Sew a useful organizer for your car so you’ll have a spot to hold your purse, phone, sunglasses – and everything else you need to keep handy. Have you noticed that most new cars these days don’t build-in a spot for a bag or purse? It can be so frustrating – until now. My readers asked me to write them a sewing pattern for a spot to put all your stuff in your car – and here it is! This project uses easy to find (and inexpensive) mesh fabric that you can buy online or in stores. Let me show you how to make it!
This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The instructions that follow contain everything you will need to make the Mesh Car Organizer and it is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The formatted-for-printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.
The finished dimensions of this car organizer are approximately 16’’ wide and 10 1/2’’ tall. I bought mesh fabric from ByAnnie, which stretches a little bit so I can hold a lot of stuff! But you could use non-stretchy mesh fabric too.
The bottom is sturdy and easy to sew thanks to double sided fusible stabilizer (Peltex 72F from Pellon).
There are several different ways to attach mesh organizers like this to your car, and I chose a method that uses webbing and elastic to clip to the head rests and seat belt posts. I tested several different sizes of clips, and decided to go with 3’’ carabiners because they are easy to use, easy to find, and come in colors that match my fabric! In the picture above, you can see that they still don’t clip all the way around the seat belt posts in our 2015 Honda Pilot, but they are still secure and easy to use.
Another option is to sew velcro to your lower (elastic) straps and then let the straps attach together inside the center console compartment. Our family of 6 has 3 cars (2 teenagers!) and in all three of the cars, this was an awkward fit – that’s why I decided to use carabiners clipped to the seat belt posts. Of course, you can alter the organizer to secure any way that you prefer.
The front side of the organizer has a 4 1/2’’ tall mesh fabric ‘gate’ to keep your items from falling out.
The 6’’ tall x 12’’ wide pocket (divided into two compartments) can be sewn facing the front of the car, or the back, depending on who you think will use it.
Tip: making this pocket uses up about 1/4-1/3 of the time for sewing this organizer. If you don’t care very much about having the extra pocket, I would skip it!
Let’s get sewing!
To make a Mesh Car Organizer, you will need:
About 1/2 yard of different fabrics total (mostly for making binding)
A little more than 1/2 package of ByAnnie mesh fabric
Less than 1/4 yard of Peltex 72F double sided fusible extra firm stabilizer, 20’’ wide
22’’ of 1’’ wide webbing
2 plastic 1’’ tri-glide slides for webbing
22’’ of 3/4’’ elastic
Sewing stiletto (optional but very useful)
Note: I purchased this kit with webbing, slides, and clips. The clips were too small to work on this project, but I ended up using the webbing and slides from the kit. The products that I linked to above are from the same manufacturer, but I wanted to tell you because I try link to the exact products I use in my projects as often as possible so you can get the same results. Also, if you don’t want 25 slides, it’s a better deal to just buy the kit.
Print the free pattern templates (see link above) at 100% – do not enlarge or reduce in size. Cut them out along the lines and tape together as seen above.
From the mesh fabric, cut:
1 from the back piece template
1 rectangle 4 1/2’’ x 15 3/4’’ (front piece)
1 rectangle 6’’ x 12’’ (for the pocket – optional)
From the Peltex 72F, cut:
1 from the bottom piece template
From the cotton fabric for the bottom of the organizer, cut:
2 rectangles 5 1/2’’ x 16 1/2’’
From the cotton fabric for the binding, cut:
1 strip 2’’ x 16’’ for binding the front piece
1 strip 2’’ x 40’’ for binding the pocket (optional)
1 strip 2’’ x 38’’ for binding the back piece
1 strip 2 1/4’’ x 40’’ for binding the bottom piece*
2’’ strips (like I used) make a neat, narrow binding around the mesh. If you find binding tricky to sew, I suggest cutting all of the strips listed above 2 1/4’’ tall (instead of 2’’ tall), which will make slightly wider binding that is a little bit easier to sew. The binding for the bottom piece I recommend making 2 1/4’’ tall, since it has to wrap around a much thicker edge.
If you need to join strips of fabric to make the right lengths (such as, if you are using scraps, join the binding using diagonal seams. Cut away the extra fabric to make a 1/4’’ seam allowance and press the seams open. Diagonal seams create less bulk in the binding.
Make the Organizer Bottom Piece
1. Sandwich the bottom piece cut from Peltex 72F stabilizer in between the two 5 1/2’’ x 16 1/2’’ fabric rectangles. The wrong sides of the fabric should be against the stabilizer. Press well from both sides to fuse. Allow the bottom piece to cool fully.
2. Cut away the extra fabric, following the edges of the stabilizer.
(See the 7 pairs of scissors I love, including the black ones above.)
3. Cut the 3/4’’ wide elastic in half to make 2 pieces, each 11’’ long. Fold one end over by 1’’, and tuck the raw edge under. Stitch across the folded edge to make a small (about 3/4’’) loop at one end of each elastic piece.
I know someone is going to ask why I used a different sewing machine for this step. The simple answer is so that I could leave turquoise thread in my main sewing machine (the Bernina 770QE) and put black thread in my straight stitch machine (the Juki TL2010Q). This way I wouldn’t have to thread and re-thread.
4. Clip the unsewn ends of the elastic pieces to the straight edge of the bottom piece as shown above. Each piece of elastic should be 3’’ away from the corner.
Tip: This is the bottom side of the bottom piece (not the top).
5. Sew the elastic to the bottom piece with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
Set the bottom piece aside for now.
Bind the Top Edge of the Front Piece
1. Fold the 2’’ x 16’’ binding piece in half lengthwise and press.
2. Use Wonderclips to clip the binding to the top edge of the 4 1/2’’ x 15 3/4’’ mesh rectangle. The raw edge of the binding should be aligned with the top raw edge of the mesh. You will have about 1/8’’ binding extra on each side.
Tip: I don’t usually use so many clips for each step of the binding process, but when sewing binding to flimsy mesh, I found it very helpful to carefully clip all of the binding for each step.
3. Sew the binding to the mesh with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
4. Using a medium iron, carefully press the binding away from the mesh. Mesh fabric from ByAnnie can be pressed with a warm iron. If you are using other mesh, test first.
Turn the piece over, and press the folded edge of the binding down and around the edge. Use lots of clips to secure.
5. Sew close to the folded edge of the binding. A sewing stiletto is very helpful for this step.
Tip: If your sewing machine can, move the needle over a bit to the right or the left so that you can place the fabric of the binding directly over one of the feed dogs. This will help the piece move smoothly since the I found the feed dogs did not always move the mesh smoothly by itself.
6. Trim away the extra binding on either side of the front piece.
Bind and Attach the Pocket
Note: When sewing binding around the edges of the pocket piece, I used clipped the binding to each side before sewing it.
1. Fold a 40’’ or longer piece of binding in half lengthwise and press. Clip the binding to one long edge of the pocket as seen above.
2. Begin sewing the binding to the mesh pocket piece, leaving a tail of unsewn binding about 6’’ long. Sew with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
3. Sew a mitered corner:
Stop sewing about 1/4’’ before the corner and remove the pocket from your sewing machine.
Fold the binding to the right, creating a 45 degree angle fold. Crease the fold with your fingernail.
Fold the binding back to the left creating a vertical fold.
Clip the binding to the new edge of the mesh pocket.
Begin sewing again at the edge, backstitch, and continue sewing binding to the next side of the pocket.
4. Sew binding around all 4 sides of the pocket (using mitered corners). Stop a few inches after turning the last corner.
5. Join the ends of the binding:
Clip the binding to the remaining edge of the mesh, bringing the ends together and folding them back where they meet.
Crease the folds where the ends of binding meet with your fingernail.
Cut away the extra binding 1/4’’ past the folds where the ends meet.
Place the two ends of binding right sides together and stitch with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
6. Finger press the seam in the binding open and re-fold the binding as before. Finish sewing the binding to the mesh pocket edge with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
7. Gently press the binding away from the mesh. Turn the pocket over and press the binding over around the edge. Use lots of clips to secure the binding.
8. Sew the binding down close to the folded edge, using a sewing stiletto to help hold it in place. As before, move your sewing machine needle over if possible so that the fabric binding is directly over one of the feed dogs.
9. Pin the pocket to the mesh fabric back piece, centered and about 2’’ below the top edge (or where desired).
10. Carefully sew the pocket to the back of the organizer around the side and bottom edges, sewing close to the outer edge of the binding.
11. Use the fabric marker to draw a vertical line down the center of the pocket. My line is hard to see in the photos since my blue fabric marker almost matches the color of the mesh, but it was fine because I could see the line without a problem.
12. Sew along the vertical line from the bottom to the top to divide the pocket into two compartments.
Tip: Use a small stitch length (1.5 or so) when sewing mesh to mesh to ensure you catch as much of the fabric as possible.
Set the back piece aside as you prepare the upper straps.
This free tutorial became so long I need to continue it in another post so it wouldn’t take too long to load for you!
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