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Car Caddy: Front or Back Seat Auto Organization

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ROOOOOAAAAADDDDD TRIIIIPPPPP! It's the perfect time to load up your family and friends and hit the open road. But first you have some stuff (aka crap) you need to organize for the trip: tunes, cell phone, scribbled notes, tickets, pens, snacks, your wallet, etc., etc., etc. If you skip this important organizational step, here's what will happen: You are driving, keeping your eyes on the road (of course), and you reach out to grab something from the pile of stuff (crap), but can't quite reach it/find it without rear-ending the truck in front of you. Instead... the needed item falls off the seat, lodging somewhere between the seat and the door. Feel free to jump in here and repeat the words you shout in your car. Our spiffy car caddy is designed to organize your stuff (crap), improve your driving safety, and look cute as can be all at the same time. It straps around the seat's headrest, so you can attach it to the front or the back. Hanging off the back, you can fill it up with little games and snacks to keep the kids occupied, cutting down the "Are we there yet??" requests to a minimum. 

We originally used It's A Hoot by MoMo for Moda Fabrics. This is an older collection and no longer readily available. As you're shopping, we would recommend a twill weight or a light canvas. Below are a few alternatives we found from the Premier Prints collection at Fabric.com.

       

       

Our caddy finishes at approximately 13" wide x 21" high, which worked great on the three standard cars we tested (a VW, a BMW and a Subaru). The top strap is adjustable, but it would still be a good idea to measure your car's seat(s) and tweak the size as needed to get a perfect fit.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for caddy front and back (Trees in Fudge in our original sample)
  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for caddy pockets: (Eggs in Turquoise in our original sample)
    NOTE: You may need to purchase slightly more or less fabric for the pockets based on the direction and size of your fabric's print. We used one yard of fabric for our pockets and were able to cut them widthwise.
  • 1 yard of 20"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing for caddy and pockets; we recommend Pellon Shape Flex
  • 3½ yards (two packages) of ½" - 1" wide bias binding for top pocket edges and entire outside edge of caddy body: we used Wrights ⅞" width, double fold, bias quilt binding in Seal Brown – You could also make your own bias binding, using our step-by-step tutorial
  • 1 yard of 1" wide nylon webbing: we used black 1" webbing
  • One 1" plastic toggle for strap connection: we used a Dritz quick release parachute buckle in black to match the nylon strap
  • Two 1" grommets for bottom corners of caddy: we used Dritz Home plastic snap-on grommetsin Bronze
  • 2 yards of ¼" - ⅜" nylon cording to tie through bottom corner grommets: we used a ¼" diameter paracord in black
  • All purpose thread: we used brown throughout; you may also choose to switch to a thread to match the nylon strap 
  • See-through ruler or yardstick
  • Fabric marker, pen, or tailor's chalk 
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Small lighter to seal ends of nylon strap and cording

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Car Caddy Corner template 
    IMPORTANT: This template is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut around the outside edge of the template and set aside.
  3. From the fabric for the main body of the caddy (Trees in Fudge in our sample), cut TWO 21" high x 13" wide rectangles.
  4. From the fabric for the caddy pockets (Eggs in Turquoise in our sample), cut the following: 
    ONE 8" high x 13" wide rectangle for the Upper Pocket 
    ONE 9" high x 17" wide rectangle for the Middle Pocket 
    ONE 12" high x 17" wide rectangle for the Lower Pocket
  5. Cut the 1 yard length of nylon webbing into ONE 8" length and one 28" length. Lightly burn ONE end of EACH piece with a lighter or match to melt the nylon fibers. This will keep the strap ends from unraveling.
  6. On the 2 yard length of nylon cording, lightly burn with a lighter or match to seal both ends. Tie a single knot at each end of the cording, about 1" up from the melted ends.
  7. From the binding, cut the following:
    ONE 13" length for the top edge of the Upper Pocket
    TWO 17" lengths for the top edges of the Middle Pocket and Lower Pocket
    ONE 72" length for the perimeter of the caddy
  8. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 21" x 13" rectangle for the Main Caddy
    ONE 4" x 13" rectangle for the Upper Pocket
    ONE 4½" x 17" rectangle for the Middle Pocket
    ONE 6" x 17" rectangle for the Lower Pocket

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Place all the fusing and round the top corners

  1. Place the Main Caddy interfacing aginst the wrong side of the Front Caddy Panel, making sure all edges are flush. Following manufacturer's directions, fuse in place.
  2. Fold the fused panel in half (so it is now 6½" x 21") and pin the Corner Template in place. Align the the top and side raw edges and place the fold line of the Template on the fold of the fabric. Cut around the curved corner through all the layers.
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  3. Repeat this fold-and-cut step to round the top corners of the Back Caddy Panel.
  4. Fold the Upper Pocket Panel in half (so it is now 4" x 13"), wrong sides together. Press a sharp fold line across the width of the fabric.
    NOTE: If you are using a directional print, remember that the folded side will become the BOTTOM of the pocket.
  5. Unfold the panel, still wrong side up, so the crease line is visible. Find the 4" x 13" interfacing panel. Align one 13" edge of the interfacing block with the center crease line. Following manufacturer's directions, fuse in place.
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  6. Refold the panel along the crease line and press again to recreate the sharp fold. You now have a layer of fusing in between the two sides of the pocket panel with the right side of the fabric facing out.
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  7. Repeat these steps to create the interfaced Middle Pocket and Lower Pocket.

Create the upper pocket

  1. Slip the 13" length of binding over the top raw edge of the Upper Pocket Panel (opposite the folded edge), encasing the raw edge within the binding.
  2. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
  3. Edgestitch in place, making sure you are catching both the front and back of the binding in this one seam.

Create the middle pocket

  1. Slip a 17" length of binding over the top raw edge of the Middle Pocket Panel, encasing the raw edge within the binding.
  2. Edgestitch in place, making sure you are catching both the front and back of the binding in this one seam.
  3. Along the bottom fold line of the Middle Pocket Panel, make two pleats. To do this, measure and mark 4¼" in from the left raw edge of the pocket pnael AND 4¼" in from the right raw edge of the pocket panel. Use pins or a fabric pencil to mark both of these spots.
  4. Make additional marks 1" to the left and 1" to the right of EACH original mark. You should now have two sets of three marks.
  5. Make pleats at each of these marked sets. To do this, pinch the outside marks and fold them in to the middle mark to create an inverted box pleat. 
    NOTE: If you are new to pleating, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting. 
    Click to Enlarge
  6. To hold the pleats in place through the rest of the construction, edgestitch along the bottom edge of each pleat through all the layers, back tacking at the beginning and end of the stitch.
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Create the lower pocket

  1. Slip the remaining 17" length of binding over the top raw edge of the Lower Pocket Panel, encasing the raw edge with the binding.
  2. Edgestitch in place, making sure you are catching both the front and back of the binding in this one seam.
  3. Along the bottom fold line of the Lower Pocket Panel, make two additional pleats. These two pleats are not quite centered as there are three pockets across the bottom of the caddy. Measure and mark 6¼" in from the left raw edge of the pocket panel and 4¾" in from the right raw edge of the pocket panel. Use pins or a fabric pencil to mark both of these spots.
  4. As you did above, make additional marks 1" to the left and 1" to the right of eavh original mark. Then, also as you did above, pinch the outside marks, fold them into the middle mark, and press well. Edgestitch to secure each pleat.

Assemble the nylon strap and buckle

  1. Re-stitch the stitch length to normal. 
  2. Loop the melted end of the 28" length of nylon strap through the male end of the plastic buckle: go up through one slot, then back down through the second slot. Fold back the melted strap end by ⅜" and edgestitch along this folded edge through both layers.
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  3. This folded end will keep the strap end from coming loose from the buckle, but still allows it to be adjustable.
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  4. Loop the melted end of the 8" length of nylon strap through the female end of the plastic buckle. There is only one slot the strap fits through. Pull the strap through this slot and back against itself about 1¼". Create a small vox stitch through both layers of the nylon strap to secure.
    NOTE: We used brown thread throughout our project. If you'd prefer your stitching to be completely invisible, switch to a thread to match your strap before beginning these steps.
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Assemble the caddy body

  1. Place the the Front Caddy Panel and the Back Caddy Panel WRONG sides together, lining up the corner curves and all straight edges. Pin in place.
  2. Machine baste ¼" from the raw edges around the entire perimeter. You can now treat these two layers as one piece through the remainder of the construction steps.

Attach and section the lower pocket

  1. Pin the Lower Pocket to the front of the Caddy. Align the bottom fold of the Lower Pocket with the bottom raw edge of the Caddy. Also line up both the left and right sides of the pocket panel and the caddy.
  2. To secure the Lower Pocket to the caddy, edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom. 
  3. Measure and mark 3½" in from the left raw edge. Create a vertical line of pins at this mark or draw in a guideline with a fabric pen or pencil. If possible, follow the print in the fabric to confirm the line is straight to the motif.  
    NOTE: You are working on the right side of the fabric so make sure your fabric pen or pencil is one that will easily erase or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
  4. Lengthen the stitch. Topstitch along the guideline. If possible, use a lock stitch at the start and finish for the neatest look. If you do not have this feature, leave the thread tails long and pull through to the back to knot. 
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  5. Repeat these steps to create another dividing line 5¾" in from the right side of the caddy.
  6. You now have three separate pocket openings on the lower pocket, two with a pleat and one flat.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we used brown thread throughout our project. If you prefer, you could change the thread to best match the pocket panel fabric. 

Attach and divide the middle pocket

  1. Pin the Middle Pocket to the Caddy so the bottom folded edge of the Middle Pocket sits 1½" above the top bound edge of the Lower Pocket.  Both the left and right sides of the Middle Pocket should be flush with the left and right sides of the caddy.
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  2. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Edgestitch the pocket panel in place along both sides an across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners. 
  3. When you reach the stitched down pleats along the bottom folded edge, be sure to edgestitch directly over this small line of stitching so your visible seam is nice and neat.
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  4. Following the same steps as above to make the Lower Pocket sections, measure in 6½" in from the left side of the caddy. Stitch one line to create two equal pocket openings in the Middle Pocket. Remember to lengthen your stitch to match the other topstitching. 
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Attach the upper pocket

  1. Pin the Upper Pocket to the caddy so the bottom folded edge of the Upper Pocket sits 1½" above the top bound edge of the Middle Pocket. The left and right sides of the Upper Pocket should be flush with the sides of the caddy.
  2. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This pocket is one simple flat pocket; there are no additional vertical lines of stitching dividing it.

Set the straps in place

  1. At the top edge of the caddy BACK, line up the raw edge of the MALE buckle strap with the top edge of the caddy. This means the buckle itself will be laying just below the bottom edge of the caddy.
    NOTE: The short adjusting strap should be against the caddy so when you flip up the strap later, it will be on the top and most accessible to adjust.
  2. The raw edge of the strap should be positioned approximately 2½" in from the LEFT side of the back of the caddy. This point should be where the rounded corner ends.
    NOTE: Just so we are all on the same "left-right page" - we have the caddy laying front side down, back side up on our work surface. Looking down at it, the male strap is to my left. If I were to flip the caddy over, it would be then be on the right when looking from the front side.
  3. Stitch the strap in place ¼" from the raw edges. This should be right in line with the ¼" stitching you did early on to sew the front and back pieces together.
  4. Make sure lock both the beginning and end of this short seam. You could even double stitch the seam; you want it to be very secure. 
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  5. Repeat these steps to attach the FEMALE buckle strap to the other side of the top edge. Position it in the same manner, 2½" in from the RIGHT side of the caddy.

Bind the perimeter

  1. Flip the caddy over to the front side.
  2. Measure in 7" from left side of caddy along bottom edge and mark this point with your fabric pencil or a pin. Starting at this point, attach the binding around all edges of the caddy. You are using your final remaining length of binding. Ours was 72", which was enough for the entire perimeter plus about 4" extra to make a clean finish at the end.
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  3. Be sure to neatly fold the binding into a diagonal at each corner.
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  4. When you return to the bottom edge of the caddy, and are almost back to your starting point (about 2" away), stop and lock the stitch. Remove the project from your machine.
  5. Cut away the excess binding so your binding tail extends about 1" past the binding starting point. Fold this tail end back ½", pin in place over the head of the binding, and finish the edgestitching. This clean-finished, folded end will now be 6½" from both the left and right sides, which is exactly the midpoint of the bottom edge of the caddy. Gotta love a centered finish!
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: Because our binding is fairly wide and the edges mostly straight, we went for the fastest method of binding: simply slipping it over the raw edges and edgestitching in place. If you are new to binding, there are a number of methods. Check out one or both of our binding tutorials: Here are some of our tutorials and projects, which might help if you need a little extra step-by-step: Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching and A Complete Step-by-Step for Binding Quilts & Throws.

Stitch the buckles into place

  1. Fold the MALE buckle strap up towards the top of the caddy so there is about 1" of strap folded below the binding edge. Box stitch 2-3 times, through both layers of the nylon strap and through the caddy, to secure the nylon strap to the caddy.
    NOTE: You can use the edgestitching of your binding to align the top stitch line of your box.
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  2. Repeat to fold up and secure the FEMALE buckle strap.

Grommets

  1. We used the Dritz Home Snap-On grommets, which are super fast and easy. If you've never used these before, check out our tutorial: How To Use Snap-On Grommets.
  2. Place a grommet in each bottom corner of the caddy. We set ours about ¼" from the bottom and side edges of the binding in each corner.
  3. With the snap-on grommets we used, you simply trace a circle with the provided template.
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  4. Topstitch around the traced circle to help reinforce it and prevent any fraying.
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  5. Using a pair of small, sharp scissors, carefully cut out the inside of the circle, cutting very close to the top stitching line.
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  6. Insert the back half of the grommet into place from the back then snap on the front.
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  7. To attach the car caddy to your car's seat, loop the webbing around the headrest and close the buckle. Adjust the strap so the caddy is secure at the top and rests on the seat at the bottom.
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  8. To secure the caddy at the bottom, loop the nylon cording through the grommet holes, so the knotted ends face towards the back. Tie the cording closed with a knot or bow after wrapping around the bottom of the seat.
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  9. Though we designed the caddy to work best hanging on the front of the seat, it also works well hanging on the back.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson

Section: 

Comments (4)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ JeanP - Fabulous to hear that!

Sally M. said:
Sally M.'s picture

I made one of these similar to the pic and it turned out awesome.  You are absolutely correct - it's such a great organizer in the car.  Instead of my stuff being all over the passenger seat, it's all neatly tucked in pockets an easy reach away.  

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Sally - We agree! It's an excellent option to keep everything neat and handy.

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