Monday, July 9, 2012

Car toy/book organizer tutorial

finished product
Lately I've been feeling very... crafty, I blame Pinterest.  And my cheapness.  There are so many good ideas on Pinterest and I always think "*I* could do that".  So, today I have a quasi-tutorial on how to make an organizer for toys, books, random junk, whatever, for the car.  You could use this for lots of things, even if you don't have kiddos, maps, notes, tissues, wipes, snacks, books, things that are currently strewn about your car that you might like to have in some sort of order. I based it off of this pin.  And of course, I mixed it up a little to suit my needs.  

First thing, that organizer wouldn't fit in my car as she described it.  The middle seat has a cup holder thing that comes down making the available height pretty short, and Zach DEFINITELY uses the cup holder, so I made it to attach to the back of the seat instead.  Added bonus, Z can get to it easier and the boys can each have their own, which I suspect will be better as they get older.  As always do what works for you, this is what I did... (also I should mention, I am *at best* a novice seamstress)

I used cotton superhero fabric, and thick felt, both from JoAnn's, use your coupons! And if you didn't know, they have an app for your phone that gives you coupons too, so no need to always remember to cut them out and put them in your wallet!  I would say you could get by easily on a 1/2 yard of each, also check the remnant bin, that's where I found the felt :).
For the back panel cut the cotton and felt to 11 inches x 24.5 inches.  For the 3 pockets, cut the cotton and felt to about 10 inches x 11 inches.  Pin the felt and cotton together for each piece, with the "right" sides facing each other, like so.
All 4 pieces cut out
Pinned square, perpendicular pins at the top, leftish in this picture
Sew the pieces together leaving yourself a little unsewn segment to turn the piece around.  See where the pins are facing differently than the rest?  That's your cue to not sew that hole shut.  *IMPORTANT!* For the pockets, leave the hole on what you want to be the "top" of the pocket, you'll see why in a minute.  I sewed at about 1/4 inch in from the edge around.  BEFORE you turn your little square inside out, trim the corners so that there is not excess fabric there.
back stitched
trimmed corner
NOW turn the square inside out using your handy dandy hole.  I read somewhere that chopsticks are great to push the corners out, and we always have those lying around because I love take-out Kona grill (don't judge me!).  I highly recommend doing all the back-stitching at once and then pressing (ironing) the cotton side of the fabric down, including ironing the folds in the open hole.  This will make your life easier, I promise, and I *hate* ironing so I wouldn't do this if it didn't.

Now is the top-stitching, this part is a little tricky the way I did it, but I think it's a good method so listen carefully :).  First the easiest one, top-stitch all around the large back panel, making sure you pin the hole so it gets closed with the top-stitch. That one should be easy peasy.  Now the pockets, the easy part first.  Hopefully you were following directions and left the hole on the top of the pocket?  If not, go ahead and do an expletive rant now, it's ok, we'll wait.  Good now?  Ok, for the pockets, just top-stitch the top edge for now, so it should look like this.
only the top edge is top stitched right now
Once all of those are top-stitched comes the interesting part.  Arrange the pockets on top of the back piece how you think you want them, play with them, get them right, because you're about to make it permanent.  I put the first pocket about 2.5 inches down from the top of the back panel, and then had the next pocket overlap it on the bottom by about the same amount, repeat for the 3rd pocket, with the bottom of the 3rd pocket lining up with the bottom of the back panel.  
pockets arranged (this pic is pre top stitching so use your imagination)
Now, leave the top pocket laying on the back panel where you want it, and take the other 2 off, pin the top pocket in place. Sew the sides and bottom of it onto the back panel, essentially top-stitching it to the back panel.  This is 4 layers of fabric for your machine to go through, so you may have to coax it a little bit, but just wait, later you're going to have to buy it a drink and rub its shoulders.

Once the top pocket is sewn on then pin the middle pocket in place, the top of it should overlap the bottom of the top pocket by about 2.5 inches.  Now you see what I'm talking about, in that spot there are 6 layers of fabric to sew through.  Be nice to your machine, go slow, don't rush things, let it do what it needs to do, trust me.  I managed to break a needle on this step because I tried to jackhammer it through, not wise.  Anyways, sew the sides and bottom of this pocket on.  

Now the last pocket, the bottom of it should line up with the bottom of the back panel.  Again there are 6 layers, you will have to rub your machine's feet and buy it chocolate when you are done, don't just use and abuse it.

When you are done with that you almost there, now you just need to attach straps.  You could do this step before the attaching of the pockets, up to you, I thought if I did that the straps would get in the way and irritate me, but perhaps you are far more patient than me :).   

The construction of the straps are up to you, I did it with leftover scraps of the cotton and felt, and it was easy to sew, kind of a pain to turn inside out, I used about 2 inches wide by probably 15 inch long fabric, measure your "attachment point" to see how long you need the straps to be.  Same procedure as before, back stitch, trim, turn inside out, although I did go ahead and fully top stitch these before attaching, then I attached to just the back panel, sewing in two places, about 1 inch in and again at the edge for extra strength.  You could use velcro or snaps or just tie it to your car if you want to.  I used snaps because I didn't want to figure out how to sew velcro, and I didn't think tying it would stand up to use from my 3.5yo.
Straps sewn in 2 places, in about an inch, and at the edge
snaps, I did two for stability
When you are done just attach to the back of the seat in front of the car seat, TA DA!!
in the car
Any questions?  I'm sure I missed something, feel free to ask! Go forth and craft!

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