Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DIY: Snoozer Carseat Hack

Ru has a Snoozer Console Car Seat that I got so he could be close enough to touch me in the car without actually riding on my lap. Bucking him in the back seat inevitably resulted in nonstop screaming, which was more distracting than having him sleeping in my lap, but this is a wonderful compromise. The thing buckles down on top of the arm rest between the front seats, and has a tether to attach to his harness. I'm still waiting for the Center for Pet Safety to test how well dog car seats hold up in accidents, but I'm cautiously optimistic about this thing being able to withstand the forces a 6-pound dog would exert in a major collision.

The stock Snoozer Console.
Anyway, after living in the car and serving as a giant cupholder and fuzzy arm rest along with its intended purpose, the sheepskin on the Snoozer was starting to look a bit gross. Washing the cover failed to improve the gray color or generally worn appearance, so I decided to make a new cover. As an added bonus, I could make an interesting and pretty cover that would go well with the seat covers in my car.

My first step was to visit the fabric store and pick out some snuggly fleece fabric. I liked the soft, pastel bubble fleece intended for baby stuff, but I'm pretty realistic when choosing fabrics. Pastel baby colors are going to get gross really fast. I needed a busy pattern in a predominantly dark color. The fabric pattern also needed to be of a small enough scale to show up on the seat cover. I found some lovely fluorescent dinosaur fabric, but each dinosaur was so big that they wouldn't be recognizable on such a tiny project.

Ru approves my fabric choice.

It's worth noting that Snoozer does sell replacement covers for their car seats, or at least they did when I checked their website a couple of months ago. Right now the product category is still there but empty, so they may be reorganizing the site or they may have abruptly discontinued offering replacement collars. I also found a few people on Etsy making replacement covers for some of the original Snoozer seats.

I did not disassemble my Snoozer seat cover, and I didn't make a pattern either. I just turned the cover inside out and measured the seams to determine how to cut my fabric. It's really just a fabric box with gathered elastic at the bottom. I cut five pieces of fleece (bottom rectangle and four trapezoid sides), and one long rectangle of black quilted fabric.

The skeleton of the Snoozer.

When I took the cover off the Snoozer, I was surprised at how simple the construction was. It's basically just a box of foam, with a little shelf built into the back to keep it from sliding forward during a fast stop. There are metal eyelets to keep the straps from sliding through the foam, and that's it. I could probably build one of these from scratch.

I like the strap construction of this seat. There are two big loops that hook around the bottom of the front seats, and those attach to the tether strap that attaches to Ru. Another strap clips around the console lid to keep the front of the seat down so it doesn't tip backward. I like that Ru is anchored to something really solid in the car. Of course, the plastic hardware and jewelry clasp aren't nearly strong enough to keep a real dog in place in an actual accident, but a chihuahua doesn't generate a whole lot of force even at high speed.

Very simple construction.

I've done a lot of sewing, but I don't really enjoy it because it takes forever. Cutting and sewing the fleece for this project took maybe 30 minutes total. The last step, sewing the fleece to the quilting, took at least two hours. It was a very simple seam, but I used the wrong stitch on my sewing machine so I had to pick it out and start over. It turns out that sewing stretchy fleece to unstretchy quilting requires a specific unstretchy stitch, otherwise the fleece stretches and ends up significantly longer than it should. The solution for this problem is apparently to call my seamstress sister, who has the same sewing machine, and ask her which stitch works best.

Total yardage: Less than one, I think I bought half a yard of each fabric and I still have quite a lot of fleece left over.

Total cost: $12

Total Time: 2.5 hours, would have been closer to 1 if I had done it right the first time.

Result: Totally stylin' Snoozer.

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