Eyes on the road! Municipalities are cracking down on distracted drivers, making it a perfect time to create a caddy for your car that can keep important items within reach yet enough out of the way so they don’t interfere with the task at hand: driving! We used a clever combination of Dritz® hardware and elastic for ease and flexibility. This would be a great organizer for anyone who spends a lot of time in the car. Add a few of auto safety products to make it an even smarter gift idea.
Our caddy is designed with a long adjustable loop that can fit over the gearshift in a center console. It hangs into the passenger’s side of the car, but is still within easy reach of the driver. An adjustable slide buckle allows you to cinch up the loop so the caddy fits snuggly. There’s even a strip of Velcro® along the back (the hook side only of the hook-and-loop) that can grip onto a carpeted surface to help keep the caddy from shifting side to side.
The front panel features two pleated pockets as well as a narrow center pen pocket. Drop in your phone so you’re not tempted to text while driving. The pleats, along with a binding of fold over elastic, allow the pockets to expand to accommodate a packet of tissues, a note pad, and more.
There’s also a swivel hook on one side and a D-ring on the opposite side of the front section. We clipped one of our favorite safety items to the swivel hook: a combination glass break/seatbelt cutter tool. When seconds count in an emergency situation, this tool can be a real lifesaver… but not if it’s in the glove box! Attach it to the quick release swivel hook for instant access. The D-ring a good place to hang a valet key.
There’s a cool secret pocket at the back of the caddy, secured with a Dritz® heavy duty snap, to hold money for tolls, parking, or gift cards to use at the drive-thru. Because it’s hidden behind the caddy, there’s nothing valuable in view if someone looks in with thoughts of a smash-and-grab.
Elastic wraps both side panels, creating a slightly stretchy band onto which you can loop sunglasses, driving glasses, a pen or even a tire pressure gauge.
We offer links below to find the Dritz® hardware and elastic products we used for our sample, but of course, you can find Dritz® notions and hardware at fine in-store and online retailers everywhere.
As mentioned above, this would make an excellent gift. It uses just small fabric cuts; we pulled items from our stash. The inside of the Caddy is lined with water resistant ripstop nylon so you can use the generous center section to collect trash.
Our caddy finishes at approximately 8” wide x 9” high x 3” deep with a fully adjustable webbing loop to secure the box over a center console gear shift.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but best for thicker layers – or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the main exterior panels, the facing, and the hidden money pocket; we used fabric from our stash (Blockprint Blossom in Garnet from Joel Dewberry’s classic Heirloom collection)
- ¼ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the exterior pockets; we used fabric from our stash (Ornate Floral in Gold from Joel Dewberry’s classic Heirloom collection)
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide ripstop nylon or similar water resistant fabric for the lining; we used ripstop nylon in black
- ONE ½” Dritz Small Swivel Hook & D-Ring Set; we used gunmetal
- ONE Dritz Heavy Duty Snap; we used gunmetal
- Dritz Setting Tools for the Heavy Duty Snap
- ONE Dritz 1” Adjustable Slide Buckle; we used gunmetal
- ¼ yard of Dritz 1½” wide Heavy Waistband Elastic; we used black
- ⅓ yard of Dritz 1” wide Fold Over Elastic; we used black (it should be the same color as the wide elastic)
- ¾ yard of Dritz 1” belting; we used black
- ¼ yard of ¾” sew-in Velcro® – you’ll only use the hook side (the scratchy side); we used black
- ¼ yard of ½” – ⅝” wide ribbon or similar for the swivel hook & D-ring set; we used black grosgrain – it should be the same color as the elastic
- ⅝ yard of 20”+ one-sided fusible foam; we used Pellon Flex Foam
- ¼ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Small hammer to set rivets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a hammering surface for the snap
- From the main exterior fabric (the pink in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 9” wide x 10” high rectangles for the front and back panels
TWO 4” wide x 10” high rectangles for the side panels
ONE 9” wide x 4” high rectangle for the base
TWO 6” wide x 11” high rectangles for the money pocket
ONE 22” wide x 3” high strip for the lining facing
- From the pocket fabric (the gold in our sample), cut TWO 6” high x 11” wide rectangles.
- From the lining fabric (the ripstop in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 9” x 22” rectangle upper section
ONE 9” x 4” rectangle for the base
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut ONE 5½” x 10” rectangle for the front pocket.
- From the fusible foam, cut the following:
TWO 8” x 9½” rectangles for the front and back
TWO 3” x 9½” rectangles for the sides
ONE 3” x 8” rectangle for the base
- Cut ONE 11” length of the fold over elastic.
- Cut TWO 4” lengths of the waistband elastic.
- Cut ONE 9” length of the Velcro® – peel apart; you’ll use just the hook side (the scratchy side)
- Cut TWO 3” length lengths of the ribbon.
- Cut the belting into ONE 25” length.
NOTE: This is an average-to-long length that should work well for most center console cars. It’s best to start long; you can then trim the free end if need be and adjust to fit your car.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Add the interfacing and foam to the panels
- Collect the exterior panels (front, back, two sides, and the base) and the coordinating foam panels.
- On the front, back, and side panels, the foam should be centered on the fabric so it is flush along the top raw edge of the fabric but sits in ½” along the sides and bottom.
- On the base panel, the foam is centered so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam on all sides.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the foam to all five panels.
- Find one of the two front pocket panels and determine which one will be the front panel. Center the interfacing on this panel so it is flush along the top raw edge of the fabric but sits in ½” along the sides and bottom. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create and place the hidden money pocket with its heavy duty snap
- Find the two 6” x 11” money pocket panels. These panels are not interfaced in order to keep bulk to a minimum.
- Place the two panels right sides together and pin around all sides, leaving an approximate 2” opening 1” up from what will be the bottom of the pocket along one side. This positioning is important as the opening will be sealed when the pocket is stitched into place, so the opening must be towards the bottom of the pocket panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the the 2” opening.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn right side out through the opening. Use a long, blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner to gently push out all the corners. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges at the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Place the panel flat on your work surface with the side that will be the inside of the pocket facing up. Measure 3” down from the top finished edge and mark a horizontal line at this point. You can mark with pins as we did or draw a line with a fabric pen or pencil. As always when working on the right side of your fabric, make sure any marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Fold up the bottom of the panel so it aligns with the marked horizontal line, forming the 3½” deep pocket. Pin along the sides of the folded up pocket.
- Measure ¾” up from the top of the folded pocket and create a horizontal line. Fold the top of the panel along this line, creating the pocket flap. The flap itself should be about 2¼” inches, allowing it to overlap the base of the pocket nicely but still leave the ¾” gap between the top of the pocket base and the fold of the flap. Lightly pin the flap in place along its top fold.
- Find the panel that will become the back of the caddy. The front and the back are identical in size and shape so simply choose one to be the back. This panel should already have the foam fused in place. Place the panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the money pocket into position, also right side up, on the panel. It should sit 2” down from the top raw edge of the panel and be centered side to side.
- Open up the flap and pin the pocket in place along the sides of the pocket base.
- Lengthen the stitch slightly and edgestitch the pocket base in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. You are stitching through multiple layers; we recommend using a Walking or Even Feed foot; or you can engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as what we use: the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system.
- With the base pocket stitched in place, fold the flap back down into position.
- Still using a lengthened stitch, run a seam across the top fold of the flap, staying as close to that fold as possible.
- Mark for the position of the snap top. It should be centered side to side on the flap and about ½” up from the lower edge of the flap. When marking for a snap, your measurements are always for what will be the center point of the finished snap.
- With this point marked, and with the flap smoothed into its final position, stick a pin through the mark of the flap into the base pocket. Where the point of the pin enters the base pocket is now the marked point for the bottom half of the snap.
- Cut a small hole at the marked point on the flap and insert the top half of the heavy duty snap from front through to the back.
- Place the back half of the snap into position and use the snap tools to adhere the two parts and permanently set the top half of the snap.
- Repeat to insert the bottom half of the snap. On this half, the base piece (the post) is inserted from back to front.
- Lift up the pocket to slide the anvil from the snap tools set into position.
- Place the top half of the snap into position and use the snap tools to adhere the two parts and permanently set the base half of the snap.
NOTE: If you are brand new to working with snaps, check out our general tutorial on inserting metal snaps or the handy Dritz® YouTube video if you’d prefer to attach with the Dritz® Heavy Duty Snap Pliers.
Place the belting and Velcro®
- Find the length of Velcro® and the length of belting. Remember, you are using just the hook side (the scratchy side) of the Velcro®.
NOTE: As mentioned in the introduction above, the Velcro® is optional. If you know the car for which you’re making the caddy doesn’t have exposed carpet where the caddy will hang, the strip of Velcro® is not really necessary. It’s job is to simply hold the caddy in place and help prevent it from swinging side to side.
- We positioned our Velcro® 1” up from the bottom raw edge of the back panel. This position can also vary based on the car in which the caddy will be used.
- Pin the Velcro® strip in place. Make sure it is even horizontally across the right side of the panel below the pocket.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the Velcro®. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch and stitch the Velcro® in place along the top and bottom edges.
- Find the exact center of the back panel along the top raw edge. Place one end of the belting at this point and machine baste in place.
Create the front pleated pocket panel and place the swivel hook & D-ring set
- Find the two front pocket panels, one of which should have interfacing fused to the wrong side. Place the two panels wrong sides together so their edges are flush all around.
- Find the 11” length of fold over elastic (FOE).
- There is a center line woven into the FOE. Place the top raw edges of the pocket panels along this center line. Lightly pin the fabric to the FOE.
- Wrap the elastic over the raw edges and pin it fully into position. This means you should have ½” of elastic at the back of the pocket and ½” at the front.
- The machine should already be threaded with thread to best match the Velcro® and webbing. As recommended above, the FOE should be a matching color so you shouldn’t need to re-thread. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch. Edgestitch along the bottom edge of the FOE across the entire panel. Go slowly, making sure you are catching both the front and the back of the FOE in this one seam. You needn’t stretch the elastic; treat it as a binding.
- With the FOE binding in place, place the pocket right side up and flat on your work surface. Find the exact center along the top edge. Measure ½” to the right of this center point and draw a vertical line with a fabric pen or pencil from the top of the pocket to the bottom. Repeat to measure and mark a parallel vertical line ½” to the left of center.
- Place the front exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the marked pocket panel, also right side up, centered on top of the exterior panel. The bottom raw edge of the pocket panel and the exterior panel should be flush. The pocket panel should extend beyond the exterior panel approximately ½” – 1″ at either side. Pin the pocket in place. This extra “over hang” will be taken up with the pleat.
- Stitch along each vertical drawn line through all the layers. We took the time to stitch with the matching black thread just through the binding…
- … then re-threaded with thread to best match the pocket fabric to continue the seams. These parallel seams create the center pen pocket.
- With the two vertical seams stitched, bring in the raw side edges of the pocket panel so they are flush with the raw side edges of the exterior panel. This creates the folds of the “pleat” at the center. These folds cover up the previous vertical seams. The folds are not designed to meet in the center; you need a bit of space to allow access to the center narrow pen pocket. Because of the bulk of the FOE, the bottom of the pleat will come more closely together than the top. This is okay; the main thing is to align the raw side edges of the pocket panel and the exterior panel.
- Pin in place and then machine baste in place along both sides and across the bottom. Press the pocket.
- With the front pocket basted in place, find the two lengths of ribbon and the swivel hook & D-ring set.
- Slip one length of ribbon through the hook and the other through the ring.
- Position the swivel hook 1¼” in from the left raw side edge of the panel and position the D-ring 1¼” in from the right raw side edge of the panel. This means each will sit towards the outside edge of each pocket – not directly over the center. Pin in place and then machine baste in place.
Add the wide elastic to the sides and assemble the exterior into a box
- Find the two side panels and the two lengths of wide elastic.
- Position a strip of wide elastic 2” down from the raw edge of each panel. Pin in place.
- Machine baste each end of each length of elastic in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin and re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Place a side panel right sides together along each side edge of the main front panel. Pin in place, and then stitch in place, using an approximate ½” seam allowance. We used a seam allowance that was just a bit wider in order to stitch right along the edge of the foam. This simply provides a little more stability and a smoother seam line at each corner.
- Repeat to align and then stitch the remaining free edge of each side panel to the back panel, creating a tube with four seams.
- Find the exterior base panel.
- Find the center points along each side of the base and along each side of the open bottom end of the exterior tube.
- Insert the base into the tube, matching all the center points, then filling in with pins between the points. The base panel is right sides together with the exterior tube. It’s a little like setting a lid upside down into a box. Adjust the seams at each corner. They should be as flat as possible to keep the corners sharp.
- Clip into each corner at a depth of about ⅜”. This frees up the seam allowance so you can more easily stitch each side of the base independently, starting and stopping at each corner.
- Starting at one corner of the fusible foam, and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the first side. Stop the seam at the opposite corner of the foam. In other words, your seam is starting and stopping ½” in from the edge of the fabric panel.
- Remove the project from the machine. Reposition to stitch the next side in the same manner. Continue in order to stitch all four sides.
NOTE: If you are new to inserting a base panel, check out our step-by-step tutorial: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.
- Press open the seam allowances as best you can and turn the exterior box right side out. Set it aside.
Create the lining with its facing
- Find the main lining panel and the narrow facing strip.
- Press under one long edge of the facing strip ½”. If you have a directional print, remember that this folded edge will come up and over to the front of the box, so you want to fold under the top edge of the strip.
- Place the facing strip right sides together with the lining. Pin in place, then stitch in place with a ½” seam allowance. Remember to re-thread the machine as necessary to match your fabric choices.
- Press the seam allowance up towards the facing. Remember to cover with a pressing cloth if using ripstop for your lining.
- With the facing stitched in place, pin the raw sides together and, using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this center back seam to create a tube.
- Mark the bottom opening of the tube as well as the lining base panel as you did above, and insert the base into the lining tube.
NOTE: Remember to check out our tutorial if you are new to this technique; we’ve summarized the steps above so seeing a full step-by-step will help clarify if you’re just starting out: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.
Assemble exterior and lining to finish and thread the webbing through the Adjustable Slider
- Keep the lining wrong side out. Find the exterior box, it should be right side out.
- Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together.
- Push the lining all the way down and align the two base panels. The lining’s seam should sit at the center back of the caddy.
- Fold the the lining facing down into position against the front of the box. There should be an even 1” reveal all around and the top raw edges of the exterior layers, including the foam, should sit right up against the fold of the facing. Pin in place all around. Do take the extra time to make sure the facing is even all around.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the facing fabric in the top and bobbin and slightly lengthen the stitch once again.
- Starting at the center back, edgestitch all around to secure. We again recommend using a Walking foot or engaging your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system.
- Press the upper edge so it is nice and crisp.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the webbing.
- At the center back, bring the webbing up over the facing and stitch a short horizontal seam near the top of the facing, as shown in the photo below, to secure the webbing in this upright position.
- Weave the free end of the webbing through the adjustable slider to create the top loop that can then be positioned over the car’s gear shift. The slider is easy to adjust for the best fit.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild