These car seat ponchos are easy to make and keep children warm in their car seats without sacrificing safety. Learn to sew a car seat coat.
This post contains affiliate links. If you use one of these links to make a purchase, I may receive a commission. This does not effect the price of the product. Thank you. This post was originally posted December 25, 2012. It has been edited several times over the past few years and updated.
Been hearing a lot about car seat coats, or car seat ponchos? Here’s everything you need to know about why you need one for your child, how to use them, and how to make one. If you don’t have time to make one, buy one on Etsy from a small business!
Everything You Need to Know about Car Seat Ponchos
Why Do I Need to Use a Special Car Seat Coat?
Winter parkas should NOT be used in car seats. In an accident, they can compress and the child can be ejected from the car seat. They are not safe. Here’s some great information from Safe Ride 4 Kids about the safety issues with winter coats.
Winter coats are also difficult to buckle a 5 point harness over. And as the car heats, your child is not able to remove the coat to get more comfortable.
The solution to this problem is to use a car seat coat. It keeps kids warm while running errands. Your child can be strapped into their car seat underneath the poncho… which means they can easily get it on and off if they get hot (assuming they’re old enough and agile enough to do so).
How to Use a Car Seat Poncho
Here’s a Facebook video of how they work…
They’re very easy to make and you can adjust the length for the height of your child. The 23″ length worked fairly well for my sons from age 1 through age 6. It was pretty long on him at 1 years old, but we carried him everywhere so it wasn’t a problem. The Star Wars poncho has been my ABSOLUTE favorite that I’ve made because they look SO adorable walking around in it… for some reason it’s just cuter than the other fabric that I tried. Sqweee!
|DIY Car Seat Coat on my 95% for his height 1 year old son.|
We always have a parka and/or snowsuit for snow play at home, but these ponchos are PERFECT for errands.
Supplies for a DIY Carseat Poncho
Supplies listed below may include affiliate links to the products.
- Fleece. You’ll want an inner fabric and an exterior fabric (if you live in a warmer climate, you could probably use just one layer). I could have used 1.5 yards easily for this, but I’d bought 2 yards to be safe. The fabric I used for the Star Wars poncho can be found on Fabric.com, but click here for a list of ALL of their Star Wars fabric. Not into Star Wars? They have Harry Potter Fleece, Pokemon Fleece, Mickey Mouse Fleece, Marvel Fleece, DC Comics Fleece, and Mario Fleece too! If you’re a new customer to Fabric.com, click here to get 10% off your first order.
- Bias tape: I needed more than the 3 yards that came in the package so expect to use about 4-5 yards. Or you can make your own.
- Sewing equipment: sewing machine, pins, scissors, and measuring tape.
- Car seat poncho pattern, free for subscribers (you’ll be directed to the pattern once you click ‘confirm’ for your subscription)
- Optional: Snaps for the neck (or you could try hook & loop which is the generic term for Velcro)
If you sew a lot, make sure to check out our new app, Sew Organized, available FREE on the Android Play Store and the Apple App Store.
Sewing a Car Seat Poncho with Hood
For this tutorial, you need to use two layers of fleece. If you’re in an area with warmer winters, you could probably do only one layer. It will change how you sew your poncho slightly, but it won’t be a problem. Start by folding your fleece fabric in half twice.
Measure your child from their neck down to the area you want your poncho to end. If it’s their knees, measure to that point. If it’s to their hips, measure to that. This is a matter of personal preference. I used 23″. From the corner of your fabric where all four corners are folded, measure out your 23″ (or whatever) and mark all along the curve.
Cut along these markings (connect the dots).
You’ll do the same for your interior fabric. As you can see above, I cut both fabrics at the same time, making my scissors very very angry at me.
Once you’ve cut that, you want to cut your opening for the hood. I used a CD/DVD as my template. From the same corner as before, you’ll want to use a QUARTER of your CD as the area to cut.
Now you’ll want to cut out the fabric for your hood in both fabrics. You need two cuts of the pattern per fabric (interior and exterior).
Sew your interior hood pieces together and sew your exterior hood pieces together, sewing along the curve for the back and top of the hood. You’ll leave the front of the hood and the bottom of the hood open.
Here’s a bigger photo from the ‘Game on’ poncho.
I recommend watching the video at the bottom if you want to do it this way. It’s complicated.
But this is where I’m going to deviant from my video tutorial a little to make your life easier. If you don’t ‘get’ the other hood method, this should be easier. Pin your exterior hood fabric to your exterior poncho, right sides together. Sew. Repeat with your interior fabrics. This sort of creates two one layer ponchos.
Then face your two ponchos right sides together. Sew the hoods and neck area together. Leave a small area to turn and top stitch. Turn and top stitch your hood/neck area.
At this point, the bottom of your poncho needs to be finish. This is what it looks like…
Sew your bias tape to finish the bottom edges of the poncho or you can just snip strips at the bottom of the fabric and tie them together for a fringe look.
Adding a Snap for the Neck of the Poncho
If you want the neck to be more snug than mine is, you can add a snap or two. You can learn how to install snaps like a pro here, but here’s a photo of the snaps I added. I added one additional snap for if I wanted the neck even tighter after I took this photo because I wanted the option to make it tighter or looser.
With the newer pattern adjustments, you may not need to add this, but I did because I cut my original neck too wide when I made the Star Wars version of the poncho. Of all three ponchos I’ve made, the Star Wars one is my favorite.
Here is my oldest son wearing the poncho in his car seat. He’s all buckled in underneath…
Video Tutorial for Sewing a Car Seat Coat
Note: Measurement I used for the length of my poncho was 23″… my video has instructions on how to adjust if needed, but this measurement has worked well for my kids. I’ll add a pattern for the hood as well to my subscriber’s only Google Drive folder- it’s the hood-pattern file- but you can also just copy the hood on a current coat too!
This project was inspired by: Reversible Car Seat Poncho Tutorial.
Download the Free Car Seat Poncho Pattern
You really don’t need the pattern, but I had someone draw up a pattern if you’re more comfortable with a full pattern to follow. You still need to fold your fabric twice for the main poncho and trace the pattern from the double fold corner. The person who drew this up added some extra seam allowance so it’s going to be a bit bigger than my original ponchos. I’m planning to make another poncho using this pattern, but haven’t gotten to it quite yet… so keep that in mind when you’re using this.
Here’s how the pages are setup:
Save a tree and only print the pages with the hood (5, 6, 10, 11). The pattern is free for subscribers so sign up below!
Can’t Sew? Support Small Businesses and Buy a Poncho on Etsy
If you aren’t sure you’ll have the time to finish a poncho before the cold sets in, consider supporting a small business on Etsy. Here are a few sellers who have car seat ponchos available. If you want a particular fabric, you can inquire with the seller on if they do custom orders.
This poncho looks like it snaps or bottoms closer around the neck and the way the sides are finished provide a sleeve of sorts.
The fringes are the look you get from tying the fabric at the bottom.
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