Monday, October 11, 2010

Car Seat Re-cover 2

Remember when I re-covered Catie's car seat and it was awesome?  It was less than awesome to discover that there was no tether strap meaning it couldn't be turned forward facing.  My parents had given me two carseats though, one was on loan to my sister-in-law.  We got that one back temporarily while we called the car seat manufacturer and arranged for a new tether strap.  While we waited I decided to re-cover the temporary car seat and then I loved the fabric so much that this is now the permanent car seat, the other will go back to my sister-in-law, tether strap attached.

Here she is, transformed.


She started out as this (we'd already taken the headrest off, sorry), not too offending but nothing special.  The worst part being how dirty it was.

Here's a gross story.  I gave Catie a drink of water while she was in the car and the water spilled a little onto the neck strap cover.  When we took her out of the car she had a huge, gross brown spot on her shirt.  Filthy stuff had leaked out of the strap when it was wet... super gross, I know.



I took the seat apart and stripped it down to this.


The last seat made me a little smarter, I discovered on that one, unexpectedly that the fabric was glued directly to the foam meaning if you want to re-use the foam (which I did) then you have to cover up the old fabric instead of removing it.  I expected the same on this seat so before I started I threw the seat, the neck straps and the seatbelt into the washing machine.  I used the gentle cycle and cold water and I didn't put it in the dryer, this time I had a nice clean seat to start with and wasn't just covering up that filth.  One other tip that comes out of this, since you're covering up the original fabric your new fabric should probably be something dark so the old doesn't show through the new.  The fabric on the last car seat had quite a bit of white and I felt like it ended up looking not as crisp because the dark fabric showed though slightly.

Once my seat was clean I started unpicking.  I could tell pretty quickly that this seat was a little more complicated than the last so I started by unpicking one side only.  I left the other in tact so I could use it as a reference (this photo shows the one side unpicked as well as a piecve on the bottom).


A brief pause to talk about my fabric.  As I drove to Fabric Addict I remember thinking that I really need to make sure I don't choose something that's directional, it would be really difficult to work with.  That thought disappeared when I grabbed the stripes to go with that awesome gold-y brown.  I love the combination and I had visions of carefully cutting my fabric so the stripes were all going exactly the same way.  I spent nearly an hour trying to make this happen before I decided that the shape of my pieces made that impossible.  I was right that the stripes were hard to work with but I'm not unhappy with my choice.

After finally giving up on lining up the strpes this project went much quicker, I  doubled my fabric so the two sides would at least be the same and then I used my foam as a pattern.

Occasionally when I'm working on a project I'll do something that adds time but really improves the quality and when I do it I often wonder if other people would think I'm crazy, I'm going to share one of those moments.  Since I've done a lot of re-covering I've decided that when working with foam or batting, no matter how carefully you cut out your pieces it's really difficult to make sure your fabric lines up just right once it's all sewn together.  I was always trimming away a little bit of foam or batting making the new piece slightly smaller than the original so once it was re-covered it would fit a little snug.  To fix that I've started cutting out my piece a little too big, like this.

I then sew the fabric to the foam, really close to the edge (of the foam) using a large stitch (I use a large stitch because I tend to make mistakes and a big stitch is much easier to unpick than a little stitch).  There are going to be other seams to re-enforce so this step is just to secure the fabric temporarily.  I sew really close to the edge to make sure this seam is covered up by your following seams so it's never seen. Once my fabric is on I trim it to be exactly the right size.  This means I cut things twice but I get a really good fit.

I also decided on this piece to not remove any of the elastic.  It has elastic to hold the seat snugly on the frame and it was attached to the back of the foam and I knew I'd need to re-attach it anyway so I just left it on, it made a couple pieces tricky to work with but I liked not having to unpick.

Once my new fabric was all sewn on and trimmed I re-assembled my side pieces, using the still intact side as a guide.  I tried it on the frame and it looked like this, pretty good start hey?

I unpicked the second side, used my already cut out fabric to end up with this

Originally I had thought I would put fabric on both the front and the back of the foam but the back had a nice black coating and looked fine as is so on all the pieces except one I only covered the front.  The piece I changed was the one in the very middle because there was no way I was going to unpick those 8 button holes.

Now we'll talk about the odd design of this car seat...I have no idea what the purpose of it is but the middle piece flaps forward (circled in white), the top of it isn't attached to the piece above it (so hard to explain).  That meant that there were 4 seams that were hidden (the 4 red arrows). 


Since I don't understand the usefulness of this design I wasn't willing to change it, what if one day I figured out what it was for but I'd made it not work anymore?  (I've since discovered that the cut out allows for the headrest to be secured, it's a good thing I didn't change the design.).

To re-create this piece I used the original as a pattern to get my size and I cut out 2 rectangles, making sure to leave seam allowance where the seams were hidden.  Then, putting right sides together I sewed up those 4 sides where the arrows were.  I trimmed the top two corners to make them turn better (in hindsight I sort of wish I hadn't, I think rounded corners would have looked better).  You can see the two sides that I left open.


I turned it right side out and stuffed the foam in through the openings on the side. 

Before I stuffed in the foam I measured my button holes to know just how big they were, this helped later.


To make the button holes I used my finger to feel where they started and marked it with a pin.  Since the foam is cut you can feel the original, I used that as a guide and drew a line with a sharpie, using my ruler to mark how long they should be.  I only marked two at a time knowing that my fabric would shift a bit as I worked on them.

Sewing 8 really long button holes takes a surprisingly long time and I wish I'd used a thread that coordinated with the fabric better, I just didn't think of it at the time and I'd used black everywhere else.  Also, you should probably only put in a couple pins in at a time, I put a pin at the start of all 8 button holes and ended up gouging myself so good I needed a band aid.

For the bottom piece I was able to unpick the black covering (not the button holes though), tuck it up out of the way, sew on my new fabric and then untuck and re-sew, all so I didn't have to unpick those 3 button holes.  I didn't measure these holes first, I just used my finger to feel how big they were.  I did make the centre one (the one the buckle comes out of) bigger because I had a heck of a time getting the buckle through it when I took the cover off.

For the remainder of the pieces I just used a basting stitch to secure the new fabric then I re-attached everything and added some black bias tape (possibly the worst part of the entire project, it was so awkward).  I then re-assembled everything.  So now it looked like this.


At this point I put the seat in the car and we used it for two weeks while I waited to come to Calgary to pick up the headrest (we first started using it when we were in Calgary and she seemed too little for the headrest and we forgot to take it home).  I then took my time re-covering those two pieces (they were not fun to do) and finally attached them back on.  She looks far more comfortable with the headrest and I love the way it looks.

Here are a couple more before and afters (most of the afters are without the headrest because those photos were much better).

I did the neck strap covers different on this seat, they're not removable, just little rectangles with rounded corners with bias tape that got folded in half and sewed up one side.  The seat belt slips through them before the seat was re-assembled.  I like the look of them better and I'll always do them this way from now on.

This one shows the fabric combination close up.







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40 comments:

Jan said...

WOW...that looks AWESOME!! I hate how yucky car seats get!

Stopping by from The Girl Creative!

Jan
www.thesimpler-life.blogspot.com

Sharon@thisthriftyhouse said...

Seriously--you are SO AWESOME!!!

Twin Inspiration said...

Great tutorial. I have wanted to try recovering my car seast, but didn't know where to start. Thanks for sharing. Following from Skip To My Lou link party.

Lisa
www.twininspiration.blogspot.com

Birgit Kerr said...

Looking good!! Mine need it too. Should be easier now that we've switched ours to the seat belt configuration! Thanks for the reminder!

Ellen said...

Incredible job! Great job again!

Beth @ Sand To Pearl said...

Very good job! I've seen lots of people re-do car seats, but they never give really good directions. This is great, I'm going to be bookmarking this for next year when I actually attempt to make a car seat cover.

Nan said...

great !!
Thanks for join Fowllow me Monday.
Have a nice day.
Nan
http://beonefineday.blogspot.com
http://qualitytime-nan.blogspot.com

sweet european dreams said...

awesome tutorial! especially since I'll soon be refinishing my daughter's toddler seat so that my son can use it. Thanks for sharing! -diane

Ash said...

I have been wanting to recover our car seat, thanks for the great tutorial!

Tyler said...

I am so impressed at your carseat tutorial! I ordered a car seat cover from etsy and it was super expensive and took 8 weeks to arrive. I think I will try to make my own (using your tuturial) on her next car seat. Also, love your little one's "lamp shade" dress from wednesday's post.

Tyler

Amnah said...

Oh how I wish I had the time/patience/skill to do this. You did and amazing job.

Lori said...

Wonderful job! The car seat looks great.

Thanks for joining Get Your Craft on Thursday at Life As Lori! Please join me again for another great party!

Maridith @ Strictly Homemade said...

That is the best looking car seat I hav ever seen. Great job!! Your daughter is riding in style!!

Courtney said...

I am so amazed at this. SO inspirational!

michelle dean said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have been wanting to re cover my son's car seat forever and now I think I will know what I am doing! I would love it if you would link up at my link party too!
http://polkadotsandpizza.blogspot.com/

Amy Meyer said...

Thank you so much for that detailed tutorial! I have been wanting to recover my carseats for like ever and now I think I can! Thanks!

Alyssa said...

That is a fantastic makeover! It's nice to know car seats can be recovered. They have a tendency to need it every so often.

Hanna said...

Hi there!!! I'm your newest follower from the weekend linky:) I love finding new blogs and yours is lovely:) You can find me at www.bouffeebambini.blogspot.com

WOW!! I am so impressed with this. AMAZING

Ashlee @ I'm Topsy Turvy said...

Wow! What a great makeover! I love the fabrics you picked out! Thanks for linking to Topsy Turvy Tuesday's!

AUDRA said...

OH thank you, thank you for this great Tut!
I'm planning on doing this soon (hopefully!)

whilehewasnapping said...

This looks fantastic! I love the fabric and the color combinations.I'd love for you to join my linky party this weekend!

Krista
whilehewasnapping.blogspot.com

Allie said...

Excellent job! I love recovering carseats! It makes you feel good everytime you catch a glimps in the rear-view mirror, doesn't it? It looks fabulous!
Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie.
I can't wait to see what you have next week!
AllieMakes.Blogspot.com

AUDRA said...

Thanks for the inspiration!
I did this to my daughter's booster car seat.
I mentioned and linked to this post as my motivation to even attempt this! :)
Thanks again!
http://simpsonizedcraftsandthensome.blogspot.com/2010/11/car-booster-seat-re-cover.html

Kathy said...

I took inspirationn fom your car seat project and decided to try it myself. I also covered my other daughter's boost seat in the same fabric so I have a matching set. You can see it all at http://procrastinatingisfun-kathy.blogspot.com/

Laura said...

Kathy, I'm so glad you tries it and were successful. I love seeing projects that I inspired. Thank so much for sharing.

N.A. (Ennay) said...

I love the detailed steps you gave on your tutorial. That paisley fabric is gorg! I recently attempted to make a seat cover for a friends booster seat. Kind of wish I had read your tutorial prior because I struggled so much with it. Would love to hear how you think my cover came out:

http://everything-under-my-sun.blogspot.com/2011/06/seat-cover-for-boys.html

The Clardy's!! said...

I need this done to our "newest" carseat but I just dont' have the talent for it. Any chance you take these things on as a side job??

gaurav said...

Very good job! I've seen lots of people re-do car seats, but they never give really good directions. This is great, I'm going to be bookmarking this for next year when I actually attempt to make a car seat cover.
Playground equipment Houston

Unknown said...

I am a child passenger safety instructor and I have to tell you that this is SO dangerous. While it is really cute, I am guessing that the fabric you used does not meet NHTSA's flammability standards. Also, you've altered something that has been crash tested for safety. There is now no way of knowing how this seat will perform in a collision.

Please, please do put your child in this seat. His or her safety is so much more important than a "cute" car seat.

For more information visit SafeKids.org to find a local child passenger safety technician or contact your local fire department.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ashtree1meadow said...

Did you use a regular sewing machine to get through the many layers or did you have a big industrial machine? I am thinking of redoing the exact same car seat for my 9 month old!

ob1234 said...

I love the way this came out! However, even though I hate to be the Debbie Downer :(, you're not supposed to wash any parts of the car seat (including the straps) or cover the fabric that it comes with. The reason is that the fabric that the manufacturer's send it with is flame retardant. Also, it is crash tested the way it is sent for safety and by you altering it, the safety is not guaranteed. Although it is super cute and if I had kids I would so want to pick the fabric for my kids' car seats, it's not a good idea when it comes to safety. Sorry :/ Just thought I'd share since I'm a car seat technician and a lot of parents don't know you shouldn't wash your seat covers. Hope this helps! Your other projects are awesome! I'm currently making make up magnet boards :) Thanks for the blogs!

ob1234 said...

And I just noticed someone else had a comment like mine! I probably should have read them before I left mine! She basically said what I did though, which shows that this is not a good idea :/

ob1234 said...

I love the way this came out! However, even though I hate to be the Debbie Downer :(, you're not supposed to wash any parts of the car seat (including the straps) or cover the fabric that it comes with. The reason is that the fabric that the manufacturer's send it with is flame retardant. Also, it is crash tested the way it is sent for safety and by you altering it, the safety is not guaranteed. Although it is super cute and if I had kids I would so want to pick the fabric for my kids' car seats, it's not a good idea when it comes to safety. Sorry :/ Just thought I'd share since I'm a car seat technician and a lot of parents don't know you shouldn't wash your seat covers. Hope this helps! Your other projects are awesome! I'm currently making make up magnet boards :) Thanks for the blogs!

Alexx said...

You should probably include a disclaimer that this is:
1) Totally illegal in ALL of Canada, and many states
2) COMPLETELY dangerous - if it's not crash tested, it's not safe. Period
3) Totally voids the warranty - meaning your insurance won't cover you in a crash
4) A great way to risk your child's life

Alexx said...

You washed the straps in the washing machine?!

DOESN'T ANYONE READ THEIR CAR SEAT MANUAL ANYMORE?!
Those straps need to be replaced IMMEDIATELY. They are ruined, and may very well not hold up in a crash!
As well - I'm sure your manual states NEVER to alter your seat in any way.

But hey - it's cute! Who cares that it's dangerous :/

Christian said...

Didn't you know this was very unsafe and nullifies warranty, the fabric you chose wasn't flame retarded and you NEVER wash car seat straps submerged in water!

*Katie* said...

I woulnt repeat what was already said. Even though its true. But the reason you can't wash the straps is because they are woven specificly to strech a certin way in a crash. After there submerged the fibers relax and no longer have strech in themm. Meaning they will simply snap in a crash

GoldenPeaches said...

You shouldn't wash straps in the washing machine.

You shouldn't be using an expired car seat

You shouldn't be altering or adding products that haven't been tested with the seat

You should read the owners manual of any car seat you have.

~*~Heather~*~ said...

ditto - this needs to be destroyed now, and whiel you did a beautiful job, it is EXTREMELY dangerous.