Introduction: Leather Car Seat Organizer
Learn how to make a leather seat back organizer for a car or truck. This organizer can be customized in so many ways from size, to pockets, and shape! We hope you give this project a try and make it your own!
This seat organizer is made from our Santa Rosa leather in 3/4 oz. and is hand-stitched using Ritza Tiger thread, but can easily be sewn on a sewing machine to save some time.
What You Need:
- Santa Rosa Oily Pull-Up Leather, 3/4 oz. (09-1093S)
- Scratch Awl (CSO4-2)
- Art Knife (65-2866)
- Barge All Purpose Cement Quart (50-2129)
- Metal Roller (65-2540)
- Steel Square (65-3039)
- Round Strap End Punch, 3/4" (00076-3-4)
- Revolving Punch (65-6230)
- #2206 Snaps (77-7120)
- Deluxe 4P Snap & Rivet Setter (65-6275)
- Rawhide Mallet (65-2520)
- Stitch Groover (8069)
- Poly Cutting Board (65-2916)
- 1/8” Flat Chisel Set (67-7254)
- Stitching Pony (65-2949)
- John James Saddler's Harness Needles (1/0) (L3912)
- Ritza Tiger Thread, 0.8 mm, 50 Meter Spool (77-7300)
- Master Tools Round Hole Punch 3/16 (00082)
- Master Tools Round Hole Punch 1/8 (00082-2)
- Fiebing's Leathercrafter's Cement 4 oz. (50-2124)
- Double-Sided Adhesive Tape (16195-)
- Marble Tooling Slab (65800-)
- #3250 Welded Dee, 3/4" (03250)
- #2200 Double Cap Rivets,1/4" (02200)
- #2200 Double Cap Rivets, 5/16" (02200)
Step 1: Pattern
For this project you can follow the pattern we've provided, or place the pockets wherever you want on the body to make it your own! Feel free to get creative and make an organizer that's perfect for you and your vehicle.
You can download the free printable patterns for this project here or use the files attached below.
If you need to, you can adjust the size of the organizer to best fit your vehicle. The measurements on the provided pattern are for a truck seat, which may be bigger than a standard car seat.
Step 2: Trace and Cut Out Main Body
Use your scratch awl to trace around your main body pattern onto your leather. Then use your snap off knife (with a new blade) and a straight edge to cut the main body to size.
Step 3: Cut Second Layer
On another piece of leather, overcut a second layer for your main body. Use your box knife to cut about 1/2" outside of your pattern on each side. The piece will be trimmed to size once the two layers are glued together, so don't worry if the edges aren't perfectly straight.
Step 4: Glue Layers
When using your all-purpose cement, make sure your workspace has adequate ventilation.
Place your overcut piece of leather face down on the table, so that the flesh side is face up. Place the smaller layer on top, roughly centering it with the top grain side facing up. With a pen, trace around the smaller layer so that you have an outline on the flesh side of the overcut piece.
Move your smaller piece out of the way so that you can work on the overcut layer. Apply Barge All Purpose Cement all over this piece, making sure the glue reaches over the outline you drew (you want to make sure the edges of the two layers are completely glued together). To make this process more efficient, use a small trim paint roller to apply the glue in the center of the piece, then use your smaller cement brush around the edges, over your outline.
Step 5: Apply Glue
Take your smaller layer and flip it over so that the flesh side is up. Apply cement to the entire piece, all the way to the edges of the leather. An easy way to do this is by letting each side of the piece hang off the table a bit, and brushing off the edge with your cement brush. Use your roller again to apply cement all over the center.
Flip the piece over and place it on top of the larger layer, so that the glued flesh sides of each piece are touching. Try to center the piece and line it up as close as possible with the outline you drew. Use a metal roller to apply pressure all over the leather, particularly on the edges.
Step 6: Trim Edges
Trim the excess leather around the edges with your snap off knife, using your face layer as a straight edge.
Carefully round the corners of your body piece with your knife. An easy way to round corners is by making 4 or 5 small cuts angled around the corner, taking off a little bit at a time.
Step 7: Mark Pattern
Line up your pattern on top of your main body piece. Use your scratch awl to mark the places on your pattern where your screws and snaps will go, and the ends of your chisel lines (denoted by dashed lines) for your pockets.
Remove your pattern, then use your scratch awl and straight edge to connect the dots you made at the ends of your chisel lines. You want to trace a guide for you to follow when dropping in your chisel lines later.
Step 8: Cut Tablet Pocket
Use your awl to trace your tablet pocket pattern onto a new piece of leather, and mark where your snaps will be placed on the top edge. Then use your snap off knife and straight edge to cut the pocket out. (Notice that the top of the pocket pattern has a slight dip in it: You can follow this pattern exactly, use a different design, or ignore it entirely and cut straight across.)
Step 9: Cut Out Billets
Use the scrap pieces of leather you've accumulated so far in your project to cut out your 3/4" x 1-3/4" billets. Following your pattern, use your awl to drop in marks for your screw and snap holes on each billet. Notice that your rivet holes are 1/2" in from the ends, while the snap holes are 3/4" in from the ends.
Step 10: Punch Billets
Use your 3/4" Round Strap End Punch to round both ends of each billet.
Using the second tube on your revolving punch, punch one end of each billet, in the holes that are 1/2" in from the end.
Move up to the third or fourth tube on your revolving punch, using this size to punch the other end of each billet, in the holes that are 3/4" in from the end. Then punch your two snap holes on the top edge of your tablet pocket.
Step 11: Add Snaps
Add your snap base (the back half of your snap) to the holes in your tablet pocket. Place the posts through the holes from the back of the pocket, and add the phalanges on the outside. Set each snap with your setter and rawhide mallet.
For the front half of each snap, place the cap on the top grain side of your billet, in the hole that is closer to the center. Flip the billet over and add the inset underneath, and then set it. Do this for both billets.
Step 12: Cut Pockets
Use your scratch awl to trace your remaining pocket patterns onto another piece of leather. Cut each piece out carefully using your snap off knife and straight edge.
On your cell phone pocket, round the bottom two corners that will be sewed down.
For your tissue holder, go ahead and cut out the hole in the center of the piece. The provided pattern has a diamond-shaped opening, but you can cut whatever shape you like.
Step 13: Groove Edges
On the top grain side of each pocket piece, groove the edges that will be chiseled and sewn to your main body.
- The top and bottom (the long edges) of your umbrella holder
- The sides (the short edges) and bottom (one long edge) of your drink holder
- The curved edge of the bottom of your drink holder (the semicircle piece)
- The sides (the short edges) and bottom (the long edge with rounded corners) of your cell phone pocket
- The top and bottom (the slightly shorter edges) of your tissue holder
Step 14: Chisel Holes
Using your chisel set and rawhide mallet, chisel the holes for your stitch line along the grooves you just made on each pocket. Keep the spacing consistent by placing the first tine of your chisel in the last hole you made each time.
On the curved edge of your semicircle, use your single-tine chisel to punch a hole on the center of the edge. Use your two-tine chisel to punch around the curve on each side of the center (This should be 10 holes on each side. If you end up with more or less, make sure to chisel the same number of holes on the bottom edge of your drink holder body piece.) Keep your stitch line consistently spaced on the curve by placing your first tine in the last hole you made.
Chisel the bottom edge of your drink holder body, starting with a single hole in the center. Then, chisel 10 holes on each side of the center. (If you had more or less holes on your semicircle piece, match that number.) You should have a bit of groove line left unchiseled on each end of the bottom edge. Then chisel the entire length of both sides of the body piece.
Step 15: Sew Drink Holder
A stitching pony is helpful to hold your drink holder in place while you sew. You're going to use a Saddle Stitch to attach the semicircle piece to the main body of your holder.
Cut your thread to be about 4 times the length of the curved edge of semicircle piece. Thread a harness needle onto each end, so you have one needle in each hand with the thread in between.
Secure your drink holder's body piece in your stitching pony. Place your semicircle piece on the back of the drink holder's body piece, so that the flesh sides are touching and the curved chisel line is laying along the bottom edge's chisel line (the edge with the equal number of chisel holes). Line up the first hole on the edge of the curve with the first hole on the body piece. Thread one of your needles through both holes, so that the pieces are attached. Pull your thread halfway through so that you have a needle and half the length of your thread on each side of your work.
Adjust your semicircle so that the second chisel hole is in line with the second hole on the body. Push the needle on the front of your work into the holes, but don't pull it all the way through yet. Push your back needle into the same set of holes, so you have both needles threading in opposite directions in the same spot. Pull both needles all the way through the leather, so now your needles are on the opposite sides from where they started, and you still have half of your thread on each side.
Continue this stitch around the bottom of your drink holder, making sure to line up and stitch the corresponding holes on the body piece and the semicircle at the same time (i.e. the third hole with the third hole, fourth with fourth, and so on). As you stitch, the body will begin to curve around the semicircle, creating a half cylinder shape.
As your body piece pulls in around the curved bottom, adjust your project in your stitching pony as needed. Make sure to pull your stitches taut as you sew to form the cylinder shape, but not so tight that the leather puckers.
Step 16: Finish With a Square Knot
When you reach the end of the semicircle, finish with a saddle stitch in the last hole. Take the needle on the front side of the piece and thread it back through the second to last hole, but only through the first ply of leather. Angle the needle so that it comes out from between the flesh side of the pieces on the inside of your drink holder.
Repeat this step with the needle on the bottom (the semicircle side) of your work. Push it into the second to last hole, only through the semicircle piece. Angle it so that the needle comes out between the pieces, on the inside of your holder.
Tie a square knot (right over left, left over right). and then use your snap off knife to trim the loose ends of the thread, close to the leather's surface. Avoid accidentally cutting your leather by holding the knife still and pulling the thread across the blade.
Step 17: Punch Holes
Use a 3/16" Round Hole Punch to punch the holes for your Chicago screws near the top of your main body. You should have 4 holes at the top of your main body piece, where your straps will be attached. Keep your pattern close by to easily reference.
Move about halfway down your main body, and use your pattern and guide marks to locate where the two holes will be punched in this area, above your tablet pocket. These will be rivet holes, so use your 1/8" Round Hole Punch.
Flip your main body piece around to punch the last two holes at the bottom of the piece. These will be for Chicago screws, so punch them using your 3/16" punch.
Step 18: Chisel Stitch Line
On your main body, chisel holes for the stitch lines in the scribe lines you traced in earlier steps. The length should be equal to the length of your pockets, if you followed the dashed lines on the pattern exactly. It can be helpful to keep the pockets nearby for reference, to ensure that the chisel holes line up and can be stitched together correctly.
You should end with chisel lines for the top and bottom edges of your umbrella holder and tissue box. For your drink holder, only chisel where the inside edge will attach.
Step 19: Tape Pockets
Apply double-sided tape on the flesh side of your cell phone pocket, along the short edges and the bottom edge. Do the same thing on the bottom tablet pocket.
Place both pockets in their respective spots on the main body piece, pressing down firmly. Make sure the pocket edges line up evenly with the edge of the main body where they meet.
Step 20: Groove Main Body
Groove around the edges of the main body piece. You can skip over the outside edge of the cell phone pocket that lies on the border, since this piece has already been grooved.
Step 21: Finish Chiseling
Chisel the stitch line around the outside edge of your main body. Start this line where the outside edge of your drink holder will be attached. Line your chisel up straight across from the holder's interior chisel line, so that the chisel holes are parallel and the piece will be sewn on evenly.
Continue your chisel line all around the main body from this point. Keep your spacing consistent by placing the first tine of your chisel in the last hole you made.
Finish by chiseling around the bottom edge and interior side of the cell phone pocket.
Step 22: Sew Your Organizer
Move your organizer over to your stitching pony to begin sewing it together. Because the piece is so large, it can be helpful to rig a pulley system like Chuck did in our video tutorial. He used a clip to hold the top of the organizer, and attached it to a suede lace. He looped the lace overhead and tied a slipknot, so the clip could easily be moved up or down.
Another option is to attach your stitching pony to the side of your table. This holds your organizer closer to you and a bit lower, so you don't have to reach quite as far while sewing. This will take some time to sew, so do whatever is the most comfortable.
Step 23: Attach Umbrella Holder
To sew your umbrella holder onto your main body, start by pinning the piece in place. Insert one of your Saddler's needles in the last hole on the top edge of your umbrella holder, then through the last hole on the corresponding chisel line on the main body.
Starting on the other end of the top chisel line, use a saddle stitch to sew the piece to the main body. Make sure to line up the main body and umbrella holder's chisel holes correctly, and sew straight across.
When you reach the last hole, remove your pin and sew your last saddle stitch. Take the needle on the front of your project and insert it back into the second to last hole, pushing through the first ply of leather, and out the side opening of the holder. The thread should end on the inside of your umbrella holder.
Take the needle on the back of your project and insert it back into the second to last stitch hole. Push it through the main body layer only, angling the needle so it comes out the side opening of the umbrella holder. Both threads should now be trailing from the inside of the holder.
Finish your stitch by tying a square knot on the inside of the umbrella holder, as close to the surface of the leather as possible. Trim the ends by pulling them across the blade of your knife, close to the surface.
Repeat this process on the bottom edge of your umbrella holder. Once both stitch lines are in, the center of the holder should bow out so that an umbrella can slide in easily.
Step 24: Sew Cell Phone Pocket
Starting right on the outside edge, use your saddle stitch to sew along the bottom and the interior side of the cell phone pocket. Finish the stitch line the same way you did with the umbrella holder, hiding the square knot inside the pocket and trimming the thread ends.
Step 25: Sew Drink Holder
Use your saddle stitch to sew the interior edge of your drink holder to your main body, starting from the bottom. Finish with a square knot on the inside of the holder, and trim the thread ends.
Step 26: Bend Tissue Holder
You want your tissue holder to pop out out from your main body when attached, sort of like a bridge. This shape should accommodate a travel sized pack of tissues.
Lay your tissue holder on your workspace so that the top grain is facing up. Place your straight edge right inside of the stitch line and bend the holder up to form a crease along the edge. Do this on both stitch lines.
About halfway between the top stitch line and the center cutout, crease the leather horizontally. This is like a mountain fold, with the bend pointing upwards. Repeat this on the bottom half of the tissue holder.
The center of your tissue holder should now pop up like a bridge, with your stitch lines laying flat on the table.
Step 27: Attach Tissue Holder
Sew your tissue holder into it's appropriate spot on your main body piece, using your saddle stitch. The center should bow out enough for a pack of tissues to slide in and fit snugly.
Step 28: Sew Border
Finish sewing your organizer by sewing all the way around the outside edge of the main body. You can do this with a sewing machine, or continue hand sewing with your saddle stitch. Notice that for your drink holder and cell phone pocket, the outside edges need to be sewn onto this edge as well.
Because this organizer is so large, you can break your sewing up into smaller sections to make the thread length more manageable. (Remember: your thread should be about 4 times the length of what you need to sew.)
Start sewing about two holes down from the top of your tablet pocket, on the same side your drink holder is on. Sew towards the top of your organizer. When you reach the drink holder, use a clip to hold the unsewn side in place along the edge of the organizer while you sew it in place. Stop two holes down from the top of the holder. On this hole, push your needles through the first ply of leather on each side, so both threads end on the inside of your drink holder. (Note: You don't need to loop back through the second to last stitch hole before tying the thread off. Simply continue your stitch line with a new length of thread, picking up in the same hole you stopped at.) Tie a square knot on the inside of your holder, then trim the thread ends.
Continue sewing around the top edge of your main body, ending this section two holes down from the top of your cell phone pocket. Like with your drink holder, you don't need to loop back through your previous stitch hole. Simply push each needle through the first ply of leather on each side of the organizer, so they end up inside of your pocket. Tie a square knot, and trim your thread ends.
Grab a new piece of thread and continue sewing all the way around your main body. If you need to break this length up into two sections, you can stop about halfway around your tablet pocket, peel up the taped edge, and tie your stitch line off on the inside of the bottom edge of the pocket. Then, drop the pocket back in place and continue sewing from that spot.
When you reach your starting point (two holes down from the top edge of your tablet pocket), finish your stitch line by tying one more square knot right inside the opening of the pocket, and trimming the thread ends.
Step 29: Cut Straps
Use your snap off knife and a straight edge to cut out your 3/4" strap pieces at their respective lengths. Following your pattern, use your awl to drop in marks where the holes should be punched.
On the strap that is 20" long, the two holes placed slightly farther apart (1-1/2" in between) on the end will be for a rivet. Use your 1/8" Round Hole Punch to punch these holes.
All of the other holes in your straps are designated for Chicago screws. Punch the rest of your holes using your 3/16" Round Hole Punch.
Use a 3/4" Round Strap End Punch to round both ends of each strap for a more finished look.
Step 30: Add Dees
Place your 20" strap so that the top grain side is facing up.
Slide the end of your strap through your two 3/4" dees. Make sure this is the end with the rivet holes.
Fold the end of the strap underneath, lining up the rivet holes on top of each other. Add half of a 1/4" Double Cap rivet on each side, and set it with your rivet setter and mallet.
Step 31: Add Billets
Locate the rivet holes you punched near the center of your organizer. Use 5/16" Double Cap rivets to attach your billets in these spots. The back of your rivet should be on the back of your organizer, and the cap should be on top of your billet, securing it to the main body. Set both rivets.
Step 32: Attach Top Strap
Use 1/4" Chicago screws to attach your longest strap to the top of your organizer. Add a bit of leathercrafter's glue to the inside of your screws to keep them from working out of the holes.
Drop your screws in from the front of your organizer, in the two holes closest to your drink holder. Flip your organizer over, and add the end of your strap that has only two holes. Make sure the strap is flesh side up, so the top grain shows from the front. Add your two screws on the back and tighten them using a screw driver.
Do the same thing on the other side of your organizer, in the holes above and inside your umbrella holder. However, don't add glue to these screws yet. Attach the other end of your strap in two of the four holes on the strap end, and add the backs of your screws. This piece is adjustable. Once you try it in your vehicle and find the right strap length, you can glue the screws to secure them in the whichever holes you choose.
Step 33: Add Bottom Straps
Move to the bottom of your organizer to add your other two straps. Add glue to your screws, and drop them into the two bottom holes from the front of your organizer. Flip your organizer over.
Place the end of your short strap onto the screws, making sure the flesh side of the strap is up. Then take your strap with the dees, and stack it on top with the top grain side facing up. Add two more glued screws on top of the straps, using a screw driver to tighten them in place.
When you place your organizer in your car, the strap with the dees will loop underneath the seat around any part of the seat base that will hold it in place. Bring the dees back towards the front, and loop the shorter strap through them and secure like you would a typical dee ring belt. Then you can tighten the straps to fit your seat.
Step 34: Install Your Finished Organizer
Your leather car seat organizer is now complete and ready to go in your vehicle!