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, f...

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

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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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    13 Discussions

    A few days ago I went to the busiest mall in my city, and saw 3 cars with tshirts over the seat backs. I was wondering this: "Did this place just turn into a ghetto?" (no offense but I only see this happen in my local ghettos, rich people city). Anyways,

    one of the cars that had this, the owner just simply sewed the sleeves shut and cut them off. If you decide to do that and change it at sometime, just take it off. If you rip open the sewed up sleeves then you can have what we call a "ghetto tank top" to wear.

    Just saying.

    5 replies

    Thank you for your kind sarcasm, sergeant. :) We live in a small town and we are all more or less poor (does that make our town a ghetto?)
    Anyway, I just liked an inexpensive solution to keeping my seat covers cleaner. And my husband is 69 years old and would look rediculous in a "ghetto tank top". Thanks for the info, tho.

    not being sarcastic. doesn't make ghetto. you aren't poor if you can buy a new car, because poor means you can only afford USED cars made before 2010. also, unaware that your husband was 69. that ghetto tank top is only a good idea for young women anyway (i'm a guy, but lots of girls at my school cut the sleeves off their free t shirts). this is def. unexpensive, but xl on the seatbacks of a compact car may be too big? also maybe try graphic tees next time if you want to do this again to replace. it makes the interior look better.

    my words of advice.

    Thank you for your suggestions. They are good ones.
    Yes - I agree that the ghetto t-shirts are only really good on young thin women (or girls).

    yes, forgot to mention that they are thin girls.
    another suggestion: get a pull over hoodie and use that as a seatcover. you can cut a pool noodle up and stick it in the pocket. make sure you have long enough to leave some hanging out. then just cover the ends by putting them in the ends of the sleeves. put the hood over the headrest, pull the drawstring tight, and tie it. therefore you made a seat cover with lumbar support and headrest coverage.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    IF you think you are going to do more of these sorts of projects then invest--a very small investment!!!--in an ELASTIC PULLER from the sewing store--this is a long very flexy steel piece with a small "latch" grabber hook ( like a crochet hook with a little gate across it and a finger loop on the other end ) this allows you to go inside that pocket and fetch the elastic (or hoodie drawstrings; yoga pants drawstrings--see it paid for itself already!) hook onto it and smoothly pull the elastic or string thru. I think there are also plastic versions of this but I only have the steel one--and I find I use it for a lot of things--great for turning corners in deep fabric where getting a hand or other device won't fit---getting other types of draw strings like shock cord thru things--pulling knit threads back to the inside of a garment or household item----shredded shoelaces that refuse to go THRU the eyelet will pass thru nicely with this until you get a new lace---and oh yeah I have also used mine to clear a drain but we don't talk about that!

    DO make sure you ALWAYS anchor your other end tho!!! A few stitches or a safety pin will save you serious frustration.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the great suggestion! It sounds like a very useful addition to my stash of gadgets. Hope you enjoyed the instructable.

    That sounds like an excellent idea! I didn't think of that, since mine doesn't have arm rests on the seats. Thanks for the suggestion!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Such a good idea. That's a really cheap fix, especially for people with leather/pleather seats in the summer, ha.

    And eeeeeeeee! Skosh is adorable.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry - lost the first reply! Anyway, thank you for your comments. Your kitty looks pretty cute, too.