How to Sew a DIY Car Trash Can – Free Sewing Pattern

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Make your own DIY car trash can using my free sewing pattern! This easy to sew trash bin has an adjustable strap so it can be placed near the center console, around a headrest, or you can even loop it through a door handle. Plastic snaps hold a removable bag in place so you can keep everything clean and taking out the trash is easy!

My DIY car trash cans may be used without a bag, with a grocery bag, or with 1.2 gallon biodegradable garbage bags. Of course, you can skip the liner and use it for kids toys and other items too. My easy step by step instructions make this project do-able for an experienced or novice sewer.

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 Optimized for Printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library for you to access anytime you want? Check it out.

DIY Car Trash Can Details

You may already be familiar with my Car Diddy Bag pattern, which has been a lifesaver with lots of pockets, but I don’t like putting trash in it because it’s just too pretty.

Since this car trash can holds a plastic bag or grocery store bag, it is better at staying clean and catching crumbs, drops of liquids, straws, paper wrappings, and other messy stuff. With a small car, keeping litter under control can be hard, but not anymore!

There are easy to sew snap tabs on both sides, which actually snap securely right through the bag to hold it in place! See the actual snaps and snap setter that I use in the materials list below.

It will work with lots of different plastic bags. You can use plastic grocery bags. I have these 1.2 gallon biodegradable trash bags that I use for my small bathroom trash can – they fit perfectly!

The front and back pieces are stiff thanks to double sided fusible stabilizer, but the sides are soft and flexible so the bin can fold flat for easy storage.

And of course with the adjustable strap there are lots of different places that you can use this little trash bin. Like behind a head rest.

You could also place it in the backseat behind the center console. There was an uproar when I suggested looping the Car Diddy Bag around the gear shift, so I won’t show that, lol.

When I sewed this brightly colored car trash can, I added an extra long strip of the soft side of hook and loop tape (velcro) so that this strap was more adjustable. That way I can make the strap shorter to hang it on the door side handle in the front or the back.

The finished size of this little bin is approximately 9” x 9” x 5” deep.

I’ll show you lots of tips and tricks along the way to make this project beginner friendly and fun! I used older prints from my stash for the outer fabrics and lining fabrics, so I can’t tell you what they are. My materials list includes links to the other products I used so you can get the same great results. I think you’ll find this project is a fun and quick sew!

Easy DIY Car Trash Can Pattern

Materials list:

* My black and white trash can uses just 5” of hook and loop tape. The strap is a great length for hanging on the center console or a headrest. If you would like your strap to adjust smaller like the strap on my red, black, and white bin, you’ll need about 25” of hook and loop tape.

** You might notice that I am using a Dritz snap press with my Kam snaps. That is because I lost my handheld Kam snap press and in a pinch purchased a Dritz press to replace it. I was so happy to find that it worked just as well.

You will also need:

  • a heavy duty sewing machine needle (90/14 or 100/16 suggested)
  • a fabric marking pen
  • a walking foot (or dual feed foot) for your sewing machine – optional but highly recommended
  • an acrylic ruler, rotary cutter and cutting mat, scissors, pins, and coordinating thread
  • Wonderclips
  • a sewing stiletto (very helpful – I use mine all the time!)

Cutting

From the fabric for the bin exterior, cut:

  • 2 squares 9” x 9” (front and back pieces)
  • 1 piece of fabric 5” x 23” (the side/bottom strip)
  • 1 strip 4” x 42” (for the straps)

From the fabric for the bin lining, cut:

  • 2 squares 9” x 9” (front and back pieces)
  • 1 piece of fabric 5” x 23” (the side/bottom strip)
  • 1 strip 4” x 10” (for the snap tabs)*
  • 2 strips 2” x 5” (to bind the side ends)
  • 6 bias cut strips that are 2 1/4” wide and approximately 12” long (cut from a section of fabric that is 9” tall)

*Note: in the tutorial photos below, my snap tab strip is cut from red fabric, not the lining fabric.

From the Peltex 72F double sided fusible interfacing, cut:

  • 2 squares 9” x 9” (front and back pieces)

Use Double Sided Fusible Stabilizer to Make Firm Front and Back Pieces for the Trash Can

1. Smooth a 9” x 9” square of exterior fabric over a piece of stabilizer with the wrong side of the fabric against the stabilizer. Press to fuse the fabric to the stabilizer. Press for short periods of time without steam so that the opposite side of the piece will not stick to your ironing board.

2. Smooth a 9” x 9” lining fabric piece against the other side of the stabilizer (with the wrong side of the fabric against the stabilizer) and press well with steam to completely fuse the fabric and stabilizer pieces together. Turn the piece over to the front and press again with steam to ensure that all the layers are fused well.

Tip: Let the piece cool completely before moving it away from your ironing board.

Repeat to with the remaining 9” square fabric pieces and stabilizer piece to make 2 double sided stiff pieces that will be the front and back sides of the trash can.

3. Use a pencil and a spool of thread or cup with a 3” diameter (or the 1 1/2” radius edge of the Creative Grids Curved Corners ruler) to mark curved corners on the stiff pieces.

4. Trim away the extra to make the curved corners. Repeat for all for corners on both stiff pieces.

Mark the Front and Back Pieces

1. On the right side of the front piece, use the fabric marking pen to make a mark that is centered and 2” below the top edge.

2. On the right side of the back piece, use the fabric marking pen to make a mark that is centered and 2” below the top edge.

Then starting at the bottom edge of the piece, draw two lines that are 6” tall. These lines should be 2” from each side edge.

Make and Attach the Snap Tabs

1. Fold the 4” x 10” strip of fabric for the snap tabs (mine is cut from red fabric, but yours may be cut from lining fabric) in half lengthwise and press. Open and press the raw edges to the center. Fold in half lengthwise again and press to make a 1” x 10” strip.

2. Topstitch along both long edges of the strip about 1/8” away from the edges. I like to use my walking foot to sew folded strips of fabric like this – it helps to keep the fabric smooth.

Cut the strip in half to make 2 tab pieces, each 1” x 5”.

3. Fold and press the top end of each piece over by 1” and the bottom end over by 1/2”.

4. Use an awl to poke a hole at the top of the tab (through all layers) about 1/2” from the top and side edges, as shown.

5. Use your snap setter to attach the male side of a plastic side at the top of the tab piece, with the ‘snapping’ piece on the wrong side of the tab (see next image).

I found that if I folded my tab piece over twice to hide the raw edges, the fabric layers were too thick to secure the plastic snap.

Because of this, the raw edges are showing on the underside of the tab. Trim any stray threads and use Fray Check seam sealant to seal the edges and keep them looking nice.

6. Attach female ends of the snaps to the right side of the firm front and back pieces right over the marks that you made 2” below the top edge.

I needed to fold the top edge of each piece over a bit in order to use my handheld snap press, but they returned to normal and looked fine afterwards. You can press the top edge again, if necessary, but do not touch your iron to the plastic snap pieces.

7. Snap one of the snap tabs to the front or back piece. Align the tab in a vertical line.

8 Sew the bottom of the tab in place by stitching a small square or rectangle. The square or rectangle of stitching should enclose and hide the raw edges underneath.

Repeat to attach the remaining snap tab on the remaining stiff front or back piece in the same way.

Make the Hanging Strap

1. Fold the 4” x 42” strip of fabric for the strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and press the raw edges to the center. Fold in half lengthwise again and press to make a 1” x 42” long strip.

2. Topstitch along both long edges of the strap about 1/8” away from the edges.

3. Cut an 8” long piece from one end of the strap.

Fold one end over by 2’’ and press.

4. Push the folded over end of the short strap piece through the rectangle ring and re-fold it with the ring in the fold.

Lay the short strap piece on top of the stiff back piece of the trash bin right on top of the 6” line that you marked on the left side.

Pin the strap to the back piece if necessary.

5. Sew the short strap to the back piece starting at the bottom edge. Sew right on top of the previous topstitching until you are about 1” away from the metal ring.

Then pivot and sew across the 1” strap.

Finally, sew back down the other side of the strap on top of the previous topstitching.

6. Fold one end of the remaining long strap piece (it should be 34” long now) over by 1/2” and press.

Cut a 5” long piece of the scratchy side of the hook and loop tape. Pin the scratchy hook and loop tape piece to the end of the strap, right over the folded over edge to make the end neat.

Note: If you are using 25” of hook and loop tape to make a more adjustable strap, this step is still the same. The scratchy piece of tape should still be only 5” long.

7. Sew around the edges of the tape to secure it to the strap and hide the raw edge at the end of the strap at the same time.

10. Cut a 5” long piece of the soft side of the hook and loop tape.

Pin the soft tape to the strap about 1” away from the scratchy piece of tape.

Sew around the tape to attach it in the same way.

For a strap that can adjust more than the regular strap, cut a 25” long piece of the soft side of the hook and loop tape.

Pin the soft tape to the strap about 1” away from the scratchy piece of tape.

Sew around the tape to attach it in the same way.

11. Push the end of the long strap through the metal ring and secure the hook and loop pieces together to help you finish sewing the strap to the bin correctly.

Place the free end of the long strap over the marked line on the right side of the back piece, making it parallel with the short piece.

12. Top stitch the end of the long strap to the back of the bin in the same way that you attached the short strap with the metal ring. Sew right over the previous topstitching and turn around about the same distance from the bottom edge so the two ends of the strap look symetrical.

Make the Side/Bottom Strip

1. Place the two 5” x 23” strips wrong sides together and pin all the way around.

Baste around the edges 1/8” from the edge to hold them together.

2. Bind the ends:

Fold the two 2” x 5” binding strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.

Pin or clip a binding piece to the end of the side/bottom strip against the wrong (lining) side with the raw edges lined up.

Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance.

Flip the binding over to the right (exterior) side of the strip and sew it down close to the folded edge.

Repeat to bind the other short end of the side/bottom strip in the same way.

Assemble DIY Car Trash Can Pieces

1. Mark the center of the side/bottom strip along both long edges. Also mark the center of each stiff front and back piece at the bottom edge.

Place one of the stiff pieces (either the front or the back) on your workspace with the lining side up.

Lay the side/bottom strip on top, lining side down.

Match up the center marks on the bottom long edge of the strip and the bottom edge of the stiff piece as shown. Place clips along the bottom edge.

2. Use lots of clips to attach the side bottom piece around the stiff front or back.

3. Use small scissors to cut 1/4” slits in the side/bottom strip to help it curve around the corner of the bin.

4. Sew the sides/bottom panel to the stiff front or back piece with a 1/4” seam allowance. Use a sewing stiletto or other tool to help you keep the raw edges lined up, especially around the curves.

5. Place the remaining long edge of the side/bottom piece wrong sides together with the remaining stiff piece. Line up the markings at the bottom edge and use lots of clips to secure the pieces together as before.

6. Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance. Work slowly, holding the other side of the trash can out of your way as you sew.

Bind the Curved Edges of your Easy DIY Car Trash Bag

The 6 bias cut binding strips were saved for binding the curved side edges. You’ll use them now.

1. Sew 3 bias cut strips together at an angle to make a long bias strip that is 2 1/4” wide and approximately 36” long.

Press the seams open. Fold the strip in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and press.

Repeat with the remaining 3 bias cut strips to make second long binding piece.

2. Clip one end of the binding to one of the side or bottom seams so that the place where the binding will be joined is less noticable.

Note that the binding will be sewn over the side/bottom strip of the bin so that the pretty topstitched side of the binding will show on the front or back.

3. Leave about 5” of binding free at the end and sew the binding around the raw edges with a 1/4” seam allowance.

4. Stop sewing about 6” away from where you started.

Bring the ends of the binding together and fold them back in the middle where they meet. Crease the binding at the fold.

Cut away the extra binding 1/4” past the creases.

5. Place the ends of the binding together and stitch with a 1/4” seam allowance. You will probably have to fold the bin in half to sew the ends together. That’s ok!

Finger press the seam open.

6. Re-fold the binding as before and finish sewing it to the bin.

7. Flip the binding over to the front or back side of the bin and topstitch it down close to the fold.

Work slowly, using a sewing stiletto to help you neatly wrap the binding around the edges.

Repeat steps 2-7 to sew the remaining binding strip to the other side of the car trash can.

Optional:

I added one more snap to the back side of my bin, which enabled me to secure the hanging strap over the plastic liner.

If you wish to do this, install the female end of the snap 1” below the top edge of the bin directly under the long strap.

Then install the male end of the strap in the correct spot on the strap.

Your strap will then be attached higher up on the bin – making it hang straighter in certain places, and you will still be able to use a liner.

Now you can keep the inside of your car clean and trash off your cars floor and car seats with a pretty DIY car trash can!

I would love to see the beautiful sewing machine covers you make with my free pattern! Please post a photo to instagram and tag me @sewcanshe so I can take a look!

xoxo,

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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. 🙂

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One Comment

  1. Edie Frasier says:

    This is such a good idea! Thank you so much for the free pattern. God bless you.

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