A while back I posted about some projects I was finishing up, and one of them was this car seat protector pad.  It really has been one of the most useful things I have made recently.  I made it because I was potty training my son, but believe me, I wish I had made it long before.

Let me tell you a story.  This is not for the faint of heart (or stomach).  One day when I was pregnant with my second child, we were driving Marissa and her husband Richard up to the airport.  I was sitting in the back seat- in the middle, next to my one year old in his car seat.  That alone was uncomfortable.  When we got to the airport, we found out that not only was their flight cancelled, but my son was… really sick to his stomach.  I’ll spare you the really nasty details and only share the fairly nasty ones.  I’m considerate like that.  😛  His car seat was a mess, and after dumping it, we really had no way of cleaning it.  He had to sit, practically naked at that point, in a nasty car seat all the way home.  Remember who was sitting next to him?  That was 5 months pregnant me.  Enough said.  Once we got home, we had to figure out a way of getting the car seat clean.  This seems crazy to me now, but I think the tag on the car seat cover said you couldn’t machine wash it.  What?!  Or at least I was convinced of that.  So guess who ended up washing that dang seat cover in the bathtub?  My husband, of course. 😉  I helped.  Most of the mess was right in the bottom of the seat.

This whole nasty scenario could have been largely avoided if we had been using a removable pad.  That said, you never know where kids are going to be… um… aiming… when they get sick, but this is a pretty good start.  In fact, that same son tossed his cookies in the car last week, and I was able to keep his seat cookie-free, thank goodness.  This pad has also kept his seat easy-cheese and chocolate- free on a road trip, and kept it dry when he fell asleep and we forgot to put a pullup on him first.  I know some of you have been in that same boat!

Ok, I promise I’m getting to a point here.  Last time I posted about this, some of you asked for a pattern for such a pad, but I just kind of “winged it” (“wung it”?) when I made it and didn’t have dimensions or directions.  This week I made another one for my youngest son’s car seat, and  partway into it, I realized I should pay attention to what I was doing so I could share it here.  You’ll have to forgive the lack of pictures on the first few steps until I made that realization.

My sons both have the same-ish car seat- I believe it is the Alpha Omega Elite.  I think this tutorial will work for most similar car seats, but you can definitely tweak it to meet your needs.  It will at least be a starting place.

Car Seat Protector Pad {Tutorial}

Materials Needed:
Cotton flannel for the top layer, or any other absorbent material you choose (all fabric should be prewashed)
Rubberized flannel, PUL, or other waterproof material for the bottom layer
Batting or high quality fleece for the middle layer
Serger or sewing machine
2 small pieces of velcro (optional)

Cut one rectangle about 18″x 20″ from all three pieces of fabric. (These dimensions can be easily altered based on your car seat.  These are the dimensions I used, but you can make it square if you want- customize it for the perfect fit!)

If you have a serger, layer the fabrics with the batting in the middle, and the flannel and PUL on either side, right sides facing out.  Serge around the whole thing, rounding out the front two corners.  Cut straight slits (these are for the car seat straps to go through) that are 4 1/2″ long, 5″ from the back (the longer side).  Serge those edges too.

If you are using a sewing machine, you’ll have to do this a little differently.  Layer the fabric with the flannel and the PUL right sides together, and the batting on top.  Pin it all together, and cut each of the slits the same as described above, 4 1/2″ long and 5″ from the back.  Now sew all around the whole thing, leaving an opening on the back edge about 6″ wide to turn the whole thing right side out.  Round out the front two corners to make it look nicer.  Clip corners, and turn it all right side out, and topstitch the back side.

Now you should have something that looks, more or less, like this:

In order to contour the pad to the car seat’s shape, we need to add two darts.  Make a small mark 3″ from the edge, and another 7″ from the edge.  Repeat this on the other side.

Fold the flaps in, matching up the little marks you just made.  Pin in place.  Draw a straight line from the mark at the top to the edge of the fold.

Sew along the lines you just drew.  If you want, serge along the lines to reinforce and remove excess fabric.

So far so good!

To make the buckle opening, draw a line which is 2 1/2″- 3 1/4″ wide depending on the size of your car seat buckle.  This line should be positioned in the center, 9″ from the back.  Now, depending on your car seat, you might just want to ignore my measurements and lay the pad down on top of it, and mark where the buckle actually is to get a custom fit.

Use the buttonhole setting on your sewing machine to go over the line, then open it up with your seam ripper.

Check to make sure the buckle fits through the slit; if not, just make the slit longer by adding length to the buttonhole on each side, again with your buttonhole setting and seam ripper.

You can be done now if you want, or you can add velcro which will help keep the pad in place.  You don’t need much- just two small square-ish pairs.

Sew the pieces of velcro on the corners as shown.  The lower corners should be the loop velcro (soft), with the velcro on the top of the fabric.  The top (angled) corners have the hook (rough) velcro, with the velcro on the underside of the fabric.

Here’s another view of what the velcro should look like once sewn on:

Slap those pads on the car seat, stick the velcro together around the straps, pull the buckle up through the slit, and you’re in business!

Here’s crossing my fingers that we can just avoid any more cookie tossing in the car from here on out! (But now you’re prepared, just in case!)

Any crazy car- mess stories out there?!