Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It lives outside my brain now

I've been rocking a really hot canvas tote bag draped over the passenger headrest as a trash bag for a long time now.

And every single day I come out of work to find my car in the sea of Priuses I'm always annoyed that it's the ugly ass tote bag strap that tips me off that this black Prius is my black Prius.

Unless I'm parked with the car's ass facing the building, in which case it's the "I'd rather be watching SportsCenter" license plate frame that tips me off, and then I'm pleased. No one else has one of those around here and, frankly, I'm not sure how many people working here have actually heard of SportsCenter, but whatever. I love it there and seeing the logo makes me happy because I'm nothing if not brainwashed by flashy TV logos and sarcastic sportscasters.

But most of the time it's the tote bag strap that I see and it makes me sad. Like, certainly I can do better than THAT, kind of sad. And because of this sadness, I have been hatching a plan for a new trash bag made from scraps (because it is a trash bag after all - can't be spending all this money on fabric for a bag that will hold old wads of gum and grape stems) that will, at once, hold my car trash and also probably have a pocket for other car necessities like dog treats, poo bags (not full ones ew) and flosser heads. Or whatever normal people carry in their car.

Kleenex? I see that floating in the back window of a lot of cars. Maybe I'll buy some Kleenex and put it in the pocket. WHO KNOWS? I COULD TRY TO BE NORMAL.

Anyway, this thing has lived in my brain for a really long time and on Sunday, when I realized I didn't have enough fabric to make my new sun hat but I'd already set up the machine and everything, I decided the Not Ugly Car Trash Bag needed to be brought to life. If only so that I could have that section of my brain back for crucial mulling of things like what I might wear tomorrow or if I use Barge on the embroidered Prius emblem would it restick to the floor mats.

These are important things that need careful mulling, people, and with my regained brain power, I might actually solve these mysteries in our lifetimes wow.

But for the trash bag - it is very awesome, as I imagined it would be, and I haven't even used the extra pocket yet. So, I have not yet begun to fully realize it's true awesomeness, but I know that moment is coming soon.

I designed this simple creature in my own brain, so there isn't a pattern to which I can direct your hot steaming eyeballs, but if you like, I can provide a short-ish tutorial in the event that you too are sick of the ugly trash sack taunting you from your passenger seat OR (horrors) you don't have a dedicated car trash bag and are just, say, throwing cigarette boxes and dry cleaner receipts on the floor of your car like an animal.

Or whatever.

Short-ish tutorial for Not Ugly Car Trash Bag

1/2 yard of main fabric (lightweight or decor weight cotton is fine)
1/4 yard of contrasting fabric (same goes here for fabric)
1 1" quick release clip

Cut from main fabric:
1 18"x 4.25" strap
1 8" x 4.25" strap
1 10.25" x 9.25" front pocket
2 16" x 9.25" main pocket

Cut from contrasting fabric:
3 13.5" x 2.5" binding

To sew:

Make the straps

Step 1. Press the straps
Fold fabric wrong sides together lengthwise. Press. Then open up and fold long sides toward the center crease you just made. Press. On each short end, with long sides folded toward the center, fold corners of your short end down toward the center crease and then fold the new point you just made toward the center crease. This will create a point like seen below. Then fold wrong sides together lengthwise again and press.

In short, act like you're wrapping the end of a gift box.

Do this for both straps.

Step 2. Sew the straps
With both straps folded and pressed from Step 1, sew a 1/4" seam on all sides to secure and finish the straps.

Step 3. Attach the buckle
With the female end of the buckle, pull your short strap up through the top of the strap opening, pull through the bottom opening and fold back onto the strap so that the two sides lay together easily without any binding by the buckle.

You could pin it here and then sew, but I can't be bothered to pin things, so I just get it comfy and then sew a box with an X (which I'm sure has a fancy professional name that I haven't spent the time to learn) like you see below.

If you want to get real fancy and show me up, you could even center your box and follow your original strap sewing lines. That'd be something. Something I chose not to do due to my intense laziness.

Now that you have your short strap attached to the female end of the buckle, go ahead and pull your long strap through the strap openings on the male end of the buckle. You can now gawk and stare at your fabulously executed future fully adjustable buckle strap like I did and contemplate your greatness.

Go ahead, I won't judge you. It is awesome.

Make the binding

Step 4. Press the binding
Take all three strips of contrasting material and fold wrong sides together lengthwise just like you did when you were making the straps before.

As in: fold fabric wrong sides together lengthwise, press, unfold and fold long sides toward center crease, press.

Like so:

Then open up your newly pressed binding and lay right sides together with your front pocket fabric, top of the pocket lined up with the long side of your binding.

Step 5. Sew the binding
Sew along the top of the binding just above the first crease from the top. This way when you fold that first crease up and then use the center crease of your binding to fold over the top of the pocket, you'll end up with a nice straight even line like this:

Once you've folded the binding over the top of the pocket, make sure your last crease is folded under against the wrong side of the pocket and sew one final seam along the long ends of the binding, which will magically catch both sides of the binding because of your extensive pressing and creasing like this:

This is also a good time to remark on your own greatness

Repeat these steps to attach the binding for the front and back of the main fabric. Please do not do what I did which was to say, meh, I don't need binding along the top, only to decide after sewing the front and back together that, Yes indeedy! I do want binding along the top, so that I could go off and spend an hour trying to get binding to crease and wrap neatly around the top of the finished bag.


Please save yourself the time and aggravation by just sewing the binding on to the front and back pieces separately first. I promise you'll want the binding on there since it looks so cute and you'll be sad if you do it the way I did.

Just saying.

Step 6. Make the bag
Place the front main panel right side up, front pocket panel right side up on top of that and the back main panel wrong side up on top of that. Like this:

Sew around the bag with 1/4" seam starting on the right side, sewing the bottom and then the left side.

Truthfully, it doesn't really matter which side you start with , but what I'm trying to say is, don't sew the top, because obviously it wouldn't be much of a bag if you sew the top shut is all I'm saying.

You knew what I meant though.

Turn your bag right side out.

Step 7. Attach the straps

Using the side seam of your bag as a guide, center the short end of your short strap so that you have enough of the strap below the binding to sew the box without going over onto the binding and enough of the strap on either side of your bag's side seam to sew a centered box.

Pin your strap in place and sew a box to attach your strap to the bag per Step 3. If you want to get fancy and center things, be my guest. I make no such promises even though I like to think I'm fancy.

Repeat this step with the long strap on the other side seam of the bag making sure to connect the buckle before attaching the second strap to make sure that it connects without twisting.

And you're done.

I immediately ran out to the car to make sure it fit. Which I realize is something I should have considered in the first place and perhaps taken measurements before all the cutting and sewing began, but I am crazy like that and don't have a good excuse. Good thing was, it totally fit, adjusted nicely with the buckle to hang just so from the back of the passenger seat, and is now awaiting the filling of its front pocket with something useful like maybe some Windex wipes or a snack.

Wait, do I want food so close to the trash? I don't know. I'll have to think about what goes in there. A nail file?! Yes. A nail file for sure.

Meanwhile the trash bag part already has a water bottle to recycle and some other horseshit that was languishing in the cup holder.

Perhaps now that the awesomeness of the Not Ugly Car Trash Bag has been revealed, Bubba will want one for his truck so that his loving wife doesn't have to wade through Red boxes and Coke cans in order to get into the passenger seat.

I mean, I don't know, but maybe.

UPDATE: If you make a Not Ugly Car Trash Bag (even if it turns out ugly or you drive something other than a car - it doesn't have to be exact!), add your photos to the Flickr Pool.


  1. Wow, I usually don't carry around a lot of junk in my car, but this makes me want to!

    Uhm, and Kleenex, what for? I can only think of dirty reasons, or maybe it's a of sign, for those who drive and have some kind of 'special needs'. Who knows...

    I'm gonna try this out anyway!

  2. Ok that is super awesome. I also read all the posts that you linked to, and Leeloo Dallas Multipass is genius. I also enjoy your flosser heads and think that I might start flossing in the car as well. In which case I need one of these pretty tote bags otherwise it's just gross. So thanks for the tutorial!

    In other news, I tried your chard killer recipe yesterday. FANTASTIC. Boyfriend took a bite and declared "Holy crap this is delicious" followed by the sound of someone stuffing their mouth as fast as they can in order to eat more than the other person (Highest praise in our house). I enjoyed your recipe immensely, and still am in shock that "1 heaping pile" and "reduced impressively in size" worked like a charm. I will never doubt your recipes EVER.

  3. And this is why I think you're the cat's pajamas. Only you would create a super-spiffy not ugly car trash bag. If I wasn't so sewaphobic, I might even try to make one. But I am. So I won't.

  4. Okay. Is this something I could attempt, having not really gotten to know my sewing machine in the biblical sense? For, alas, I am of the throw-the-receipts-on-the-floor variety. "Hi. My name is Jen and my car REEKS." Ugh. Should I attempt this to mend (hahaha) my ways?

  5. Not only is it Not Ugly, it is Darn Cute! Love that green, it's so, so, GREEN (like the Prius).

  6. Finny! I was so happy for you when I saw your cool car bag here (yes, I am also dweebish enough to find such a thing exciting), and then super excited for me when I got to the tutorial part. Thank you!! My car is in sad need of help, but I I couldn't bring myself to buy a cool trash bag. And I wasn't savvy enough to think of stringing up my own lame tote.

    And my husband will be so happy when he sees said fine new accessory in my car. The amount of junk mail and such normally found floating around the passenger seat grieves him to no end. Whatever. So here's to increasing marital peace, one craft at a time! ;)

  7. Holy... this is so awesome. So freakin' awesome. I went ahead and submitted it to Craftzine's blog because I am SO blown away.

  8. shanna - think of all the things you could carry around?? It would be incredible. And why DO people carry boxes of Kleenex around in the car? For that matter, why do they carry around stuffed animals back there? These things I do not understand.

    lynn - Ooh! Make one and post a picture! And then I can have another maniac on the road flossing and throwing trash in a pretty bag. Won't we be cool!

    Also - good job fellow chard killer. I am very proud.

    decca - You know, *someone* might make one FOR you if you're not careful. Then you'd be GIRLY! ACK!!

    jen - you can so make this. just go slow with your machine during your first time. be gentle. if you need help, lemme know.:)

    kathi d- oh, kathi - I didn't even THINK about that. you're a smartie. GREEN!!

    meg -- OOh OOh! make one and post a picture!! let's be trash bag buddies!

    christine - wow - THANKS! let's hope they don't have a problem with my potty mouth. :)

  9. That's pretty nifty :O) Although knowing my kids they would throw a big wad of gum in there a bunch of other disgusting things. And then I would have to decide if I wanted to pick it all out with my fingers or just throw the whole thing in the wash or just toss it... Maybe I'll just use a plastic bag ;o)

  10. This is so friggin' rad. I need to make this, like, tomorrow. Maybe when I get home from work today. RIGHT AWAY, really. Maybe I'll make one for my hubby, too, but I'll try to use a manly fabric so as not to embarrass him but still help him keep his truck in state where I can actually sit on the passenger seat when necessary.

    You are really funny, too. I was lol at work and then realized that I should probably pipe down to avoid being caught perusing craft projects online during company time. I found your blog through my feed reader of CRAFT Magazine.

  11. great tutorial - I love your comments throughout :)

  12. Great Idea! Nobody rides or sits in the back of my car except the dog, but this trash bag will be a cool gift for my friends with vans and kids that are always bringing in candy wrappers, papers from school, bits of this and scraps of that. Now I guess I should start making!

  13. I love this!! I've been wanting to figure out something very much like this but have been too, um, lazy to give it the thought it seemed to require. Now, you have solved this for me! Thank you!! (is that too many exclamation marks for one comment? maybe!)

  14. I got here from my Reader. I think it was Craft magazine showcasing this project...I keep reading, and clicking, and reading little snippets aloud. I had to leave you a note to say OMG CURRENT FAVORITE BLOG!! You kick ass. The End.

    Not really, but it was fun to type. ^^

  15. Hey, love the idea and the great writing. I had an idea to add...my kids would throw wads of gum and banana peels and yogurt containers and...yucky messy stuff. Why not line the bag with iron on vinyl to keep it clean inside and out? Just saying.

  16. An excellent project and wonderful tutorial. Thank you for sharing it. I'm going to make one as soon as I return from vacation.

  17. This looks like just what I need! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  18. This got a mention on Craft Magazine!

  19. hmm...I don't know which is better....the tutorial or the funny commentary.....!

    Thanks for the tut!

  20. Just wanted to let you know that I've linked to this project on AllFreeSewing.com. I think it's a great project our readers will love to make. Here's the link:http://www.allfreesewing.com/Bags-and-Purses/Hanging-Trash-Bag

    I will keep the project posted with your permission of course. If you have any questions, please contact me.


  21. Got here via AllFreeSewing and I am SO making this bag when I get home tonight! How freaking cute!! I had one of those god-awful black ones with the mesh pockets when the kids were little ~shudder~ and this is soooo chic (as chic as a trash bag can be, that is). Love your blog - off to read more.

    Shhhhh, don't tell my boss, k

  22. I found your blog by searching for a bag to either put my trash in in the car or my 15 month old sons toys, which he throws on the floor like they are trash. Anyway, the way you write is so exactly how I talk that I will now have to read the other things you have to say. Thanks for the laughs. Now, to attempt a not ugly bag!

  23. Yup, just what I needed for my car! But, after making it, I didn't want to yuk it up by putting trash into it!!! Sooo, I lined it with plastic!! No, no, I didn't sew anything, just use my walmart plastic bags and put it into your bag, slide the straps thru the walmart bag handles before I clip them together and voila! It's disposable! Now my pretty trash bag will last longer and smell much better for a long time!!!

  24. You could put a small plastic trash bag inside so you just pull the bag out when its full it will also keep wet things from ruining the bag

  25. Very cute bag!! Btw, allergies=runny nose=kleenex!

  26. I thought it would be a great bag for holding my granddaughters' toys and other things like that. I do have an issue with trash in my car but I think that's an excuse to make 2 bags. The only issue I have with using it for trash is being able to reach it on the back side of the seat when I need to toss something. Since there's rarely anyone in the front passenger seat I can put the trash bag on the front side of that seat and have access easier. As for your language, I grew up with a dad who was a lifer in the U.S. Navy and he used worse language. I never got in the habit but after all, this IS your blog.

  27. Awesome project! this is just exactly what I need to controll the clatter at the back of my car with a kiddo ridding with me. Thank you for this great project idea! More Power!

  28. Just got my first sewing machine a few days ago for Christmas (thanks Grandma!!) and I'm "pinning" tons of fun things I want to make. This is at the TOP of my list! I will post how it turns out if it isn't too horrible! Also, I think I'm sold because I also drive a PRIUS with a terrible ugly trash bag hanging off the back of my seat! Thank ou for giving me HOPE!

  29. Love this idea...now how about taking one of those zillion plastic bags we all have from the stores and inserting in the inside, putting the straps of the trash bag inside the handles of the plastic bag...then the inside of the trash bag would nbot get messy! Would that work?


  30. I just got my very first sewing machine and I chose this to try for my first sewing project. It turned out so cute! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Great tutorial - thanks for sharing! :) Brilliant, just brilliant!

    Shanna - I carry kleenex everywhere since I don't use a handkerchief. ewwwww.

  32. Also here from AllFreeSewing.com What an Awesome bag!

    Kids+Sneezing= Kleenex in the car.

    I agree with whoever recommended lining with vinyl or something similar. I have those kind of people in my family too!

  33. Got here via AllFreeSewing.com. I agree - awesome bag! I was thinking of lining it with vinyl, but Walmart or Joann Fabric bags would work well, too. Thanks!! I've been wanting to make a trash bag for the car, but just hadn't found a good pattern before now. And I enjoyed your tutorial VERY much! Funny!!

    1. From the number of responses I've gotten from folks who want to line this bag with something impermeable, I might have to come up with a pattern update, but I think that reusing a plastic bag from one of these stores (Joann would be great since they SO deserve trashing) is the way to go.

      Get nuts!

  34. Too many asses in the description to get to the instructions. Too bad!

    1. There are two. Try to be less of a fucking pussy.

    2. Looks like there's one ass in the comments, too.
      Awesome, just awesome.

    3. After reading ALL the prior posts to this one I could only think....too many asses? I didn't even remember them so I had to look back and came to the conclusion that one prude overly sensitive "person" who doesn't have the nerve to say who they are is the only ASS I saw. Go read catholic digest and let us real people enjoy the wonderful posts that teach us fun, practical things to make in a language we newbies can understand. Pretty sure the words "Poo" and (OMG) "Cigarettes" sent you right into a coronary because you forgot to mention "horseshit". Anynomous, we will know you by your Ugly Trash Bag hanging on the back of your seat, your Kleenex Box, stuffed animal and bobble head chihuahua in the ass window of your 1982 Buick.

  35. ErMAGerd! KerseWerds!

  36. Made this as one of my very first sewing projects, thanks so much for the fucking awesome tutorial!

    1. Kick ass! I hope it went splendidly and that you are able to throw trash in this bag forever more.

  37. Great idea. I think I may adapt it, though, by inserting some boning into the binding on the outside half of the large pocket. That would make it stay somewhat open and easier to get stuff into it while buckled into the front seat. I like the idea of using a plastic bag to line it, too. Thanks for sharing your idea and the instructions.

    1. Those sound like groovy adaptations.

      Also, you said "boning", which I LOVE.


  38. this was not your own creation..... it was published in one yard wonders. you didn';t even change the title of the project.. genius.

    1. Um, who the fuck do you think Jessica Vaughan is *genius anonymous commenter*?

      You didn't really think my actual given name was "Finny Knits" did you?

  39. Cool idea, may try it out, but have to say what you wrote is what kept me reading. It was hilarious and entertaining :)

  40. I am a newbie at this sewing and kraft thing and with a busy life this will be a great project to tackle. I may alter it and add some small pockets on either the back or on the main pocket itself (and maybe even label them) so if anyone sees it they will have the impression I am organized and it will look so cool they won't see all the other stuff I tossed into the may cubby holes.
    I spend a large amount of time in my car whether it be the long drive to my day job or to the many appointments I go to for my Independent Beauty Consultant business and this could very well keep the garbage off the floor and passenger seat. If I make the smaller pockets I will have one to specifically hide my cigarettes because in that area I am not politically correct.
    I will also like to try different sizes to somehow adhere to the back hatch/trunk to put all my car cleaning supplies as well as the random stuff that ends up rolling around back there that I only think about when driving.
    Great easy instructions and love the way you emphasize on the fact that perfection isn't the highest priority.
    A suggestion from someone who has very little experience in sewing....make the front 4 to 5 inches longer, don't sew the bottoms of the front and back together but adhere a hook and loop on the bottom of the front and on the back so when emptying it you just have to open the bottom flap over the trash can and it falls out the bottom. With having a sunroof in my car things tent to fly around so a couple of medium metal washers sewn into the bottom corners may keep it from flying up and emptying it's contents out the sunroof and onto the car behind me which usually end up with the person behind me giving me the "you're #1" signal on the second finger of one or both hands. Personally, I wouldn't like it but they don't seem to mind but I hate littering.
    Thanks again and can't wait to read your other blogs (love you honest humor). You have inspired me to start my own blog after I make this Not Ugly Car Trash Bag. Seems easy enough and tomorrow's house cleaning will be put off until....I break down and hire someone.

  41. I too am a faithful follower from afar (Greece) and this is one of the truly inspired AND useful ideas !! To be entirely honest, I usually have an ordinary, plastic grocery bag stuffed under the passenger seat next to mine, which I get rid of when full, at the nearest recycling bin (bag AND contents). However, I too prefer something more elegant and less of an "under-the-carpet" solution, so, given that I dabble in sewing occasionally, this is my absolutely next project !! What I do have hanging from the driver's seat headrest is a satchel-shaped kiddy pouch in which I keep all my road maps. I'm thinking of perhaps making a pair of matching bags - one for the maps and the other for other stuff (the central opening for trash and external pockets for more useful items). Thanks a lot !!! Katherine

  42. Just came across your post on FavCrafts and was interested when you said you have a Prius. I just made a dual tissue holder for my sister's Prius. We have allergies and there is no place for tissue, let alone trash in the car. I used needlepoint plastic canvas and made a plastic frame that measured about 4.5 in by 9 in by about 2 in. I sewed it together and then made a denim cover onto which I sewed some wide Velcro on the bottom so that it grabs the carpet and sits in front of the console. I lined it with a cute blue/white small print. It holds two 4.5 inch square boxes, one for tissue and one for trash. My sister and I go on Shop Hops and I noticed her frustration on our last trip and since her birthday was coming up, I made it for her as a surprise. She really likes it and it's very functional.

  43. I just found your post on FavCrafts and thought you like to know that I recently made a trash container for my sister's Prius. I used plastic canvas to make a frame approximately 4.5 x 9 x 2.5 inches, sewed it together and made an exterior cover of blue denim and lined it with a blue/white print. I put a strip of wide velcro on the bottom before I sewed it together so that it grips the carpet in front of the console in front of the cupholder. It holds 2 boxes, one for tissue and the other empty tissue box for trash. That way you can dispose of the box of trash and replace it with the empty tissue box and fill in with a full box of tissue!

  44. I found this pattern in One Yard Wonders and love it. I suck at sewing, but this went fairly well (except the box stitch of course)and I use it to hold my daughters toys in the car. I have an unsuccessful etsy shop, and was wondering what your policy was on selling the finished product. I can't seem to find a straight answer anywhere about this sort of thing. Thanks!

    1. Hi you - so glad you had a good run with the project! I hate it when it only works for me. Or worse, it doesn't work for anyone INCLUDING me.

      That blows.

      Anyway - you killed it! Good job! We'll just forget about that little box stitching incident, yes? ;)

      Meanwhile, take a look at my Creative Commons license on my Tutorials page. Basically, you can remix it or share the pattern out, but I don't allow my designs to be made for commercial purposes like selling on Etsy.

      Sorry if that seems dick-ish - I try not to be too much of an asshole, but there you go. Let me know if you have other questions about this. Most blogging designers have a Creative Commons license on their sites/blogs, so just keep an eye out for that logo and check out each designer's license details :)

  45. beautiful! i´m trying to make it but it says 1 strap 1.18¨x4.25¨and other strap 18¨x 4.25 is it right?? please help! thanks!!

  46. hi! beautiful! and very useful! :) im trying to make it but I dont manage inches very well... it says 1 strap 1.18¨x4.25 and another 18¨x4.25 is that correct? please help! thks!!

    1. Kinda. I think you may have one too many 1s in there:
      1 strap is 18"x 4.25"
      1 strap is 8" x 4.25"

      Good luck!

  47. so apparently I am an idiot when it comes to sewing and I got stuck on step one. When it says to fold the strap wrong sides together at the very end of the step is the picture below supposed to be the final product of that step or is it supposed to be folded in half again? I guess I am just confused how it ends up looking like the final strap. Thanks!

    1. You're barely an idiot - I just post confusing photos.

      So, the photo is the final product you'll have after you complete all of the instructions in Step 1. Too bad Step 1. is, like, fifty steps. Sorry about that.

      Just follow along through the multiple steps in Step 1 (which I apparently put there because I'm a jerk) and, when you're through with Step 1, you'll have something that looks like the photo.

      Does that help? I mean, probably not, but still...

  48. I don't have a Prius, but I do have the hybrid Camry... and found that it doesn't have all the little slots as my trade in did - so after making your not ugly but very cute trash bag I down sized it and made a little bag to hold my cell phone. No I don't text/talk and drive (my Camry does have bluetooth) but I'm one of those women who have to have my phone in hand while walking to or from somewhere... just in case, in case of what I still don't know :) but I CAN NOT put my phone in my purse... I just can't do it!

    Thank You for sharing your wonderful ideas with us!


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.