Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Craft Tutorial: Roll Up Car Seat Sun Shade

A comment on a recent craft tutorial of mine said something along the lines of “You had a need and you filled it!” by making the craft that I did. I agree…many of my crafts on this blog were inspired by a need to make life more convenient, but with my own fun twist if I can think of something!

This couldn’t be more true for my Roll-Up Car Seat Sun Shade, that I’ll be showing you how to make today.

Roll Up Car Seat Sun Shade by The Silly Pearl

I needed to make this because, in a nutshell, I’ve grown weary of the moans and groans of “My car seat is TOOOOO HOT!” all summer long, and the inevitable stand-off between me and my girls in the parking lot: “Please get in your seat.” “No! It’s too hot!” and the long line of cars that forms behind the either confused and/or very annoyed driver waiting for my parking space. Okay that was a big nutshell.

The Silly Pearl: DIY Car Seat Sun Shade

I used to use two old blankets to cover the seats, but they would often fall off and then get trampled on. I think I got the idea to use a car shade when we didn’t have the blankets in our car, but I used our fold-up car shade that we use for the windshield to cover one of the seats. I kind of propped it up as best as I could. After that, I thought of how I could fashion it to stay over the car seat, maybe with hooks behind the car’s actual seat, but thought hmm how about if I made something with elastic so it would look like a fitted sheet (or as my husband said, a shower cap!), and a cute fabric lining underneath. And I needed to be able to roll it up and store it away as well.

Here’s how I made my Roll-Up Car Seat Sun Shade.


I found a pair of the roll-up car shades at the Dollar Tree, though sometimes they’re available and sometimes they’re not. But you can also find them at places like Target, a car supply store or this one from Amazon: Set Of 2 All-Purpose Thermal Sun-Heat Shields / Windshield Sun Blocker Shades


I used a thrifted twin fitted sheet for the lining. One twin sheet can make one car seat cover. I had bought both the fitted and flat sheet in this pattern, which my girls love. It’s so them…construction equipment in girly colors! I planned to reuse the elastic on the fitted sheet on the car seat cover.


For tools, I used a disappearing ink pen, scissors, tape measure, pins, sewing machine and thread. If you are not reusing elastic from a fitted sheet, then you’ll also need 1/2” wide elastic.

Some notes before we begin:

  • I needed to make two car seat sun shades since I have two kiddos. The good thing about crafting for two is that I often get to try making things two different ways, learn what works, and pass that on to you in my tutorials. So here I’m going to show you two different ways to make it…one with elastic all the way around, and one with just elastic at the ends. That’s only because I ran out of elastic from the fitted sheet! I could have used some regular elastic or cut it from another fitted sheet, but I thought how I’d check out how it would work with elastic just at the ends for one of them. Hope that it doesn’t get confusing! In the end, both types worked just fine.
  • This car seat sun shade that I created was designed for a convertible car seat. Not sure how it would fit on a booster seat with a back, or an infant seat. And I guess I have to say this: don’t put the car seat sun shade on while your kid is sitting in it. They do make some that are ventilated; these are not.

EDITED 7/1/2013: After using these last summer and this summer, I must say that I like the 2nd version (just elastic at the ends) much better. The one with elastic all around has been harder to wrangle onto the seat. I like the one with just the elastic at the ends because I can put it on with one hand, and my girls can easily put it on too.


I put the sun shade onto my car seat to see if it could cover it well. We have fairly large car seats (the Britax Advocate 70 CS). The sun shade’s shorter dimension (which I’ll call the width) covers my car seats just right, and was about 6 inches longer than I needed. So your standard sun shade should fit on any car seat, since it fits my large ones. And it doesn’t have to cover the sides completely…the important part to cover is the main seat itself as well as the belt and its hardware.

If you’re using a fitted sheet, cut away the elastic to make the sheet easier to work with. Lay the sheet down and then lay the sun shade down on top. Trace around the sun shade with the pen. I didn’t worry about the little cut-out for the rear-view mirror…I just traced that as well. It’s up to you if you want to trim that off or not, but I needed all the width I could get since my car seats are so wide. (By the way, I keep typing “my seat is so wide.” and then I erase it hehe.)


I recommend cutting out the fabric about two inches wider than the tracing line, to give yourself some wiggle room. The silver side of the sun shade is slippery, and even with pins, will slide all over the place.  Oh, if your sunshade comes with elastics like this on one end, keep it for roll-up purposes, and make sure you don’t sew on it.


Next, sew the fabric lining to the sun shade. Pin the sun shade to the fabric, right sides together. Leave an opening for turning the fabric and sew around the edge. I sewed right on the black trim of the sun shade. Part of the black trim will show when I turn it, which looked ok to me. I used a Teflon foot just in case.


Trim the excess fabric off the edges, turn the fabric right side out and machine-stitch the opening closed. If desired, topstitch along the edges. But I didn’t and it was fine. Here’s how it looks turned right side out.


Now for the elastic.Trim the excess fabric off the fitted sheet elastic, leaving the sheet fabric on it. This type of fabric (percale sheeting) shouldn’t fray so we can just leave the edges raw. But again, you can use regular ol’ elastic here.


Time to sew the elastic directly onto the sheet side of the shade. Start in one spot, about 1 inch from the edge, and use a zigzag stitch, stretching the elastic as you sew. Because my sun shade is a few inches too long for my car seat, I sewed the elastic a little further up on one end…I guestimated how much while I sewed (I would have done this differently..more on this in a moment). When you’ve come full circle, trim the elastic, leaving about a 1-inch overlap. Tuck under the end and overlap it on the other end that is sewn down, and stitch it down to secure.


Because of the stretched elastic, it will ruffle up. But I don’t really like the long flappy end. It looks like a lobster tail! This is what I’d do differently…I’d scoot the elastic down so there’s an equal amount of excess fabric on either side, or I’d trim it (see how I did that below). Not that it matters when you’re using it, but say I wanted to make one of these for someone…this would not do.


Here it is on the seat. It works! The flappy lobster tail end isn’t noticeable after all.


And I love how the ruffly effect allows you to see just a glimpse of the lining fabric.


Here it is rolled up. Not only does the lining look cute, but it also helps to keep the reflective side covered when not in use, so it doesn’t blind anyone if the sun shines off of it. Use the elastics to keep it rolled.


There are lots places I can store the rolled-up sun shade when not in use…either the door pocket, the back-of-the-seat pocket, shoved in the seat next to the door, (though I’m always afraid it will fall out of the car that way), but we decided on under the center arm. We usually have the arm down for their water bottles (AAH sorry, the two old blankets we used to use to cover the seats are still there!).


NOTE: The 2nd method, with the elastic just as the ends, starts here. As mentioned in the above edit, I prefer this method because it's easier to put onto the carseat by me and by my kids. NOW, for my next attempt at the car seat sun shade, I decided to actually measure the seat. What a concept!


Then I traced the remaining sunshade onto the flat sheet and cut it out as before. Then this time, I accounted for the measurement plus allowed some room for seam allowance (oh about 2 inches total), and drew a curve for a sewing line onto the back of the sunshade.


I saved the elastic loops by cutting them off and tucked them in under the sewing line, with the sunshade and fabric right sides together, and pinned it in place. Pin all the layers together along the sides and ends as well



Stitch together, leaving a turning hole. On the sides, stitch as before, along the black trim. But when you reach the curve you drew, sew directly onto the curve you drew. Catch the black elastics where you pinned them.


Before you turn the fabric, trim off the excess at the ends.


Turn the fabric and machine stitch the hole closed. Here’s how the elastics should look at the end.


Then for the elastic at the ends, I started right before the curve and sewed down the elastic about 1-2 inches from the edge, again pulling it as I sewed with the zigzag stitch. I stopped when I reached the same point on the other side. Then I repeated this at the other end.



All done. No lobster tail.


When I placed this sun shade on the car seat, it also worked, but it doesn’t have that cute ruffle effect on the sides like on the other one. But the important thing is that it worked!


Here it is fitting snug and trim around the bottom.



  • If I were to do this all over again, I’m actually not sure which way I’d do it (elastic all around vs just at the ends). I polled my husband, my mom and a friend, who all said that the one with the elastic all the way around would *seem* to work better. But, the one with elastic only at the ends works just as well; in fact, it might be easier to put on, particularly for kids.
  • I also think that trimming the ends was unnecessary and made things more complicated. It wasn’t difficult, but it would have been easier to just scoot down the elastics on either side to fit the measurement of the car seat, even if it does give me a slight two-sided lobster tail flap. But anyways, this is how I made them…if you make some yourself, please let me know which way you decided on!

Finally, here we are on a hot day using our car seat sun shades. Check out the skeptical piggy testing it out before she got into the car. Thank goodness, things were much improved, both in terms of temperature as well as convenience. An most importantly, no moaning and groaning. Or at least, there was one less thing to moan and groan about! I’ll take it.

Photo Jul 11, 3 15 44 PM (1)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. And I’m craving lobster.


Linking:  Creative Jewish Mom :: Carolyn’s Homework :: Mad in Crafts :: Tip Junkie :: Fine Craft Guild :: The Trendy Treehouse :: The Frugal Girls :: Tidy Mom :: Whipperberry :: Sassy Sites :: Tatertots and Jello :: Homemaker on a Dime :: The CSI Project


  1. This is GENIUS!!!!! I have 3 full size car seats! I better get on this one!! thanks for the tutorial...I might go with just the elastic at the ends...can always add..

  2. this is pretty damn genius! i don't have kids but can just imagine how much this is helping with hot seat dilemmas!

  3. This is a great idea! I live in the South so hot car seats are definitely an issue for us.

    -Erin @ DIY On the Cheap

  4. Great project Steph, I could use one for my seat too! Thanks so very much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!


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