If you’re going on a long car journey this summer and taking children with you, you’ll want to know that they will be comfortable if they want to sleep. And if they sleep, it usually means some peace for the adults in the front!

Once they get past the stage of comfy car seats with backs and sides, it can be harder for them to sleep in the back as there isn’t anywhere for them to rest their heads. So one solution is a travel neck pillow or a squishy thing to put over the seatbelt. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to make both of these.

The neck pillow is made from Fleece Fabric on one side and Cotton Quilting Fabric on the other. The fleece is lovely and snuggly and the cotton is cooler for when it is hot. The seat belt cover is also reversible. The cotton fabric has a bit of a stretch to it, which I found made it easier to sew to the fleece as that is also a little bit stretchy.

Neck Pillow

You will need: fleece fabric, cotton fabric, polyester filling, velcro, greaseproof paper and pencil, usual sewing supplies.

If you don’t want to make your own template, I have one on my blog, Tea and a Sewing Machine, which you can download for free. The template is for a child sized one, but if you wanted to make one for a larger human you could just make it a bit bigger.

Making the Template

1. You will need to find out the distance around your child’s neck from their collarbone on one side to the same point on the other. You could either measure around their neck with a tape measure or a piece of non stretchy string, or you could use one of their tshirts instead. I used the tshirt and piece of string method as my little boys were all in bed!

2. Take the greaseproof paper and the tape measure or piece of string. Arrange the string or tape measure into a neck shape with an opening at the front.

3. Draw around the string or tape measure, adding a seam allowance as you go (I added 1 cm).

4. When you have drawn the inside of the neck, draw the outside edge of the neck pillow. I measured 12 cm at the back from the inside edge to the outside edge, and 14 cm the rest of the way round. This includes a seam allowance. You finished template should look like this.

Fold it in half and cut it out.

If all these sounds like too much of a faff, you can download a template here.

Cutting Out

Cut 1 from fleece fabric and 1 from cotton. If you have downloaded the template, you will need to cut the pieces on the fold.

Sewing Up

1. With the wrong sides together, pin the fleece section to the cotton section.

 2. Sew all around the pillow, leaving an opening at the back.

 3. Trim the seams and clip the curves.

4. Turn the pillow the right way out and stuff with polyester filling. It will need to be quite firm. I used about half a bag, so it's worth bearing this in mind if your are making several cushions for multiple children.

5. Slip stitch the opening.

 Seat Belt Cover

Cutting Out

Firstly you will need to measure the width of the seatbelt. The seatbelt in our car is 4.5 cm wide, but I have no idea whether or not seatbelts are a standard width!

Once you've got that measurement, you'll need to cut 1 piece of cotton fabric and 1 piece of fleece fabric about 30 cm long and 3 times the width of the seatbelt, plus a bit extra.

The template I used was 15 cm wide and the length of a piece of A4 paper.

Sewing Up

1. With the right sides together, pin the 2 pieces of fabric. Sew around the outside edge, leaving a gap at the top.

2. Trim the seams and turn it the right way out.

3. Measure about a third of the way along the top and mark with a pin. Measure along another third and mark that with a pin too. Pin all the way down so that the cover is divided into 3 sections.

4. Sew along where you have pinned.

5. Stuff the middle section with polyester filling, then slip stitch the opening.

6. Using the seatbelt as a guide, mark on where the cover overlaps. Onto the overlapping sections, sew some velcro. You’ll need to sew one half to the fleece side and the other half to the cotton side.

Tips

Both the neck pillow and the car seat cover need to be quite firm, so you will need plenty of polyester filling. I used about half a bag on the neck pillow.

You might like to use your sewing machine's stitch for knits. I used this for the neck pillow, but a longish straight stitch for the seat belt cover. Both were fine.

If your sewing machine objects to sewing fleece, try using a different needle.