How to make a custom car seat organiser.

How to make a custom car seat organiser.

Making one of these has been on my ‘to do’ list for a long time in the vain hope that I can get my kids to keep the back seat of the car tidy!!!!

Ready made car seat organisers are quite easy to find and are relatively cheap. However they are nearly always black which I understand fits in with the decor of most cars, but it doesn’t inspire kids! The other thing about the ready made ones is that many seem to feature a tablet pocket. Again this is a great idea if your kids have tablets or like watching films in the car. My kids are really not that bothered about the one tablet that they share and have always managed to find other things to occupy themselves on long journeys so I would prefer to keep it that way.

When thinking through this project I had certain features that I really wanted to include like the detachable bin. Much needed for snack wrappers and all the general rubbish that seems to pile up on the floor. I also wanted to accommodate their HydrateM8 water bottles that I recently bought for them so they could keep tabs on how much water they are drinking.

I’m really pleased with the way these have turned out so I thought I would share a tutorial how to make one with tips for making your own custom size pockets.

Materials and supplies:

Outer fabric – I used laminated cotton.

Decovil interfacing.

Medium weight interfacing

Side release buckles and sliders


Lining fabric – I used Kona cotton


Bias binding 


The first thing is to take some measurements from the car seat.

Measure the width of the seat at the lowest point and nearer the top of the seat, draw a rough diagram so you can remember where you measured. Include measurements for how far down you are when you take the width measurement. Take the length measurement. Bear in mind that the organiser doesn’t want to extend beyond the sides or top and bottom of the seat. Measure the distance from the out side of the head rest poles and around the seat where the strap will attach to the front.

Now you can make a simple pattern, start with a piece of paper folded down the length so its wide enough to draw half the car seat organiser and long enough to fit the full length of the car seat organiser.

Draw a right angle from the folded line at the upper edge of the paper and mark out half the upper measurement. Mark a point at the base for the length you want. Then mark additional widths using right angles from the fold. Now create a smooth shape by joining all your marks. There is no need to add seam allowances as the edges are all bound.

Cut out the pattern piece on the fold and open out the paper. You can check this against the back of the car seat and make any adjustments you need before moving on to drafting the pockets.

Now you have the base its easier to work out what goes where and how big they should be. I drafted the following pockets which you could use or use the same method with your own dimensions.

Large lower pocket

Fold another piece of paper big enough to mark out half the width of the car seat organiser. Draw a straight line at right angles to the fold. Draw a right angle on the base pattern where you would like your pocket to finish.

Match up the two straight lines and folded edge with the base pattern on top so you can simply draw around the edge to create this pocket.

Detachable bin

Again you could use your own dimensions. For this bin which is big enough to hold sweet wrappers and used tissues etc I used the following measurements:

Draw a rectangle 22cm wide x 20cm deep, cut away a 4cm square from each shorter side corner. Also cut a rectangle 14cm x 6cm for the velcro tab.

Large middle pocket

Refer back to the base pattern for the depth of this pocket, draw another right angle on the base pattern where the top and bottom of this pocket will be. I left a gap of 3cm between the upper and lower pockets and a pocket depth of 25cm. I wanted this deep enough to hold the tall water bottle.

Create the pattern in the same way as the large lower pocket drawing a right angle against the fold of the paper. If you want to add a gusset to the pocket add additional width. I added 12cm for the water bottle gusset. Add this width (half the width as it is against the fold) before drawing the side shaping of the base pattern. To check the width for a specific bottle lay the bottle on a flat surface and measure around the bottle. You will need to add 2/3 of the measurement to the width of the pattern for the bottle pocket.

Small gusset pocket

For the small gusset pocket I made a rectangle 31cm x 16cm the gusset each side is 5cm. For a different size start by drawing a rectangle that will fit in the space you want to apply it to and then add extra width for the gusset, the gusset concertinas so you will need a gusset depth that is big enough to fold nicely but not to large that the pocket becomes baggy.



Cut 1 base

Cut 1 lower pocket

Cut 2 bin pieces

Cut 2 velcro bin tab

Cut 1 upper pocket

Cut 1 small gusset pocket

Lining fabric:

Cut 1 base

Cut 1 lower pocket

Cut 2 bin pieces

Cut 1 upper pocket

Cut 1 small gusset pocket.


Cut 1 base

Cut 1 lower pocket

Cut 2 bin pieces

Medium weight interfacing:

Cut 1 upper pocket.

The quantities of fabrics will vary depending on the size of you car seat. For this car seat organsier which measures 63cm high x 45cm at the widest. I used:

Laminate – 65cm

Lining fabric – 65cm

Decovil – 70cm

medium weight interfacing – 30cm

How to make:

I have used a 1.5cm seam allowance where seam allowances apply. 

If you are working with laminated cotton I find wonder clips best to work with because pins will make holes in the fabric. 

Before you start fuse the interfacing to the appropriate pieces. Despite the fabric being laminated I found it still worked fusing the interfacing to the wrong side. Its worth doing a test run first to be sure. Generally I find good quality interfacing fuses more quickly so you don’t need to apply heat for to long. If it doesn’t work you could try spray adhesive or treat it as non-fusible and sew it to the edges.

  1. Make the detachable bin. With right sides together (RST) join the side and lower edges of both outer and lining. Leave a small turning gap at the lower edge of the lining. Stitch the two short and one long side of the velcro flap.

2. Trim the Decovil off the seams away from the stitching to reduce bulk.

3.  Pinch the corners so that the side seam matches the base seam and stitch. Do the same on the lining.

4. Trim the corners away from the seam of the velcro flap and turn to the right side. Cut a piece of velcro just slightly shorter than the length of the flap. Stitch the fluffy part to the flap.

5. Find the centre of the flap and the centre of one side of the bin, with these points matching stitch the flap to the bin with the velcro side facing the right side of the bin.

6. With RST and seams matched put the bin lining into the bin and stitch around the top edge. Turn to the right side through the lining hole in the base.

7. Top stitch around the upper edge with the velcro flap upwards.

8. Pull the lining out, press the opening and stitch close to the edge to close the hole.

9. Place the bin against the lower pocket to decide where you want to position it. Measure and mark a line with chalk where you would like to stitch the other part of the velcro. Stitch the velcro against the chalk line.

10. Place the lower pocket lining wrong sides together to the lower pocket. Stitch the two together stitching close to the raw edge (approx 3mm).

11. Cut a piece of bias binding long enough for the upper edge of the pocket. With raw edges matched stitch in the crease close to the raw edges.

12. Fold the tape to the back of the pocket, match the folded edge to the stitch line and machine stitch in place.

13. Place the lower pocket onto the base, stitch close to the raw edge to hold in place.

14. If you want to add a divide to this large pocket simply draw a chalk line at right angles to the pocket upper edge and stitch.

15. Make the upper small gusset pocket. With RST stitch around all edges leaving a gap in one long edge. Trim corners and turn to the right side. Top stitch the upper edge of the pocket. 

16. Decide on the position for this pocket bearing in mind there is extra width for the gussets. Draw a chalk line parallel to the lower edge of the upper pocket. Draw lines at right angles to this edge where the left and right hand edge of the pocket will sit. The width of the finished pocket will be the size of the original rectangle you made minus the gussets. In this example the pocket is 21cm with gussets of 5cm each side. Stitch the sides in place leaving the lower edge loose.

17. Mark half the width of the gusset at each lower edge of the pocket, fold at this point so the folded edge matches the edge of the pocket.

18. Stitch the lower edge of the pocket in place. Place the upper pocket lining to the upper pocket wrong sides together and stitch close to the edge. Bind top and bottom edges of this pocket in the same way as you did for the lower pocket.

19. Place the upper pocket in position measuring the distance from the upper edge of the lower pocket. Draw a chalk line for the pocket position.

20. Make the water bottle gusset, draw a chalk line at right angles from the base of the upper pocket fairly close to the side. With raw edge of the pocket and the base piece matched stitch the raw edges together followed by the first pocket divide line. 

21. Stitch the other side of the pocket to the raw edge matching raw edges. Fold the gusset size that you allowed and clip to hold together, draw a chalk line at the other side of the bottle pocket. The pocket width should fit flush with the base width. If it is a little tight or loose adjust the gusset pleats before sewing the pocket line. 

Stitch the lower edge of the pocket all the way across close to the edge catching the gusset pleats as you go.

22. Make the straps. Using the measurement you took from the car seat cut webbing allowing approx 3cm extra for turning and a further 10cm for the head rest buckle strap and 20cm for the seat buckle strap. Thread the buckles and sliders on so that the straps can be adjusted. As the webbing is thick I found it best to use a tight wide zig zag stitch on a single turned hem.

23. Following the measurements you took from the car seat, position the web straps in place wrong side of strap to the back of the car seat organiser. Stitch close to the edge. 

24. Fold one end of the bias binding and attach to the lower edge of the car seat organiser. Attach the binding around the whole edge overlapping a little where the two ends meet. Apply binding the same way as described for the pockets.

25. Fold the binding to the back and stitch in place with the straps facing inwards.

26. Flip the straps up and top stitch on the outer edge of the binding.

All ready for school holiday adventures, and hopefully less tidying up for me!!



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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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