You've saved all year to fill up your gas tank, and finally, summer vacation has arrived. You, your friends and family are getting ready to 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, Google Maps printouts, 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 hang it to the front or the back. Get organized, and get going.
Big thanks to our friends at Fabric.com for providing the It's A Hoot fabric by MoMo for Moda. We profiled this fabric line a while back in our Love That Fabric. And we do... LOVE this fabric. We used the twill weight and would recommend this heavier weight for any fabrics you choose.
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). Plus, the top strap is adjustable. But, it would 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
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6300P)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for caddy front and back: we used It's A Hoot by MoMo for Moda in Trees Fudge -Twill
- 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for caddy pockets: we used It's A Hoot by MoMo for Moda in Eggs Turquoise -Twill
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.
- ¾ yard of 44-45" wide lightweight fusible interfacing for caddy and pockets
- 3½ yards (two packages) of ½" - 1" bias binding for top pocket edges and entire outside edge of caddy body: we used Wrights 7/8" width, double fold, bias binding in chocolate brown
- 1 yard of 1" wide nylon strap: we used black
- 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 grommets in Bronze
- 2 yards of ¼" - 3/8" nylon cording to tie through bottom corner grommets: we used a ¼" diameter in black
- All purpose thread: we used Coats & Clark brown 8950 throughout; you may also choose to switch to a thread to match the nylon strap (that would be a black thread in our sample)
- See-through ruler or yardstick
- Fabric marker, pen, or tailor's chalk for drawing on fabrics
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Small lighter to seal ends of nylon strap and cording
Print caddy template
- 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.
- Cut around the outside edge of the template, and set aside.
Cut caddy fabric
- From the fabric you are using for the main body of the caddy(It's A Hoot in Trees Fudge in our sample), cut TWO 21" high x 13" wide rectangles. One is the front and one is the back.
- From the fabric you are using for the caddy pockets (It's A Hoot in Eggs Turquoise in our sample), cut the following rectangles:
ONE 8" high x 13" wide for the Upper Pocket
ONE 9" high x 17" wide for the Middle Pocket
ONE 12" high x 17" wide for the Lower Pocket
Cut nylon strap and cording
- Cut the 1 yard length of nylon strap into two pieces: one 8" long and one 28" long. 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.
- Lightly burn to seal BOTH ends of the 2 yard length of nylon cording with a lighter or match. Tie a single knot at each end of the cording, about 1" from the melted cording ends.
- Cut ONE piece of binding 13" long for the top edge of the Upper Pocket.
- Cut TWO pieces of binding, each 17" long for the top edges of the Middle Pocket and Lower Pocket.
- Cut ONE piece of binding at least 72" long (2 yards) for the perimeter of the caddy.
Cut fusible interfacing
- Cut a 21" x 13" rectangle for the Main Caddy Fusing Block.
- Cut a 4" x 13" rectangle for the Upper Pocket Fusing Block.
- Cut a 4½" x 17" rectangle for the Middle Pocket Fusing Block.
- Cut a 6" x 17" rectangle for the Lower Pocket Fusing Block.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Place all the fusing and round the top corners
- Lay the Main Caddy Fusing Block, fusing side down, on the WRONG side of the Front Caddy Panel, making sure all four corners are lined up.
- Following manufacturer's directions, iron the fusing to the Front Caddy panel.
NOTE: Be sure to test a small piece of fusing with a scrap piece of fabric to determine the correct iron temperature for proper fusing. If the iron is too hot, the fusing may stick to the iron.
- Fold the fused Front Caddy Panel in half widthwise and pin the Car Caddy 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.
- Repeat this fold-and-cut step to round the top corners on the Back Caddy Panel.
- Fold the Upper Pocket Panel in half lengthwise, WRONG sides together. Press a sharp fold line across the width of the fabric, so the panel is now half the original height (4") and the original 13" width.
NOTE: If you are using a directional print, remember that the folded side will become the BOTTOM of the pocket.
- Unfold panel back to its 8" height and lay the Upper Pocket Fusing Block, fusing side down, on the WRONG side of the Upper Pocket Panel. Align the 13" edge of the fusing block to the middle fold line of the fabric.
- Following manufacturer's directions, iron the fusing in place on the Upper Pocket Panel.
- 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.
- Repeat steps 5-8 with the Middle Pocket Fusing Block and Middle Pocket Panel and the Lower Pocket Fusing Block and Lower Pocket Panel.
Create the upper pocket
- Slip the 13" length of binding over the top raw edge of the Upper Pocket Panel (opposite the folded edge), encasing the raw edge with the binding.
- Edgestitch in place.
Create the middle pocket
- Slip a 17" length of binding over the top raw edge of the Middle Pocket Panel (opposite the folded edge), encasing the raw edge with the binding.
- Edgestitch in place.
- Along the bottom fold line of the Middle Pocket Panel, measure and mark 4¼" from the left side of the pocket AND 4¼" from the right side of the pocket. Use pins or a fabric pencil to mark both of these spots.
- Make additional marks 1" to the left and to the right of EACH original mark.
- Make pleats at each of these sets of marks. To do this, pinch the outside marks and fold them in to the middle mark. Press well. You've made two 1" box pleats. You are very clever!
- 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.
Create the lower pocket
- Slip the remaining 17" length of binding over the top raw edge of the Lower Pocket Panel (opposite the folded edge), encasing the raw edge with the binding.
- Edgestitch in place.
- Along the bottom fold line of the Lower Pocket Panel, measure and mark 6¼" from the left side of the pocket AND 4¾" from the right side of the pocket. Use pins or a fabric pencil to mark both of these spots.
- As you did above, make additional marks 1" to the left and to the right of EACH original mark. And, also as you did above, pinch the outside marks, fold them in to the middle mark, and press well. You now have two 1" box pleats on the lower pocket. You are ever MORE clever than you were above!
Assemble the nylon strap and buckle
- 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. Double fold the melted strap end by 3/8" and edgestitch along this folded edge through all three layers of nylon strap
- This will keep the strap end from coming loose from the buckle. It will also make this end of the strap's length adjustable.
- Loop the melted end of the 8" length of nylon strap through the female end of the plastic buckle. It should only have one slot the strap fits through. Pull the strap through this slot about 1¼" and box stitch through both layers of the nylon strap to secure.
NOTE: We used brown thread throughout. If you'd prefer your stitching to be invisible, switch to a thread to match your strap before beginning these steps.
Assemble the caddy body
- Pin the the Front Caddy Panel and the Back Caddy Panel WRONG sides together, lining up the corner curves and all straight edges.
- Stitch 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
- Pin the Lower Pocket to the Caddy. Align the bottom fold line 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.
- To attach the Lower Pocket to the caddy, start at the top right corner of the Lower Pocket edge and stitch ¼ from the edge along right side, bottom edge and left side,
- Measure and mark 3½" in from the left side along the bottom folded edge of the Lower Pocket.
- Measure and mark 3½" in from the left side on the caddy itself near the top edge of the binding.
- Create a line of pins from the mark at the folded bottom edge to the mark at the top bound edge. If possible, use the print in the fabric as a straight line guide.
- Topstitch a straight line from bottom to top through all layers, following the line of pins and removing them as you sew. Back tack or lock stitch at the top and bottom.
- Repeat these steps to create another section line 5¾" from the right side of the caddy.
- You now have three separate pocket openings on the lower pocket, two with a pleat and one flat.
Attach and section the middle pocket
- 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 also be lined up with the left and right sides of the caddy.
- Starting at the top right corner of the Middle Pocket edge, stitch ¼" from the edge down the right side, across the bottom folded edge, and up the left side.
- When you reach the stitched down pleats along the bottom folded edge, be sure to edgestitch directly over the small line of stitching you made earlier to hold the pleats in place.
- Following the same steps as above to make the Lower Pocket sections, measure in 6½" from the left side of the caddy. Stitch one line to create two equal pocket openings in the Middle Pocket.
Attach the upper pocket
- 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. Also align both the left and right sides of the Upper Pocket with the left and right sides of the caddy.
- Starting at the top right corner of the Upper Pocket edge, stitch ¼" from the edge down the right side, across the bottom folded edge, and up the left side. This pocket is simple one flat pocket; there are no additional vertical lines of stitching dividing it.
Set the straps in place
- 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, this will be on the top and most accessible to adjust.
- The raw edge of the strap should be positioned approximately 2½" in from the LEFT side of 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.' I have the caddy laying front side down, back side up on my work surface. Looking down at it, the strap is to my left. If I were to flip the caddy over, it would be on the right from the front side.
- 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.
- Make sure your back tack or lock stitch at both the beginning and end of this short seam.
- Repeat these steps to attached 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
- Flip the caddy over to the front side.
- 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.
- Be sure to fold and miter the binding at each corner.
- When you return to the bottom edge of the caddy and are almost back to your starting point, stop (lock your stitch) when you get to within about 2". Remove the project from your machine.
- 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 finished!
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. Here are some of our tutorials and projects, which might help if you need a little extra step-by-step:
Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It
How to Make Faux Mitered Corners
Italiano Kitchen: Bistro Placemats (French Binding)
Stitch the buckles into place
- 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.
- Repeat to fold up and secure the FEMALE buckle strap.
- We used the Dritz Home Snap-On grommets, which are so fast and easy. If you've never used these before, check out our original tutorial: How To Use Snap-On Grommets.
- 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.
- With the snap-on grommets we used, you simply trace a circle with the provided template.
- Topstitch around the traced circle to help reinforce it and prevent any fraying.
- Using a pair of small, sharp scissors, carefully cut out the inside of the circle, cutting very close to the top stitching line (about 1/16").
- Insert the back half of the grommet into place from the back and snap on the front.
- To attach the car caddy to your car seat, loop the buckle around the headrest and close the buckle. Adjust the strap so caddy is secure at the top and the bottom rests on the seat.
- 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 car seat.
- Though we designed it to work best hanging on the front of the car seat, it also works well hanging on the back.
Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Viking Sapphire 875 and the Baby Lock Melody.