How to Sew the Car Diddy Bag – Free Sewing Tutorial
Keep everything you need handy – and organized – in the car with this sweet little bag! Mine holds my phone (and the cords, lol), a couple pens, and anything else I want to toss in there quick while I’m driving. But there’s more…
UPDATE: This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The PDF download for $2 is totally optional.
The back has a welt zipper pocket where you can stash a few dollars or an emergency credit card in case you forget your purse. This was a reader suggestion! 🙂
Another reader left the brilliant suggestion of using velcro to stick the bag to the floor to keep it from sliding around. It works great!
When I was writing this free sewing pattern, there was some concern about a bag putting unneeded pressure and pull on the stick shift. We decided to go ahead with this project anyway, and fix that by making the strap long enough so that the bag sits on the floor plus using velcro to hold it in place. I think we did a great job solving the problem!
If you are still uncomfortable putting a strap around your shifter, you could always hang the pouch somewhere else.
Let’s get started!
Finished size: Approximately 8’’ tall, 7 1/2’’ wide, and 2’’ deep. Strap customized to your needs.
Fabric and notions:
1/2 yd fabric for the bag
1/2 yd fabric for the pockets & strap
1/2 yd By Annie’s flexible foam, fusible fleece, or other stabilizer
1 zipper, at least 6” long (for hidden cash pocket)
4’’ strip of hook tape (1/2 of a velcro set)
From the fabric for the bag, cut:
4 squares 10’’ x 10’’
From the pocket & strap fabric, cut:
1 rectangle 11’’ x 10’’ (exterior pocket)
1 rectangle 12’’ x 8’’ (hidden cash pocket)
1 strip 4’’ x desired length for strap + 1’’
From the interfacing, cut:
2 squares 10’’ x 10’’
1 strip 1’’ x desired length for strap + 1’’
Note: this little bag will be 8’’ tall. We (all of you & I) decided that it would be best for the car if the bag rested on the floor, so you will need to figure out the length of your own strap. Use your tape measure to measure from a spot about 7’’ off the floor of your car, then around the place where you will loop your strap and back to the same spot. That extra inch closer to the floor will give you some wiggle room to make sure it doesn’t pull on the stick shift or wherever you hang it. If you don’t care about this, just cut the strap whatever length you desire. 🙂
I really like the curved top that I see in our inspiration Pin, so I decided to replicate it. This is how:
1. Stack two of your 10’’ squares together and fold in half. Make a mark 2’’ down from the top along the fold.
2. Using your rotary cutter (easier, IMHO) or scissors, start at the mark on the fold and cut into the square for about 1’’ and then curve upward to the corner.
Don’t stress this part. If you want you can use a large bowl to help you mark a curve, but it will probably look just as good if you just wing it.
3. Open one of the curved pieces, lay it on a square of interfacing, and trim the interfacing to match. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric piece or baste around all of the edges, 1/4’’ from the edge.
This is the front exterior.
4. Next apply interfacing (fuse or baste around the edges) to one of the square pieces. This is the back exterior.
The two bag exterior pieces (front and back) have interfacing. The bag lining pieces are not interfaced.
5. Cut 1’’ squares out of all of the bottom corners of the front and back pieces.
Make the front pocket:
3/8’’ seam allowance
1. Fold the 11’’ x 10’’ pocket rectangle in half with the 10’’ edges touching, right sides together. Pin and stitch along the long edge.
2. Turn the pocket tube right side out, and press. Topstitch along the long edge that you’d like to be the top of the pocket.
3. Lay the pocket over the curved front piece that has interfacing. Pin it in place 1/2’’ above the cut-out corners.
4. Stitch the pocket to the bag front 1/8’’ from the bottom edge. Baste in place along the sides, 1/4’’ from the edge.
5. Sew 1-3 straight lines to divide the pocket as desired. I know lots of you wanted a pen slot. I would rather have 2 larger pockets. 🙂
Make the hidden zipper pocket:
3/8’’ seam allowance
1. On the back of the 12’’ x 8’’ pocket rectangle, draw a straight line that is about 7’’ long. Place the line 1’’ below the top 8’’ edge.
Draw another line the same length 1/2’’ below the first.
Connect these two lines with short lines that are 1/2’’ from either side edge.
You should now have a box that is 1/2’’ tall and 6’’ wide.
2. Lay the interfaced square (back exterior piece) on your work surface right side up. Place the pocket piece right side down with the drawn box on top and the top edge of the pocket piece 1’’ below the top edge of the interfaced square. Pin around the drawn box.
Finish sewing a welt zipper pocket using my Welt Zipper Pocket Tutorial starting on step 2 of the section called ‘Attach the pocket piece to the bag (or project).
Make the strap:
1. Fold and press the strap bias tape style:
Fold in half lengthwise, press.
Open and fold the raw edges to the center, press.
Insert the 1’’ strip of interfacing under one of the folds.
Fold the piece in half again and pin in place, if desired.
2. Stitch along both long edges, 1/8’’ from the folds.
Tip: A walking foot makes it easier to keep the fabric straight.
Make a loop with the strap and pin the ends to the top of the back exterior piece, centered above the zipper pocket. I pinned my two ends about 1/4’’ apart. Baste in place 1/4’’ from the edge.
Attach the scratchy velcro strip:
One of my readers suggested some scratchy velcro (hook tape) on the bottom of the bag would help it stick to the bottom of the car floor and not move around. It worked great!
1. Center the strip of hook tape along the bottom of the back exterior piece, between the cut out corners and about 1/2’’ from the bottom edge.
2. Sew around the velcro close to the edge to secure it. Be sure to backstitch.
Sewing the bag together:
3/8’’ seam allowance
1. Pin the interfaced back and front pieces right sides together, and the non-interfaced lining back and front pieces right sides together along the sides and bottom.
2. Stitch the sides and bottom of both pieces, leaving a 5’’ opening in the bottom of the lining for turning.
3. To box the corners, pinch each corner, matching the side and bottom seams, and pin. Stitch across. Repeat for 4 corners in the exterior and the lining.
4. Turn the exterior right side out and place it inside the lining. Right sides should be together. Pin around the top edge.
Stitch all the way around the top edge.
5. Make clips in the seam allowance along the curved seam.
6. Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining and press.
7. Stitch the opening closed.
8. Topstitch around the top, about 1/4’’ from the edge.
And that’s it! If you had fun making my Car Diddy Bag, try my #10 Caddy next so you can organize your sewing table! 🙂
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂
Fantastic! I can’t wait to make this! THANK YOU for making this pattern/instructions for us!
We switch between our two vehicles a lot, so I’m going to make the strap adjustable (two straps instead of a loop with velcro on each strap) so it will fit either car.
Why does it say to cut 4 interfacing and only use 2 or have I missed something?
Thanks for noticing my typo! I fixed it. You should only cut 2. 🙂
I love that every tutorial is very detailed right down to the topstitching, to finish a item, they always looks clean and professional… I love the fine details. Thank you
Hi Caroline, wanted to thank you so much for this free tutorial! cant wait to get started! my question is what size zipper and does it have to be metal? thankyou, Fondly Tricia my email is email@example.com just in case!
Thank you Caroline for another fantastic tutorial…now I am having to go through my stash to make one…
We have always referred to Velcro as "Posicro" and "Neucro". 😉
Thank you for an awesome tutorial. I made it right away and I love it!!!
Awesome! Also would be a great way to use layer cake pre-cut squares.
Thanks for this free tutorial, love the name ditty bag, we always used the word "Ditty bag" as name for our bathroom bag for GS Camp.
Another use for this bag is a grab and go bag for sports mom’s, I can see having this hanging off the arm of my folding camp chair at the kids sporting events or even at the campsite or beach. Use to hold your phone, waterbottle, bug spray/sunblock, flashlight, snacks or anything you need within reach at the soccer field, campsite or beach. Can’t wait to make a few of these as gifts for friends and family.
Thanks for this great tutorial. Very easy to follow. I made mine with a longer strap and put it over the headrest on the passenger side. Bottom of it rests on the seat.
Easy to make…love it…used laminated cotton for the lining so that I could use it as a small trash bag as well as keeping my sunglasses, pen and GPS organized!!
Love this bag. Started making it last night, but I got stuck on boxing the corners. Not sure how that’s done with the corners having a cutout like they do. Can you explain further? Thanks.
The cut-out lets you box the corners without any more measuring. Just line up the bottom seam with the side seam so that the cut-out part makes a straight line. Then sew across.
I made 3 of these – one for me and 2 for my sister’s cars. For 2 of them’ I had some decorator fabric in browns, tan and black – made the pocket out of solid black. Then I had some black and black and white checked fat quarters and made one from those.
Love the pattern, it was easy and fun. Thanks for creating it.
I posted a question last night but you can disregard it. I figured it out after sleeping on it. Turns out I can’t follow directions lol Thanks again!!
That happens to me all the time! I’m glad the solution came to you. 🙂
I agree that you may not want to hang this around the gear shifter for safety reasons. I will use a command hook attached to the center console instead.
Thanks so much, Caroline! I’m going to make one of these right away for my daughter who always has all kinds of things rolling around in her car 🙂
In response to some people’s concern about the weight of the bag on the stick shift; the other thing that can be done is to apply a small command hook to an appropriate spot in your car and hook the handles of the bag on that. You may need to modify the pattern and make the handles narrower if you want to use one of those really small, clear hooks like I did. 🙂
I would love to make this bag. However, I can’t seem to find a way to print it or save it. My computer is not in my sewing room, so I need a way to have the info in front of me. Can you provide that feature with your patterns? That would really help.
pinning to make later. thanks for the great idea
You could even make two of these and then connect them with two handle straps to hang over on each side of the car (suv I am thinking) so the driver and passenger has one!
For those wanting these instructions in a written format, would it be possible to provide them in a pdf format with a link to down load them? If not, they could always do what I do when they are not available. It is time consuming and a pain in the butt, but it is what I end up doing. I often copy and paste the directions and picture into a word document and make sure that I copy the URL address as link and add it to the word document. I then save the document as well as print it so I have both the hard copy to have where I sew and a saved copy on the computer, and the ability to find the original when I want to send someone else to find it.
I am glad you figured out a system that works for you – good tips!
Great Tutorial! My husband didn’t like having the bag hanging from our shifter, so he got a binder clip and attached it to our front side pocket thingy [that’s the actual name 🙂 ]. It works great there. Also, as a comment to Shelly, I also copy everything to a word document along with the URL, but I don’t usually print out the directions. Instead I save it to google drive and access it from my tablet. That way I save ink and I can also access my patterns at the fabric store if I need to on my smart phone. I am so glad I found this site.
Great tips! Thanks.
I bookmarked the tutorial when you posted it. When I was frustrated "switching" cars and having "my stuff" in the other car- THIS was the answer! Made it out of leftover drapery fabric. All I can say is WONDERFUL!
I finished making this and it is so cute. I tweaked it just a little by putting a piece of stiff cardboard covered with fabric in the bottom. Also, sewed a line of stitching below the topstitched bag front to create a casing to insert a piece of elastic into the front above the pockets to keep it from drooping down too much. Turned out great. I would post a pic but can’t figure out how.
I am a rural mail carrier. I saw this tutorial and made one for my mail truck. I love it! I have my cellphone in one pocket, ChapStick and hand sanitizer in the other…..wallet in the zipper pocket and my package scanner in the large pocket……now for a visor "organizer" for my stamps, USPS forms, etc. So much more convenient. Currently using a CD holder, but would like to make one customized to the size pockets I need. On my "to do list"….
where are you supposed to hang it? on what? i cannot fathom what its hooked onto in the car? it looks like its on inside of drivers door but hooked over/connected to what? …. thanks.
I have tried several tutorials on Pinterest. Yours by far has been the simplest yet professional site. This evening I made the Car Caddy… It came out so nice. I am very pleased.
Thank You so much…I will be following you for more tutorials.
Hi, I love the phone caddy. Am I missing what size zipper I need?
Thanks for this tutorial – I’ve been thinking about making something like this… now I don’t have any excuses! I plan on making it with Velcro on the strap so I can connect it to the back of the headrest if I need to, instead of hanging in on the gear shift, although I don’t have an issue with the gear shift – it would just be for convenience. 🙂 I love your modifications! Isn’t sewing useful things fun!
Thank you so much for this great tutorial. I saw it when I was looking for something to put in the car for xtra napkins and cell phones. Saw it scrolling thru your site (which I LOVE). I’m going to make one for each of our cars, but also going to make 2 and use a strip of fabric to connect them both, so I can hang over a TV Tray that I’m using for my laptop. There is no room for anything on the tray except the computer, so I can use one for glasses, pens, paper and the other for TV remotes.
How big is it? Could you make a second one that would go all the way across the console that is stuck to the floor with a little weight in it and VERY thin so it wouldn’t get in the way of the driver. This would counyet the weight of the other side. I have a console but no stuck shift to fit it on.
Love this idea.
I’m in the middle of making two of these (should have done one at a time the first time!) to hang on our new camping cots. I’m using snaps on one end of the strap so they can go over the side bars.
I’m using sewn on interfacing (actually, a silver backed foam that I think was sold as a windshield protector), and realized after sewing it on that the corners need to be cut out. I don’t like reading ahead because I get overwhelmed. Might be a good idea to mention this though.
Looking forward to the final products, and making one for my mom’s truck!
I made a car tidy months ago, not as flash as this but did put straps with button holes so that I could strap it through the door handle, thus it stays still. I put a couple of pairs of glasses, my phone, combe and hand cream in it.
In a minivan or other vehicle with a gap between the two front seats this could be hung on the seat belt as well. I’m adding this to my car organizing project list.
Thanks so much for sharing, I will definitely be making one.
You could add a small bag with sand/fiberfill to the strap so it can be used to hang from inside the glove box. Thus not being on the floor or from the gearshift. Great idea though.
Thank you for the great tutorial. I am writing about the one I made on my blog today with a link to your tutorial. https://www.lovequilting.com/quilt-fabric-car-diddy-bag/
Thanks for this great tutorial. As someone who is fairly new to sewing and has never made a bag before, I had to find a tutorial on boxing the corners – once I realised you don’t sew around the cutouts when sewing the sides together it all became clearer, lol. I also ended up with the strap inside the lining, whoops! I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong until I unpicked it. I made mine like a saddlebag in that it has a thicker strap across the console with a bag on either side. All in all very happy with the result, thank you.
Awesome idea, made one for my car, and a friend has already asked for one to match her car 🙂
This will be perfect to keep everything at bay in my car! Thanks for sharing!……..patty
I love this and have made 2 for Christmas gifts and plan to make more. We need some too. Great instructions. Thank you!
I just wanted to let you know that I just made one of these for my mum and am really happy with it. <3 The instructions were clear and easy to follow.
Thank you very much for uploading this =)
I made this as a gift for my SIL and my MIL liked it so much I made one for her for her birthday! My daughter has informed me that I need one in MY car now. 🙂 Great pattern!
Hi, this is just a random thought. For those concerned with the weight on the shifter. I have seen tutorials on trash bags, usually hung on the passenger side over the shifter. I haven’t really thought this out but you could cut you loop in half on both the diddy bag and trash bag add Velcro to each loop, so you could still use it as a loop or handle. Otherwise the two loops of the handles could attach together using the Velcro on the handles (laying the Velcro of one half of the ditty bag handle and one half of the trash bag handle together and doing the same to the other two half of the handles), kind of making a saddle bag over the shifter or console.
Thanks for the idea Janet!
I absolutely love your blog and newsletter. I subscribe to several sewing blogs and yours is definitely in my top five favorites. I loved making this bag. The instructions were so clear and and easy. The only part I had trouble with was sewing the hidden zipper, I don’t think I turned it inside out the right way, but it turned out ok so I’m happy! I love how it turned out and would love to show you a picture/video on my instagram (I couldn’t figure out how to post a picture here)! Thank you for this awesome tutorial!
I just made this for my car, I have an older BMW, Red/tan and black and it has no place to put anything inside so when I saw this, I thought this is perfect. Took it out hung it in my car and just love it. So much so that I am gonna make a second one so I can have one on each side in the front….Thank you for sharing this. well, I wanted to post pics but I’m not able to…anyway, it turned out too cute. Thank you again…
Yay! So glad to hear this! xoxo
I just found this great tutorial. Do you have pictures of the ones you made?
i want to make one of this but since i travel alone i want to hang it on the driver window to be handler than digging in the console for glasses and such. How could i hang it? i was thinking along the line of one of those old plastic drink holders where you placed the hanger tab between the window and door panel. Tab would have to be a little bigger than the holders had, i imagine. Any suggestions, anyone? thanks….wendy_
Thank you so much for the pattern and tutorial. I have just made myself the diddy bag and am feeling very pleased with myself as I start many projects without patterns or guides which take me so long I often give up, but not this time. I was so eager to make it I stole the zip out of my husbands work trousers lol. Thankyou again for taking the time and effort to share
Lol! You are so resourceful! xoxo
I know this bag is intended for a car, but I think it will make a great bag to hang from the arm rest of my dad’s wheelchair. He likes to hang a bag there to hold tissues, a magazine, mail, and other small things he gathers throughout his day at his retirement home.
I made mine and I love it! I just had a problem with the lining which I turned out bigger than the bag itself. It won´t happen again! haha.
Super Tuto, merci.
je viens de faire ma poubelle de voiture: https://gibritte2.blogspot.fr/2017/12/sac-poubelle-pour-la-voiture.html
Thanks for such a great tutorial! Love the car-bag!
Love this! I have just made the instructions into a PDF so I can have it on my iPad next to my sewing machine which will sit on the new sewing desk I’m making right now that I got ideas for from your beautiful sewing room! I will make it large enough to hold my iPad in the car, as we must make an hour-long drive to Tampa once a month to see my retina specialist. I won’t hang it from the gear shift because the trash bag sits there, but I have found that 3M Command hooks stick to the side panels under the dashboard very well, even in Florida’s heat and humidity. I have a hook holding a box of tissues in a 2.25 qt. Ziploc food container that’s been there for 3 1/2 years so far! They used to get crushed in the back seat otherwise. Now I can have more of my stuff to keep me occupied and stress free as I sit in the passenger seat! Thank you for all the wonderful ideas you share; you have truly enriched my life, Caroline!
Thanks for this. I like the Velcro idea and the “secret” pocket. I have a similar car caddy but a little larger in my vehicle. Mine hangs from the front passenger seat headrest posts, in the front, but if I have a passenger I just slide it to hang on the back of the seat. It holds, a small pad of paper, pens, phone and cords, maps, my daughter’s disabled placard, hand wipes and anything else I may need.
I made 2 of the car ditty bags. I found that they folded forward when hanging. I took out the back stitching an moved the straps to the ends and then stitched across the top and about 1 1/2 inches down and slid in a small diameter dowel. This holds it straight and open. I love mine and use it all the time.
Great tips. Thanks!
I am new to this sewing thing. Thank you for the easy tutorials to follow.
I would make two and join them together at the strips so that when you have a passenger in the car, they could use the other side for them. So there will be one on each side of the gear stick. Great idea with the valcro.
Hi, Caroline, I just read the concerns regarding stress on the gear shift. A simple fix would be to use a Command hook stuck where it wouldn’t interfere with the gear shift. You ‘d have to adjust the strap to make the bag still grab the carpet with the Velcro, but the Command hooks are removable, come in different sizes, and don’t harm surfaces. Hope this helps.
It’s a great project, but the spelling (from my Girl Scout days long, long ago) is "ditty bag."
I used single-sided fusible foam stabilizer on the back outside piece. Would it still work to put the welt zipper pocket on the back outside cutting through the fabric & fusible foam stabilizer? Would the welt zipper insertion process still be the same? This is my first welt zipper to make. I am making this to sit inside the front basket of my elderly mom’s mobility scooter…..for Mother’s Day. She’ll be the envy of her friends. If you are able to answer my question here in the comments, I am so appreciative. Sue
You can still insert a welt zipper through the foam interfacing. The process will be a bit more fiddly with that extra thick layer – but it’s totally doable.
Hello Caroline, I made 8 of these in St. Louis Blues fabric for my family for Christmas. Everyone loves them especially my husband. He can take it from our car to his truck. It holds all of his "stuff" and he refers to it as his "purse". Ha ha. Now his "stuff" is out of my purse!
I made several of these for stocking stuffers for my family. So much fun to make.
I would like to say I enjoy your newsletter and ideas that come about however I am wondering if you could possibly be a bit clearer when writing out your tutorials. I am a visual person but find even the photos confusing. For instance I thought I would make the car diddy but looking at the pictures it looks like all the 10" squares are basted in sets together however no where in the instructions does it say to baste them together? Putting the bag together after attaching the zipper pocket and exterior pockets is also light on information which is confusing for a non sewer just beginning to take on projects other than simple quilting. Thank you – Kathy
Hi Not to be a smartie pants, , but it is spelled "ditty" not "diddy"
This is going to be great in my car! I wish you had done different colors for lining and outside as I am confused as to what goes where. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.
This was super easy to make. I did not include the zipper pocket because…lazy. I did 3 different fabrics for the lining, outside and front pocket.
Thank you for the instructions, this has to be the most complex thing I’ve ever made and it is perfect. I only went wrong twice, but for my skill level, I’m over the moon.
Thanks for this clever and useful bag. Since my daughter’s birthday was coming up I decided I would make one for her. She is very busy mom chauffeuring her 3 kids and sometimes the neighborhood kids to school, dance lessons, sport practices, appointments, etc. etc. so I thought this bag in the car would be just right for her. I followed your instructions with one little change. Instead of the continous loop for hanging I decided to split the strap and use Velcro so she could attach it easily around one of the car’s headrests. Then I realized it could also be easily taken with her to strap onto the folding chairs she and her family take along to sporting events and it could be that handy little bag to carry and store items within easy reach there too.
I’ve made half dozen of these and really like the pattern, the only thing I changed was I put in a centre seam so it would hang flatter.
I have a HUGE problem (and it’s one you are going to increasingly run into, I fear!)
No stick shift.
No problem! Check out these: https://sewcanshe.com/3-easy-projects-to-organize-your-car/