We drove to Disney World! Yup, we really did it. That’s about 1200 miles each way from our house. Think I was casually packing and relaxing the week before? HA! Not even close. In addition to getting Chloe’s wardrobe, accessories, fees, gifts, etc, etc ready for her pageant that we were also at Disney for, I was of course overanalyzing all potential wardrobe needs for every version of weather that we might encounter given Florida’s volatile weather in November. Oh, and “whipping out” a few last-minut projects including a pair of Vera Bradley-style back of car seat organizers for my spoiled children.
You can, too. I didn’t even use a pattern. Patterns are overrated.
Step 1 – Measure
First I measured the back of the front seats of my car. Approximately. Because they aren’t straight. I wanted them to be about the same height and be a bit shorter in width so those were my measurements. I’d love to show you a beautiful photo of this step, but I was out of arms.
Step 2 – Cut the basic shape
Using the height and width measurements, cut out a rectangular piece of out of pre-quilted fabric. I used what Joanne’s had on hand and bought 1.5 yards. I didn’t need this much, but wanted some extra for some other projects.
Step 3 – Cut out pockets
Think about what you plan to keep on the organizer. I wanted a place for the kids’ iPad Mini’s, the water bottles we usually bring in the car, and a couple pockets for whatever odds and ends they are into lately… toys, sunglasses, snacks…
I wanted the iPad and water bottle at the top and two pockets beneath. I set the water bottle and iPad on top for size reference. Since the water bottle will need a larger pocket, I allowed for extra width. You may not need to do this, but in the spirit of over-doing everything, I wanted this pocket to be generous.
Step 4 – Press + Pin the edges of pockets
Press the edge over for the tops of the pockets twice. I allowed for elastic to be added at the tops of the pockets (except for the iPad pocket, details on this section below) and for a tool to pull the elastic through.
To Make an iPad Pocket
Measure how far down you’d like the iPad to sit in the pocket by giving yourself a 1/2″ seam allowance (or less if you’re brave) + the measurement of the side of the iPad (in a case if you keep it it one) + the front bottom edge of the screen.
Place the iPad there and trace around it.
Then, flip the iPad over and measure the screen’s border. Again, I left our iPad in the case so we could leave it in the case while in the carseat organizer.
Draw this screen allowance, then add an allowance for rolling and finishing the edge. Draw diagonal lines at the corners corners from the inner, seam-allowance to the screen outline.
Cut out the smallest box.
Then the diagonal lines.
To make a the window for the screen.
Press, roll, & pin the screen’s window open. You could add clear plastic of desired at this point.
Here are all pockets pinned. The water bottle pocket is still extra wide to allow for it too be sewn into a cup shape. They are shown with the insides facing up here.
Step 5 – Sew
Sew the top of each pocket with a straight stitch, allowing for elastic to be added if desired.
At the corners of the the iPad pocket, a small zig-zag stitch will add strength for durability and to keep the corners from fraying. Also sew a straight stitch around the iPad window.
Also sew a straight stitch around the iPad window.
I also “serged” the bottom of the pockets with an overlap stitch because unfinished seams make me crazy. This is optional. This bottom edge will be at the bottom of the insides of the top and middle pockets.
Step 6 – Prepare the Top Strap
This strap will go around your headrest. Cut a 2″ wide strip at a generous length (will be cut to size later).
Sew the long sides together as well as one end. Snip the corners.
If you don’t have one of these tools for turning fabric tubes, get one immediately. Best sewing notion ever. I found out about this tool recently and it was like the sewing gods had given me a magical gift.
You just insert the appropriately sized tube all the way into the sewn end of the tube.
And shove it on through. No more safety pins or odd contraptions.
That’s it. Seriously.
Step 7 – Add Elastic
This step is technically optional, but it helps keep all of those odds and ends in their little pockets. You don’t want it to be super tight, just tight enough to help hold the pockets closed. It will give the finished product a less-tailored look, but makes it more functional. Your call!
I use a drawstring threader to pull elastic. Another technique is to sew the elastic in during step #5, but I am not this slick and always screw it up.
I did not want elastic over the iPad pocket, so I sewed the elastic in between the iPad and water bottle pockets, then snipped it as short as I could.
Step 8 – Sew the Pockets On
Start with the bottom-most pocket and sew on one side.
Then pull the elastic gently, remember too tight and the entire project will scrunch up. Then sew the other side.
If you’re adding a divider in any pockets (I did a divider in the bottom pocket), this is the time to add this stitch (shown here in white).
Then measure & mark where you’d like the next pocket to go.
Set the pocket on this line upside down (so the elastic/top side of the pocket is near the bottom of the project) and sew the bottom of the pocket on.
Then sew the sides just as you did on the bottom pocket, gently pulling the elastic (if you’re using it) into place.
For the iPad pocket…
Place the pocket on upside-down just as you did with the middle pocket, and line the iPad side up with the side of the base material. Sew the bottom of the iPad section on.
Next, sew the bottom of the water bottle pocket, scrunched as shown.
It should look like this, with extra material hanging over.
Then sew the divider between the iPad pocket and the water bottle pocket.
Finally, sew the last side onto the water bottle pocket and trim the excess. It should look something like this. The iPad was sitting too low in one of our organizers, so I added a simple straight stitch to raise it up to the proper height.
Step 9 – Round the Corners
Round the corners with scissors.
Step 10 – Add Elastic to the bottom
To secure the organizer to the bottom corners of your seat, elastic works well since it’s a tight area to get into and you’ll want this part to hold tight. Pin a generous amount of elastic to the back of the bottom corners.
Step 11 – Add a Bias Tape Border
Sew coordinating double-founded bias tape around the border of the organizer.
Step 12 – Add the Finishing Touches
Add buttons to the bottom corners
This simple button and knot allows for the elastic to be re-sized easily.
I used this as an opportunity to try out the button-sewing feature of my machine since what else did I have to do in the final days before our biggest family vacation ever?
Add the top strap
Sew the top strap on to the top back of the organizer about 1/3 of the way across. Fold the raw edge under first for a finished look.
Try the organizer onto your car to find the appropriate length, then cut the strap to size and add a button.
I used my machine which is so easy I feel like a total schmuck for ever doing it by hand. And I totally stole these buttons out of the kids’ craft bucket.
Sew a button hole onto the other side of the organizer, about 1/3 of the way in from the other side.
And your finished product should look something like this!
In all honesty, I probably get more out of these organizers than the kids do. They don’t care if I have to fetch their snack or sunglasses for them, but I sure do. It’s so nice having everything within their reach at last! Especially for a 20 hour road trip!