Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo



Car seat covers

by: Chica

Car seat covers
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I am still completely in love with the Nissan Leaf I got a few months ago, and I do my best to keep it nice and clean. That means I hate to get in it if my clothes are dirty, wet, or stinky, because I don’t want to mess up that spotless upholstery! I decided to make some removable car seat covers for times when I need to protect the seats. This was a super easy and fast sewing project.

To make these seat covers, you only need to take one measurement, and that’s around the fattest part of the headrest. You’ll need this measurement to make sure you make a hole that will fit over the headrest later.

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For the materials, you need a beach towel and a vinyl tablecloth. The towel is great for soaking up any water or sweat, and it will be comfy to sit on. The vinyl tablecloth will be used as a liner on the back, to keep the moisture from seeping through to the seats. Don’t bother to get a really nice tablecloth for this, either. The thin, cheap ones will actually be more comfortable to sit on, easier to sew, and easier to fold up when not in use.

car seat covers

The first thing to do is make the hole for the headrest. Put the towel face down on the table and measure 10 inches from the end and make a mark. Then measure the width of the towel, divide in half, and mark the center, forming an X where the two marks meet.

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Divide your headrest measurement in half (mine was 26 inches, so half of that is 13 inches) and draw a line that long, centered on the X.

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Cut along the line, creating an opening.

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Lay the tablecloth out on the floor and put your towel on top. Make it all nice and smooth, then cut the tablecloth so it’s about 1″ bigger than the towel on all sides.

car seat covers

Put the towel and tablecloth wrong sides together, and fold the edge of the tablecloth in a half inch or so.

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Line the edge up with the towel and pin in place. Do this on all four sides of the towel, then use the sewing machine to sew the edges together.

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When you’ve sewn all around, you’ll have a single piece with towel on one side and vinyl on the other.

car seat covers

You’ve still got to close up that hole, though. Use some pins to hold the towel in place around the area you cut, then use the sewing machine to sew two rows of stitches around the hole.

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Finally, use your scissors to cut the tablecloth along the slit, trimming away any excess. If you want to get fancy here, you could encase the edge with some ribbon or bias tape, but I decided to keep it simple.

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To put the cover on the seat, just slip it over the headrest and down onto the seat back.

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A quick straightening and smoothing of the rest of the towel and you’re all set!

car seat covers

The cover comes off just as quickly as it goes on, and you can fold it up and stick in the trunk for when you need it. The vinyl backing also makes this a great waterproof blanket for a picnic, play date at the park, or a stint on the sidelines at the soccer field. And the whole thing is machine washable! (Probably best to line dry, though, so the vinyl doesn’t melt.)

car seat covers

I liked this seat cover so much that I just had to make another one for the other seat. Now I’m all set for summer!

car seat covers

Car seat covers
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35 comments so far:

  • 1
    Pam in IL 04/24/2012 at 9:18 am

    Just want to point out that if a new car has side airbags in the seat, any seat covering will interfere with the airbag deployment. Unfortunately, we found out the hard way.

  • 2
    PatGLex 04/24/2012 at 10:22 am

    OMG! I *hate* the seat covers that the auto stores provide….they usually have some stupid design on them. You’ve just given me inspiration to custom make something that will work for my car! And I think I could get by with using upholstery fabric and maybe the terry towels, just for traction underneath. Thanks for the idea!

  • 3
    Chica 04/24/2012 at 7:14 pm

    So happy to have inspired you, PatGLex!

  • 4
    Andrea 05/06/2012 at 7:42 am

    I found this on Craft Gossip and think it’s amazing. Unfortunantly I don’t have a shiny new car. I do have a recently potty trained little one and a road trip coming up, and I think I could modify this to make one for her carseat just in case… I’ve had plenty of occasions where I’ve had to remove and disassemble a car seat to wash them. Thank you!!

  • 5
    Chica 05/06/2012 at 9:22 am

    Andrea, I love the idea of adapting this for a car seat, perhaps with a kitchen towel or hand towel? Besides helping with potty training accidents, I bet it would save headaches from spilled juice or ketchup during that road trip!

  • 6
    Jenni 05/08/2012 at 8:47 am

    That is an amazing idea! You are certainly creative! :)

  • 7
    christina 06/02/2012 at 8:34 pm

    i love this idea! thank you for posting it…i just found some really adorable beach towels and am going to make my car some…i think i might add some elastic or ribbon to tie underneath my seat and in the back so it doesnt slide…LOVE THIS!

  • 8
    Chica 06/03/2012 at 9:47 am

    Christina, I love the idea of the elastic under the seat. Let us know how it comes out!

  • 9
    Dawn 06/24/2012 at 10:57 am

    Very creative, just bought a new truck, this will be great! However, I will probably try this without the tablecloth, because I bought the exact tablecloth for my patio tables, when I washed them the backing came off, and I did not dry them.

  • 10
    Yvette 08/28/2012 at 12:28 pm

    This is exactly what I was looking for. (Just picked up the perfect towels for 1/2 price). If you place the peices face to face and sew the hole first, clipping the corners, it will have a more finished look. You just need to turn everything right side out after you sew the headrest hole and continue on from there, sewing the outside edges last instead of first. Another option would be to cover the raw sewn edges at the headrest hole with seam binding.

  • 11
    Lori 05/08/2013 at 9:28 pm

    I have been wanting to do this for some time. I am going to try without the vinyl backing. Although not a “water proof” more comfortable and and good to protect from sweat after a workout.

    Gonna try this, this week!

  • 12
    Sue 05/19/2013 at 7:31 am

    Neat idea!! I agree with Dawn, though, about washing the tablecloth..I have also washed them and the backing has always come off…If I may make a suggestion…instead of vinyl tablecloth use a shower curtain (fabric-type)..not the plastic liner (although that may work too). Thanks for this creative idea!!

  • 13
    Chica 05/19/2013 at 9:22 am

    Great idea to use a shower curtain, Sue! I’m sure that would hold up a lot better.

  • 14
    Heather 06/06/2013 at 5:50 pm

    Just made one – super simple!
    My car is far from new haha but I have leather seats, which translates to slip-n-slide in the summer… hopefully this helps!
    My only modification was on the headrest slit: after I made cuts in both layers for it, I turned the ends under so they’re not seen, pinned them in place and ran a zig-zag stitch over the edge all the way around the slot so it’s nice and finished (plus reinforced).
    Thanks for the idea! I’m about to do the same, just with 2 towels sewn together first, and no headrest hole… gonna be the dog’s beach blanket so she stays off mine!

  • 15
    Chica 06/07/2013 at 10:54 am

    So glad you enjoyed this project, Heather. Great idea to reinforce with zig-zag stitching!

  • 16
    Sofie 08/01/2013 at 10:50 am

    I love these for my husband, who’s always at the beach! I don’t own a sewing machine but I wish I could buy some from you :)

  • 17
    Sue 03/03/2014 at 12:03 pm

    Instead of using a vinyl tablecloth, try using a waterproof mattress cover. Be aware of the proper waterproof side in positioning .

  • 18
    Chica 03/03/2014 at 12:47 pm

    Great idea, Sue!

  • 19
    JULIYA MARTIN 03/29/2014 at 3:21 am

    Great is clean ,simple and focused .it was really very useful.

  • 20
    Karen 05/02/2014 at 11:59 am

    I purchased one of these at the tennis pro shop at a tournament. Paid an insane amount for it!! silly me!
    However , My neice is playing college tennis and i think this will be a great addition to her graduation gift.
    I think all my grads may get one this year!!
    thanks for the instruction. I think I will add contrasting bias tape to the opening to finish the edges and to give it a little “pop” of color.

  • 21
    Chica 05/02/2014 at 5:49 pm

    Contrasting bias tape is a great idea, Karen!

  • 22
    Sally 07/02/2014 at 8:26 pm

    If you have a removable head rest can’t you just make the slit big enough for the holes?

    Also how much are you leaving to hand over the back?

  • 23
    Chica 07/14/2014 at 8:01 pm

    Sally, if your headrests are easy to remove every time you want to put the cover on or take it off, then you can definitely make the slit smaller. My headrests are kind of a paint to remove, though.

  • 24
    Cathy B 07/31/2014 at 12:40 am

    This is perfect. I have leather seats in my car & dont like them in the Texas summers. I knew if I looked long enough I would find a great way to make them…. just have to borrow my moms sewing machine now. :)

  • 25
    Mona T 11/05/2014 at 3:09 pm

    These are awesome! I wanted to get really crazy covers for my car, but couldn’t find any that were just right, so I wound up with “plain” animal prints. My car is 15 years old, so I think I can look into replacing the covers I have (and I can probably use the fabric from the old covers for something). Thank you!

    I found your site through Pinterest, and I’m having trouble leaving it.;-)

  • 26
    Chica 11/08/2014 at 9:09 am

    Mona, we’re glad you found us. Hope you find lots of inspiration here!

  • 27
    Bella 12/04/2014 at 5:44 pm

    I was trying to sketch something like this out and then bam I found your tutorial on Pinterest! I just a got a new (to me car) with leather heated seats in the front and I have dog. Been trying to figure out the best way to do it! Thanks! I’m just going to use a towel and instead of making a slit to fit over the headrest (read: HUGE headrest) I’m going to add buttons to secure it. :)

  • 28
    Chica 12/06/2014 at 5:15 pm

    So glad we could help, Bella! Hope you’re pleased with your covers.

  • 29
    FunKyChick 03/21/2015 at 8:43 pm

    i am going to make one of these for my dog to sit/lay on in the car. I will just hose it off to clean and hang on the clothesline to dry. I may use vinyl from the fabric department or a vinyl shower curtain on the back.

  • 30
    Sue 08/16/2015 at 2:51 pm

    do you sell those hawaiin print car seat covers because I want a pair

  • 31
    Jo 08/17/2015 at 10:06 am

    Sorry, Sue, but we don’t sell tehse seat covers. We made them from beach towels we found at Walmart!

  • 32
    Anna 08/27/2016 at 6:14 pm

    LOVE that I found this. I was just brainstorming this morning about what I would need to create a seat cover for the drive home after super sweaty runs, and I came up with the exact idea, beach towel backed with a vinyl tablecloth. But first I had to search pinterest for any other tips or ideas. Question though, if you have time. With attaching it only by sliding the headrest through the hole and also being backed by vinyl, how well does it stay put while you’re using it?

  • 33
    Chica 08/28/2016 at 3:49 pm

    Anna, great minds think alike! I don’t have any trouble with it staying put, but keep in mind that I only use it when I’m particularly dirty or sweaty, so keeping it in place isn’t a big deal. If I tried to use it every day, it would probably be a lot more difficult.

  • 34
    lora 11/09/2016 at 9:17 am

    Very cute!

  • 35
    Gemma 06/16/2017 at 9:17 pm

    I’m so excited to try this! Thank you!

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