the car organizer how-to
The car organizer. I love mine! When I posted about them, several of you asked for a tutorial, and these might be a great holiday gift. So sneak into your sister's minivan and take a few measurements. Or make one for your husband's car to hold those Manly-Man Necessities like his tape measure and small tool kit. Hey, wait- I have both of those in my car too...
The things you'll need: medium weight fabric, coordinating thread, a sewing machine, a piece of 3/4" elastic about 30 inches long, and a messy car. Keep in mind, to make them like I did, your headrests need to be removable. If yours aren't, you'll have to get creative with the tops. When I say medium weight, I mean something thicker than say quilters cotton (so it hangs nicely) but thinner than denim (you'll be sewing through multiple layers.) I used a gray twill so it would blend in with the car upholstery, but you could always use something bright to jazz up the back seat or use contrasting fabric or patchwork for the pockets.
Now some of these steps sound confusing, but they're not. It's difficult to explain turning and hemming fabric in words when I can't just stand next to you and show you what I'm talking about. If you get confused, email me. I'll try to help. Also you can click on the photos to examine them closely.
Step 1: Remove the headrest and measure the back of the seat. Be sure to include the amount of fabric for the top edge, the part that gets sandwiched under the headrest. My measurements were: 27" tall x 18" wide.
Step 2: Draw out your organizer and plan your pockets. This drawing shows MY finished measurements. Play with these to fit the items you typically carry around in the car. Since these are for my kids, I was sure to include 10" pocket on the bottom row to accommodate a standard coloring book and skinnier pockets on the top for colored pencils.
Step 3: Cut out your pieces. Add 1 inch to the your measurements of your large "base" fabric to allow for hemming. Add 1" to the height and 2" to the width of the top pocket and 1.5" to the height and 2" to the width of the bottom pocket for hemming. The three pieces I cut were: base- 28" x 19", top pocket- 8 " x 20", bottom pocket- 10.5" x 20".
Step 4: Work with your base fabric first. Turn all edges 1/4" under and press, turn again, press and hem all the way around.
Step 5: Top pocket- Turn under 1/4 " (twice), press, and stitch the top edge of the top pocket piece. Turn the bottom edge of your top pocket under 1/2 " once and press. (This raw edge will be hidden inside your pocket.) Pin your top pocket into place on your base fabric. Turn the sides 1/2" around to the back (twice) and pin into place. Top stitch along bottom of pocket and along the sides.
Top stitch down the middle of the pocket at predetermined intervals to form the smaller pockets.
Step 6: Bottom pocket- Turn under 1/4" (twice), press, and hem the top edge of the bottom pocket piece. Pin bottom pocket into place on base fabric. Turn the sides AND bottom edges 1/2" (twice) towards the back, pinning as you go. Top stitch down sides and bottom of pocket. Top stitch down the middle of the pocket to form smaller pockets.
You're almost done!
Step 7: Hang your organizer in place and by feeling through the fabric, pin or draw where your large button holes will go. The head rest will slip through these button holes. Sew your button holes. If you've never sewn a button hole, look here for tips.
Apparently, I didn't do such a hot job on my button holes. After washing, they're unraveling. No mind, though. They're hidden by the headrest when it's in the car.
Step 8: Hang your organizer in place and attach the head rest. Pull it down tight, wrap the elastic around the base of the seat and pin in place. Remove the headrest, slip the organizer back off the seat, sew and trim the elastic.
Optional Step 9: Add any desired extras, like this little loop to hold DVD headphones for long car trips.
Woo hoo- NOW you're done! Hang, de-clutter, and hit the road, baby.