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It gets really really cold here in Chicago during the winter, so when my cousin announced she was pregnant, I knew exactly what I wanted to make as a baby shower gift: a warm, fuzzy, waterproof car seat canopy to protect her sleeping baby from crazy weather!
If you live somewhere with cold winters, a car seat canopy is perfect for protecting a sleeping baby from temperature changes, wind, rain, or snow when moving between the house and the car. I know when I was a baby, I probably hated being woken up and pulled out of a nice warm car to make the trip into the house!
I found this tutorial and was totally inspired to make my own canopy! But go check hers out, it’s patchwork and it’s adorable!
DIY Car Seat Canopy Tutorial
If you have basic sewing skills, this project should be a breeze! Here’s what you need:
- 1.5 yards of soft fleece, interior
- 1.5 yards of polyurethane laminate (PUL), exterior
- cargo netting for the window
- 1/4 yard of cotton for the straps
- 10″-12″ of velcro
- a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies (pins, fabric scissors, thread, etc.)
- an iron and ironing board
A car seat canopy may seem like a daunting project, but I promise it’s a lot easier than it looks! The window is the hardest part; for a simpler project, just make the canopy without a window!
NOTE: Remember that regardless of whether or not you add a window to the canopy, the canopy should only be used to protect your child from harsh weather when moving between the car and the house, the car and the store, or other short trips. You do NOT want to leave the canopy over the car seat at all times or you risk suffocation!
The first step is to choose your fabric. Depending on where you live, you could probably get away with making the entire canopy out of a fun printed cotton fabric, but because we’re in Chicago, cotton wasn’t gonna cut it! I chose a soft lime green fleece for the interior of the canopy to help insulate the baby and the car seat from the wind and the cold. For the exterior I used some leftover PUL. PUL is waterproof which is perfect for anywhere with rainy or snowy winters, and it comes in adorable baby patterns because people usually use it to make homemade diaper covers!
The next step is to cut out your pieces. I don’t have a specific pattern for you because every car seat is slightly different, but basically you’re going to cut out a wonky figure 8 from both your interior and exterior fabrics.
The measurements on the photo above are approximate; yours may vary slightly depending on which car seat you have. The most important measurement is the skinny section between the top half and the bottom half. That needs to be exactly the width of the car seat plus 3″ on either side so that when you hang the canopy from the handle, it fits in between the two sides of the handle without bunching.
The other important thing is to make sure that the canopy is tall enough and wide enough to cover the entire car seat and hang over the edges a bit. This one is 50″ total from top to bottom and 48″ wide at it’s widest point, and as you can see in the finished photos, it leaves plenty of room for hanging over the edges!
NOTE: If your piece of fabric isn’t big enough to cut out the whole shape in one piece, just cut out the top and bottom portions separately and then sew them together with a line across the middle!
Once your fabric pieces are cut, line them up on top of each other, right sides in, and pin all the way around. Sew around the entire edge with about 1/4″ seam, leaving a 5″ hole for turning it inside out. Once you’ve sewn the pieces together, turn it inside out, but don’t close the hole just yet!
Adding a window:
If you want to make a windowless canopy, just skip straight to the straps section! Otherwise, cut out a small window from both pieces (this one is about 8″ wide by 6″ tall) about 3″ down from the skinny middle part of your canopy.
In order to make the inside edges of my window nice looking, I made a small 45 degree cut into each corner of the window and folded the extra fabric in so the raw edges would be hidden inside the finished canopy.
Repeat for all four edges of the window in both pieces of fabric and iron the folds. Quick note here: Never iron the waterproof side of PUL or it will melt! For these folds in the PUL, iron from the printed fabric side for a second or two, just long enough to put a crease in the fold, but not so long that the heat of the iron goes all the way through and melts the back side!
Once your edges are pressed, cut a piece of cargo netting about an inch bigger than your window on all sides and put it inside the canopy through the turning hole (where you turned the canopy inside out). This will allow you to leave the raw edges of the netting inside the canopy so you have nice “finished” edges whether you’re looking at the inside or outside.
Stretch the netting out taught across the window, make sure the folds are still folded towards the inside of the canopy, and pin it all in place. If you could look at a cross section of one of the window edges, you would have PUL on top, then the 1/4″ of folded back PUL, then the netting, then the 1/4″ of folded fleece, and then the entire fleece backing on the bottom. Top stitch around all four corners of your window, making sure to sew through all layers of all three fabrics.
Adding a window cover:
If it’s cold where you live, you might want to add a cover over your window so that heat doesn’t escape through the netting when you’re not using it. Also, if you leave the window uncovered, rain and snow can fall in on your baby, which I’m sure they won’t like!
Luckily it’s really easy to make a window cover! Cut out two pieces of fabric that are 2″ bigger than your window on all sides. I used two pieces of fleece instead of one piece of fleece and one piece of PUL because I thought the lime green color would be a fun accent on the exterior of the canopy, but it doesn’t really matter which two fabrics you use!
Place the two pieces together, right sides in, and sew around all four edges, leaving a 2″ hole for turning. Turn the cover right side out and close the hole. Center the cover over your window and sew the bottom edge onto the outside of the canopy. This will let gravity help keep the window cover open when you want to see in. Sew on two small pieces of velcro at the top corners (with the corresponding velcro pieces sewn onto the canopy itself just above the window corners) to help keep the window cover closed.
Now you have a window and a window cover!
The last step is to add straps to your canopy. (If you skipped the window section, close the turning hole in your canopy at this point.)
Cut out two 8″ squares from a piece of fun printed cotton. I made these straps using the same method I used for this diaper strap. That post has a full tutorial with tons of pictures, but I’ll briefly repeat the instructions here as well. Fold one square in half, right side out, and press the fold. Then open up the fold and fold the bottom of the square up until the raw edge meets the center fold you just pressed. Press the new fold, and repeat for the top. Then refold your original fold and press. You now have a long strip of fabric with folds instead of raw edges! Top stitch around all edges of the strip, and then repeat for the other square.
Once you have two strips of fabric, add a small piece of velcro to each end so that you can fold the strip into a loop held closed by velcro. Then sew the middle of each strap onto the skinny middle part of your canopy, about 8″-10″ apart from each other.
And you’re finished! Velcro the straps onto the handle of your car seat, and you’re good to go! The middle of the canopy is held up by the straps, and the back is held up by the back of the car seat, so you don’t have to worry about the canopy falling down onto any sleeping children.
Keep the window cover closed to protect your baby from wind, rain, or snow. Or open it up to take a peek inside to make sure all is still well!
And you don’t have to remove the cover to put your kid in the car seat or to take him out; just lift up the entire bottom half!
The reason I had leftover PUL with adorable dinos on it is because I made a diaper bag for a friend and lined it with PUL so she could easily clean out any spills! What else would you use PUL for?
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