Posted in Spirited Blessings

DIY On A Dime: No-Sew Upcycled Travel Car Mat

I completed this project months ago (before I purchased a sewing machine in Hawaii). It is still one of Blueberry Ball’s favorite toys.

I was looking online at some of the amazing tote bags like this one from Unprocessed Family (this is by far the cutest and most practical finished product I’ve seen out there;very original).

Hot wheels-sized cars are the first thing that Blue chooses when I ask him to pack some toys for a trip so I really wanted to recreate this concept for him.

But I had to find a way to do it with no sewing- and I didn’t have any felt or plain fabrics on hand.

This is what I used:

  • a large pant leg  from an old pair of shorts/capris
  • draw string or shoelace
  •  hot glue gun and sticks
  • small, heavy cardboard box
  • button (optional)
  • a straight edge (such as a ruler)
  •  box cutter
  • Crayola fabric markers

IMAG0272 IMAG0273 IMAG0275

How to design your own no-sew fabric car tote:

(I recommend reading the entire set of directions at least once before you begin)


  1. You are most likely going to want a smaller box. I used a Silk soy milk box that was used to hold two half gallon cartons in it. I cut the two narrow ends and the top flaps off the box. What remained was a shape similar to that of a three ring binder without the rings. It should stand upright in a triangle-ish shape. Make certain that your cardboard is narrow and short enough to slide through the pant leg you have chosen.  Note: The Thicker you can find your cardboard, the more durability and life your finished product will have.
  2. Cut your chosen capris or shorts right on the crotch seam all the way up to the top. If you’ve don it right, your piece of fabric should look like a that is opened on one side where the crotch seam was. Rip the zipper out if applicable. Note: It is easiest to use pants that simply have a waistband, drawstring or button, as opposed to having to remove or hide a metal snap. Note: you could probably use a sleeve or just a simple piece of fabric, but you may end up having to add pockets somehow later.
  3. You are then going to slip your strip of cardboard all the way through the pant leg.
  4. You will end up with extra fabric where the crotch opening is. This is a good thing as you will use it to your advantage later on.
  5. Place a couple of drops of hot glue along the sides keeping it as even as possible, making certain that the pockets are aligning right where you want them. Make certain that every inch of cardboard is hidden and that your crotch opening has enough room on each side to fold over. Note: if you use a thinner fabric such as linen (like mine) you will want to use enough glue, but spread it out thinly so that it is not visible from the outside of the finished product. Also, note that I chose a lighter color which is easier to draw my pictures and roads.
  6. Fold over your crotch opening to hide any unfinished or fray-able seams. Hot glue the “seam” together and to the the cardboard. If you can see in the center picture above, I made mine overlap on one side clean to the center of the cardboard, but if you want a cleaner finish (and if it matches with your pockets and cardboard size), you can place it on the edge.
  7. The last (and most tedious) part of gluing is the top. You are going to want to add your drawstring/shoestring now. Make sure you have an inch or two overlapping onto the outside of your “binder” shape. Hot glue the entire hidden length connecting it both to the pants and to the cardboard in a loop. it should come down in a half-circle shape to create a handle.
  8. I added a button to mine to keep it closed (as seen in the first of the three pictures above). This is optional, but I really liked the look. Not to mention, the button was already on the pants anyway =). to do this, you sew your button on the outside center of one side. Then, hot glue one end of a string to the opposite outside flap and loop it around the button. You need the loop to be loose enough to be easily removed, but tight enough to stay closed during transportation. Once you have gauged the proper distance, cut and hot glue the loop accordingly.
  9. Once all the handles and buttons are in place, hot glue the remaining two top pieces closed placing glue on both the cardboard and on the fabric. Now you should have a fully functioning tote with at least one pocket on the outside, and one on the inside.
  10. Next comes the fun part! I recommend using a straight edge and the corners to your advantage when it comes to making your roads straight and pretty (found that out the hard way). The inside pocket I disguised my road into (as seen in the picture on the right). The outside pocket I decided to make a little more decorative (as seen in the picture on the top). Use your own creativity and make something unique!

I always love hearing from my readers. Let me know how your upcycled car mat turned out.

Featured on Managing Your Blessings:


The Homeschool Mother's JournalThank you!






My family and I have made a decision to dedicate our lives to serve the Lord. We've started a seaborne, nonprofit Mission organization that is aimed at bringing the gospel and disaster relief to otherwise hard to reach areas. Follow us as we grow together in Him through our average day to day experiences. See how we make a family of five work aboard a small sailboat, follow us in the travels, projects, and experiences of day to day life as we share our calling with those we love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s