Do you have important car gear, everyday carry supplies, roadside emergency kits, or other items that you want to conceal in the back of your vehicle? Do you have $150 to spend on a factory cargo cover from most large automakers? Probably, but who wants to spend that kind of money when you can make your own cargo cover from a few simple supplies, a couple hours of your time, and about $20.
Step 1: Examine Your Vehicle, Gather Supplies
I have a Honda Insight. A nice, small car with a ton of "trunk space" (it's a hatchback). This tutorial will work for any vehicle, as you can easily adjust the supplies to work for your car. The first step is to come up with a plan. Take a look at the back of your vehicle and see if there are notches cut out for a factory cargo cover. I was fortunate enough to discover that my Honda had factory notches all ready in place.
You will need the following supplies:
-Pieces of wood (I used pine) that can be cut to fit your car
-Duck Canvas (I used 2 yards of black)
-Heavy Duty Thread (I used coat/upholstery black and red)
-Denim needle (or comparable heavy duty needle)
Step 2: Cut/sand Wood to Fit
The next step is to measure the distance between the inside of the notches from across the trunk. This is the measurements you will need to cut your support beams, in my case, I used pieces of pine from the hardware store. If you notice, one notch was significantly larger than the other. Therefore, I bought a 1" x 2" x 72" piece of pine and a 1/2" x 1/2" x 36" piece. I cut both of them to fit the back of my car.
Once cut, sand the ends and edges. You want to make sure when you sew the pockets in your fabric, that you don't have any sharp edges that may cut through.
Don't cut or sand your pieces too short, you will have to start the process over again! Take your time and get it right the first time. Once they are cut, put them in place to see if everything fits.
Step 3: Measure & Draw Cut Lines
Prepare your duck canvas by ironing the wrinkles out.
Next, you need to measure your piece to cut. The easiest way I found to accomplish this, is to take out the cargo mat and lay it on top of your canvas. If you don't have a cargo mat, or carpet of some sort, you can take measurements and easily draw the dimensions on your fabric.
I folded my 2 yards of duck canvas in half large enough to sit the cargo mat on top of. The plan is to sew along the edges and turn inside out for a heavy duty and clean look.
Lay your cargo mat and two support beams on your fabric to get an eyeball measurement. Then, trace with your fabric pencil around the size you need. Be sure to add an inch or 2 to the sides for a generous seam allowance (when you turn inside out). Additionally, leave about a 6-8" seam allowance on the top and bottom so you have plenty of fabric to make the pockets for the beams.
Essentially, your fabric will be much longer and a few inches wider than the actual area you are covering in your car.
Step 4: Cut Your Canvas
I used a rotary tool to cut my fabric, I find this much quicker and cleaner than scissors. Just cut along the lines you drew with your fabric pencil. Remember, this piece is folded in half, and there is no need to cut along the top edge (as this is where your fold is).
Step 5: Sew the Raw Edges Together
Thread your sewing machine with your black upholstery thread. Also, install a heavy duty, denim needle. We are sewing through several layers of canvas with thick thread. You don't want a tiny, fragile needle for this job.
Using a generous seam allowance, about 1" to 2", sew along the sides of the two cut pieces. Remember, the top edge has not been cut, therefore you do not need to sew along this edge. Also, leave the bottom open.
Once both sides are sewn together, turn the piece inside out using the bottom, none-sewn side. Once it is turned inside out, press the edges.
Step 6: Top Stitch Accent Thread
With your piece already turned inside out and seams pressed, it is now time to add the accent red, top stitch.
Increase your machine's stitch to approximately 5.0mm, this turned out very nice for my project, however, you can adjust the length to your preference. Thread your machine with your accent color, you can definitely use the previous black thread if you'd like, however, my car is red and I liked the variation in color.
With about an inch seam allowance, run a stitch across the sewn sides of the fabric. I went ahead and added another accent line about 1/2" apart from the first. You don't have to sew along the top and bottom yet, as we are going to fold these edges in for the support beams.
Step 7: Sew the Pockets for Support Beams
The next step is to sew the pockets for the support beams. I laid the larger of the two wood pieces along the top of the fabric. Then fold over the amount necessary to encase the beam.
Make sure you have enough fabric to fold the fabric a second time, to keep the edge from being exposed. Take a look at the second picture, this should show what I'm talking about.
Before you sew your pocket, you may need to fold in the corners of the fabric. This will prevent them from sticking out from the bottom when your project is compete. Simply cleans it up a bit. Pin your pocket in place and run a top stitch along the pins. I added another, second stitch to match the sides.
In order to sew the bottom beam, I installed the cargo cover in the back of my car without the bottom sewn. I stretched the fabric over the bottom beam and pinned in place. This was the easiest way to ensure I had an accurate fit without having to mess with measuring. Repeat the pocket step mentioned above, for the bottom support beam pocket. I ended up having a ton of left over fabric at the bottom, so I cut the remainder fabric and discarded. The last image shows the completed piece with pockets.
Step 8: Test Out the Fit
Slide the wooden pieces into their corresponding pockets to ensure they fit. You may need to adjust the seams accordingly if they are too tight. Then, install in the back of your vehicle to see if it fits.
You can be finished at this point, as we have successfully made a cargo cover. However, I wanted to add the Honda "H" to the top of my cover.
Step 9: Sew Monogram Without an Embroider
Find an image of the brand of car, or whatever image you want to embroider.
I printed out the Honda "H" on a regular piece of computer paper and used my rotary cutter to cut it out. I took a scrap piece of fabric and sewed the design just to make sure I practiced before I sewed it on my finished cargo cover. I would recommend you do the same, to ensure you are comfortable sewing around the corners and depending on the intricacy of your design.
Once you feel comfortable, use the fabric pencil and trace your design on your cargo cover. After it is traced, set your sewing machine to the slowest setting and carefully sew along the traced lines. Remember, your stitch should still be set at 5.0mm. Once finished, press along the logo.
Step 10: Install & Enjoy!
You have successfully competed a homemade, embroidered monogram (without an embroider machine), canvas, cargo cover for a percentage of the cost of purchasing one from the dealer.
Rest assured, your items in the back of your vehicle will be comfortably concealed.