Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Car seat bag tutorial

Finally! I made this bag as a present back in August and now I'm finally posting it. Why? Because it is full tutorial and writing it is bigger job than making it was! But here it is, full tutorial how to make car seat bag for a baby. And not just any bag, this one is adjustable to almost any baby seat, it doesn't matter if the car seat has three point or five point belts. It is great during winter or cold weather overall, no need to wear thick clothes for the baby when you can wrap him/her in a warm sleeping bag. Plus, it is even safer for the babies as you can fasten the seat belt more securely when there are less clothes on the way!

Let's start with what you need:

Fabric for the cover
Insulation fabric e.g. fleece, wool or other padding
Lining, something soft and comfortable e.g. velour, any knit fabrics

Fleece is affordable and rather warm but one warning; having too many layers of it means that the bag doesn't breath at all and that's definitely not good for the baby! Fleece is purely plastic. I used new fabrics for all of the layers as it was a present but you can easily make car seat bag with recycled materials too. Just take padding out of old duvet, use old felts etc for the lining and for the cover almost anything goes, old curtains are always great!

For each layer you need fabric 90cm x 92cm (width x height, inludes seam allowance)

Zip 60-65cm
Metallic snaps
Small pieces of fusible lining

Figuring out how to make a sleeping bag is rather easy but figuring out how to make it suitable for any car seat, wasn't. I didn't have any idea if the family who I was giving it to, had three point or five point car seat for the baby and obviously I couldn't ask so I had to go the harder way. 

For car seat with three point belt you can make pretty simple bag; just make button holes for the places that the belt goes through and that's it. You can still easily remove the bag with baby on it without waking him/her up.

I could have made button holes for the five point seat belts too but then you would need to remove all the seat belts from the car seat before you can use the bag or remove it. Not very easy and it would easily become unused.

The other problem was the measurements! I found tutorials for bags like these but no one mentioned where the belts should go, only the rough measurement of the whole bag. And I had just managed to get rid of our baby car seat. Luckily, I belong to couple great Facebook sewing groups so I asked there for few different seat measurements. It's amazing how you get an answer there in minutes, no matter when you ask it! And here they are, the measurements I used.

Measurements are cm. This is also your pattern, the top is where the baby head comes to and the sides come together with a zip. Down in the middle you see number 22, that's the height from the bottom for the first button hole for the seat belt that goes between the baby's legs. On top you see small number 3, that's the distance between the line marked in the picture (top of the zip) and the bigger button hole. Makes no sense? Check couple more photos and it starts making sense (hopefully).

Here is the drawing of the giant button hole for the bag! Yes, the bag has one "small" button hole (the one on the bottom) and two large ones. The button hole on the bottom is 8cm wide, should be enough for almost any baby car seat. If it's not, just make it wide enough. Then measure 5cm to the left and right and 5cm up (drawn with black colour) and mark your big button holes. The button hole is 38cm long and after the turn point on the top, 5cm wide. So two large L-holes. The blue markings are for the snaps, I used three on both sides, distances as shown in the picture. 

For now, just mark these on the reverse side of the fabric. I recommend using something more permanent than chalk as you need these later on, just make sure you aren't using anything that shines through or spreads in the washing machine.

I used pencil as you can (hopefully) see here.

Make a tab for the zip for easier sewing and also great if you don't have a zip with desired length.

Then prepare the snap "flaps". I really like this fabric but it is horrible to take a picture out of it if you are trying to show something! Follow the green arrows and you should see what I mean. The flaps are used to close the L-button holes so both ends are on different sides of the button hole. I thought it is better that the end with the snap is on the outer side to make the bag more comfortable for the baby.

Cut 6 pieces of fabric, approximately 5cm x 8cm (width x height). Cut out a bit smaller pieces out of fusible lining (you don't need it in seam allowances), iron them on.

Iron also small pieces of fusible lining on the cover fabric, on the places where the snap goes and also to where the flap is going to be attached.

Sew the flaps. I tried to make them tube first but way too narrow to turn them right way! Much easier to sew the other end with right sides facing, turn and fold lengthwise, fold and iron the two longer edges, stitch over.

Tools I had for fastening the snaps; pliers by Prym and usual pliers from tool box to tight them a bit. Prym pliers are great for fastening the snaps but if you don't secure the snaps with the other pliers, they tend to come of. 

I usually press the snap on every side like this after using the Prym pliers:

If you are working with delicate fabrics, it would be good idea to use a small piece of fabric between the pliers to prevent them from harming the main fabric.

Sew the snap flaps on their place. I sew them with small zig zag and added extra piece of fabric on back side. Attach the other half of the snaps on the other side of the button hole soon-to-be. Use extra layer of fabric here too, else the snap will just come through the fabric.

In the next steps you want to see where the button hole comes, so sew around your markings, just with long straigh stitch. Remember to sew exactly where the button holes are going to be, you won't have any other markings visible later on.

I made the top of the bag from different fabric, now is the time to sew the bottom and the top together. Iron that seam with seam allowances open (1.). Sew the top seam and iron again seam allowances open (2.).

Sew also the top seam of the linings. If the fabrics you are using are very thick, you can sew them separately, I sew my linings together, easier to handle. Place the lining against the main fabric right sides facing.  I have to say the clips work here perfectly! The pins always makes the thick parts a bit wonky. Sew around the hood, from one corner to another. Leave the long sides open.

Turn, iron and stitch over.

For the next step make sure that the layers stay put. I used clips but if you don't have them, baste stitch around the open edges.

Sew around the button hole marking stitch using regular straight stitch. This is to prevent the fabrics stretching when making the button hole and it goes through every layer so it also keeps them still.

Sew the button hole following the markings made before, mind the snap flaps.

Remove the baste and support stitches when visible.

Sew the zip onto the lining, fold and iron the seam allowance of the top fabric.

Pin/clip and sew.

Sew the bottom. I chose to sew it so that zip is on the other side but you can also place it in the middle, depending what kind of form you want for the bottom of the bag.

Almost ready!

Cut open the button hale. Be very careful! You don't want to ruin your hard work now.

This is how the belts come through the bag. Thanks to the big button holes and snap flaps you can pretty easily place and remove it from the car seat or pram, even with the sleeping baby (at least if he/she is heavy sleeper and don't mind you moving him/her around!). Just remember that there are only snaps on the back, they won't support the baby's weight even for a second so always support the baby like usually.

I have to say that if making the bag was a real piece of work with figuring out the sewing order, so was writing this blog post! It has been few months when I sew the bag so trying to remember every step was quite hard. This tutorial is by far the most complex in this blog but I'm glad I managed to write it all down!

I hope you enjoy it and find some use for it. Of course if I missed something or there's something unclear, just ask.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

This and that

And again it has been two weeks since I last wrote here, sorry about that. The kids had a full two and half week Christmas holiday of which we were away one and half. It was a great holiday even though I didn't have much time for sewing, or at least for blogging. I know, the whole December was silent too.

I have been reading all the blogs with all those Christmas crafts published almost daily and I had so many ideas too but simply didn't find any time to blog about them! I had this ambitious idea to make all the presents for relatives and friends myself. So I did. I also made some worry eaters for local Christmas sales. So what did I sew? For me it feels like I didn't do anything much but this is what I made:

12 worry eaters
9 multipurpose scarves
1 bag
2 table runners
5 pairs of gloves
some Christmas ornaments

So... actually. I did do something. The bag and gloves were upcycled and I will have own post about making the bag later. Then I took part for the great 12 days of Christmas DIY challenge. I had plans for all of them but simply couldn't find time to make them all. Everything I made you can find here. Then I had promised to take part in Finnish craft bloggers' advent calendar. For that I made Christmas ornaments. I like the challenges and other "get togethers" so much that I usually can't resist them even I know I probably shouldn't. But the community is what is the best part of blogging!

I felt that I didn't do much because I simply didn't have energy to do anything. Sewing has never been harder than it was in December. It felt like I had to force myself to do something and didn't have the usual inspiration or motivation, just did what I had planned before hand. It is this dark winter that gets me, the missing sun light causing depression is a real problem. Calling my tiredness a depression would be underestimating all of those who are diagnosed as depressed but being tired all the time isn't fun anyway.

Together with all the dark (only 5-6 hours of day light) I had some kind of insomnia too. I was tired and couldn't do everything I wanted to so I woke up during the night around 2-3am, was awake for couple hours thinking everything I should be doing and getting more and more anxious because I knew that I still can't do anything if I don't fall asleep right now. Which I of course didn't. Sometimes it even happened that I woke up around 3am, was awake till 5am and when I was just about to fall asleep our daughter came to continue sleeping next to me and woke up after 6am. An hour that I didn't sleep at all so there were the days that I had actually woken up at 3am. That continued for few weeks and I'm still trying to catch up with all the sleep deprivation. I'm better now that the Christmas is behind, nothing obligatory to make and I can actually sleep through the night. Also the day is getting longer every day.

We also had our daughter's birthday, she turned 6. Finally, if you ask her. She is born in December so she will always be one of the last ones to have a birthday and is probably youngest one on her class. She is still a huge Frozen fan so the cake looked like this:

We also had some self-made decorations, some made by me like this:

Branches that were spray-painted grey, heart-wire-thingie and led lights. Easy, super fast and looks great!

Also a candle holder made by the birthday hero herself:

She made this at the preschool and was very proud when we had it in middle of our dinner table. Our kids like crafting, daughter more than the son though, but I usually don't give them strict guide lines to follow. They are more creative when they can think themselves rather than copy from me and the result is usually better than whatever I had in my mind! They are better thinking out of the box than adults and I like to encourage to that. They are already grown used to think what all the odd pieces of this and that could be used for. But sometimes following the guide lines is good too, you learn new techniques for example and after making this my daughter has been suggesting making more of these with different pictures. She also gave me full explanation how to make one.

For the Christmas we went to my "in laws" and there we had very traditional Christmas dinner table:


Potatoes, meet stew, turnip casserole, carrot casserole, meatballs (mainly for the kids' sake), smoked salmon, cold smoked salmon, grave salmon, rosolli salad (beetroot, apple, onion, sour cream, not my favourite), pasta salad with mayonnaise and of course the ham that is missing from this picture.

I don't think anyone was hungry after this even though I think that the whole Christmas dinner tradition should be updated to the 21st century. This is pretty much the menu from the 19th century, just the pasta salad and the different salmons are "new".

And the presents.... Oh my. The adults only got a present or two but the kids! Our two kids, their 8-year old cousin and baby cousin and the Christmas tree looked like this:

And that's not even all! The Santa Claus visited us in the evening and brought some more. With the daughter's birthday in December, the Christmas and our son's birthday in the beginning of March we could easily go through the whole year without buying any new toys. The Lego's were the favourite thing this year; both got three new Lego-packages (and of course other presents too). Our son has been wishing for Lego Prison Island ever since Lego announced it, I think it was in the beginning of last year and he got his wish granted. Oh my with all the screaming! He simply didn't need any other Christmas gifts after that. Later he got Lego Crooks' island and Fire rescue helicopter (the Santa Claus had missed couple packages and we got those after coming home). Our daughter got Lego Ariel's palace, Frozen ice castle and Lego Friends camping package. Most of our Christmas was spend building those! Mostly the kids did the building themselves, they have become very good at following the instructions and rarely need help. The only problem is that they don't realize themselves when they become too tired and would need a break. Can you imagine all the protest and objections that were caused by asking them to stop building and go outside? But out they went and the building could continue after that.

Our son especially is a huge Lego fan. He sleeps with a Lego catalog in his bed and always with some Lego parts too. He likes to look at the Lego pictures and build something small with the parts before falling asleep. If that's his way to calm down and catch the sleep, I'm fine with it. He also likes to save some keepsakes from places he has visited etc. and the package of Lego Prison Island simply couldn't be thrown away! I didn't want the package on our floors so we ended up with a compromise:

The pictures were cut out of the package and hanged to the wall. Perfect solution, now he has un-crinkled picture of his favourite Lego package to look at over his bed. He was so happy that when we hanged the pictures, he wanted to have a picture taken and also be in the picture himself. He usually doesn't like to be photoed...

When we visited my relatives in my home village, the Legos were there too. And how can you go to bed yourself if you don't put your Lego figures to their beds too?

At the New Years Eve we were at home, had some small fireworks, the kids were allowed to stay up as long as they wanted (they went to bed just before midnight, quite well for kids at the age of 5 and 6) and made good food. For the adults home made kebab with garlic sauce, salsa, rice and salad:

I had also made garlic baguette. The kids don't like kebab, too peppery for their taste so I made chicken nuggets for them with regular baguette.

Now the holidays are over and everything is back to normal again. I have been making some repairing rather than sewing anything new, except these slippers for our daughter:

Or are they called slippers? Sneakers? She likes to use these at the school because they aren't slippery like socks and also her socks won't get wet in the hallway so easily or too cold as the floors are always quite cool in big buildings like school. Pattern is my own, very easy to make. The bottom is leather (suede I think it is called), doesn't slip at all and is soft.

My sewing room has also suffered some kind of explosion with all the cleaning around the house. My room is for some reason to stuff everything that doesn't find place at that moment. I'm trying to make a place to enjoy sewing and crafting again. I noticed that I had collected quite a pile of broken bags:

After they were stripped down this is what was left out of them:

Everything else I threw away, the fabrics were in bad condition or otherwise un-usable but all these parts are a real treasure!