How to spend $5 or less and make your own back seat mirror for your car

March 11 2013 | Guest post by Allie
All photos by Allie.

A back seat mirror can run you $10-20 on a regular day, but why spend all of that if you can spend $5 (or LESS) and make your own? I originally tried this out using hot glue, which I advise against (it melts) — but now I've got all the kinks worked out, and this mirror works like a dream:

What you need

  • Mirror — that one is $3 on Amazon, but I got mine at The Dollar Store
  • Fabric (craft stores oftentimes have scraps for free)
  • Felt – this sample bag is $10, but single sheets are usually less than 50 cents
  • Elastic ($1.10 online)

How you do it

1. Buy a Dollar Store Mirror and clip off the handle.
We were thinking we'd saw it off, but my husband just grabbed some gardening clipper and it came off super easy.

2. Trace around mirror to make pattern, and cut out four layers of your fabric.
Measure how much elastic you'll need and how tight it should be. Cut it according to your need — it should hold really tight.

3. Cut a square out of two of the fabrics.

4. Cut out felt for softness, to be placed between the fabrics.

5. Place right sides together of fabrics with square cut out of it. Sew around the inside square.

6. Flip right side out and iron down.

7. Place felt between both fabrics (the one with the square in it and between the other two fabrics)

8. Place fabrics together with square fabric on top of the other, with elastic placed in all four centers of each side. Pin in place. Sew all around, making sure to catch the elastic and double reinforcing it.

9. Flip right side out. Place mirror inside.

10. Loop onto your headrest. All set!

  1. To make this EVEN CHEAPER: When I need elastic I cut it off a pair of old underwear (men's briefs work well! My dad gives me his for crafting purposes), and when I want fabric I look through my old t-shirts or neighborhood free bins.

  2. I am not sure wether that is safe… mirrors in cars are supposed to be made from special glass, as far as I know, so they won't break into flying shards during an accident. I mean, I hope none of us here is ever involved in an accident, but we know how that goes…

  3. Most dollar stores would also have things like survival mirrors which are mirrored surfaces on metal backings instead of glass, they're not as clear but wouldn't shatter on impact either.

  4. Yep, you definitely want the flexible plastic-type of mirrors, so that it can do no harm in the case of an accident and it becomes a projectile. The plastic ones weigh almost nothing, and they do not shatter. The force of an impact can send pretty much anything flying. I try to keep everything heavy in my trunk, or maybe on the floor of my front passenger seat.

  5. any advice for making this for a rear-facing carseats? my car doesn't have the head rest in the backseat. i love this idea though.

    • Great post! We bought our mirrors and they cost a small fortune (we went for cute animal mirrors…). They have a small bean bag on the end of a strip which hangs over the back of the backseat and is fastened to the correct height with a safety pin. I reckon you could easily adapt Allie's instructions to add this element in.

  6. Hey –

    The good advice I was given when installing our first car seat was to take anything you wanted to hang on, around, or in front of the car seat and throw it as hard as you can at the face of an adult you love from a close distance (a couple of feet). If it doesn't hurt on impact, it's safe to include. As you can guess, most things would fail this test – all of these things they sell can become projectiles on impact and be dangerous for your wee one. For new babies, even something soft can be smothering, so consider that too.
    I love the creativity of this idea and wonder if there are places beyond the car where it could be utilized safely.

  7. Kudos on being creative! No matter how big or small the project it is always a great feeling to take pride in making/doing something yourself. The tutorial is easy to follow and even though there's sewing involved (a skill at which I do not excel) it still seems like an approachable weekend craft.

    Although some valid points are being made about the use of a hand mirror for this project, perhaps there's a bit of over-emphasis on it. After all, not all of the mirrors on the market targeted as being safe and kid-friendly are constructed of shatter-proof glass. Some are just shatter-resistant. Others, do not even discuss what materials are used in the online descriptions.

    In the event of an accident, anything not strapped in or in a locked glove box, could become a projectile. And yet, that doesn't stop most drivers from having their cell phones at hand or a drink in the cup holder.

    I suppose you just have to choose where your personal safety priorities lie.

  8. like the idea but its unsafe to use actual mirror(glass) as it can shatter and hurt the baby or other passenger in case of accident …. use acrylic glass instead or I bought reflective tray instead from dollar store….

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