Sunday, March 20, 2016

My first big sewing project

My sweet nephew, RJ, hanging out in his car seat with the sewed car seat cover. Love him so much! 

So most of you who know me know that I am somewhat crafty – mainly with a crochet hook and yarn. I don’t consider myself a sewer. I took one class at Modern Textiles with some friends – we each made a cute cowl. Mine was Bison themed (Go NDSU Bison!)

That is about the extent of my sewing experience. I don’t know my way around a sewing machine and am not terribly confident when it comes to sewing projects. A few years ago, I was one of the lucky winners of a sewing machine at the Unglued craft fest (super fun - I highly recommend you go to it if you've never been to it. More info here: My husband and I were ecstatic! My husband, Jon, started dinking around with it and really got the hang of it quickly. He is a super crafty man – in fact, he makes his own candles and even taught himself how to crochet before I learned! He started experimenting with some free form quilting and his finished project looks AMAZING! Check out the pictures below - I'm so proud of his awesome sewing skills!

My husband's super awesome first ever free-form quilt.


A few months ago, my twin sister was looking at some car seat covers and asked for one for Christmas. She has two children and was expecting her third. But, this was the first time they weren’t going to know the sex of the baby until it was born! How exciting! She had never had a car seat cover but wanted one so that it would protect lil one during cold, windy or rainy days. (They live in the south, so they don’t have to deal with the blizzards us North Dakotans experience on a regular basis.) She sent me a few pictures of car seat covers that she liked – somewhat light weight and just the basics of some soft cloth and a couple of straps that hook onto the handle of the car seat. She wanted some kind of gender neutral colors.

Little did she know that I was thinking of MAKING one instead of buying one. I set out looking for an easy tutorial for how to make one. My husband kept trying to convince me to crochet one instead since that is my strong suit. I was stubborn though and really wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Sewing is certainly outside my comfort zone. After finding this tutorial   online and realizing it wasn’t as hard as I thought, I decided to plunge into the sewing world head first!

First off, I hit JoAnn fabric to pick out the material. I wandered the store for quite a while trying to find the PERFECT gender neutral material. I wanted it to be soft and breathable – not super duper warm. There were plenty of blue and pink patterns to choose from but not a lot of neutral colors. First, I found the grey and white chevron pattern.  Simple, elegant, and could be for a girl or boy. Perfect! On to the next challenge – finding another fun pattern for the other side. After many minutes wandering the aisles, I found the perfect material! A fun polka dot pattern with turquoise, grey, and orangey colors! Soooo cute! I found some white thread and some ADORABLE orangey buttons that matched the fabric perfectly. Things were all falling into place!

After buying a yard of each of the fabric, the thread, and buttons (less than $15 with coupons!!), I dug out the sewing machine. Time to see if I had the skills to accomplish this daunting task.
First off, I cut both pieces of fabric into 33" X 41.5" rectangles and the extra material into 4 strips of fabric measuring 8" X 2.5". I cut the fabric using a large cutting mat and wheel scissors. The small strips of fabric would later be the handles that would attach to the car seat handle. Be sure you measure twice before cutting and push down on the ruler so it doesn’t move while cutting.

After cutting those strips and setting them aside, I ironed the remainder of the material to make sure there were no wrinkles from folding.
To create the rounded edges, I took a small plate and put it in the corner of the fabric and traced the little part closest to the edge. I repeated that with all four corners of each piece of fabric, traced it, and then cut that part out.

Make sure you cut off the SMALL part of the fabric at the right of the plate.

I then turned both pieces of fabric inside out and pinned them together. Now it’s time to start sewing! I went nice and slow and went around the whole rectangle, leaving a small space open about 6 inches long. This will allow you enough room to turn the fabric inside out later.

When you are done sewing all around the car seat cover, gently pull the material out so that it is the right side out.

My husband sewed all around leaving a nice small border. I left that part to him because he is a way better sewer than I am!

Now on to the straps. Get the strips of material out that you cut previously into 8" X 2.5" strips. Place them right side together again like you did earlier for the main piece of the car seat cover. I ironed the straps before sewing them to make them as close to rectangular in size and shape as possible – and as similar to one another as I could. Sew the two pieces together on three of the sides, leaving one of the short sides open. Trim the ends and gently fold inside out so the right side of the fabric is facing outward now.

Turning the strap right side out. 

             Dig out your iron again and iron the straps so that the edges are nice and even. 

Now, here is where I made a dumb mistake. I accidentally bought the sticky back Velcro instead of the sew-on Velcro.

Don't buy sticky-backed Velcro. Buy sew-on Velcro!
 Luckily, I have an awesome husband who helped sew on the Velcro pieces with a needle and thread because the sticky stuff would have destroyed the needle on the sewing machine. After the straps are done, you can sew on the buttons. I decided to have the contrasting fabric be the main part of the strap that you’d see. Even though the buttons are sewed on, they are only for looks. There is no button hole.


From there, I just kinda guessed where to put the straps since I don't have a car seat. It really depends on the exact car seat you are using for your baby. So, if you have one in front of you, that will help you figure out where to sew the straps. I put them about 14 1/2 inches from the top of the cover and about 9 1/2 inches in from each side.

I used pins to keep the straps in place but then some blue painter's tape to help guide me as to where to actually sew the strap onto the cover. There is only going to be a small section that is sewed to the cover. I sewed a small rectangle with an X in the middle to reinforce that area.

Next step, mail it to my sister!!! I watched her open it on webcam and she LOVED it! Not only that, but I managed to surprise the hell out of her when she found out I MADE it. She thought it was store bought! Sewing adventure was a success! :)

My sister told me the cover has come in very handy to block out wind, rain, the sun, and bugs. 

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