back together, but you won’t. You will need to look back at your pictures and labels. I wrote with a Sharpie right on the old car seat:
Be sure to get photos of all the tricky little areas where things come together or there are special sewing difficulties. Take pictures of how the buckles go back on too. Take more pictures than you think you could possibly need, from every angle!
Then you pick the entire thing apart. This part took forever and left me and my whole room covered in threads. I watched TV to help ease the monotony.
Then you use each of the pieces as a pattern to cut out new fabric. I ended up using about three yards total…a little less than two yards for the front and a little more than a yard for the back. Make sure to mark where things line up, where elastic bands are sewn on, which seams are serged, etc.
After you have all your pieces cut out, it’s time to sew! I reused the batting from the original car seat. My car seat had tan fabric around the outside and plaid in the center. Originally I thought I would make it easier on myself and just make the whole thing out of the same fabric, skipping the maroon binding and second fabric. Then I learned a lesson that is worth sharing…you can’t change things. They sewed it together a certain way because it had to be that way. In my case, that maroon binding around the center section holds a second layer of batting in place. Trust the professionals who put the thing together in the first place and copy everything they do.
That stinkin’ center panel was the hardest thing to sew. This is how I had to sew the fabric together:
It seemed so backwards, but I just kept looking at the original and tried to get mine to look the same. And in the end, my pink binding didn’t line up perfectly, but at that point I wasn’t about to undo seams to fix it.
With two layers of batting plus two or more layers of fabric in some areas, I used my walking foot to help me sew things together. It helped me stuff all that bulk through my machine.
Did it turn out perfectly? No. There are little things that are puckery or crooked or whatever, but nothing too noticeable. And I may have used a teensy bit of hot glue in a couple places where sewing wasn’t working out.
I still think it’s pretty dang cute.
And it sure is an improvement! And I have just enough fabric left over to make one of those car seat canopy tent things. But I may not want to use it. It would cover up all my hard work!