Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reversible Car Seat Poncho Tutorial

 
I've been reading a lot about car seat safety- when to turn the seat around (not until at least 2 is the new recommendation) and what to do about bulky winter coats.  It's not safe to buckle your child into their car seat while wearing a bulky winter coat.  We're visiting family in the great northern state of Minnesota soon, which was -20 degrees this week.  The recommended solution of just taking off your kid's coat in the car and using a blanket just won't work when it's that cold.  The solution? A Car Seat Poncho.  A poncho allows you to thread the car seat straps underneath while still keeping your kid safe and warm.

Here's how I made mine.

My son is almost 18 mos, and he wears between a size 18 mos and 24 mos. This poncho tutorial is generous for that size and I'm sure it will still fit him next year since it is down to past his knees.  It's fairly easy to adjust for a larger or smaller child.  I like longer ponchos for car seat use because it covers their entire legs when they are in the car. (Update: It's 2013 and my son is now four years old and he still wears this same poncho!)  You can measure to the ends of their arms, for example, for a shorter poncho.

Step 1: Measure child from their neck to where you want the edge of your poncho to be.  Multiply that by 2 and that's how much fabric to buy.  If you want a hood on your poncho, it's easiest to add at least a few more inches to your yardage when you buy.  I bought 1 1/4 yards of two different pieces of fleece (for the two layers) to make a 23 inch poncho and had enough left to make a hood.

Step 2: You're going to cut your fleece into a circle.  The easiest way to do this is to fold both pieces of fleece (separately) edge to edge twice, so you're folding it in quarters.  Measure out, from the folded corner, the length from step 1 (from your child's neck to where you want the hem to be).  My measurement was 23 inches.  Mark your quarter circle out with pins or draw it if you have something that writes on fleece.

 Cut along your pins:
Step 3: Making the hood.  I had enough fabric left over after cutting the circle to make a hood.  To know what size to make, you can measure a hood that you already have, or measure your child's head.  The measurement I decided on was 12 inches tall and 10 inches wide.  Cut one hood piece from each of your fabrics so the finished hood will have two layers.  Since my robot fleece was one-directional, I cut two pieces (10"x12") of robot fleece and sewed the 10 inch sides together with a 1/4 inch seam so the robots would both be upright on each side of the head.  The blue fleece only needed one piece that was 10" x 23 1/2".
 
You need to fold and sew up one of the sides of both hood pieces.  If your pieces are 10" x 23 1/2" fold them each in half the short way and sew up one of the 12" sides.  Round the corner like this if you don't want a pointy hood.

Turn one hood inside out and place it inside the other hood, right sides together.  Line up the edges of the fabric and sew around the front of the hood that would be around your child's face.

Turn the hood right side out through the open neck and top stitch (pictured above) around the face.  I pinned before top stitching just to keep the seam as even as I could.

You may want to baste stitch the raw neck edge to make the next step easier. 

Now your hood is ready.

Step 4: Making the hole for the hood.  Open up your circles 1/2 way and place one inside the other.  Mark the center with a pin.  Lay out your hood on the edge how you would like it to look (I recommend placing the edges of the hood just a few inches apart) and mark the placement of the edges of the hood on your circle with pins.


 Then cut a line through both layers of fleece the length between your pins.
 After I cut the line (mine was about 11 inches) I slightly rounded the lower edge of the hole that will be facing the front of the poncho.  This is optional.
Step 5: Adding the hood to the poncho.
Sandwich the raw edges of your hood between the two pieces of fleece all the way around the hole.  Fold down the raw fleece edges on the poncho neck as you go around and pin.

 Carefully sew the hood on all around the neckline.  This was the most difficult part for me.
 Now the hood is done!  You should celebrate.  I did.  If sewing the hood on this way is too difficult, try my tutorial on another way to attach the hood, linked here.

Step 6: Making the fringe edge.  Sew around your circle two inches from the edge.  An easy way to make sure your seam allowance is always two inches is to use masking or other tape and place it at the 2 inch mark on your machine.  Keep the edge of your fabric on this mark as you sew.
 Lastly, take some pinking shears and cut a fringe all the way around, making sure to not cut all the way up to the 2 inch seam you just sewed.  I think my fringes are about 3/4 of an inch wide.
You're finished, now try it out in the car.  Congratulations on making your child safer and warmer!
Some people also like to cut a line straight up the back of the poncho to make it easier to put the child in the car seat.  You could use velcro or snaps in the back to keep it closed when not in the car seat.  I opted not to for now to keep it really warm since my kid is still rear-facing.  The back of the poncho will be able to drape over his car seat.  When we turn him around I'll probably cut a slit in the back.  You can also experiment with pockets or arm slits.

I'm not the best at taking the right pictures, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions as you go along. If you make one, share a photo on the Pattern Shmattern Flickr group.
***This tutorial is for personal, non-commercial use only.  Reproduction is prohibited. Making these ponchos using my pattern or tutorial and selling them is prohibited without written permission from the author.***  

30 comments:

  1. What a fantastic tutorial! Thank you so much! I cannot wait to make one!

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  2. This is exactly what I need. My kids are always yelling about their car seat straps being too snug when they have on a jacket, but I do not dare loosen them!! This is just what I was looking for. Thanks a bunch!!

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  3. Thanks for the tutorial. You did a good job! I just finished one for my granddaughter and it worked out fine. I did chose to finish the bottom edge by sewing all around it with the right sides together before I cut the opening for the hood. This allowed me to turn it right side out before I proceeded to put in the hood. Even though I am experienced with sewing, I did struggle with putting in the hood and did have to make a couple of corrections to get it right, but it is nice that this is completely reversible now! Thanks again!

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  4. Yay! Fleece is on sale at Hancock Fabrics this month! Thanks so much, this will be a fun and useful project. :-)

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  5. Thank you for this tutorial...I have been searching for an easy pattern for my sister in laws baby due in Feb..As the mother of twins I struggled with this problem also and payed a lot for stroller versions of this ( more like a sleeping bag style) worked great but this would have been easier and quicker...I started looking for a pattern bc a mom at our tumbling class had her baby in one..She bought it at a craft fair..when I looked up that site, she had trademarked it and was selling them for 70.00! Unbeleivable! Thank you so much for a fun project!

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    1. Wow 70.00$$$???
      Hmm. I make them completely customized on Etsy for less than that. Geesh. I hope they're made with unicorn fur ;)

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  6. Just made this for my 6-month old (in preparation for our upcoming Minnesnowta winter). I really love the idea! I am just learning how to sew and I'm teaching myself, so I made some mistakes along the way. I am overall pleased with how this turned out, but I would change one thing: When sewing on the hood and the neckline, sew it with the "outside" side facing up - all those layers of fleece were tricky to work with, and they slipped in a few places. My inside layer looks great because I could control it, but the outside leaves something to be desired. Perhaps it was my fabric, though, that added the extra challenge - I used "ultra cuddle" fleece from Joann Fabrics that is a bit fluffier and softer, perhaps regular fleece holds and pins better. All in all, a great project. Thanks for sharing this!

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  7. extra cute! I'm trying this tomorrow.
    Where do you buy your fabric? It's extra cute.

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    1. I think the robot fleece came from Walmart and the pirate fabric is from Joann.

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  8. Thanks for the tutorial! I made them for my two boys, am going to make one for my niece, and will probably end up making some for friends. I found it much easier to make the slit for the neck/hood using a rotary cutter to cut through the two layers of fleece.

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  9. I'm going to attempt this..its getting cold out. When measuring for the fabric though, you measure and multiply by 2. Does this give you how much fabric you need in total or of each pattern?

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    1. Of each pattern, so by 4 if you're going with one color only.

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  10. Going to try to make this. Did you make a 23" poncho with this tutorial or a 46". It's kind of confusing the way it reads.

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    1. I made this and it turned out pretty nicely. Instead of a straight hole for the hood, I opted for a circle which I felt was easier to sew. I also opted to use a zig-zag stitch when attaching the hood which eliminated the need to tuck in the raw edges which was proving cumbersome and time consuming. The zig-zag gave it a nice decorative touch and the raw edges of the fleece don't even show. : ) Thanks for the tut!

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    2. It's 23 inches from neck to hem, so it's 46 if you open it up and measure the diameter. Hope that helps!

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  11. I was looking for alternatives to a winter coat in the carseat and came upon your instructions. I just finished making the poncho for my daughter and it came out great. I consider myself an intermediate level sewer and I was easily able to make this. The hood was a bit daunting, but surprisingly there was less blood, sweat, and tears shed than I thought there would be. Thanks so much for the instructions!

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  12. I just finished one of the poncho's. You're right the hood is tricky. I'm making 2 of them, so hopefully the second one will be a bit easier. I also put a 6" zipper in the front. Great project and didn't turn out too bad for an occasional sewer. Heather D......how did you attach the hood with zigzag? Can you explain further?

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  13. Thanks so much for the tutorial - just finished creating one for my third and youngest for this winter :-D I posted a few pictures to the Flickr group!

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  14. I'm doing these a little different, I am cutting a circle for the head and sandwiching the hood between the two layers, right sides together, and sewing the neckhole basically inside out, then flipping the layers into position. Not sure how to better describe it. It's quite simple when done this way. I have found a large oatmeal container lid tracing makes an ideal sized opening. It leaves a little over an inch of non-hooded neck in front. However - I always find in the end no matter how obsessively I pin, my two layers somehow don't end up the same length. I have to sort of hold the poncho up by the hood and fluff the layers straight, then pin, then trim, then I just do a simple straight stretch stitch close to the edge to connect the layers. I have tried experimenting with a totally neat sewn edge version which required me to cut open the front and I then put a zipper in (I don't think it was worth the extra step as my daughter now wants one without a zipper) but even then sewing everything before the final flip you can tell the bottom edges somehow ended up not quite the same length.

    Are you trimming the edges even before the fringe step? It is a mystery why my edges keep ending up not quite the same.

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    1. I haven't had much trouble getting the edges to align correctly, but a fringe hem is also very forgiving if it's not perfectly straight.

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    2. I was brainstorming on making my son's and was thinking I would sew the hood in the same way. Cut the hole, "open" the layers of the poncho and stick the hood in between the layers, sew. Then same for the front half. Glad to see that someone else has used this method before I try it! I like not having any raw edges, and having everything tucked in neatly.
      I plan to hem the outer edges together and then tuck them to the inside (between layers) and topstitch for neatness.

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    3. I think that's a lot like the alternate method I have linked. I hope it works out for you! Anything to make it easier.

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  15. I would like to make a carseat poncho how do i get permission to print your tutorial

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    1. If you want to print it out for your own use so you can make your own poncho, that's fine with me. Just don't go publish it anywhere.

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  16. won't do that can I print it now keithnmike@msn.com

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    1. Sure you can print this blog post for personal use.

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  17. Hi, I am going to make this with fleece lined with flannel for my 18 month old Grandson. Should I prewash the fabrics first before I cut and assemble the pattern? Thank you.

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    1. I would definitely wash and dry the flannel before cutting and sewing, since that will shrink a bit. The fleece shouldn't shrink, so you can wash that or not, it shouldn't matter.
      Sounds like a good idea. I'd love to see a picture when you're done. My son still wears his from time to time and he just turned 5!

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  18. Hi! I am making this as a gift for someone's child who does not live close to me. I can't ask mom to measure since it's a surprise. The child is in 18 month clothes. Should I be fine using the measurements you used in the tutorial? Thanks! I plan on sewing this up in one afternoon!

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    1. It should be fine. The only thing you might want to make smaller is the hood (just if it is your preference) because I made it pretty big. You might want to make it maybe an inch smaller, or you could just make sure the front edges of the hood where it connects to the poncho are closer together than I did to make it a little more snug.

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