I don’t know about you guys….but I kinda panic a bit when I take my newborn baby to the store. Babies are definite magnets and I think they omit some sort of radar to all humans, especially the sweet older humans (ha!)…..and they immediately want to take a peek at that teeny tiny baby you are carting around. I have done it hundreds of times too, so I totally get it…..but what makes me panic, is that some of those well meaning humans like to touch brand new babies with their less than sterile hands. Ha! I know, I know….babies are so incredibly sweet and it’s hard to resist touching them, but I guess especially because Max was sick for the first few weeks of his life and in the NICU for a while, I was extra cautious about germs around him. So, with Max more than my other babies, I kept him covered while out in public at all times, with a Stretchy Car Seat Cover.
Have you seen these Stretchy Car Seat Covers?? I’m sure you have….they’re kind of everywhere! They’re a slightly curved tube of fabric that stretches around the car seat, creating a cocoon-like barrier around your baby. But not only do they serve as a car seat cover, they also double as a NURSING COVER…..yes!!!
Oh, and if you’ve looked online or in the store to purchase one, they can run about $30-$40…..which is a little insane, when you can buy enough stretchy knit fabric to make your own for about $5-$6. And at that price, you can make a second one to have as a backup (while one is washing)….because if you’re like me, you’re using it All. The. Time.!!!!
I haven’t used these with any of my previous babies, but oh how I wish I did! It has probably been one of my favorite “baby items” this time around! They are lightweight and simple to toss in the diaper bag…but create the perfect barrier to keep hands and germs out, as well as bright light, and the wind.
But don’t worry, there’s an opening at the top to check on baby, and to allow a little air flow. (And Max is always happy to see visitors who peek in from the top. Ha!) This opening also allows you to still grab onto the handle of the car seat for carrying purposes.
I especially love how this cover stays in place, unlike a blanket, or even one of those car seat covers that are like a blanket with straps that attach to the car seat handle. Those things tend to flap around and shift. But I also don’t like a heavy blanket over the top of the car seat because I feel like there’s not enough air circulation, especially when you go indoors but still want to keep them covered. I still plan on using this cover even when it’s chilly because then Max can still breathe. I can add an extra blanket to his lap to keep him warm while outside in the cold and then this outer cover can block the majority of the wind….while still allowing him air to breathe.
But now that Max is getting a little older, he thinks it’s kind of a game to kick his feet at the cover and push against the stretchy fabric. It cracks me up to see his little toes pushing out against the fabric! Ha! :)
The shape is pretty simple…..and can be sewn together in about 15 minutes! And even if you’re not super confident sewing with knit fabric…..this is a pretty forgiving pattern and once it’s stretched and in place, you won’t even notice crooked or puckered seams.
Oh yeah, and I love that I don’t have to bring an additional nursing cover or blanket to cover up while feeding Max while we’re out. And since it’s light fabric, it keeps both of us cooler than if using a blanket. (AND, since it’s like a tube….it keeps your back and sides covered, in case your shirt comes up and you’re trying to keep things covered up. I prefer using this a trillion times more than an awkward blanket!)
***Sorry for the awkward partial view that I took with my cell phone…..but everyone else was a school and work and I was trying to take it with one arm while holding Max with the other. And then because he was in “position”, Max wanted to EAT! So he started squirming and fussing, trying to fill that belly up….haha! This kid! ;)
Oh, when I’m using it as a Car Seat Cover and we arrive somewhere and I don’t need to keep him covered (like, to keep him asleep or keep hands off him) and I don’t plan on taking him out of his seat (like if we’re at an appointment, the bank, etc.)…I just lift up the bottom half and keep it stretched around the handle and canopy at the top, so that it’s ready to be used again later on.
But this summer, I have been taking it off completely when we’re inside somewhere with AC, and draping it over his legs….because it makes a perfect lightweight little blanket. And every time I do that, Max starts kicking his little legs against the fabric, and then grabs the top portion with his chubby fists and shoves it immediately into his mouth! (Another reason I like having two….so that I can toss one in the wash and still use the other.)
This little guy might possibly be the happiest little baby of all….who stays perfectly content if he has his little Car Seat Cover to chew on! He is a very patient 5th child…..who gets lots of attention from 4 older brothers and sisters who dote on him constantly! And he has wiggled right into this mama’s heart! :)
Okay, are you ready to make one too?
Might be the easiest project you make all year!!!
***As always, if you need a bit of help with the basic sewing skills used in this tutorial, check out the Sewing 101 post for more help.
As you can see below, the shape for the car seat cover is basically a square with the upper 2 corners curved inwards. Start by cutting a square out of your knit fabric that is 28 inches tall and 30 inches wide. BE SURE that the main stretch of your fabric is going left to right. (A lot of knit fabrics have a direction that stretches more, either left to right or up and down. Some knits stretch equally left to right, and up and down. And some only stretch one way, but not the other. Whatever yours is….be sure the biggest stretch is going left to right.)
Now, make a mark along the left and right edges, 14 inches from the bottom. And then another 2 marks along the top edge, one 8 inches from the left corner and another one 8 inches from the right corner. Then starting at the 14 inch mark along one of the sides, start ever so gradually cutting a curve into your fabric, until you meet up with the 8 inch mark up at the top. (If you’re nervous about just cutting into your fabric, create a pattern piece out of paper first.)
As you’re reaching the top edge of the fabric while cutting your curved edge, stop one inch before reaching the top edge, and then cut straight upwards, rather than continuing the curve.
To be sure both sides are symmetrical, only cut the curve in one side, and then fold your piece of fabric in half….and then cut out the other curved edge.
Then, open up your fabric piece and place it together with more of your knit fabric (with RIGHT sides together) and cut around the top piece, so that you have 2 identical pieces of fabric.
Now, grab one of your fabric piece and fold the very top edge down 1/2 inch, then another 1/2 inch (towards the WRONG side of the fabric)….and then pin in place.
To make your seams look professional, use a double needle to sew along this top edge. (If you’ve never used one, here’s how to use a double needle. You don’t need a special sewing machine….and you’ll LOVE how it looks, and it still allows your fabric to stretch!) However, you can always skip the double needle and just use a zig-zag stitch (which will still allow your fabric to stretch). Both will work great! :)
Repeat with the top edge of your other piece of fabric as well. (If your fabric rippled a bit, use a hot iron with steam to flatten it out. Don’t pull as you’re ironing, just lift and press.)
Now, place both of your fabric pieces together, with RIGHT sides together. Pin along both side edges.
Sew along both edges, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Next, fold up the bottom edge 3/4 inch, then another 3/4 inch, and then pin in place.
Turn your fabric right side out and then using your double needle (or a single needle with a zig-zag stitch), sew along the bottom edge, 1/2 inch from the bottom edge. Press flat with a hot iron and steam.
Your cover is now finished and should look like this! (Now, don’t worry if your measurements are off by an inch here or there. Once this cover is in place, you’ll never notice the difference.)
Time to stretch it over the car seat and keep that baby nice and covered! :)
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Making this Car Seat Cover and Nursing Cover Duo as a gift??
Here are a few other simple baby gift ideas to add to it!
Natural Wood and Silicone Baby Chew Toys
Natural Wood and Bunny Ear Teething Rings