Introduction: Auto Seat Covers Out of 3 Men's T-shirts

About: I designed houses and small commercial buildings for many years. I've retired now and took a class on papier mache, found I loved it, and am now trying different projects. I would like to make beautiful, fun…

We bought a new Toyota Corolla and want to keep the seat covers clean and new looking, so went to buy pre-made seat covers.  Well, imagine my surprise at the cost from the dealer! :)  And when we tried some from a less expensive source they didn't fit very well.  Sooooooooo....  my scary brain started churning.  I knew I'd seen cars in parking lots with T-Shirt covers over the backs of the seats, but had never looked inside them to see if they also covered the seat part.  I wanted covers that pretty much matched the rest of the interior, so went to K-Mart and bought 3 Men's T-shirts

Step 1: Buy 2 Size XTL and 1 Size 4XTL T-shirts

Fit the 2 size XTL shirts over the seat backs and smooth.  Tuck arms into themselves or sew across opening where sleeve meets the shirt body.  I was lazy - I just tucked.  Also, that way when I tire of this color, my husband can still wear these after I wash them!  
These pics are looking from the back seat.

Step 2: Bottom of Seat Covers

I cut the "Big Men" size 4XTL T-shirt into two pieces - the front and the back.  Trim at corners to make a smooth, rounded transition.  You will turn the edges toward the inside of the garment and sew an elastic pocket (see following steps). 

Step 3: Pinning Elastic and Sewing Elastic Pocket

I used 3/8" wide 55% cotton/45% polyester flat elastic.  But you can use any size that feels like it will hold well - too narrow and it might not be strong enough.   Put a fairly large safety pin in one end of the elastic.  Turn a seam allowance toward the inside of the garment wide enough to allow the flat elastic to lay inside and be able to move along the pocket.  Use a straight pin to anchor the elastic to the beginning of the pocket.  Pin next to the elastic, making sure NOT to pin the elastic to the fabric - make sure it can move through the channel (pocket) you are making. (Years ago I learned to make the pocket first, then snake the elastic through from beginning to end, but this way you have the elastic nearly half way through and don't have to fight getting it through all the way.  :)  

Continue pinning past the end of the elastic with the safety pin in it - just make sure you leave enough seam allowance for the elastic to fit through in the next step.  Where you sew around the curves, just make little pleats or tucks to take up the extra fabric as shown in the pictures.

Now set your sewing machine on a medium wide zig-zag stitch (or if you are sewing by hand, just do a running stitch) and sew next to the elastic, again making sure you do not sew the elastic to the fabric.  Don't worry about the edges - T-shirt material doesn't ravel, so you don't have to be real professional about it.  On the end you pinned to the fabric (the beginning of the pocket), sew across the elastic AND fabric to anchor the elastic to that end and trim the extra elastic sticking out of the end.

Step 4: Finish Installing the Elastic.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of this step!  Duh!  But what you do is find the end of the elastic with the safety pin attached to it (which will be inside the elastic pocket you just sewed).  Push the head of the closed safety pin on through the pocket until it comes out the opposite end from where you started.  The fabric will be gathering up behind the pin making a stretchy bottom for your seat cover.  (You can kind of see what I mean in the first picture in the intro.  Pull the safety pin out an inch or so beyond the end of the opening and open the pin to re-pin it to the fabric so it doesn't slip back into the pocket and ruin all your hard work shoving it through!  :P

 Now try it on your seat bottom to see if it is tight enough.  If not, pull the safety pin further out the end until it makes the bottom nice and snug around the bottom of your seat.

Step 5: Finishing

Once the bottom cover is nice and snug around the bottom of your seat, smooth any wrinkles out and tuck the shirt from the seat back down into the crease between the back and the bottom.  Then do the same with the back of the seat bottom, tuck tuck tuck...
And you're finished!!  If you want, you could probably sew the seat bottom to the bottom of the seat back shirt, but so far this hasn't been necessary for us.  Also, if your seat controls are on the side of your seat bottom, they are pretty easy to get to with this cover.  See the picture.

I hope you can understand my instructions and this fills a need for some of you DIYers out there.  I'm sure you will find all kinds of neat adjustments or additions to this instructable - the more the merrier!  Also, if you're not old like we are and want to use fabulous colored and designed T-shirts, I'd love to see what you come up with!

Oh, BTW, that is my little Pomeranian, Skosh!  Isn't he adorable?  He has a "fox" cut.

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