15 January 2013

Travel Organizer for the Auto

My brother and his wife have several extended travel plans this coming year, and asked for something to help keep the back seat tidy for their Christmas gift.  This is what I came up with:

The car seat protector was made loosely following Bubbly Nature's Tutorial.  Since the back seat is a bench seat, I had to accommodate seat belt stuff.  I lined the openings with grosgrain ribbon and zigzag stitched it into place...that was tricky on oilcloth!

The organizer was sized to fit the "middle" space between my nieces' car seats, and may need to be tweaked to fit your vehicle/needs.  I included pleated pockets...my new favorite pocket type.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 yard home decorator weight fabric.  I used red denim/twill.
  • Coordinating  2" bias tape (folded and pressed to 1/2"), about 1 yard for organizer
  • Matching thread
  • 1/2 yard fusible fleece
  • Sewing tools, including scissors, pins, sewing machine and iron
Let's begin, shall we?
Step one.  Cut out your pattern pieces..  Two main pieces, 12" x 19".  Cut the fusible fleece 1/4" smaller than the main pieces.  2 flat pockets, 12" x 7.5".  One 21" x 5" piece to make two pleated pockets.

Step two.  Prepare your pieces.  Apply fusible fleece to one main piece.

Apply bias tape to each of the pocket tops.  For fun, I used different coordinating fabric scraps.  To prepare the bias tape, fold tape in half and press.  Then press each long side to center and press again.  Pin along tops of pockets.

Top stitch in place.

Step three.  Install flat pockets.  Measure 3" from top of organizer, and lay the first pocket in place.  With a pin, mark where the bottom of the pocket is.

Flip the pocket so it mirrors where it was originally, with right sides now facing each other.

Zigzag stitch the pocket into place.

Now fold the pocket back up so it is right side out, and press.

Sew the pocket down again with two rows of topstitching.

Determine the placement of the second flat pocket, approximately 5.5" from the first pocket.  Repeat.

When pockets are in place, sew a zig zag stitch along the sides of the pockets to secure to main pattern piece.

Step four.  Install pleated pockets.  To begin, press the long pleated pocket piece in half to mark the center point.  Also iron a small pleat to mark the center of the main backing piece.

Match the centers, and sew this line, being sure to reinforce the top of the stitching with additional top stitching.  Also secure the sides with a zig zag stitch.

Once sewn, fold in the pleats so that the edges are equal, approximately 1" in from the center and sides.  Press into place.

Finally, zig zag stitch the pleats along the bottom to secure.

Step five.  Add straps.
Use about 20" pieces of bias tape that has been topstitched, to create the straps.

Pin in place about a 1/2" from the side of the organizer.  Baste into place.

Step six.  Complete organizer.  Carefully pin the pleats out of the way.

With right sides together, pin the back main piece to the front.  Sew using a 1/2" seam, leaving a 4 inch opening at the bottom of the organizer for turning.

Trim corners, and turn right side out.  If you want, use a seam ripper to help you pull the corners out tight.  Press the seams well.

Pin the opening closed, and topstitch around the perimeter of the organizer.

This is the perfect size to hold books, treats, and keep those essentials for a long car trip handy.  I wish I'd had one when our kiddos were little!

Any handmade Christmas gifts you really liked making this year?  I'll have a few more to share...

13 happy thoughts:

angeleyes_012 said...

Hi, I am a child passenger safety technician. And while this is a super cute idea it is absolutely NOT safe to use at all! If it was made of regular fabric it would be ok but since you used oil cloth it is not. The oilcloth can cause the carseats to not be installed correctly and will mask a bad install. I highly suggest that your brother and his wife find a CPST and get the situation corrected immediately. Here is a link to find one close to them. https://ssl13.cyzap.net/dzapps/dbzap.bin/apps/assess/webmembers/tool?pToolCode=TAB9&pCategory1=TAB9_CERTSEARCH&Webid=SAFEKIDSCERTSQL

chris said...

@angeleyes_012Thank you for the information! I've forwarded your comment to my sister. I appreciate your concern. :)

Amanda Rose said...

Great tutorial and a wonderful gift! I hope they get great use out of it.

Amanda Rose

Chelsea said...

This is something I would love in my car! Thanks for the tutorial!

Narelle Heath said...

I love the idea of having an organiser between the car seats, since my kids can't reach the pockets in the back of the front seats.

(My kids love Charlie and Lola!)

Melissa said...

I've been meaning to make one of the between the seat pockets as well as some over the back ones. The girls always have tons of books with them. The over the back of the front seat ones would serve primarily to protect the back of our front seats from their dirty feet - (but unfortunately would probably not reduce the annoyance of being kicked in the small of the back). ;)

I love the seat cover - we've always covered ours but just with towels. Nice work!! I hope they appreciate it!!

Michele Pacey said...

Such a great idea to keep the car tidy/accomodate art supplies and other stuff all at the same time. It looks great Chris!

HJG said...

This seat cover is great! It reminded me of "Stanley," which is one of the best things we did for our car. I had to buy "Stanleys" for my sister and BFF after they saw mine. Google "Stanley 10 Compartment Organizer." The lift-out boxes are great. This thing is perfect for the car, it holds bandaids, aspirin, wet wipes, contact lens supplies, makeup, etc. It really helped clean out and organize the car. The kids ask for items all the time, and I just say, "Stanley has it."

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

What an undertaking, Chris! This turned out great. Love the pleated pockets. Great job and great fabrics!

Maria said...

that cover is a great idea!

Kayleen said...


I'm curious as to why regular fabric is safer than oilcloth? I do understand the concern when anything is placed between the vehicle seat and the child car seat. But what difference does the type of fabric make? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated!

Kayleen said...


I'm curious as to why regular fabric is safer than oilcloth? I do understand the concern when anything is placed between the vehicle seat and the child car seat. But what difference does the type of fabric make? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated!

chris said...

@KayleenHonestly, I'm not sure, but the first person who commented was the one who raised concerns. If it's something you are worried about, I'd contact her. :)

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