Tuesday, August 2, 2011

DIY car seat cooler

When we switched from a backward to a forward facing car seat that would stay in the car, I started looking for solutions to the inevitable bun burn that occurs upon returning to the car after even just a few minutes on a 100+ degree day.  Here in the desert we have months of 100+ degree days and a few 110+ degree days just for fun every year, and it's easy to get actual burns from seat belts, etc. when you get in the car.  Enter the ladies at eighteen25.  Also desert-dwellers, they posted a tutorial to make an adorable car seat cooler...here, which I promptly pinned

** Important note:  I'm no seamstress.  I can sew a straight line.  Sometimes.  I don't know proper sewing terminology and I don't like to measure.  If there's a sewing shortcut, I'll take it, however ill-advised.

I used laminated cotton so I could just wipe it down.  The fabric is Nicey Jane Laminated Cotton Lindy Leaf Blue from fabric.com (currently $15.98/yd). 

Using the car seat as my guide, I cut the fabric to roughly 39" x 56".  I cut it 56" wide so I could just fold it over and save myself one seam. 

the layout

Next I cut six slits through one side (which will be the "back").  These will eventually be the slots for freezer packs.  In order to prevent the slits from fraying or ripping, I made bias tape from some scrap white cotton and sewed it on (I think it could be classified as bias tape.  Am I wrong??). 

Slits to insert ice packs
My car has head rests in the back seat, so next I sewed ribbons to the top inside edge of the cover so I can tie it to the head rest bars so it won't just slump down into the seat. 
ribbons to tie to head rest
 Next step, I basically sewed the whole thing into a pillowcase, leaving a gap at the top (between the ribbons) so I could turn it right side out.  Then I sewed closed the gap.
the back after sewing sort of a pillowcase
 At this point I thought I was some sort of genius.  I'd had no problems despite winging the whole thing.  Ahem.  I'm no genius.  The next step was to sew vertical and horizontal lines to hold the ice packs in place.  All I needed was three vertical lines (one down the middle and one on each side - the ice packs would go between the lines, three on each side) and three horizontal lines.  It turns out the laminated cotton wouldn't feed through my sewing machine.  Apparently a walking foot would've worked, but I don't have one.  I attempted to get some traction by laying down a strip of blue painters tape and sewing over it, but it still didn't feed properly and the tape didn't come off well.  It really loosened my stitches when I removed the tape.    Foiled by straight lines.  In the end I pulled my fabric through, which resulted in ugly, uneven stitches, but stitches that held.  I also sewed the bare minimum required to hold the ice packs (rather than sewing all the way across).

Done, folded, and tied.  Ready for the freezer.

In the car
 Listen, I'm first to admit that this wasn't well thought out, but it didn't turn out to be a total disaster.  It'll work, and it is cute unless you take a close look at the stitches and puckering.  In retrospect, I should've read up on laminated cotton before I bought it.  It wasn't a total bust, though.  C's bottom, back, and arms are oh-so-comfortable while I steer with a kleenex barrier between my hand and the steering wheel. 

Read more tales of pins coming to life here:

bower power
style by Emily Henderson
making a house a home
young house love (which links to a lot of other completed, Pinterest inspired projects)

*Follow-up, August 16, 2011.
We've been using this awhile now, and it's actually pretty great.  I made it wide enough and long enough to cover the entire seat and sides, and that, my friends, was a wise decision.

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