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.

edit. I added a drawing about the snap flaps as the photo wasn't very clear. (The drawing is a bit wonky but hope you get the idea...)

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.


  1. Such a comprehensive and detailed tutorial!!! My tutorials almost always take way longer than sewing the original project.

    1. Thanks Pam! Glad to hear it isn't only my "problem". :)

  2. I really love this idea! My first grandchild was just born & I would love to make something like this for her, but I don't understand the part about the snap flaps. What exactly are these for and where do you sew them on the back?

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      The snap flaps are optional, they are there to keep the backside (the middle of it is very loose as it is mostly cut out) on its place. I think that if you use this only for the car seat you can leave them out, I don't think it wrinkles that much under the baby as the babies can't twist and turn in their seats that much. I only added them because I thought the parents might want to use it in a pram as a sleeping bag and then it might get wrinkled quite easily and become uncomfortable for the baby.

      In short the snap flaps are used to keep the middle part on its place and I sew them in the middle part (the part under the baby) and they go over the giant button hole closing it to the main part of the bag. I added a drawing about them, hope that helps. :)

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