Germ Guard (aka Shopping Cart and High Chair Cover)

This is my daughter, Raya.

When you first have a baby, it’s hard to imagine how quickly they grow.  It doesn’t matter that people tell you it goes fast – you have to see it with your own eyes before you finally understand.  In just 7 months, my daughter has gone from a baby squish to a drooling, rolling, striving-to-be-independent young lady.  She doesn’t want to be stuck in her infant carrier anymore, she wants sit up and be out so she can help me shop (good girl)!  So last week, I put her in the cart – like a big girl – for the first time.  She loved it!

But as soon as the novelty of a cute new milestone wore off, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the big-girl germs she was probably picking up. (Ew, don’t touch that!) I deemed it was time for a shopping cart cover, with as much as we’re out.
And, true-to-form, I looked at the adorable $32 cover in the store and said, pssht, I can make that.  So the next time I was out at my most-visited store, I took some quick measurements of the cart seat: 20” wide x 8” deep x 8” high.  It’s off that measurement that I based my pattern here.  I’d recommend checking the cart at your most visited store before beginning.  This is a soft-structure seat with a gathered elastic covering, so it will be pretty flexible from cart to cart – but if you regularly use something larger, you will probably want to make adjustments. On my trial run (yay, excuse to go shopping!) I found the fit was great, but there wasn’t a lot of extra room.  Smaller doesn’t seem to be an issue – I also used the cover in a restaurant high chair with good success.
Now, a disclaimer.  While I did come up with this design, I certainly did not invent the idea of a cover, and there are only so many variations since we’re talking about something fairly universal here. So if I have inadvertently created something remarkably similar to anyone else’s design, it’s unintentional.  We probably just push the same brand of cart.
Shopping Cart and High Chair Cover
Time: 3 hours (give or take, depending on your skill level and the quantity and quality of your interruptions)
  • Basic sewing supplies (scissors, thread, sewing machine, etc.)
  • Fabric – 2-1/4 yards total, or 3/4 each for inner body, outer body, and ruffled cover if you are using different fabrics for these, based on approximately 45 inch widths.  My project is all made from the same fabric but feel free to experiment or improvise based on what you may have already!
  • Padding – 25” x 37” piece of quilt batting or fleece
  • 1-3/4 yds. of 3/8 inch elastic –  but if you have 1/4 or 1/2, those should work just fine too
  • Optional – 1 1/2 yards of strap, plastic buckle, and adjuster thingy.  This would be if you want to use your own strap around your baby vs. using the safety straps that are generally attached to the cart. *Note – this step is not pictured.  I didn’t bother with this and have used the straps that you generally find already on carts with good success.  (I’m only a medium germ-a-phobe, LOL!)
Hour One: Prep
Prewash your fabrics

Don’t skip this step, even though it’s tempting to jump right in. 

Your cover is bound to get dirty and spilled on, etc. – remember, the reason we need one is because we don’t like the idea of putting our babies into dirty carts in the first place!  You don’t want to do all the work sewing this together just to have it shrink funny the first time you wash it.  If it comes out of the dryer wrinkly, you will probably also want to iron it so you can cut nice clean lines.

While the washer is doing that work, locate and prep all your supplies, and make your pattern if you feel you need one.  I normally tape pieces of construction paper together and draw out my pattern first, but for this project, I didn’t bother because it’s quite simple – all squares and rectangles. 

Accounting for my 1/2 inch seam allowances, I just cut 2 rectangles 25” x 37”, and then cut 8” squares out from the corners of it for the body of the seat, like so.  One is the inner body, one is the outer.  These can be the same or different fabrics depending on your tastes.

For the ruffly cover part that will stretch over all the interesting surfaces you’re trying to keep your kiddo from touching, cut two widths of fabric at 13 1/2”.  Because the ruffle part will be gathered and elasticized, you don’t have to be spot-on for these.  I’m a firm believer in working with what you have. But the height I used for this is exactly half of a 3/4 yard, and just use whatever width your fabric is, which is anywhere from 42 – 45 inches usually.  *Note – if you have more than 3/4 yard, by all means, add another inch or two to your ruffle.  You won’t find slightly more to be cumbersome once it’s been elasticized. 

Got it?  Awesome.  Now you need a third body piece cut from your fleece or batting for baby butt padding.  You may notice in my photos that I have seamed a few pieces together for my fleece padding.  I didn’t have anything quite big enough so I pieced a few leftovers together and it worked just fine!

That’s it for hour one!  Take a break if you need to, otherwise we’re moving right along to construction.

Hour two:  Main body construction
Now we stitch up the sides where we cut away those 8” corners.  Take your inner body piece, line it up with the right sides facing, pin it (or don’t, if you’re lazy like me) and sew with a 1/2” seam allowance. 

Repeat on the other 3 corners.  Once that’s done, you should have a 3-dimensional shopping-cart-looking piece.  I know it doesn’t have legholes yet.  We’ll get there.

Take the outer body piece and your lining, and match up the lining against the wrong side of the fabric.   

Line it up, right side facing just like the other piece, but this time you will have the padding on the outside when you sew.

When you’re done, turn the piece right side out, so that the outer body part is showing and the padding is inside.  Slip the inner cover into this piece, so you have your little bucket seat constructed. 

Pin along the top edge to keep everything in place while we make some leg holes.

Now, pardon me here because I decided one big leghole would be just as good as two individual ones.  Turns out, it’s not. I made a correction once I got a little farther along, you really need the support in the middle so that your seat keeps its shape.  So when you look at these pictures, they will show me doing it wrong.  Don’t get confused, just learn from my error. :)

My trick for stitching an imaginary line is painter’s tape or masking tape.  I use it often when I quilt to stitch lines that don’t exist on my fabric.  I measure and tape off an area to stitch around.  Unfortunately, all I had was packaging tape, which doesn’t show as well as I was hoping.  But perhaps you use a disappearing marker, chalk, pencil – whatever.  Block off an 11×4 two 4.5” wide by 4” tall legholes, spaced 2” apart.  Begin them 3” down from your top edge and 4.5 inches from each side. 

Stitch a square around your tape, or whatever method you have used to block off your squares, through all three layers.  We will be cutting these out and binding the edges to make the legholes.

For those who like to use bias tape, this is an excellent time to do so.  I didn’t have anything to match on-hand, and didn’t feel like making any, so I will show you my cheater way to bind the edges.  It’s on the outside of the cover which will be inside the cart, so I don’t feel too terrible that it’s not as lovely as it should be.

Cut a big X from corner to corner in each of your squares.  Mine is envelope shaped because it’s that pesky wrong rectangle.  Two X’s will work for you.

Trim away your outer layer and the batting/fleece, and then.  Trim down each triangle left from your inner layer so that it’s easier to work with – about an inch left from each side of the square should work well. 

Fold each flap down 1/2 inch, and then 1/2 inch again down over the outer side of your seat.  If you are successful, your square should be opened all the way to your original stitch line.  Pin your folds in place.  Do this for all 4 sides of each square. 

Now, stitch your makeshift binding in place right down the center of the fold you just made.  Tadaa, legholes.  Okay, leg hole in my case, but I swear, I fixed it later. :P

Now we need to make the strap slots.  This will be a pair of 1 1/2 inch buttonholes in the back of your seat.  Space them about 2 inches from the top edge, and 4 ½ inches from each side.

Never sewn a buttonhole before?  That’s ok, this was actually my first time too!  I used these instructions.  Test one out first on a scrap of fabric to make sure you understand the technique.  What’s good about this project is that the buttonholes will always be to the back, and not on the front of, say, a garment that everyone will see.  A perfect-looking buttonhole is not critical!

Your seat is done, mama!

Hour 3: Adding the ruffle
Now if you haven’t gotten interrupted before now already, you’ll be pleased to discover that the ruffle is way faster than the seat.  So it’s not really another hour, it’s just a good stopping point and a time to pause and make sure you have lots and lots of pins on-hand.  It’s also a good time to get caught up if you had to quit early on the seat before getting to this point.
Take your two ruffle pieces and sew them in a big loop on the short ends – remember, right sides facing.  Why is it so big?  Because you want to make sure it stretches as far as you need it. 

Then, with the wrong side up, fold one of the edges over to create a casing for your elastic.  Stitch all the way around your 90-inch loop, leaving a 3-4 inch gap unstitched so that you have an opening to thread your elastic.  Do not accidentally forget and stitch the whole casing shut.  I know – who would do that?  Ahem.

Now is a good time to add toy loops to the front edge, if you’d like.  You can use ribbon or make loops out of coordinated fabric.  Insert them wherever you’d like them spaced.  Put the loop fold(s) facing down, so that the tails are showing above the pinned edge.  You shouldn’t need more that about an inch of loop to secure most toys.   

Now it’s time to pin the ruffle to the seat.  Put the ruffle into the inside of the seat, so that the right side of the ruffle faces the inside of the seat, and the casing is at the bottom of the seat.  Space and pin it equally.  Use a whole lot of pins.  Which is a pain, but the more you pin, the cleaner look you’ll end up with, so don’t rush this part. 

A tip for pinning ruffles if you have never done it before – I find the best way to space it equally is to locate the halfway point on both the ruffle and the seat base.  Pin each end.  Then, on one of the halves, find the halfway points again and pin there.  Keep going along incrementally doing halfway points between each of your pinnings.  The ruffle is much longer than the seat edge, so there will be a lot of extra fabric you have to bunch up and pin to the seat.  This is why we use so many pins!  If you’re more of a visual person, maybe this will help – this is sort of the order in which you’ll place your pins.  Always halfway between the one(s) you last placed:

And so on, until you have about eleven million of them. :)

OK, all pinned?  Then we are nearly done!  Stitch along the top edge.  I’d recommend double-stitching or using a zigzag stitch to make it nice and secure.  For you lucky mamas who own sergers {envy} now is a great use for those.  Remove all eleven million pins, the turn the ruffle to the outside.  You should have a nearly complete-looking cover!

The last step is to thread your elastic through the casing.  I like to roll up a couple layers of elastic and pusha a safety pin through it so I have something firm to push through the casing.  Apparently I didn’t manage to get the elastic in this photo but it begins right at my thumb, attached to the closed pin.

Once it’s threaded, stitch both ends together securely with a zigzag stitch.  I stitched about 2 inches together, making a great big elastic loop.

Close up the hole you made in the casing, and you are DONE, mama!

Now go take your baby out shopping or out to eat (you know, or both) so you can admire your handiwork!

Shared at Crystal & Co:


  1. says

    Grocery carts are digusting! Great tutorial (not to mention a lovely model!) I want to make your bouquet pillow for my soon to be sister in law. What a great idea! Thanks for visiting today!

  2. Trish - Sweetology101 says

    my child is 7 and I don't sew…however, that baby is cute so I had to click here from a link up and just tell ya that!

  3. laxsupermom says

    Terrific tutorial! Love the fabric you used – so pretty! And your model is an absolute doll! Thanks for sharing.

    I'm hosting my monthly Before Blogging Throwback Thursdays party, and would love for you to link up anything you made/did/bought Before Blogging, which for you would be just about anything. Can't wait to see what you bring to the party.

  4. Nicole says

    Great idea and your little girl is just precious! :) Thanks for linking to Thrifty Thursday!

  5. NicoleD says

    This isnon my list to do! Thanks for sharing your tutorial? Your cover turned out great and your daughter is adorable!

  6. Jenn says

    Very impressive!! I Love that you saw something you wanted and just went home and made one yourself!! I love this idea, then you don't have to worry about them sucking on the handle – oh yuck. Plus, she looks comfortable!

  7. ? ??????? says

    That is a wonderful idea for the little ones. I hate shopping cart germs. In fact as an adult I got chicken pox several years ago, and the doctor said I probably contracted them from a shopping cart. Thanks for sharing with my newbie party. Please add my link or button.

  8. Ladybird Ln says

    How fun is this! I have always wanted one of these and your tutorial makes it look do-able! Looks like your little blog has grown a lot since last time I visited, how exciting!


  9. Prudently Painted Vintage says

    Ok I have to say I love your disclaimer! People are funny thinking they are the only ones that could possibly come up with an idea. Haha!

    Great tutorial! I am pinning it for future use!

    By the way your daughter is beautiful :)

  10. SJ says

    I'm so honored that you chose to join the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop. Thank you for adding this special masterpiece to rock my party :)

  11. P? says

    This is an excellent idea and I like your choice of fabric…and that you shared the step-by-step. I think someone should design something for grownups to wrap the shopping cart push handle in, so they don't pick up cold and flu germs during the season. Are you game???

  12. LeAnne says

    This is very clever and much less expensive than buying one! You could run a gathering stitch on the ruffle before pinning it, but I would do the same thing about measuring halfway and pinning, so it would just be an extra step!

  13. Maureen says

    I am an experienced seamstress. I have been sewing since I was about 12-13 and I am almost 56. Never have I ever had a pattern as difficult as the one I purchased to make this product. So thankful I found your pattern, as I was significantly easier. The one thing I did a little different was the ruffle. I pre-gathered the ruffle using a zig zag stitch over waxed dental floss (you don’t have to do as much pinning). It makes gathering so much easier and once sewn in place, I remove the floss (waxed makes it slippery and easy to remove). It turned out awesome!
    I wish I could post the picture so you could see it.
    Thank you so much for sharing your patter.

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