Bookcase To Go!

We love car trips. We have made 2 trips in the past 3 years of over 6,000 miles and 2 1/2 weeks each. With kids. In the car.

Why did I not make this sooner? It was really very easy, pretty quick, and very awesome (if I do say so myself) once done.

It’s a mobile bookcase, or fun organizer, or Road Trip Central. Whatever you want to call it, it’s an idea whose time had come!

I saw a tutorial on Just Sew Sassy (by way of Pinterest – you can check out who else’s ideas I want to piggyback off of next) for a car organizer she made based on a CD visor case.

I liked it, but wanted more stability. With fusible interfacing in it, it looked a little saggy even before filled. And when you’re in the car for 6,000 miles, you end up with a lot of stuff, well, stuffed in those pockets!

Enter plastic canvas. I bought a pack of 3 12″x18″ sheets at WalMart for about $3.50. The rest of the materials are technically scrap-busting, but I had a big ole piece of flannel that I used for the lion’s share of it.

Want to make your own? Read on. I played fast and loose with measurements (hooray for fabric with lines printed on it!), but since I was making two I took note at what I did for the second holder.

Here’s what you need:

  • (1 1/2) sheets of plastic canvas, each sheet 12″x18″ I would make future ones smaller, just because I found it a pain to join the canvas pieces sturdily together. I chain stitched them with a crochet hook and size 3 thread; that’s too much bother for this simple of a project!
  • (5) 14″x14″ pieces of pocket fabricI used 14″ off the bolt, cut into three pieces, then again for coordinating color with one pocket left over, but any scraps of this size will do. Actually, you could use smaller dimensions for shallower pockets, as long as one side is 14″ long
  • (2) 29″x14″ pieces of main body fabric – I used 29″ off the bolt, trimmed to 2 14″ panels, and used the remnants for the straps
  • (4) 29″x~4″ strips of fabric for straps – Alternately, and making it frankly even more simple, use double-fold bias tape for this
  • Thread in a color that coordinates for your fabric – There is a fair amount of top-stitching;the thread will be seen!

Here’s what you do:

Prep the backing:

Join your two pieces of plastic canvas together to make one stable piece of about 25″ long. I used a crochet hook and size 3 thread; I would recommend using a plastic canvas needle and scrap yarn OR simply making the organizer 18″ long, and taking off a pocket or two and adjusting the other dimensions. Joining the two pieces worked really well, but was the most tedious part of the process. Not hard, not long, but boring to me.

Prep the straps:

I probably should say “fold and iron each strap strip in half longways, then fold the sides to the middle and iron again, creating a ~1″ wide double fold strip,” but I just eyeballed it as I went and finger folded at the machine. Lazy, maybe, but when working with material with lines on it, it was ridiculously easy to do. Top stitch down the open side to about an inch from the end. Fold under the raw ends and stitch to the end, across the end, and up the folded side. You should now have a roughly 28″ long strap that has one finished end and one raw end. Awesome. Do that three more times. It’s kind of fun when the machine starts walking on the table because you are stitching so quickly.

Prep the pockets:

Here I did use an iron. Fold each pocket in half, with wrong sides facing. Iron the fold. You should have a 14″x7″ piece with the “right side” facing out both ways. You do? Great! Do that 4 more times.

Prep the pocket panel:

Here’s where the magic comes in. Lay your large panel right side up. Starting about 6″ from the top, stitch your first pocket on across the bottom, raw edges pointing down. Go down about 4″ and add the next pocket, covering the raw edges of the previous pocket. Continue down to the bottom of the panel. Yay for hidden raw edges!

Add the straps:

Pin the straps so that the raw end fold about an inch over the edge. Pin the finished edges out of the way on the body while you stitch. You are ALMOST DONE!

Make the case:

Lay the other main panel WRONG SIDE UP across the pocket panel and straps. Pin the edges. Lay your piece of canvas on top of the stack, nearly to the bottom, and mark where the edges are. Stitch about a 1/4″ on the outside of that mark down the sides and across the bottom, leaving the top open.

Turn the project inside out like a pillowcase. Insert the piece of plastic canvas and wiggle it down to the bottom. It should be a little snug; that will keep it from sagging.

Finish it off:

Fold the top in, behind the canvas, so that the straps are hanging down and the folded edge is close to the top of the canvas. Top-stitch across, as close as you can to the canvas. You’re done. That’s it.

Load it up and hit the road!

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Office Closed – Secretary Away

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